|THAT trail, not "trail", get it?|
You hear folks talk about how "None of this nit picking, micro-dissection of bicycles and geometry matters. Just ride!". Then you can find the same folks talking about how they really liked this demo bike they tried, or they really liked some different rig their friend has because it "felt so good to me!". "Say one thing, do another" much? Yes. Yes, many times they do .
One of these areas of misunderstanding is bicycle geometry, but there are others as well. Tires are another big one, but let's stick to the geometry for now, since that is what I was writing about ten years ago.
Front end geometry is probably one of the biggest contributors to how you perceive a bicycle handles. Rightly so, since your hands, two of five body contact points, are directly connected to the business end of front end geometry. They feel the results of what is going on with all those angles and whatnot. Yet many people fail to recognize this, or begin to understand how that can be such a big deal. Mere millimeters of difference in "trail", the measurement which describes the stability or lack thereof in a bike, can make a huge difference in your perceptions as a rider. Head tube angles are most often referenced in discussions about front end geometry, but that is really only a part of what really matters, which is the "trail" figure.
This post a decade ago ended up becoming the catalyst for an extensive experiment I ran a year later. I took my OS Bikes Blackbuck and ran eight different forks on it all with various offsets, axle to crown dimensions, and formats. (rigid and suspended) I made every effort to keep all other fit parameters the same. It was a very enlightening experience, but I'll leave that discussion for some time down the road.