Getting Quicker - Me or the Bike ?

Kingsmill1
Kingsmill1 Posts: 103
edited June 2013 in Road beginners
Been cycling for a year now started off with a cheapish alu frame bike, back in January I completed a 30 mile ride in 2 hrs 9 min average speed 14.1 mph. Since then I've been averaging 4 hrs a week and about 60 miles per week. Nothing major just enough to keep the weight off and get fit. About 2 months ago invested in a entry level Carbon bike 105-ultegra and did'nt really notice to much of a difference in terms of increase in speed but thankfully the gear ratio improved my climbing as all my PR's on hills started to get better. Today I did 32 miles before the rain came down on my usual route and did it in 1hr.59min average speed 16 mph on the new bike, which I was pleased with because A- average speed was 2 mph quicker and B- time and distance was slightly longer. What has surprised me was why the sudden improvement which made me think me or the bike I suspect a bit of both but would a change in bike give that much performance increase.
Giant TCR Comp 2
Specialized Allez Sport

Comments

  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Definitely the bike - nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that your fitness has probably increased.
  • TakeTurns
    TakeTurns Posts: 1,075
    Bit of both like you mentioned. Also, the psychological benefit of having a shiny new bike. :)
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    The bike has certainly helped I would have thought. And even if it did not I guess you still prefer the nicer looking/feeling one.
    At the very least it will annoy all those that think a 2 ton Viking is as fast as a Dogma.
  • Mindermast
    Mindermast Posts: 124
    Impossible to tell! I got new wheels, 200 g ligher, made me faster. Same bike, old wheels, same speed now, cyclocross-bike, fat wheels, 1 kg heavier than my racer, same speed again. Took my old 2x6 gear Peugeot bike from 1983, 10,8 kgs, whoops, same speed again...

    I think, it is the fun that makes you faster. A good bike has many advantages, but on long distance tours, it all boils down to rolling resistance, wind resistance and a sufficiently stiff bike. Ligher bikes have less inertia and can be accelerated more easily. But due to the lower momentum, they can be slowed down more easily as well. Rolling resistance can be changed with different tyres. Most of the wind resistance is caused by the cyclist. Most of the weight is the cyclist. The cyclist is the one who provides the energy. Not much left to the bike to improve... Actually, I think, that the momentary fitness is more important than the condition, weight or quality of the bike (if it isn't just crap or completely wrong size).

    So what's the hype about better gear, lighter stuff and so on??? It can give you that little bit that you need to catch up with the others or even grant you that split second that lets you win. Good quality parts make your life easier, less frustration, more trust. New stuff makes you believe, that you can be better now. But new stuff is not like a turbo, it is rather than a better setting for the turbo.

    Ok, half of this is idealised, don't take anything literally.
  • cyco2
    cyco2 Posts: 593
    Kingsmill1 wrote:
    What has surprised me was why the sudden improvement which made me think me or the bike I suspect a bit of both but would a change in bike give that much performance increase.

    Most definitely the bike because there may be a lot of differences to your other bike. Such as your aerodynamic position could be slightly lower, the wheels may be lighter. You could do some measurments and weighing to find out what are the basic differences are before you pat yourself on the head because you have found and overnight way to increased fitness. :D You may find you can in time lower the bars or change the tyres and inner tubes on your new bike and get even more speed.
    ...................................................................................................

    If you want to be a strong rider you have to do strong things.
    However if you train like a cart horse you'll race like one.
  • simon_masterson
    simon_masterson Posts: 2,740
    I wrote a post on this but it seems to have vanished...

    Whilst you're better off asking 'how much impact did the bike have?', as you're otherwise essentially telling us what your time was before a period of training and what it is after...

    Suffice to say that there is only so much 'actual' difference one bike can make from another. Cycling is a game of pushing air out of the way, and the critical factor is your body. Obviously a 'nicer' (this being subjective, after all) bike might have more suitable geometry and facilitate a good position on the bike better than a lesser machine, as well as being more comfortable, but the bike can't do it for you (it's very possible, however uncomfortable in some cases, to achieve a good position on most fitting road bikes), and most road cyclists could improve their posture anyway. I wouldn't expect your wheel weight to make much difference in overall time on a straight run of that length and duration. If the new bike is lighter then you might have saved a few seconds. It sounds like your gearing has made a difference (what did you have before?) but I find it hard to count that as the wrong gearing could stop anyone.

