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Will I go faster??(18 posts)

Will I go faster??Rich_Racer
Jul 16, 2002 12:32 PM
I want to someone to tell me, if I spend $1000-$1500 on a sexy lightweight bike, will I automatically go faster? (Accepting all the things about fit that I've been reading about).

I've been cycling and rowing for Oxford University for many years. I regularly do about 21mph on solo training rides - have never raced. I have a ten year old steel Raleigh bike that weighs a tonne!

I'm moving to San Diego and thinking of racing, joining a club and perhaps doing triathlon now I've stopped rowing - hence wanting to buy a nice new bike.

Oh, and what should I buy??


re: Will I go faster??No_sprint
Jul 16, 2002 12:43 PM
Firstly, I don't consider a $1000 bike a super sexy super lightweight anything. For that at least in my area, you'll get a mediocre frame/fork, maybe not even full Ultegra setup and undoubtedly not too good wheels.

Secondly, if you're riding a ten year old steel bike that weighs a ton and you switch to a sexy lightweight 18 or so pounder, yes, you will immediately be faster.

Good luck. Racin' in SoCal is viciously tough. I do it every weekend. Your solo 21 mph pace means nothing. The cat 5 races here in SoCal are averaging 25+ mph. This is almost as fast only not as long as the 4s. The 3s here are up to 27/28 typically.

What should you buy? It's up to you. Something that generally fits well, is in your budget and is as light as possible. Dales and Shimano are by far and away the most numerous brand you'll see at the Sunday crits. Relatively cheap, lightweight, stiff, disposable, replaceable, etc.
re: Will I go faster??Rich_Racer
Jul 16, 2002 12:55 PM
How much faster? 10%? 20%??

What are cat 5 races, 4's, and 3s??


re: Will I go faster??No_sprint
Jul 16, 2002 1:08 PM
I doubt as much as 10%. It will be noticeable but you'll still be Rich.

Cat. 5 is the rookie category. Everyone starts there. It'll be where you'll start. Once you've met the requirements for an upgrade, you can go to 4, then to 3, then to 2, then to 1 and then to Pro.

Undoubtedly your best bet is to find a local club that's got a team of racers. Ride and train and learn from them. Only after that would I suggest you enter one. You'll be in for a surprise to find out even how hard the 5 races are.
re: Will I go faster??Jekyll
Jul 16, 2002 1:18 PM
The only thing that will make you anywhere close to 10% faster (under the right conditions - read mostly flat, maybe) is a set of aerobars. 23/20mm high pressure tires will also make a difference. Neither option (typically) requires a new bike.
A newer bike (assuming your current ride in good mechanical condition) will provide wider gear selection and lighter weight. Wider gear selections will let you be marginally more efficient thus arguably slightly faster over a long haul and lighter weight will marginally effect your ability to climb. If your current bike weighs 23lbs and you get a modern 18lb bike and you weight 150lbs the percentage of change in the overall weight you have to haul up hill will change by around 3%.
The biggest difference a new bike will make is psychological - you'll think you're riding a faster bike, thus you will probably ride faster. If you hear people telling you that you can pick up 2 miles an hour by simply getting a different set of wheels take it with a gigantic grain of salt.
Cat stands for category classification of racers (1 through 5). Cat 5 is the slowest bunch - Cat 1 is the fastest. Cat 5/4 are typically weekend warriors.
re: Will I go faster??Rich_Racer
Jul 16, 2002 2:32 PM

My bike weighs 31lbs - I weigh 160.
re: Will I go faster??No_sprint
Jul 16, 2002 2:42 PM
I was thinking it was much heavier than 23 as well. Just a guess on my part.

Yes, you will be noticeably faster.

One last note, a sexy lightweight ride under 18 pounds when it's got tires, computer, cages, pedals, etc. will really cost ya. If you know your size and are dead sure of it, you can find internet deals such as gvh. If you're going the LBS route and pay full bore for a brand new model year, gettin' in at under 18 could surely cost you well over $2000.
Get a new bike, dudeOffTheBack
Jul 16, 2002 3:31 PM
If your current bike weighs 31 lbs, you will be amazed at what a high quality 20 lb bike feels like. You won't regret spending the money. The bike itself may not make you a lot faster, especially on the flats, but it will feel faster and more fun, so you will ride more and longer, and THAT will make you faster.
Unless you're racing, why do you care? (nm)brider
Jul 16, 2002 1:12 PM
Unless you're racing, why do you care? (nm)Rich_Racer
Jul 16, 2002 2:15 PM
Maybe I'm just used to training for rowing and constant attempt at personal improvement including general slogging yourself and much pain - I suppose it's hard to get myself out of that mentality now I've switced to cycling.

Anyway, everyone wants to get better right??
Jul 16, 2002 2:43 PM
The more money you spend the faster you will go. That's the way it works. Even Trolls know that. Choose a better screen name and try again next time.
Jul 16, 2002 3:00 PM

What's a troll?
My crystal ball says, "outlook hazy but positive."AllisonHayes
Jul 16, 2002 2:48 PM
I would say you will most certainly go faster. The basis for my opinion is that, through your rowing experience, you know what hard work and training is.

