My quest for the most comfortable bike is designed to be as objective as possible.
It starts with the mobile phone (Huawei Mate 10 Pro) and a Vibration meter app that uses a phone accelerometer to measure, as the name suggests, vibrations. The less overall vibration score measured in m/s2 the more comfortable the ride.
The ride that I measure contains 2 different scenarios.
First is a forest path with a lot of tree roots and different big and small bumps. It measures 720 meters and it emulates a challenging gravel riding (but not true singletrack because I believe that gravel bikes are no mountain bikes and should not be measured in MTB conditions).
The second is a true gravel road with only very small bumps and rocks. It measures 350 meters and I use it to emulate gravel racing.
The first route is more challenging that is why I measure the vibrations while going at steady 15 km/h on average. The second route is used to emulate a fast gravel riding that is why I go there with speed around 35 km/h.
The measurement itself is designed to achieve the most accurate results possible in real-life situations (but despite my efforts you have to remember that this is not a scientific lab measurements).
I do at least 3 runs always in the same direction and following the same route. If the measurements are very similar then I calculate the average. If there is an odd measurement I discard it and go one more time. Most of the time 3 runs is enough, especially on slow forest runs (the fast gravel route is producing much more vibrations so sometimes the results may vary more).
I measure both the front and the rear comfort of the bike.
To measure the front I ride on the hoods (to put more weight on the handlebar that will allow more flex from the handlebar and/ or flexing stem) with a phone mounted just in the middle of my left forearm.
EDIT: after my bike fitting session and a significant change in my position on the bike I moved the phone as close as possible to the wrist just to minimize the impact of the arm movement on the final readings.
To measure the rear I use a belt mount and put the phone on my back on the aitchbones level (this measures the vibration just above the saddle).
To get the most scientific and comparable results I always use the same phone mounts, the same phone and app, the same bike saddle, the same bike shorts, and the same Giro Bravo gloves (because I am riding on hoods I do not take bar tape into consideration). Before the test, I always try to achieve the most similar bike position (saddle height and saddle position most appropriate for my body and my inseam length and I try to stay seated in every situation which sometimes can be even harmful but hey, I do this for the science!). And my weight… is rather stable at 83 kg 🙂
Everything is done to make sure that I can really measure the bike comfort and compare it with others to find the truly most comfortable gravel bike in the world.