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Any improvement in Speed?(9 posts)

Any improvement in Speed?Mystic-Thee
Mar 12, 2003 7:50 PM
Perhaps this topic had been discussed here many times. I'm an enthusiast; a beginner and I plan to ride to work in a few weeks. Now that the stifling winter is almost over and spring is around the corner, I plan to commute once a week, and gradually extend it to 2-3 times. The commute is 21 miles each way and I have a Hybrid (Trek 7200 FX), in which I average around 11 miles per hour for the 21 miles. I have some questions for all who would care to respond.

1.Will getting a road bike improve my riding speed and hence shorten my commute time?
2.Considering my stamina strength (averaging 11 mph for 21 miles) how much improvement in speed shall I expect in getting a road bike.
3.Any good recommendations for a road bike in the $500 - $700 for the purpose described above
probably not much differenceDougSloan
Mar 12, 2003 8:41 PM
If you are running high pressure slicks, you won't see much difference in a road touring or even racing bike. The biggest difference will be tires, if you are running knobs or low pressure wide tires now. The next biggest change will be position, if you can get more aero.

You might get another 1 mph by getting a racing bike. I think I'd ride what you have for a few months. If you really like the commuting, and then maybe doing longer rides on the weekends, then think about a faster bike.

In that price range, you're probably best off getting used. I'd check the ads here or ebay.

re: Any improvement in Speed?Dutchy
Mar 12, 2003 9:04 PM
To be honest, 11mph is very slow, so you could quite easily get that ave speed upto 15mph with a bit more riding time and effort. A new bike won't make any difference until you get fitter and start riding harder.
I am not trying to be harsh or smart, just from what you have said I think you need some more frequent riding to get faster.

A fit rider on a hybrid should be able to ave 15mph with ease. Keep at it, speed comes with time, lot's of time.


re: Any improvement in Speed?Fez
Mar 13, 2003 6:31 AM
1. Yes.

2. Speed improvement depends. What is your goal - to get to work faster or to become a better road rider? Not being familiar with your hybrid bike, you could go faster simply by changing to lighter, narrower, but still durable slick tires at higher psi(if you ride on smooth roads). Is everything well maintained and lubed?

The great part of commuting is you improve conditioning no matter which bike you ride. Riding the road bike will help you get accustomed to the road position, but you need to consider whether you have a safe secure place to store the bike. Also, factors like inclement weather and how many packs you are carrying may make the hybrid a better choice for commuting.

3. For $500-700, you could get a decent used road bike in your size. Check classifieds or ebay. If you want new, REI Novara has some good entry level deals, and so does Specialized. Most entry level road bikes are probably going to run a tad higher than the range you specified.

Don't get fixated on the bike. Just keep riding anything - you will improve conditioning and speed over time.
Good luck
As a beginner who switched from hybrid to road...vindicator
Mar 13, 2003 7:40 AM
I have a few thoughts based on my experience of switching over. I'm definitely faster on my road bike having switched, but I can't really quantify it since I didn't use a computer on the hybrid. Possible bases for my improvement:

1) Conditioning. The more you ride, the faster you'll get (to a point, obviously), regardless of bike. Improvement in cadence went hand in hand with this. As my cardiovascular conditioning got to where I could easily cruise at 90+ rpm, it made it easier to maintain good average speed in the flats.

2) Tires, as already discussed. Higher pressure, narrower, slick tires go faster than wide low pressure knobbies or semi-knobbies.

3) Gear size. I don't know about your hybrid, but mine had fairly small chainrings, so I would "spin out" trying to pedal on most downhills. Now with a 52 up front, I'm still pedaling even at 40+ mph.

4) Number of gears. My hybrid had a 7-speed cassette. My road bike has 9. With more gears, it's easier to find the right "cruising" gear at the right cadence.

5) Pedals and shoes. My hybrid had regular "bear claw" pedals with no straps and no clipless system, and I wore tennis shoes. My road bike has light clipless pedals (Speedplays) and I wear light road shoes with a stiff sole. Savings in rotating weight and better biomechanics from the stiff sole and being clipped in has to add a fair amount of speed.

6) Aero position. Definitely a help. I keep my bars high, so it's comfortable to ride in the drops on all descents and on the flats when the headwind or crosswind is bad, or when I'm just haulin' for one reason or another.

7) Overall weight. Dropping 35 pounds off my gut has helped a lot more than dropping bike weight, but having a bike a few pounds lighter doesn't hurt.

Some of these will improve your speed a lot more than others, and they all depend on your starting point. But, if you're starting from as "bad" a hybrid situation as I was, tennis shoes and all, you may find quite a bit of speed improvement when they are all combined. That being said, if you need some of the gear I mentioned (shoes, for example), don't forget to figure that in your budget. I had essentially no gear when I was riding my hybrid (one pair of cycling shorts). Between pedals, shoes, and a full array of summer and winter clothes, even mostly purchased on sale, I've spent about as much on stuff as I did on my road bike...
Mar 13, 2003 8:56 AM
on dropping 35lbs
Hey, thanks man!vindicator
Mar 13, 2003 9:59 AM
Who knew I could have so much fun in the process?
re: Any improvement in Speed?skywalker
Mar 13, 2003 8:28 PM
I switched from a hybrid to a road bike six months ago and found that my average commuting speed jumped from 12.5 to 14.5 mph. That's roughly a 15% increase, which makes the commute 15% shorter. You figure if that is worth $500-700+ to you.

Road bikes are not ideal for commuting in many ways, but there are other reasons to lust after a road bike. If you want a road bike, you want a road bike. And the only way to get around it is to get a road bike.

Your budget, however, is too low. A used road bike is an option, but you may be better off riding your hybrid until you can save another $1,000. Then you can buy a new bike from a reputable bike shop and get all the technical and emotional support you'll need. Buying a new bike at a good shop also increase the chances that your bike will be fitted correctly.

Good luck justifying the spending to your spouse/parents/guilty conscience.
Mar 14, 2003 5:10 AM
If you're commuting, your average speed is probably affected greatly by how many traffic lights you hit, the amount of traffic, etc. In that respect, a faster bike might not make that much difference. However, if your route is on a bike path or roads without many lights, you might notice a substantial difference. On my mountain bike with knobbies, I typically average 3-5 mph slower than on my road bike. Much of that difference could probably be attributed to the tires. However, I noticed an improvement in speed of 1-2 mph in switching from a touring bike to a racing bike many years ago. At that time, I did a lot of training on a 10-mile closed loop in a military base, with very little traffic, and the speed differences were very noticeable on the racing bike.

For the amount of money you have to spend, I would consider buying a used road bike. You can find some nice used bikes in the $500-900 range with good equipment (Ultegra, Chorus, Centaur) on eBay, classifieds, etc. Buying used can be a risky proposition, though, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you do a lot of homework first about your proper size, preferred geometry, etc. You might find some good deals on last year's models in local bike shops, which is probably your safest bet with your first road bike. Some of the best values in less expensive bikes include Specialized, Giant and Raleigh.