    It seems obvious, but did you record the two times in comparable weather conditions? I measured my 10 mile time in January in horrible conditions. I clocked 26:57. The winds were 'I'm about to be blown off the road' strength. It would be difficult to control conditions such that it could be ascertained how much faster your new bike makes you, but I would certainly expect you to achieve very close times on the same course with both bikes, if the setup (seat and handlebars, etc) and gearing were identical.

    It sounds like your new bike makes you happy. I'm sure it makes you more comfortable, and therefore your cycling is probably more enjoyable. That helps.
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    I have an entry level defy 4 and a spesh roubaix comp.. Not a jot between them in terms of performance that I can discern. Sounds like the engine room has improved. I have noticed an improvement in my rides in the last 2 months with my averages now being about 14 with the occasional 15 or 16 when previously was about 12.5. Must be getting fitter
  • NITR8s
    NITR8s Posts: 688
    Without doing the 30+Loop at the same time and the same day it is impossible to tell. Wind speed is an enourmous facter.

    On Saturday I went out for a spin in wind speeds of 39kmh plus 60+kmh gusts. As part of my 30 mile ride I done the local TT course. In one direction I managed 24.9mph average over about 4 miles in the return 4 miles that had dropped to an average of 16.1Mph. Which if you are no good at maths is an 8mph difference! http://app.strava.com/activities/60456523

    Therefore it could have just been a more favourable weather.

    However it is more likely a number of different things.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    I do not get how some of you guys can say there is no performance difference between two reasonably different bikes.
    That would (to my mind) throw up loads of questions.........

    So both bikes are exactly the same performance despite all the differences?
    Would a rubbing brake pad not hinder performance?
    if yes then why would nothing (say quality hubs) improve performance?
    Why did you buy the second (more expensive) bike?
    Why not just have a really sh1t (cheap) bike?
    Are all bikes the same performance with the same 'engine' on them?
    Could you just ride a Raleigh Chopper with any given 'engine'?
    If not, at what point did the bike become the important factor?

    As far as I see it there is a performance difference between every single bike out there. It may be small or biggish, but its there.
    Other factors are probably more important and its not really worth analysing it all. Just buy a better bike, ride a better bike, and then ride it some more.

    The bike and the 'engine' (boy I hate that term) are two separate things in terms of performance and I do not think they should ever be linked.
    You buy a better bike to be faster on, which is different to buying it to make you faster :wink:
  • jotko
    jotko Posts: 457
    NITR8s wrote:
    On Saturday I went out for a spin in wind speeds of 39kmh plus 60+kmh gusts. As part of my 30 mile ride I done the local TT course. In one direction I managed 24.9mph average over about 4 miles in the return 4 miles that had dropped to an average of 16.1Mph. Which if you are no good at maths is an 8mph difference! http://app.strava.com/activities/60456523

    Therefore it could have just been a more favourable weather.

    However it is more likely a number of different things.

    Ha ha, sounds exactly like my Saturday. Had a go at the U7B 10 mile TT course, it was massively windy :shock:

    First 5 with tail wind - average speed 25mph, second 5 straight into it - average 19mph

    http://app.strava.com/activities/60447254

    Looking at strava data I was going 11mph up the big hill into the wind at one point, my legs still haven't recovered .:lol:
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    I've got a new bike too ...

    rode it on my test circuit and did a second best time. The difference being the wind direction - just as strong but 180° round on the previous 3 attempts. The dimensions of the new bike are exactly the same as the previous one - so no change there ...

    I also rode on to have a go at a segment close to the end of that circuit and got KOM ... having had a very nice tailwind - my previous attempts had been on a CX with CX tyres!

    I bought my wife some new "bling" wheels (they've got white hubs) - went out for a test ride and she was faster despite me encouraging her to ease up.

