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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ed in Toronto's Avatar
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    Do steel lugged bikes go faster downhill than carbon fiber bikes?

    I find that when I'm coasting down a long hill along side carbon fiber bikes also coasting, that my steel bike starts to increase speed over the carbon fiber bikes. I have to keep touching my brake so that I don't put my front wheel into their rear wheel. I don't like constantly touching the brakes down a long slope, so I eventually duck right down with my chin almost touching my stem for more wind resistance and pass a little quicker, to get it over with.

    Or is something else going on, like I have less drag from my position in the saddle over them. They have dropped handle bars too, so I don't know. But then again, people with carbon bikes ride the hoods, and down a long hill I'm on the drops. But on the other hand they slam their stem down, and I have mine up somewhat. As you can see, I've been thinking about it, and maybe over thinking it. I don't like passing Cervelo bikes going down a long hill because I feel like their thinking, look at the guy with the old bike, he wants to be a champ and pass us, and the only time he can do that is going down a hill when we're taking a break and coasting.

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    Heavier riders go downhill faster. Bike weight + rider weight applies here... If you're the same weight but your bike is heavier - you go downhill faster. Same with wheels... heavier wheels go down faster.

    If it's about weight, unless the guy on the Cervelo is a moron he knows you're passing him because you're heavier, and he also knows he'll catch you AND pass you on the uphill.

    BTW as both a clydesdale and a steel-bike rider I make it a rule to pass everyone downhill. Period. In a group I work my way to the front of a peloton before a climb, usually drop to the end of the peloton at the top (hopefully not totally dropped) then stay with them (or pass them) on the down...

  3. #3
    Wookie Jesus inspires me. Puget Pounder's Avatar
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    Lots of unfounded assumptions here. Too many variables here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Puget Pounder View Post
    Lots of unfounded assumptions here. Too many variables here.
    If you mean my assumptions were unfounded - Yes, I made some assumptions...

    I assume that 1) you have similar rolling resistance and 2) your hubs are as smooth as the next guy ... then if you're heavier and even remotely aero you're simply going to go faster downhill.

    I'm one of the heaviest guys in my club, and there is nobody that touches me downhill unless they can get in my draft. Even then most don't have the nerve to maintain the speed.

    The truth is gravity works.

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    Super Moderator cb400bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaBeef View Post
    ... unless the guy on the Cervelo is a moron he knows you're passing him...
    Unless he can't hear you. We had a new guy on our club ride last week. His Cervelo carbon bike frame was LOUD. Louder than any bike I have ever heard.
    Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant.

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    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
    His Cervelo carbon bike frame was LOUD. Louder than any bike I have ever heard.
    Exploded?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
    Unless he can't hear you. We had a new guy on our club ride last week. His Cervelo carbon bike frame was LOUD. Louder than any bike I have ever heard.
    The frame was loud? Or was he on those crazy loud fulcrum wheels? When coasting those freehubs are scary loud... I've never heard wheels louder than fulcrums...

  8. #8
    Wookie Jesus inspires me. Puget Pounder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaBeef View Post
    If you mean my assumptions were unfounded - Yes, I made some assumptions...

    I assume that 1) you have similar rolling resistance and 2) your hubs are as smooth as the next guy ... then if you're heavier and even remotely aero you're simply going to go faster downhill.

    I'm one of the heaviest guys in my club, and there is nobody that touches me downhill unless they can get in my draft. Even then most don't have the nerve to maintain the speed.

    The truth is gravity works.
    Hold your horses here. I'm not an idiot and I know more physics than the average person. I am talking about the original post. What does a lugged steel bike have to do with going faster than a carbon bike? Absolutely nothing.

    The truth is, I never said gravity didn't work, but yes... it does work.

    Smoother hubs, bearings, aero dynamics of the rider and components, wheels, weight, tires, tubes, rider position, helmet, etc... Yeah, a lot of things we can look at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Puget Pounder View Post
    Hold your horses here. I'm not an idiot and I know more physics than the average person.
    Wasn't implying you were an idiot... I think you took what I said out of context... I was simply clarifying my statement, not taking offense at yours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Puget Pounder View Post
    Smoother hubs, bearings, aero dynamics of the rider and components, wheels, weight, tires, tubes, rider position, helmet, etc... Yeah, a lot of things we can look at.
    Yup, every single one of those things plays a factor. For me, as a big guy (even lean I have a 48" chest - people love to draft off me) I found that aerodynamics plays the biggest factor... I played around with several positions for downhill until I found one that was aero, comfortable AND allowed me enough control to feel safe at speed ... Positioning alone adds 10-15km/h to my downhill speed on a long stretch.

