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Is "Forcefulness" Really What Makes a B&M Good?


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After getting back from Knott's over spring break and riding Silver Bullet 7 times in a row (and seeing how low it scored on the Mitch Hawker's Steel Poll at 136), I really want to know: What makes a B&M [invert] good? Silver Bullet is fast, reridable, ultra smooth, and has airtime although it's not as forceful as Raptor (65) or Batman (77). Is it really the forcefulness that makes the rides for you?

Edited by cfc
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Simply put, yes. Batman doesn't really have anything else that stands out. They (B&M) got it right on their first try. It's for that reason that California's Top Gun is high up on my must ride list. Looks can be deceiving with B&M coasters. Back around the time Kraken was built, I needed to ride it. It's one of the biggest cases of anticipointment coaster-wise that I can recall experiencing.

 

It's a photogenic ride, though...

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I don't think so really. I mean, there are other "forceless" coasters from other manufacturers that are pretty highly regarded. CA Screamin' comes to mind.

 

I think with B&M, especially when it comes to the hypers I think the common thing with them is there is no reason for their forcelessness. Trims going up, repeated "floater" airtime, etc.

 

I happen to like most of the B&M Hypers I've ridden but they can get kind of boring. Still, I'd trade any of the ones I've ridden for Goliath (SFMM).

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I don't mind the forceless B&M's, granted I haven't really been on ones considered forceless (that I know of) I've been on all the SFGAdv B&Ms, and Hydra (that was pretty forceless forgot about it), Talon, Diamondback, and Great Bear, I'm sure a few others I can't remember, but Diamondback made me black out in the pre-MCBR helix, and it had really good airtime in the front and back rows.

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I don't think forcefulness is the only aspect that makes the ride good, but it can make it better. I hear people say that the more recent B&M coasters are "boring," but I honestly don't see how a ride filled with twists, turns, inversions, etc. is boring just because it doesn't have extreme forces like the older models do. I actually find that if a coaster is extremely forceful, it can make the ride experience worse and less enjoyable, but that's just me.

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The reasons B&M coasters are great:

1- They are smooth, and they stay that way for most of their life.

2- they look great by design and their paint usually doesn't fall or fade. (With the exception of Tatsu)

3- Four seats per car increases capacity by A LOT.

4- They seem pretty easy to operate.

5- B&Ms are also good because they're widely available. You can most likely hop down to your home park and ride a B&M.

Please note, these are just my opinions, it's likely you have a different view. All this applies to all B&Ms, not just inverts.

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While Silver Bullet may not be as forceful as Batman, I love it for entirely different reasons. Obviously the intesity of Batman is totally awesome, but I like Silver Bullet's layout and variety of elements. I'm particularly a fan of the overbank turn before the cobra roll, and the combination of the corkscrew-banked turn-corkscrew towards the end, as it has a really fun flow to it. And the helix at the end has some pretty good forces too. Plus, it's re-rideable. I don't think I could do more than 2 or 3 back-to-back runs on Batman without it starting to catch up to me. But then again, I've never tried.

 

So in my opinion, I sometimes don't mind losing out a little bit of g-forces in exchange for an interesting/creative layout.

 

On the other hand, not a big fan of Riddler's Revenge. As Ed Farmer said, looks can be deceiving. Riddler's looks impressive, but for me, it usually ends up being kind of boring. Even on slow days, I usually don't return for a 2nd ride.

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The problem is not that they are forceless, as much as very similar.

 

For the people who have been on a couple of hundreds of coasters, they know exactly what to expect of a B&M coaster.

When everybody talks about this forceless-ness it's not a bad thing, it's just the reason why the ride didn't make it in to their top-20.

 

All B&M's are still fun and enjoyable.

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Plus, it's re-rideable. I don't think I could do more than 2 or 3 back-to-back runs on Batman without it starting to catch up to me.

 

Exactly. I've ridden Silver Bullet, Raptor (CP), and a Batman clone and Silver Bullet is my favorite for this reason. Once, I rode Silver Bullet 12 times in a row. It was a very slow day (I think it was a weekday in early March last year) and the operator let my friend and I ride it over and over again, 12 times in a row, front car. It was awesome! Could I do that to Batman or Raptor? No way. Batman is just too insane for me (and I'm pretty tolerant to coasters) and Raptor is just...eh...giant Batman.