    Does the bike/gear make a difference - IMHO the answer is a most definite YES - but not such a big difference as you may think - you're not going to become Pro standard overnight .. and a Pro on a chopper could probably still whoop your arse! ;)
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,504
    It's likely to be a combination of a whole host of things:-

    Fitness improved
    Better, more efficient position on the new bike
    More aero position on the new bike
    If hilly or a route with lots of slowing down and speeding up the weight of the bike will come into play
    Warmer air at the moment which is less dense
    Maybe you rode on a day where the wind was lighter than it has been for much of the year

    If the speed went up literally from your previous ride on the other bike to your first ride on the new bike then most of the improvement is down to the bike and / or weather conditions than your own fitness though.
  • Schoie81
    Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Pross wrote:
    If the speed went up literally from your previous ride on the other bike to your first ride on the new bike...

    The OP has me confused slightly on this...? Kingsmill - you're asking why your performance has 'suddenly' improved, but you're comparing a ride from January on your old bike, with a ride on 16th June on your new bike? You say that since Janaury, you've been averaging 60miles a week on the bike(s) - that's getting up towards 1500miles. You've had the new bike 2months but you say you didn't notice much improvement when you first got it. I'm not knocking your performance improvement in the slightest, any improvement is to be congratulated in my opinion, but are you sure there actually has been a "sudden" improvement and you haven't just been steadily improving over the course of the past 5-6months?
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • simon_masterson
    simon_masterson Posts: 2,740
    edited June 2013
    Carbonator wrote:
    I do not get how some of you guys can say there is no performance difference between two reasonably different bikes.
    That would (to my mind) throw up loads of questions.........

    So both bikes are exactly the same performance despite all the differences?
    Would a rubbing brake pad not hinder performance?
    if yes then why would nothing (say quality hubs) improve performance?
    Why did you buy the second (more expensive) bike?
    Why not just have a really sh1t (cheap) bike?
    Are all bikes the same performance with the same 'engine' on them?
    Could you just ride a Raleigh Chopper with any given 'engine'?
    If not, at what point did the bike become the important factor?

    As far as I see it there is a performance difference between every single bike out there. It may be small or biggish, but its there.
    Other factors are probably more important and its not really worth analysing it all. Just buy a better bike, ride a better bike, and then ride it some more.

    The bike and the 'engine' (boy I hate that term) are two separate things in terms of performance and I do not think they should ever be linked.
    You buy a better bike to be faster on, which is different to buying it to make you faster :wink:

    It says it all for your arguments if you have to resort to rubbing brake pads and Raleigh choppers. ;)

    But good bikes make good ENGINES (:lol:) better. They facilitate more aerodynamic position, better handling and comfort, etc. Far from being separate, they are inextricably linked. Improved rider position (using aero bars included), improved clothing aerodynamics and TT hats and so on will likely have a greater impact on your time than having nicer hubs.

    Among fully functional and properly fitting road bikes, the performance differences are very small. They are important if you are racing (and good at it), but they remain small. If there is no stopwatch involved, a couple of minutes off that hill or 2 minutes off every hour (etc etc etc) are of minimal relevance. If I sent out 15 riders with 15 different racing bikes of comparable quality from the last four decades to record times, you wouldn't be able to tell me which rider rode which bike, would you?

    And of course, the bike designed to be the best for performance may not be the most comfortable anyway...
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    They were all random examples so it makes no sense you quoting each one really.

    A better bike is either faster or its not. I think it is and I find it difficult to say otherwise personally.
    The degree to which it is better may be marginal and fairly subjective, and its not really worth debating too much IMO. Just get the bike you like/best you can afford and go ride it faster.
  • simon_masterson
    simon_masterson Posts: 2,740
    Carbonator wrote:
    A better bike is either faster or its not. I think it is and I find it difficult to say otherwise personally.

    If an accomplished rider with good fitness and posture rides two bikes, one of which is a typical £700 aluminium job and the other is a distinctly higher class one, and achieves a slightly faster time on the second, then yes. If a much less accomplished rider gets on a bike with a setup that is much too low for their present conditioning, then no. When it comes to mechanically sound, fitting road bikes, it's just not necessarily true that both cyclist A and cyclist B can upgrade from bike A to bike B and go faster.
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    Oorerr hadn't thought of the effect of air. So is it true that warmer air is less dense therefore one rides faster? If so by how much?
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Carbonator wrote:
    A better bike is either faster or its not. I think it is and I find it difficult to say otherwise personally.