If you can achieve a sustained 21mph on solo rides, you will see improvement in your speed just by drafting. Add that to the improvement due to your new bike and you should be able to reach 25 mph of cat 5.

You need to build a solid base, but your prior commitment to training should get you there. So join a club, gain experience and in no time you will be able to achieve 28-29 mph. And if speed is really your gig, you may want to do a TT.

But remember, speed isn't everything. Read Lance Armstrong's book, "It's Not About The Bike," and Joel Friel's book, "Cyclist's Training Bible."

Welcome to world of cycling.

My crystal ball says, "outlook hazy but positive."Rich_Racer
Jul 16, 2002 2:57 PM
I like positives!!
I've been flamed before....filtersweep
Jul 16, 2002 4:43 PM
I really believe if you think you even have a chance at being serious about cycling (as in "addicted"), $1500 is about where the sweet spot BEGINS for bang for the buck. You can get a "few compromises" Ultegra bike. If you do need to make compromises think "wheels"- you really need to spend a mint on a "complete bike" before the stock wheels are anything you'd consider racing on... same goes for tires.

But- for cat 5 racing, don't spend too much, because you will crash (and you won't want to completely freak)! (Or at least you need to accept that reality- if you race with a "fear of crashing" you might as well stay home).

Marketing is full of pseudo science, so beware. I will say that something as simple as upgrading my wheels made a noticeable difference in my average speed... but your mileage may vary.
Don't let these guys scare you Rich!Mr Good
Jul 16, 2002 6:55 PM
Cyclists are a notoriously insular, cliqueish bunch. If you're pretty fit you can race, but you need:
1) a good bike, yes you should get a new one.
2) race specific training, to turn general fitness into race fitness, and
3) bike handling skills, and pack riding sense, for safety in the races.

You won't get any of these things on the internet, though.

For #1, you need a good bike shop. The shop is more important than the bike! Look for a place that has high end bikes and is into racing, but DOES NOT give you additude, or leave you with a bad feeling. They should be interested in what you intend to use the bike for, and find/build a bike to suit you.

for #'s 2 and 3, find a racing club in San Diego area that welcomes new people/cat 5/beginners and learn by going on club rides and training rides. The members should ease you into the racing scene and prepare you for your first races. Beware! Many race teams/clubs are simply a small group of friends who have procured sponsorship for themselves and don't want new members. That's fine for them, but you want a racing club that is inerested in welcoming new people into the sport and teaching them. Larger clubs are more likely to do this, but I don't live in So Cal so I have no suggestions as far as clubs go.

Oh yeah, --the new bike won't make you faster, but it will "hold you back less." Even if you don't race get something modern and nice. If you like riding bikes you won't regret it, whether you race or not.
Don't let these guys scare you Rich!Rich_Racer
Jul 17, 2002 2:59 AM
Thanks for all of that - it all sounds like good advice to me! Maybe I'll post again in 6 months time and tell everyone how it's going!


re: Will I go faster??aliensporebomb
Jul 17, 2002 9:32 AM
When I went from my 33 pound mountain bike to an 18 lb.
fast road racer it was like someone kicked me in the butt
with adrenalin. It inspired me to ride more, ride faster,
and I just enjoyed everything so much more.

My frame is 2.2 lbs, the bike is all Shimano 105 (which
was my minimum acceptable gruppo, I'll move to Ultegra at some point but the thing works so I'm not complaining) and I've got carbon seatpost, stem, fork, and seatframe so it tops out around 18 lbs. It's a Giant TCR2. $1300 USD
out the door. It's lighter than my friend's GT ZR 2.0 with
Ultegra. Both great bikes, just different philosophies.

The thin high pressure tires and the fact that the bike was
on the order of 15 pounds lighter made a huge difference.
Speed is the name of the game here.

My old road bike was 27 pounds and I could do 22-24 mph
on it but climbing hills was tortuous and speeds higher
than 25 mph I had to go all out to attain (30 mph sprint
on flats max but I'd be pretty tired afterwards).

Now that I have a lighter bike I notice several things -
less overall exertion is needed to attain and hold speeds
higher than 25 mph. Climbing hills, even formerly awful
ones is actually manageable. Long rides are just more fun
because I'm not hauling around 15 lbs. of excess metalwork.
And there's nothing quite like the smooth ride of a brand
new bike.

Look - you don't HAVE to have Ultegra/Dura-Ace but if you
can afford it, get it. Every little bit helps. Just get a
group that lets you shift from the drops smoothly and be
done with it and RIDE IT TO DEATH. Maybe upgrade to a
nicer wheelset down the road too. Or get a good one to
begin with.

When you're getting in the 15-18 lb range that's pretty
light and if your former ride is a 30 lb. sedan, you owe
it to yourself to try out one of these lightweight "sports

Go for it. You won't regret it.

By the way: The earlier poster is right about the $1K bike -The difference between a $999 bike and a $1300 bike is
actually quite noticeable. And the difference between
a $1300 ride and a $1800-$2000 ride is more subtle but
it's there. You have to decide what's right for you though.