Are modern coasters actually rough or are enthusiasts looking for something to complain about?

Jephry's avatar

Along with Coaster Buzz and Point Buzz, I often engage with the coaster community on Reddit and one of the common things I've noticed is just how often people complain about coaster roughness. This blows my mind coming from an era when coasters were built on vibes and bendable wires. When I think about roughness to the point of pain, I always think about Mean Streak. You knew you were in for a bad time just experiencing the turnaround to the lift hill. But sometimes I see people complaining about modern coasters that I honestly think are just fine. Rougarou always comes to mind. I remember emerging from Covid expecting the most painful experience alive, but when I rode it, I thought it was a massive improvement over Mantis and apart from one transition that caused head banging, I found it pretty smooth. I was just on Reddit and folks were talking about Banshee. And don't even get me started on TT2.

All this has me I just have a high tolerance for roughness? Are newer enthusiasts measuring roughness with a different yardstick? Or are folks just looking for something to complain about?

That last reason always comes to mind for a very different reason. When Steel Vengeance debuted, everyone gushed over it. EVERYONE. Fast forward to Iron Gwazi and I saw that love go to people talking about how overhyped it was, despite them doing the hyping. It all feels like a ploy to get upvotes or to be contrarian or to lift something up by putting something down. But at the same time, it could be that I grew up with Arrow coasters, which ranged from terrible to great. The first and second reason could also be true. Your thoughts?

Quick edit: I don't pose this question to complain (mostly) or expect anyone to jump on my bandwagon. I've just been confused these past few years when I've ridden coasters other people consider rough and I just don't feel the same. I figure forum has enthusiasts of all ages, so feedback will be quality. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong.

Last edited by Jephry,
Jeff's avatar

Coasters have objectively become smoother, even when made to be aggressive. To your point, everything is designed with computers and is precise in the way that 80's Arrows were not.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog


It all feels like a ploy to get upvotes or to be contrarian or to lift something up by putting something down

I do feel like this is a lot of it. Many of the amateur content creators love the click batey taglines on their Youtube thumbnails. And even if the RMC style ride experience isn't a personal favorite for some, no enthusiast can ride an RMC like Steel Vengeance or Iron Gwazi for the first time and not be genuinely impressed. Plus I think we can be jaded. I see some of these same internet folks making fun of Dorney for adding Iron Menace this year, despite it being a perfect and overdue addition for that park in that market. An Iron Menace sized dive coaser would have been an underwhelming addition to a park like Cedar Point or Magic Mountain. But you can't tell me the same people essentially making fun of Iron Menace wouldn't be praising it if it were going to a fan favorite park like Holiday World.

Speaking of Holiday World, Voyage is what I wouid consider a modern day rough and uncomfortable ride. I understand it wasn't like this in the early years, but I didn't get a chance to ride it then. I was so disappointed in it and I know it gets well deserved love. But it didn't deserve it when I got to ride. Same with the current condition of El Toro.

It’s all relative to your experience. I grew up on the old Arrow coasters as well. They were definitely rough, but I was young and grew accustomed to them I guess.

when I rode my first B&M, it was a revelation. I think it was Apollos Chariot a year or two after it opened


Many of the amateur content creators love the click batey taglines

How could you possibly know anything about click batey taglines???

Jeff's avatar

"Content creator" shouldn't even be a thing. Ninety percent of YouTube is opinion nonsense cable news about every niche you can think of. When I had the time to do video, I was acting as a documentarian or filmmaker, not someone making "content." You didn't see me talking about whatever when Holiday World opened a ride or I toured a factory. I was not the story.

Get off my lawn!

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Before anything, I ask whether you're talking about "unmaintained wooden coaster" rough, or "Arrow transition jankiness" rough? They are two entirely separate things to me.

The former tends to come and go as parks maintain (or not) their rides. Beast was horribly rough til it's recent work, now it's pretty good. Same with Racer. Diamondback is starting to get a little rough in the valleys on wheel seats but it's not really that bad (yet). Coasters will get rough like this til they're either scrapped or refurbished.