    Many smaller riders will grip the drops, shift forward, drop their hips/buttocks below the saddle just over the top tube and put their shoulders inside their handlebars - but I don't fit that way, so I favored the butt-back, hands on the inside/tops of the handlebar forehead to the stem approach. Heck, just ensuring your crankarms are parallel to the ground gets you another 1-2km/h in speed...

    If the guys he's with are on the hoods and he's in the drops... that gives him a huge advantage alone.

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    Super Moderator cb400bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DVC45 View Post
    Exploded?
    No, not exploded. It just sounded like an echo-y loud hollow plastic-y type of sound. Hard to describe, I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaBeef View Post
    The frame was loud? Or was he on those crazy loud fulcrum wheels? When coasting those freehubs are scary loud... I've never heard wheels louder than fulcrums...
    Could be, I don't know. I didn't check what wheels he was riding. If he is there this Monday, I'll check.
    Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant.

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    Senior Member leftthread's Avatar
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    Senior Member Ed in Toronto's Avatar
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    It might be aerodynamics, I'm not sure, was wondering if there is any concrete knowledge about weight of bikes effect on going down a hill.

    I'm 6'2" and weight 195lbs.

    I do ride the drops down a long hill, but my stem is 2' 1/2" up from being slammed.

    The carbon bikes I pass seem to have woman and shorter lighter men, but then again I'm kind of tall.

  13. #13
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed in Toronto View Post
    I have to keep touching my brake so that I don't put my front wheel into their rear wheel. I don't like constantly touching the brakes down a long slope, so I eventually duck right down with my chin almost touching my stem for more wind resistance and pass a little quicker, to get it over with.
    The answer you seek resides within your question.

    Also, the weight difference between frames is a fraction of the weight difference between the engines.

  14. #14
    自転車整備士 oldskoolwrench's Avatar
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    To the OP...

    As everyone has said there are many variables to explain why, but personally I wouldn't worry about it or let it bother you,
    especially what the other riders think. Pick 'em off one by one on the descents and have fun doing it. If they pass you on
    the climbs, so what? Tell them you were enjoying the scenery; life's too short to appreciate the finer things, right?

    I bet you were looking for a more technical response; I went for the more 'sociological' one.

  15. #15
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    The truth is gravity works.
    It works on all things equally, regardless of mass or density. You may be the heaviest and fastest downhill rider, but it isn't because gravity is treating you any differently than anybody else. Wind resistance & rolling friction are the variables here.
    Michael Shiffer
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    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    the weight difference may be along the 3-5 lb range, so hubs, aero and body weight make up more. If you have empty bottles and they have two large full ones then all is equal.

    if you are drafting you certainly will catch them unless you are a feather.
    If you put your chin on the stem then you'll decrease wind resistance for more aero and go faster etc.

    Maybe
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  17. #17
    Gammal cyklist Reynolds's Avatar
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    And what about TIG welded steel bikes?

  18. #18
    iab
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    Senior Member iab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed in Toronto View Post
    I have to keep touching my brake so that I don't put my front wheel into their rear wheel.
    That's called drafting. Less wind resistance = increased speed.

  19. #19
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
    And what about TIG welded steel bikes?
    Easy answer = slower.

    Why? = More 'ugly' to overcome
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  20. #20
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Mr. Galileo was correct...

    -How 'bout that?
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

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    Quote Originally Posted by iab View Post
    That's called drafting. Less wind resistance = increased speed.
    X2

    Stay glued to their wheel long enough and you will get a false sense of your ability. I've been on group rides where I felt great but instantly ran out of gas when I went out to pull.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aixaix View Post
    It works on all things equally, regardless of mass or density. You may be the heaviest and fastest downhill rider, but it isn't because gravity is treating you any differently than anybody else. Wind resistance & rolling friction are the variables here.
    That is true, but without gravity there would be no acceleration, thus no speed difference.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
    And what about TIG welded steel bikes?
    Obviously they have even MORE of an aero advantage...

  24. #24
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    OP - Are you passing riders in a group you are riding with or are you talking about just passing random people you come up on while riding? It isn't really clear in your post.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ed in Toronto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jettore View Post
    OP - Are you passing riders in a group you are riding with or are you talking about just passing random people you come up on while riding? It isn't really clear in your post.
    Just random people. I'm riding around in the city, and you don't see groups there.

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