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Can a coaster ever be too smooth?

Can a coaster ever be too smooth?


  • Total voters
    40

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. Someone over on TowersStreet Talk made an interesting comment about Nemesis earlier today:
The smoothness of Nemesis is about right now, it was way too smooth in previous years, however now it whips you over some of the inversions a bit more aggressively and I like that

Admittedly, I imagine that some of you are perplexed as to how this TSTer’s comment is relevant, but it is relevant, because when I read it, it got me thinking; can a coaster ever be too smooth? Enthusiasts often complain about roughness, and say that it detracts from a ride, but can it work the other way? Can smoothness detract from a ride as well, in your opinion?

I’ve heard numerous people argue that they feel a ride can be too smooth.

For instance, I’ve heard Shawn Sanbrooke of TPW say this a number of times, such as in the context of the retracked Colossos at Heide Park (“It’s too smooth; it doesn’t feel enough like a wooden coaster”), and some of the RMCs in America (Shawn used the criticism of “too smooth” for both Iron Rattler and Lightning Rod in the front, from memory, and said that they felt “very tame”, even referring to them as “feeling like family coasters”). I remember in the same park as Iron Rattler, he also praised the mine train next to it for being a bit rough/jolty; I think he actually liked the mine train more than Iron Rattler because of this.

Away from Shawn, I remember hearing the PBE crew say the same about B&M hypers; the main criticism was that they lack character, and I remember Scott saying that B&M hypers are generally “boring”, and would be enhanced by “a Magnum-style triangle hill” or “a jolty Arrow-style transition or two” to really throw you around.

In terms of someone closer to me, my dad is often bemused that I like Mako at SeaWorld Orlando, a smooth hyper, so much; he says that it’s “too smooth to feel thrilling” and is just “a boring, slow ride back to the station” after the first drop. However, in terms of the other hyper we’ve ridden, the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach; my dad loves that and holds it up as one of his favourite ever rides, saying that it’s “one of the most insane things [he’s] ever done” and that it has “such an amazing sense of adrenaline and danger about it”. Dad also said to me after a ride on Smiler “I don’t know how you can rank tripe like Mako and Icon above that; that’s one of the most insane things ever!”.

As for me personally, my answer is no. A ride can never be too smooth, in my personal opinion. My very favourite coaster, Mako, was exciting as anything to me, what with the phenomenal sustained airtime and great sense of speed, but it was also smooth as glass, with some of the most comfortable ride restraints I’ve ever sat in. As much as my love of the ride was almost entirely shaped by the amazing elements of the layout itself, that smoothness and comfort was the cherry on top for me! Smoothness is a pretty important element of coasters for me; if a ride is rough, I often find it can inhibit the fun factor and rerideability, which are the two crucial things I look for in a coaster.

But what’s your opinion? Do you agree with me in thinking that a ride can never be too smooth, or do you think I’m talking rubbish, and that a good ride needs to be a bit rough round the edges?
EDIT: You know what; I might add a poll! They’re always fun for questions like this!
 
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Furiustobaco

Mega Poster
For steel coasters, i guess sometimes the ride being overly smooth can go hand in hand with being forceless, i find some of the wing coasters to be an example of this. Very gentle smooth rides, but also pretty tame. I do think smooth steel coasters are great though, and RMC rides are usually pretty damn smooth bar the amazing and sometimes brutal negative G's.

With Woodies i'd say it really adds character in ways. Wodan is not a glass smooth ride, but it adds to the crazy out of control feeling that ride has.
The biggest example of a Woodie being kinda made by its roughness is a defunct ride: Wild Mouse at BPB.
This was a coaster that was jolty, janky, and it threw you around like a rag doll (in a rough and utterly brutal way). It was the best coaster in the park though, it was so janky and its lack of restraints made it so intense. If the ride was butter smooth and had smoother and gentler transitions, it would of been boring. I think a bit of roughness can build character.
 

Will

Strata Poster
I suspect it's bedded in a bit by now, but this was how I felt about Oz Iris when I first rode back in 2012.

Controversially, it's also why I favour Behemoth over Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland.
 

CrashCoaster

CF Legend
The smoothness of woodies such as newer GCIs are perfect imo, Wicker Man would be boring if it was glass smooth. But I don't think steel coasters can be too smooth, providing they have a lot of force. Shambhala is my personal number one, but that's because I love the sustained airtime it has, and the rather intense valleys (the ampersand actually makes me grey out at the bottom from positives). Also the night rides are godly. It's still running very smooth, especially at the front.
 

toofpikk

Mega Poster
I think a lot of the thrill comes out of the reality you are hurtling along these tracks at speeds simply not possible otherwise. Smoothness can often take away that perception where as the occasional jolt may serve as a reminder of 'oh f**k, I'm actually going quicker than my car on a motorway on a literal piece of wood'.

I disagree about forces, I regularly grey out on The Swarm even though it's incredibly smooth, but I think one of the thrilling factors about coasters is the fact you are often literally rattling through the course. It's obviously largely down to personal tastes and opinions but for me I will always favour an intense ride that may not be technically great but feels utterly out of control over one that's technically pretty wild but rides well, and I think the smoothness of the ride is quite a big factor in this.
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
Guess it comes down to personal taste and all that.

I love a rough 'n' ready coaster every now and then. Something like Saw isn't one of my favourite rides ever, but it's intense and throws you about. It wouldn't be as good if it was glass smooth.
Equally, I don't like Smiler, but it's good fun.
Same with woodies - I enjoy Grand National, but dislike some other rough ones.
All just comes down to the ride and layout and how I'm feeling.