    If an accomplished rider with good fitness and posture rides two bikes, one of which is a typical £700 aluminium job and the other is a distinctly higher class one, and achieves a slightly faster time on the second, then yes. If a much less accomplished rider gets on a bike with a setup that is much too low for their present conditioning, then no. When it comes to mechanically sound, fitting road bikes, it's just not necessarily true that both cyclist A and cyclist B can upgrade from bike A to bike B and go faster.

    I know what you are saying and agree.............but don't agree.
    I feel a better bike will always go a little (even if its only a tiny amount) faster because its unlikely to be slower or exactly the same.

    I guess it depends a lot on what you mean by 'accomplished rider'. Sounds a little snobby to me to keep talking about racers and the like. Kind of as if you have a problem with amateurs buying a nice bike rather than genuinely wanting to dispel a possible myth that they will get faster if they spend more and are wasting their money. Apologies if thats not the case though :wink:.

    That kind of goes back to my point about not linking the two things. Just buy a better bike because you want it.
    It will go a small amount faster because its better and probably a measurably amount faster because you enjoy riding it more, may pay more attention to set up etc. and are just getting fitter.

    The alternative of just keeping the same bike, or using your logic, getting a cheaper/inferior one just seems silly and one may as well just forget cycling and take up golf :shock:
  • Schoie81
    Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Mikey23 wrote:
    Oorerr hadn't thought of the effect of air. So is it true that warmer air is less dense therefore one rides faster? If so by how much?

    It is true that warm air is less dense than cold air, and this must make a difference, although I suspect it is a very small difference that you would struggle to physically measure. I think in terms of the 'effect of air', wind speed is much more of a factor - if you double your speed, you (roughly) quadruple your 'drag'.
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • Stewpot407
    Stewpot407 Posts: 97
    I'm sure they heated/warmed up the velodrome for the london 2012's to help beat WR's ? It was the spectators that were complaining (too hot) not the riders.

    Cheers

    Stew
    An aging Trek 5500 OCLV
    Not so aging Pina Dogma (AK61)
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    Schoie81 wrote:
    Mikey23 wrote:
    Oorerr hadn't thought of the effect of air. So is it true that warmer air is less dense therefore one rides faster? If so by how much?

    It is true that warm air is less dense than cold air, and this must make a difference, although I suspect it is a very small difference that you would struggle to physically measure. I think in terms of the 'effect of air', wind speed is much more of a factor - if you double your speed, you (roughly) quadruple your 'drag'.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Density_of_air

    plus - add in humidity - that'll have an effect on the weight of the air.
  • simon_masterson
    simon_masterson Posts: 2,740
    Carbonator wrote:
    I guess it depends a lot on what you mean by 'accomplished rider'. Sounds a little snobby to me to keep talking about racers and the like.

    It does, of course, and I'm not meaning to imply that only people that tear around hell-for-leather in lycra are worthy; I'm referring to people with good aerobic fitness and physical conditioning (i.e. flexibility, core strength, etc). It's just a simple fact that if you want to go fast on a bike, you have to have good positioning, and without the latter, it simply won't happen, no matter how good the bike is. If anything as mentioned before, an ultra-low aggressive position could prove counterproductive to a rider unable to sustain the position, if the result is craning the neck upwards or not using the hoods and drops, to compensate.
  • Kingsmill1
    Kingsmill1 Posts: 103
    Having looked through the various posts my first bike in January Specialised Allez Sport, second bike Giant Comp 2 both second bike is certainly lighter and better components. Both rides were over same roads in terms of hills e.t.c wind conditions compairable however cant check exactly. One bike has 18 gears and the other 20 gear the cassettes are different as well one sora one tiagra. My weight has remained constant over the past 6 months ( much to my disgust).
    Giant TCR Comp 2
    Specialized Allez Sport
  • jgsi
    jgsi Posts: 5,062
    Kingsmill1 wrote:
    My weight has remained constant over the past 6 months ( much to my disgust).

    Eat less of this crud? kings1.jpg
    Ride the bike more? edit HARDER
  • Kingsmill1
    Kingsmill1 Posts: 103
    bread is my weakness i had already lost 1 and 1/2 stone so have been maintaining my weight but as Im in my mid 40's doctors said it was going to be harder to shift then if I was say 30. But only eat mainly brown wholemeal and on a occasion a few slices of white.
    Giant TCR Comp 2
    Specialized Allez Sport