“Feel” refers to two of the more subtle components of a Waterford design – handling and stiffness.

Handling refers to how the bike steers. It is determined by a variety of factors:

  • Head angle
  • Fork offset (a/k/a rake)
  • Bottom bracket height
  • Wheelbase

While we treat the bike’s feel separately from fit, these two aspects of design are entwined. For example, on a shorter top tube frame avoiding toe overlap may dictate a slacker head angle than a bike with a longer top tube or steeper seat angle.

The best way we’ve found to describe the spectrum of handling possibilities is to relate it to typical types of applications, which is how we set up our form:

Gary Morris in Capetown

  • Road Race: Refers to an American mix of road racing, which consists primarily of criteriums. It’s designed for quick steering and acceleration.
  • Stage Race: This is what we’d design for a Tour de France competitor: quick climbing but stable descending.
  • Road Sport: Designed for a more balanced range of riding – mostly club or century rides, spiced with an occasional time trial or triathlon.
  • Sport Touring: Randonneuring – distance riding at its best.
  • Touring/Adventure Cycle: Unsupported touring with heavy loads.
  • Off-road: Where stability is key.

Team Mack rider John Fleckenstein at Brookfield 2010

In the past, these were also model names, which implied the type of brakes, drivetrain and carrying capacity involved. Today, we let you mix and match handling with alternative wheels, braking systems and drivetrains..
Not every combination works: Heavy loads are hard to handle and benefit from more stable steering. We prefer to design the handling around the conditions that demand the the most stability. It’s better to have steering that is more stable in a race than one that’s too twitchy for descending with load.


Parallel to this is how we design stiffness into each bike. Waterford offers an extensive palette of tubes that gives us the ability to tune the ride feel in a number of ways. This is supplemented by the geometry itself. For example, the longer the wheelbase the smoother the ride.

Putting it together

Finally, we want to have an insight into your riding style. Some riders thrive on sprinting. Some enjoy cornering aggressively. Perhaps the goal for your Waterford is a smooth and comfortable ride over long distances. These desires affect the tubing choices, bottom bracket height and other considerations.