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Is it about the bike?(19 posts)

Is it about the bike?liu02bhs
Jan 13, 2002 9:36 PM
Ok, does a expensive bike really make you significantly faster in comparison with a beginner's bike?

P.S. what's nm that ppl put at the end of sentences stand for?
Jan 13, 2002 10:06 PM
it's the motor, not the bike. Go to any amateur race and you will see that this is true.

nm = no message
Jan 14, 2002 6:53 AM
When my brother was alive the little mountain goat could out climb me with his 30 pound touring bike. I had a cannondale that weighed 21.5 with look pedals in 1985. Its the engine.
yes and noElefantino
Jan 13, 2002 10:14 PM
Sure, it's about the engine, not the bike.

Except ...

There's this confidence thing that comes from riding a really nice steed as opposed to an entry-level one. I'd much rather throw a C-40 with Ksyriums around a corner than a Trek 1000 with no-name hoops. I'll dive into a corner with one and tread lightly with the other.

I'll also feel pretty damn superior, even if I can't throw it around a corner as fast as the next guy, because I'm riding a bad-*ss bike. And if my ego is stroked, I am a better cyclist.

Or something like that. Ahem.

nm = what this reply probably should have been.
The bike is the tool, but the wielder must be worthy...Leisure
Jan 14, 2002 1:41 AM
...or something like that.

In mountainbiking you can take $5000 and get either a 20lb hardtail or a 50lb 9"travel DH bike. There is no such variance in roadbiking; the equipment is all built with the same parameters in mind. So, extra money spent has comparatively little effect on measurable performance. The money we spend typically does more to influence reliabilty, feel, and aesthetic. These don't make you faster so much as make you feel better about it. That can be just as important.
realityWoof the dog
Jan 14, 2002 1:44 AM
not significantly, but yes. How much more expensive and more expensive than what? Money could be well spent on light wheels, a good fitting frame, and quality sti that won't degrade shifting in critical moments. I've had my share with the crappy ultegra shifter that just wouldn't shift right. Faster in the long run or right away? Aerodynamic wheels give you speed right away, light wheels give you faster climbing, frame that fits you well and is not a pig iron will be faster in the long run. The rest of the story like derailures, chain, bars, seat...etc. could be cheap but you need the main parts I mentioned to be good. Correct geometry and I'd say durability for a given weight counts in frames. Some frames could be light but not durable enough because designed so-so. The weight counts in wheels, crisp shifting counts in your drive system, so keep it clean and well lubed...and get durace sti - better than lower end stuff.

A lot of people here will tell you that its the engine(your legs), but good aerodynamics and light weight in hills may account for a lot of saved energy. Also, in a time trial only seconds and often miliseconds separate riders. You could, for example, lose lots of money (sometimes hundreds) if you didn't get that 1st or 2nd place = the guy finished .56 seconds faster than you, and yes, he was riding a zipp disc and a 650c front wheel. The point is, if you feel you are a pretty good rider and finally upgraded to say a 3, you want better equipment in order to get further results. That is why more of them serious racers have some good equipment and not an 800 dollar bike with sora and no name coda wheels. If you are a beginner, engine counts a whole lot more, higher up and you'd want a better bike. That seems harsh, but that is a reality.

Damn, i write a lot....all for the purpose of swaying people toward expensive stuff, lol.

Woof the dog.
Jan 14, 2002 3:23 AM
On my entry level bike my average speed around my Sunday loop is 14 - 14.5mph

On my lightweight around the same loop it is 15 - 16.5mph.

But of course my tyres are much better on my lightweight.
really?Woof the dog
Jan 14, 2002 4:50 AM
thats interesting. how are they better? I wish there was such a tire that would let you be 1 or 2 mph faster.

Its probably a position on a bike or your average loop is all uphill. There is no way a 'good' tire could make that much difference unless your psi vary a lot. 0.2 mph is more like it (guesstimate), and thats if it is simply a higher pressure in the tire, say your 115 vs. 135psi, i donno.


Woof, the grade-A-honey producing bee....wait, no...I'm a honey-lovin' dog.
Quite right..John-d
Jan 14, 2002 5:37 AM
This was actually a dig at previous posters as to my spelling of tyre.

So much for jokes on the net.
Sometimes it isMcAndrus
Jan 14, 2002 5:45 AM
Here's an area where I disagree with some of the regulars here. It is true that it is not *all* about the bike but sometimes it *is* about the bike.

It's very easy to make a virtual test. If I were riding a Trek 5900 and Lance were riding a Schwinn Varsity who would win the race? Lance.

If I were riding a Trek 5900 and the local Cat 3s were riding Schwinn Varsities who would win the race? I'd put my money on myself.

But this example is extreme and not real world. I have a steel Bianchi that comes in over 21 pounds and a carbon Giant that comes in around 19 pounds. (They're both 61cm frames which is why they weigh so much.) I can tell you from real world experience that when I'm riding with the aggressive locals, the bike *does* make a difference, particularly in hills and sprints.
Yes - One of my bikes =~23lb ...The other = 16.8lb ...AUH
Jan 14, 2002 6:48 AM
Here's what I think about the 6 pound difference. I owned and rode the heavier bike for quite some time. When I first got the lighter one, I would go out and do a ride of 80 some miles and have the sensation I'd only ridden 30. No exaggeration here.

In general I climb and accelerate noticeably faster, and pedaling feels much more efficient. The other day I did a mountainous, windy solo 80 mile ride and averaged 18.5mph including food and bathroom breaks. If I had done the same on my heavy bike, it would have been more like 15-17.