But my favourite rides are ones which are smooth and forceful, with exciting layouts. I want something which I can go on again and again comfortably. It's possible that a ride could be designed to be smooth, and then as a result have a boring layout. But that doesn't mean it's too smooth, that means it's got a boring layout.

So nah, a ride can never be "too smooth" for me. But I get why people prefer some rides which have a bit of roughness to them.
 

Eyebrows

Mega Poster
I’m general, I think smoother is better. Like others mentioned, a bit of roughness can enhance the ride experience, but I don’t think I’d ever criticize a coaster for being too smooth.
 

Hutch

Strata Poster
Texas Stingray.

Maybe it's not down the the smoothness, but rather the lack of a wild woodie feel. There's good airtime and great speed, but it all feels very controlled. Mystic Timbers, on the other hand, offers similar smoothness but cranks up the wildness and intensity.

Regardless, I have to ask myself if there are any rides that would be better if they were slightly rougher... and I can't think of any. Maybe Stingray, but Timbers proves that you can be nice and smooth while still throw you around. Stuff like B&Ms and Intamins are always better when they're smoother.

I've also done Boulder Dash and Voyage over the course of several years, with both shakier and smoother rides. The smoother rides were always the better rides I had on them (although Dash was never really smooth... but rather the rougher rides were definitely worse for me).

There are definitely smooth rides that are kinda forgettable, like Dare Devil Dive, but if it had a slight rattle then it'd just be another gross Gerstlauer.

I think it really just comes down to intensity. So long as the ride is comfortable and I can keep my hands up, what's most important is what the ride actually does.
 
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Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
Maybe it's not down the the smoothness, but rather the lack of a wild woodie feel. There's good airtime and great speed, but it all feels very controlled. Mystic Timbers, on the other hand, offers similar smoothness but cranks of the wildness and intensity.
This right here. I'd argue that no, there is no such thing as "too smooth", BUT depending on the type of roller coaster, it can be smoother than expected, taking away from experience. Newer GCIs also come to mind; I am a total sucker for the "wooden coaster feel", and love a healthy jostle versus silk smooth, perfectly laid wooden track.

To that end, I think this is why I loved Outlaw Run so much - W.I.L.D. inversions that we had never seen before when it opened, yet the track-lay still had a hint of wooden coaster vibration that made it clear you weren't riding on perfect steel track.

I'll take too smooth over too rough any day of the week. However, there's a healthy medium that doesn't swing to either extreme, especially on wooden coasters/older roller coasters.
 

Snoo

The Legend
Staff member
Social Media Team
This right here. I'd argue that no, there is no such thing as "too smooth", BUT depending on the type of roller coaster, it can be smoother than expected, taking away from experience. Newer GCIs also come to mind; I am a total sucker for the "wooden coaster feel", and love a healthy jostle versus silk smooth, perfectly laid wooden track.

To that end, I think this is why I loved Outlaw Run so much - W.I.L.D. inversions that we had never seen before when it opened, yet the track-lay still had a hint of wooden coaster vibration that made it clear you weren't riding on perfect steel track.

I'll take too smooth over too rough any day of the week. However, there's a healthy medium that doesn't swing to either extreme, especially on wooden coasters/older roller coasters.
Yeah echoing this, Steel coasters can never be too smooth as long as forces exist. Too smooth and boring is garbage.
 

Tomatron

Giga Poster
This right here. I'd argue that no, there is no such thing as "too smooth", BUT depending on the type of roller coaster, it can be smoother than expected, taking away from experience. Newer GCIs also come to mind; I am a total sucker for the "wooden coaster feel", and love a healthy jostle versus silk smooth, perfectly laid wooden track.

To that end, I think this is why I loved Outlaw Run so much - W.I.L.D. inversions that we had never seen before when it opened, yet the track-lay still had a hint of wooden coaster vibration that made it clear you weren't riding on perfect steel track.

I'll take too smooth over too rough any day of the week. However, there's a healthy medium that doesn't swing to either extreme, especially on wooden coasters/older roller coasters.

Lightning Rod pre-RMCing was exactly like this, especially the part round the wave turn to the outward banked section.
 

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
There is a few coasters that come to mind for me

Expedition Everest is an example of a coaster which felt "too smooth" to me, it somewhat damped the illusion that I am on a wild runaway mine cart rocking down the mountain. I prefer Big Thunder Mountain as the janky arrow transitions sell that idea better in my opinion.

As for wooden coasters, maybe something like Nickelodeon Streak which just has nothing thrilling about it, a bit of bump would of made it a bit more exciting.

Overall though I would rather have a smooth re-ridable coaster than an overly intense brain rattler.



Sent from my SM-A217F using Tapatalk
 
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Llama Drama

Roller Poster
I would say I am one that makes a distinction between 'violent' and 'rough'.

The perfect woodie is one that is smooth in that there is minimal jackhammering or unwanted jolts, but 'violent' in that it offers an abundance of g's in all directions - positive, negative, and of course lateral.

Mystic Timbers fits this description to a T, but could obviously be extended to many other GCIs, some Gravity Groups, the plug n' plays, and topper tracks.

As for steel coasters, every once in a while I'll hear something like Maverick described as "rough", but I'd disagree entirely with that and say it goes into "violent but not rough" group.

As for my answer to the original question, I'd say for all intents and purposes there's not a really a thing such as too smooth, just as long as it is not too forceless or uninteresting in other aspects...
 
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