The latter roughness (Arrow jank) seems to have mostly gone away, as others have said, computers helped a lot here.

I do agree it seems more folks these days have particularily sensitive hind ends, based on typical interweb complaints...

Some B&Ms vibrate so much they are unbearable. BGW Griffon and Kings Dominion Dominator are two examples. But both used to be smooth so it’s neglected maintenance IMO

Last edited by super7*,

My last rides on Banshee were terrible. I'm not a local so I've only ridden it a few times. Perhaps it was just running poorly that day, or perhaps that ride just doesn't agree with me for some reason. Conversely, many seem to complain about Rip Ride Rockit but I've never found that ride to be rough at all.
Banshee < RRR

Jephry's avatar

Before anything, I ask whether you're talking about "unmaintained wooden coaster" rough, or "Arrow transition jankiness" rough? They are two entirely separate things to me.

I'm not even talking about those since they are mostly pre-CAD built coasters. I mean modern B&Ms, Intamin, and RMCs where people complain of a rattle or roughness that I just don't experience.

Someone on Reddit said that we've entered the Era of Comfort Thrills and I agree. I think standards on what thrilling is has changed from a coaster feeling out of control, to absolute smoothness to maximize the focused feeling of negative Gs. To me, a non-head-banging jostle is a lot of fun. Think of the feeling you get on The Beast during the double helix. I do think much of the complaining is screaming for the sake of screaming, but I think tastes of simply changed.

Last edited by Jephry,
eightdotthree's avatar

I think a lot of this is down to how people communicate quality. It's either the best or it's the worst. 1 star or 5.

That said all of the modern looping B&Ms give me a headache. Wing coasters, dive coasters, suspended, etc. The only thing I can point to is that they all use the vest restraint. I can ride Raptor despite its jolts but not Banshee.

Jeff's avatar

That's interesting because I have the opposite experience. I have to ride Raptor defensively, especially through the cobra roll and the turn into the final brakes. If I don't, my head pinballs around in the restraint. Your head can't touch anything on the vest-style.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

A lot of it differs by individual. "Rough" is to a large extent in the eyes of the beholder (or butt of the rider I suppose). Not everyone agrees. I never found Mean Streak to be rough. Just very boring (second time I rode it I turned halfway through the ride to my brother who was riding with me and asked what was new in Columbus). Gatekeeper has a vibration that gives me a headache and I much prefer Raptor over Banshee. Others have very different experiences/views.

There is also now a tendency for the dramatic. Everything is either the worst ever or best ever. Anything in between isn't worth talking about, I guess? And bad news sells. Scan the news/media and you typically see more negative stories than positive ones.

I think there is also a generational aspect to it. Some older types often say "they don't make things like they used to." In part its often a way to tell younger people that they will never get to experience the greatness which was what older people all knew. In general, I think we tend to over-romanticize many things such that they are better in our memories than they actually were. And younger generations are looking (like all of those before them) to do things better and in the process pointing out all of the things older generations did wrong.

In general, I think life is getting better (as it has my whole life). I don't necessarily like everything new (but that is how it should be) but the trend at least from my perspective is clear.

eightdotthree's avatar


Your head can't touch anything on the vest-style.

No, but the Gs in the valleys create what I can only describe as jolts or shaking. Almost like the train and seats are flexing and bouncing back. Every wing coaster feels like this to me as does Valravn. I think something to do with the vests locking me down so my body can't move with the shocks.

Sort of inline with what eithtdotthree said, I find that new coasters can be rough in different ways, and some of them affect me more than the old ways.

I find that a number of B&M hypers have a strong vibration. I'm not sure whether this is down to maintenance, aging, or just something inherent to the design of the trains, but it gives me a headache and really affects the enjoyment of the ride for me.

Banshee has a unique issue that I've yet to experience elsewhere, which is less of a vibration and more of a vertical shudder. When it's bad, I feel like my insides are trying to be forced out of my butt.