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Frankly, yes.

 

The #1 thing most members on these forums like about roller coasters is forces. Sure, you can have a 200 foot ride, but if it has gently sloping hills like a jet coaster, it probably will not rank very high. In theory, inversions are meant to provide positive G's, while airtime hills are meant to provide negative G's. Unfortunately, many newer B&M's seem to be being built with the entire purpose being just to have inversions, not to provide many forces.

 

Going upside down is 'fun'. But, forces are what ultimately cause rides to place so high, as opposed to just having cool elements. No one believes Silver Bullet is 'bad', but there are more forces that can be found on coasters such as California Screamin.

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Here is my take on it:

 

I've been on every type of B&M coaster except for a dive machine and a sit-down coaster (which is going to change this year). Batman clones are the most forceful, but my favorite invert is a toss-up between Raptor and Patriot. Why? Raptor has forces and has some awesome negative-g's in the back seat, but Patriot is FAST. I LOVE speed on a coaster. Patriot is nowhere near as forceful as Raptor, but I still enjoy it almost equally.

 

Basically, if a coaster has speed (or in smaller B&M's case, is fast-paced) then I'll probably end up enjoying it. I've been on Diamondback and Behemoth and while they provided some great floater air, they didn't have much positive g-force... But the speed factor was just incredible. I loved it!!! Why make a crazy insane forceful ride when it's enjoyable without? Leviathan on the other hand, while it was VERY forceful at the beginning of the ride, the overall speed of the ride and then that small "speed hill" rocketed that ride into my top 5.

 

Don't get me wrong, if a ride has forces, that's great! I LOVE that. But for me, the enjoyment comes from speed and pacing.

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I think it's the same qualities that make almost any coaster better than another. Combination of positive and negative g's, and layout/pacing being the most important. Coasters like Silver Bullet have the layout/pacing part down, but lack so severely in the forces department that many of us just can't get excited about it when there are other inverts out there that do both.

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I think with them getting more advanced in computer models, with forces being able to be calculated close to real-life, it's something I think they're getting more conscious about. I don't know if it's any correlation when they went from their original support to troack joints.

 

I've ridden all but 1 of their models (floorless) and each of them have their own "quirks" that I either fine enjoyable or just plain brutal.

 

If I'd rank their models, balance between "forces" and an enjoyable ride, this'll what I'd rank them:

 

1. Dive

2. Hyper

3. Inverted

4. Wing

5. Sitting

6. Flying

7. Standup

 

The way I see this in my mind, 1, 2, 3 have great forces and I find riding those coasters enjoyable, but maybe not several times in a row. 4, 5, have the perfect balance of forces and are enjoyable and can ride several times in row if I could. 6, 7, forces are there, but they're uncomfortable and I find them not very enjoyable riding more than once a day.

 

Personally, I find the standups coaster very uncomfortable, even though I've only rode 2 so far. Iron Wolf was just brutal, was more concerned about my ears not bleeding than anything else. Mantis, the ride was not bad, but when I got off, my legs were trembling so I don't know if it was because I locked my knees on it or what, but never felt that before on any coaster before.

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I think there are multiple things that make for a good B&M. Forcefulness is important, but many new B&Ms are forceful while still feeling less thrilling and interesting. I think what is important is not only how forceful a maneuver is, but the sense or fear that an element is being taken much faster than it should be. Basically fast pacing, which defines rides such as the batman clones or montu.

 

All older B&Ms may seem to take their elements so much more quickly than newer ones, which they do to an extent. But not only are they just MOVING faster, the transitions are much faster and have more a precise and deliberate feel to them. Just look at the difference between the Cobra Roll on alpengeist and the one on silver bullet for example, alpengiest flies in and out of it, and there is just a tension and precision about the way it moves through the element. On the other hand SB doesnt move quite as fast through its cobra roll, and the shaping is much looser and curvier, like it was built around having the smoothest possible transitions.

