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I have a Cannondale BadBoy with slick tyres, no suspension etc. On roads the ride is fine, but I do less of that these days and more along tracks (e.g. unmaintained paths, towpaths etc.). On non-metalled surfaces the ride is incredibly hard and I get incredible vibration through the forks and frames.

What are my options for modifying the bike so I can mitigate this. Will suspension forks soften the whole ride or just the vibration through the handlebars. My local bike shop recommended knobbly tires, a suspension-fitted seatpost and/or front suspension forks. Or should I just keep the bike for road use and get something more appropriate ?

  • Have you tried dropping the tire pressure a bit? – Batman Jun 13 '15 at 17:52
  • I haven't. That may be a simple first approach. – Brian Agnew Jun 14 '15 at 12:12
  • Keep in mind this is a road bike, so there isn't much you can do. Bigger mountain tyres will make a huge difference for the price you're spending. Play with the pressure to see what feels best (remember, less pressure -> more comfortable, more likely to puncture and more rolling resistance, more pressure the opposite). Apart from this you can try changing your saddle and grips. You can also buy a carbon seatpost and handlebar, which will make it slightly better. – super Jun 16 '15 at 2:12
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I would start with the biggest knobbly tires the frame and wheel will take. It came with a 28 mm. I doubt there is enough clearance to put a mtn 2.2 on it but even a 35 mm or 38 mm is big step. In knobby a 35 mm will be sold as a CX. Run the tires at less than maximum pressure unless you are over like 180 lbs. Those slicks are not the correct tires anyway. For a fairly small cost you are going in the right direction.

A suspension fork will change the geometry and is expensive.

As for a suspension seatpost you are probably riding the ruff stuff out of the seat already.

If you are going with a separate set of wheels then tubeless to run at a lower pressure. But now you are starting to spend some money. Depending on how big of tire the frame will take pick the proper rim width.

I would just start with some tires.

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Wider tires are the first thing to try. The BadBoys are basically rigid mountain bikes with 622mm wheels and narrow tires, so you could also put on mountain bike sized wheels and very wide tires. With a second set of wheels, it's easy to change between road and off-road riding.

About suspension forks, with current geometry there isn't much room for the suspension to work. You could install a 29" suspension fork, but that would change the bike's geometry.

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Running suspension with narrow tyres is a fool's game: the store is trying to chump you. How far a tyre pressure decrease will take you depends on your weight.

To be honest, the BadBoy is just a design driven by marketing. It's aimed at people scared to ride drop bar bikes who still want to go fast and imagine thin tyres will help them do that...

In fact tyre width has nothing to do with tyre drag - wide tyres can be extremely fast (it depends on the materials used and other details of construction http://www.schwalbetires.com/tech_info/rolling_resistance) until you get up to speeds where minor differences in air resistance due to width matter - which you won't on a flat bar bike! These differences only come in to play at serious racing speeds. (The fastest wide tyres are probably Schwalbe Almotions; they cost several times more than the cheapest.)

Good suspension components are expensive and usually require a lot of maintenance, and cheap ones can be dangerous.

..If you're a light weight type of guy, try fitting the widest tyres you can and dropping the pressure. Otherwise, buy a bike with room for wide tyres. Probably avid suspension - good suspension is expensive and requires regular maintenance.

...A really good bike for this sort of job is an old 26" mtb with no suspension, bought off ebay - Kona and GT are good bets. Or you can buy a new boutique adventure bike that is a copy of one of these for about 5 times the price.

Also: if you're going to ride on gravel etc, get some tyres with some knobs for grip - they will cost you speed and handling on the road, but washing out on gravel can be painful and dangerous.

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