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Every now and then I read article's, blog postings or forum comments concerning steel frames and people use the word Zing in relation to the perceived benefits/advantages of steel over other materials.

In some ways I am reminded of 70's 80's era audiophile audio when all sorts of claims for all sorts of things were made for all sorts of craziness and, frankly, complete and utter rip offs such as directional cables and sticking £££££s slips of paper under equipment feet and then painting the edge of CD's green because it made them sound better.... and all of which was reviewed and justified in the audio press through using obscure terminology that nobody seemed capable of quantifying as to what 'X' obscure term meant... so I don't know what this reviewer meant but he used the all important magic words so whatever they said they must be right... mustn't they.

What is Zing? - If you are a person who uses this word then what do you think the word 'Zing' specifically means in relation to steel used as a bicycle frame material.

11 comments

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Welsh boy [517 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes

I think the Flying Scot worked for the old audio press; "dead", "whippy", "winding up like a spring", "becomes part of you", aluminium alloys ageing and steel dieing!

My understanding of Zing is that when you buy your brand new frame it feels wonderful to ride, you are pleased with it and everything is well with the world.  As time goes by you get used to the bike and some of that excitement associated with a new purchase fades and the ride doesnt give you that extral little buz that it did when it was brand new.  Something has gone and the old timers in the club (and frame builders who want to sell you a new frame) tell you that the steel has lost its tensile strength and has lost its "zing".  You believe the BS, buy a new frame, that wonderful feeling associated with riding something new comes back which just confirms what the old club members told you about a frame losing its zing.

 

On a similar note, audio magazines were not the oly ones to print BS (and take the advertising revenue from manufacturers), lets start a list of stupid bike component/design ideas.  I will kick off with the Flying Gate frame and PMP L shaped cranks.

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Welsh boy [517 posts] 10 months ago
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Flying Scot, the more you write the worse it gets.  You are telling us that frame builders make steel frames which feel "dead" (whatever that means) when they are new.  Rubbish, they would soon be out of business if their new frame felt terrible to ride, they would not get any repaet orders and word of mouth would soon put them out of business.

Next you say that carbon frames go "flat" (again, you dont say what that means).  You modify that to say that was only an opinion of "some" old frames.  You also tell us that you only ride sttel frames now so I wonder why your opinion of old products clouds your judgement of modern products.

Now you tell us that a frame has a "sweet spot" which is independent of tyre pressure and finally you tell us that only riders like you (heavy, high torqu, low cadence riders) can notice the things like frame compliance and stiffness.  So, if we are to believe anything you have written, a light, high cadence rider like Chris Froome cannot tell if a frame is stiff or not.  Is that really what you are saying?

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hawkinspeter [1863 posts] 10 months ago
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I've got a simple test for these nebulous properties - can you measure it? And by measure, I mean get a number (not try out a couple of bikes and declare which one is 'zingier') that is independent of the person measuring and repeatable.

I don't think 'zing' is measurable and thus is marketing rubbish.

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srchar [849 posts] 10 months ago
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I'd like to say it's bollocks, but I'm not so sure.

The three steel frames I've ridden didn't feel at all "zingy" - granted they weren't particularly high-end (an On-One Pompino, a Genesis Day One and a Cotic Roadrat).  The Roadrat was probably the most fun, but the Genesis in particular felt like it was made from railway sleepers. Horrible, dead-feeling thing, very unrewarding to ride.

The Van Nicholas Ventus titanium frame I commute on in nice weather is much better, though still feels a tad soft when out of the saddle.  It is lovely to look at though, and very comfy, although it was made immeasurably comfier by switching from 23s to 25s with 20psi less pressure in them, which says to me that the tyres are taking far more of the buzz out of the road than the mythical titanium frame.

By far my "zingiest" bike is a carbon Cervelo R5. Stamp on the pedals and it surges forward. It is very comfy, although it rolls on 25mm tubs. I finish every ride far more tired that on any other bike - it really does just make you want to ride faster.

To measure zing, we'd have to agree what contributes to it.  I suppose, for me, the zingiest frame would be the one that is most efficient at getting energy to the wheel, while being (laterally?) stiff yet (vertically?) comfortable.  So, the equation would be something like:

(energy output at rear axle * vertical deflection for a given load) / (energy input at crank spindle * horiztonal deflection for a given load)

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CygnusX1 [802 posts] 10 months ago
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Did this thread escalate quickly?  First two posts I see are from Welshboy seemingly responding to Flying Scot but his posts aren't there... (Ban)Hammer-Time?!

 

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leqin [246 posts] 10 months ago
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CygnusX1 wrote:

Did this thread escalate quickly?  First two posts I see are from Welshboy seemingly responding to Flying Scot but his posts aren't there... (Ban)Hammer-Time?!

 

Yes Flying Scot did post first. Yes Welshboy responded to his posts. Apparantly there is a different understanding of what Zing is in Wales and Scotland - which is actually confirmation of what I suspected... the 'thing', whatever it is, is something completely different depending on whoever is describing it and everbody thinks they are right about what it is.

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barbarus [531 posts] 10 months ago
4 likes

Zing is one of two universal essential life forces. The other is Zang. For true enlightenment, the cyclist should keep both in balance.

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hawkinspeter [1863 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

@srchar - now that you've got a rough idea of what to measure, you (or whoever cares enough about this) should measure some different bikes and see if the numbers line up with peoples' opinions of zing-iness. If there's decent correlation between what's measured and what people perceive as 'zingy', then you've discovered the formula for 'zing'. However, if your numbers don't match up with what people are describing, then you're back to square one.

 

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nortonpdj [210 posts] 10 months ago
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barbarus wrote:

Zing is one of two universal essential life forces. The other is Zang. For true enlightenment, the cyclist should keep both in balance.

 

That's got to be one for the Velominati !

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Flying Scot [1005 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

Someone must have complained, my posts have been deleted.

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The _Kaner [1165 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

My only (recent - 40 years ago) encounter with steel frames was a Raleigh Grifter, that definitely did not have ZING!

Been alu/carbon in last 30 years, MTB mainly, road bikes in last 7-8 years and a 2010 Kona Jake remains the only alu road bike I have...again it ain't got no zing...triple crank and weighty cromo P2 fork making sure of that...

I'm not sure I'd even be interested in a steel bike (these days), maybe a Ti, but not a "fancy dancy" Reynolds, skinny tube 'old timer' looking steed...I prefer mine to look modern and techno..

Zing = qualitative -  it is immeasurable and is a subjective feeling.

One man's Zing may be another man's Dunk...