 

Also Every change in force on an older B&M is quick enough to catch you off guard, and you can feel the contrast from when it is doing something forceful from when it isnt. Instead of easing into a turn or any force, it will slam into it out of nowhere. I mean newer B&Ms have plenty of forces but you would never know because of how long it takes to ease into that force or transition. The best b&ms are the ones that tread the fine line between snappiness while maintaining rider comfort. It seems that every new b&M is comfort oriented as opposed to pacing oriented.

 

To provide some examples-

 

Cobra roll-

 

Tight

Loose

 

Corkscrew into turn-

 

Precise

Fluid

 

First drop

 

Good

Bad

 

Other examples

 

Abrupt changes in forces and direction

Slow boring "forceless" turning and transitions

 

EDIT: The easiest way for you to see what I mean about all this is to compare the kumba pov from tpr to a pov of led zeppelin the ride.

Edited by CPmillenia94
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^For me it's the 'lifting your stomach into your throat" feeling. Some B&M's have drops that are more gradual, and you just miss out on that feeling. That's why on any B&M coaster, I prefer to ride in the back. I don't really care about riding in the front of a coaster, because the forces in the back are far superior on the initial drop. As far as Airtime and other elements, I rank that based on the forces in the middle of the train, because the front and back will of course be biased. If the airtime/forces in the middle of the train suck, the airtime/forces on the ride basically suck. That's just the way I judge. I would never judge a coaster based on an experience I have in just one seat on the train, either. There are some coasters where one seat is great and the others suck, but I'd prefer a coaster where all seats are something amazing!

 

I have come to be on the side of "B&Ms are less forceful than before." I have had much more pleasing rides on Nitro than I have on Diamondback. Same for Rapter versus Silver Bullet. I don't care much about being able to re-ride something because what if the lines are long? I'd rather have one great action packed 2 minute ride than re-ride a boring coaster that just happens to be really smooth. Yes B&M make the smoothest coasters out there, nobody will argue with that, but I'd rather sacrifice a little shakiness to have a crazy fun ride (as long as the shakiness isn't too painful). Re-rideability isn't something I'd rank a coaster high for. I want a coaster that will take my breath away, time after time. Nitro did that for me, but Diamondback did not. There are a lot of factors that go into that decision for me, but forces are a big factor that are basically a make or break for me. When I get a chance to re-ride something with great forces, I'd pick that over re-riding something that was boring but smooth. I marathon on Magnum A LOT just for that reason.

 

I don't know how others feel about it, but that's my two cents.

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I don't think forcefulness is the only aspect that makes the ride good, but it can make it better. I hear people say that the more recent B&M coasters are "boring," but I honestly don't see how a ride filled with twists, turns, inversions, etc. is boring just because it doesn't have extreme forces like the older models do.

When I ride a coaster, I want it to "wow" me, blow me away, hit the brakes and go "HOLY CRAP!"

 

Rides like Silver Bullet are just flat-out boring. Are they "fun?" Sure, I guess. If you find things like driving down the highway in a convertible fun. I dunno, maybe if I'd only been on like 5 B&M inverts, I'd think differently, like in that same way that if I'd only seen 5 movies EVER in my life, and I'm just still impressed with the concept of "moving images" or something.

 

But I've been on like 60-70 B&Ms, and when you've done that many, you absolutely are going to have your list of favorites and list of ones you could do without.

 

Taking Silver Bullet as an example. I don't "hate" it. And I understand the general public likes it because they don't really know any better. But if I were to get off Nemesis, for example, and then go ride Silver Bullet, I'd be all "WTF is this???" "The same guys made this??? HOW!?!!?!?"

 

It's like going from watching "Clerks" to "Jersey Girl."

 

I don't think "How is a ride filled with twists, turns, inversions, etc, boring just because it doesn't have extreme forces?" I think "Wow, what wasted potential this ride had to become a top ten coaster!"

 

And again, in the case of Silver Bullet, I think if I were the park or the ride designers, I'd be pretty pissed and embarrassed to have spent millions of dollars, thousands of man hours designing and constructing the ride, and the efforts from huge teams of people who go into the process, only to have made something that debuted at #120.

 

Seriously, that's kind of sad, IMO.