Now how relevant is this? Well 6lbs is quite a lot of weight to shed in one upgrade. I went from a $1000 Cro-Mo frame/fork, Tiagra components and heavy wheels to a $4300 Carbon frame/fork, DuraAce, and fairly light wheels. Most people out there will drop more like 2-4lb if they upgrade even to the very nicest stuff out there. My difference was definitely noticeable but I think 1/3 of the difference would be quite subtle.

More importantly, I don't think the bike difference matters much if: you're not already a pretty experienced and well trained cyclist and; you haven't acclimated yourself to a beginners bike before getting a very nice one.

I still try to ride my heavy bike much of the time so that come races I'll have a real advantage on the nice bike.

Even modest training will give you much more significant performace improvements than dropping pounds off your bike. Even though I fully approve of having nice equipment I try to tell myself that every time I consider dropping hundreds of dollars on new wheels, stem, seat, etc.

The bike can in some cases make a difference yes, but improvment of the rider makes a much bigger, cheaper, and more satisfying difference.
I forgot to add...AUH
Jan 14, 2002 7:14 AM
As a case to show that it's more in the rider than the bike, last season in racing on my heavy bike I frequntly dusted people who were riding much nicer (17-20lb) equipment. I simply had trained well and was convinced that having a modest machine would not hold me back.

It really gave me a nice snobbly feeling to humble them and their prissy expensive bikes. I will miss it dearly. Now I must be determined not to be too surprised or angry if someone cleans my clock riding a lesser machine - that's just the way it goes.
What's a beginner's bike?tempete
Jan 14, 2002 8:51 AM
When I was 19, I was riding a custom Marinoni Columbus SL frame (commun strong steel) with really nice Fyr wheel and the very first STI Ultegra componentry. That was top-notch.
I'd get dusted by the dude with the exposed-wire Gipiemme salvaged trash.

Today at 32, surprinsingly, I have less money available for biking. I ride a Shimano 105 equipped Giant TCR frame with commun Mavic cxp 21 wheels... And I am faster than ever; sprinting, climbing, avg speed on flats. Did the bike do it? Sorry, but no.

What's a beginner's bike? If it classifies as a road racing bike; gear-spread, wheel/tyre! combination, it's all the same.

KHS Flite 800, Raleigh R600, Giant TCR2, Cannondale 700 would all be called "entry level racing". Are they the reason I finish second? That will never be MY excuse. I still drool over Colnago CT1 or a Lemond Tete de course.

If a bike is under 23 pounds (in reality, with water bottle holders, pedals and a spare tube...) and fits you right. Shimano 105 or Campi Record don't alter you VO2max.
The 90% theoryTJeanloz
Jan 14, 2002 9:09 AM
This sort of question comes up a lot when you sell bikes for a living- because customers want to know if it is 'worth' it to buy a more expensive bike. My standard answer was this:

Assume for a moment, that there is an ideal, perfect bike out there for you. A bike that is 100% perfect, and has no mechanical inefficiencies- all of your power is transferred to the road. Needless to say, such a bike does not exist.

I postulate that an entry level bike (~$600) affords 90% of the performance of this hypothetical perfect bike. Spending another $600 pulls you into a mid-level 105 (or Veloce) and that bike offers something like 95% the performance of this hypothetical bike. Double your money again, to $2400, and you get a pretty nice bike (like Chorus on a good frame) which will offer ~97% of that hypothetical bike. Double your money again, to $4800, and that puts you into something like a C40, Seven, high-end Litespeed, that will afford 99% of the perfect bike. Double your money again, and you're going to get the very best of all stock parts- but all the parts aren't tailored to your exact needs, so you're still somewhere below 100%.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about that model, and talking to people about it. Another way to think about it is that an entry level bike these days is better in almost every way than the bike that LeMond won his first Tour on. The rate of technological change has been phenomenal.

But the question is also pretty easy to test in the field; a lot of guys who buy fancy new bikes keep their "entry level" bike as a rainy day or other sort of training bike. They generally have the two bikes set up exactly the same, and they're usually just as fast on both.
The 90% theorygtx
Jan 14, 2002 9:18 AM
I think the only thing that seperates a $1200 TCR2 from a $5000 C40 might be long-term durability. I think it's gonna provide 99.9% of the "performance." And it's easy to find that bike on sale for $1000 or used for $600.
The 90% theoryTJeanloz
Jan 14, 2002 9:37 AM
"Performance" was my generic term for all encompassing factors by which we can measure bicycles (including subjective things like "looks")- so durability is factored in there.

Reasonably though, the C40 is going to be lighter, slightly better functioning (with Record or Dura-Ace instead of 105), and have lighter rotational weight. The TCR2 is a great bike, but I think it's probably more than .1% from perfect.
The 90% theorygtx
Jan 14, 2002 9:57 AM
sorry, didn't mean to come off like I was mocking you with "performance"--was putting quotes around it because, like you said, there is no perfect word to describe all those various factors. And yeah, I didn't say it was .1% from perfect--just .1% from a C40. :)

And of course, some of these percentage points transfer to real seconds in time trials (especially if you are talking about aerodynamics) but road racing is more of a head game. Slightly unrelated, but I remember at age 18 or so, sneaking up to the team area to take a peek at some of the 7-11 team's bikes at the Coors classic, and seeing--shock! horror!--Shimano 600 on some of those bikes!
80's vintage steel bikes were way more comfydzrider
Jan 14, 2002 12:18 PM
I like the 90% theory. Each of us decide, with our own creteria where the returns diminish to the point of being irrelevant. When the bikes stop feeling better and tracking better, I won't pay more. I tried lots of bikes last summer and few of them felt as good as my wife's 1986 Pinarello. Those that did cost lots more than $1000.
no, but it's more fun to ride [nm]PdxMark
Jan 14, 2002 12:27 PM