Something that also seems to be a more modern phenomenon is intense, sustained g-forces. Orion has a gray-out helix. Verbolten has a gray-out helix. I-305 is famous for its gray-out first turn. MF grays me out from the bottom of the first drop through the second hill. Banshee is just balls to the walls vertical g's. Is Raptor an intense ride? Absolute. However, I don't feel like my skin is being pulled out from under me during the entire ride like it does on Banshee. Everything is subjective, but I don't like that sensation. On a more factual opinion, Banshee doesn't seem to get lines nearly as long as those that Raptor still attracts. Diamondback still consistently gets lines substantially longer than Orion.

The funny thing about Arrows is that they were rough due to poorly designed transitions, but in terms of how they ride on the rails, I find them to be extremely smooth. Phantom's Revenge is still running on the original chassis from Steel Phantom and that thing is smooth as glass. I'm not sure why it's so difficult to translate that knowledge from 30 years ago to modern rides.

Are coasters now smoother than their earlier counterparts like Steel Phantom and Magnum? Absolutely. However, those rides were a product of their time and the technology available. Now, I feel like the technology is there, but in many ways manufacturers are missing the boat, either through trying to push the limits or just not keeping up with the times.

It's frustrating to me because it seems to be a solvable problem. Modern Vekomas are super smooth. Premiers like Sky Rocket at Kennywood are very smooth. Surely B&M can figure out how to fix their vibration issues too, yet here we are. They rebuilt Nemesis from the ground up and got brand new trains, yet now some people are reporting that it has a worse vibration than when they closed it after almost 30 years of operation.

Last edited by PhantomTails,
Vater's avatar

Back in my day, we had Togos and we liked 'em!

Bakeman31092's avatar

I differentiate between roughness and aggressiveness, where roughness is how well the trains track, and aggressiveness is how quickly the forces change direction. A ride like Banshee I wouldn't call aggressive, even though it pulls very high and sustained positive Gs, because the direction changes are fairly gradual. Steel Vengeance, on the other hand, is hyper aggressive but also rolls like butter along the track. I don't get any sense of vibration or rattling on that ride; it just throws you around real hard.

The B&M thing is interesting, because I agree the older models generally have a smoother feel, if not also a little bit loose due to age, whereas the newer models have distinct vibratory jounce that seems more a function of the vehicle design and less about tracking. I'd be curious to know if they changed something in the wheel carriage suspension or the carriage itself that is causing this.

Go to Six Flags America and sit in the back row of the wooden coaster ROAR. It's brutal (Even after the track updates in 2022)

Nemesis Reborn is smooth, but there is some weird vibration/shuffle in the turns that is quite interesting. Not enough to hinder the incredible ride, but it's not 'right'. Many reports of Iron Menace at Dorney and Dr. Diabolical at SFFT having quite a shuffle, or poor tracking. Seems to be hit or miss with new B&M installations. I found Candymonium to feel as you'd expect for a new install, super smooth for example.

B&M you could count on the smoothest rides regardless of age, within reason, but newer installs tend to just track more poorly. I find most of the newer train designs to be the worst offenders (Banshee, new dive machines, etc...). Surprised Nemesis has it's weird issues considering the trains were refurbed I believe, so nothing new there.


The funny thing about Arrows is that they were rough due to poorly designed transitions, but in terms of how they ride on the rails, I find them to be extremely smooth. Phantom's Revenge is still running on the original chassis from Steel Phantom and that thing is smooth as glass. I'm not sure why it's so difficult to translate that knowledge from 30 years ago to modern rides.

I wonder if the lack of knowledge (or, more likely, computer power) is responsible for Arrow's smoother ride. Back before computer modelling was widely available, designers may have approximated loads to which trains would be subjected, and then (hypothetically) used a safety factor of three or four. Today, the loads can be calculated more accurately and a safety factor of only, let's say two, is needed. Modern trains can still reliably withstand the required forces, but they (presumably) can use less material, are more flexible, and experience more vibrations. While trains of the past may have been heavier and stiffer (i.e., more expensive) to account for loading conditions that were difficult to quantify, a beneficial side effect could be a smoother ride.

Last time I went to Cedar Point I was surprised by the bumpiness of Millennium Force. Next time I go, I think I'll ride MF and Magnum right after the other to compare.

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