 

--Robb

Edited by robbalvey
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I was disappointed by Silver Bullet. It's not just the lack of intensity, the shallowness of the drop, but it felt like the final helix was relatively high G force to make up for the rest of the ride. My guess is the average patron of Knott's is not looking for extreme rides, shown by this year's addition of a mild mouse instead of a gigacoaster, so Silver Bullet seems appropriate for them.

 

I like Raptor, Afterburn and Flight Deck (CGA) more than the Batmen even though they're slightly less intense. Raptor and Flight Deck have better pacing and the first drop sort of has airtime in the back seat, which the Batmen do not have. They feel more like a traditional coaster to me (even though they're inverted and perform non-traditional acrobatics).

 

The biggest B&M disappointments for me are at Dorney Park. I had looked forward to Talon for a decade and when I finally rode it I was underwhelmed. It looks great and is beautifully engineered but was not very exciting despite looking awesome, although perhaps going on Skyrush two days earlier made any ride seem dull. Hydra was even weaker -- the only time there was a real upside-down sensation was the low speed roll out of the station. So much potential ... I'd much rather ride Scream at SFMM.

 

The first drop on Griffon is probably my favorite on any coaster.

 

I hope the air time hill on Gatekeeper is at least as good as Diamondback, loopers with airtime are a great combination.

 

I've been on 30 B&Ms, all in the US. Haven't been on B&Ms in TX, MO, FL, NJ, MA, nor on X-Flight.

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^ I see mostly where you're coming from, but what really defines a "good" first B&M invert drop from a "bad" one?

 

I would say just because its so weirdly drawn out and takes too long to ease into the dive. Some of the best drops are like montu katun raptor and dealing dragons because they kind of jerk right into it and dive quickly. Apollos chariot is a great example of this also.

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I haven't been on many new B&Ms, in fact, the only really new one I've ridden was shambhala and it definitely shows that they have been making quite a few forceless rides now. I mean, the ride was great fun (it's tall and it has a lot of airtime) but I rode it 8 times during the day and by the end I was already kind of bored, which didn't happen with dragon khan (and I also rode it 8 times) neither furius baco. If I compare it to nitro (the only other B&M hyper I've been to) it is rather forceless too, even the airtime was a lot more like weightlessness some times while on nitro you had light yet consistent negative Gs. Before I knew a lot about roller coasters I wondered what was that made me enjoy the batman clones that much more than other rides and I agree with Robb when he says he wants to hit the brake run and go "Wow!". And while these less forceful rides may appeal to more people it's also a fact that they will struggle to be among the top coasters.

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I think it really depends on the coaster... I love La Ronde's Goliath, but I found it to be relatively forceless. That being said, I also love Kumba and Montu, and both are still some of the more forceful coasters I've ever experienced (I have to limit the amount of times I ride those in a day).

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I don't really think "forcefulness" is the right word. It is certainly a part of the subject, but I think a better term would be "inspiration". Most (if not all) of B&M's early designs had little quirks in their layouts that made they're rides have a great sense of pacing. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about.

 

-Kumba's ground-hugging flat section just before the cobra roll.

-Raptor's level piece of track between the zero-g roll and the cobra roll.

-Apollo's Chariot's pre-drop, flat sections at the bottom of the valley, and double-dip finale.

-Georgia Scorcher's 90 degree camelback leading into the corkscrew.

-Dragon Challenge's wrap-around immelmann

-even Talon's ground-level/airtime hill finale.

 

These are just a few examples, but I hope you get the point. These little details helped make the rides more complete experiences. The designs were just more quickly paced as well. The recent B&Ms have the force, but they lack the inspiration and quick pace, especially the hyper coasters. For example, despite the fact that Diamondback happens to be one of my favorite steel coasters, I admit that the layout is really static with its nothing-but-giant-camelbacks formula.

 

I do think that B&M seems to be bringing back some personality into their coasters. Leviathan shows some inspiration in its speed-hills and high-speed overbanks. Hair Raiser has its surprise airtime hill. B&M doesn't necessarily need to push the envelope as much as Intamin does to compete, but I would like to see them add some quirks back in their designs again.

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