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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 01-31-12, 11:44 PM   #1
The_DK
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Am I the only one that got slower on a road bike?

Went from a 2003 Trek 7300 hybrid to a Cannondale Caad 10 5 w/clipless pedals.
I've got about 400 miles on the trek, and about 70 on the Cannondale now, so they're both fairly new.

My hopes in buying a road bike was to increase my average speed and just generally have more fun in the street.

The rub is: I'm a lot slower on the Cannondale. I find my cruising speed is about 10mph on the road bike, and 13mph on the hybrid. That's just where I "feel comfortable."

Putting a little effort into it, my average speed over several rides on the Cannondale is about 11-12 mph. On the heavy hybrid I'm at 12.5-13.5 mph.

The fastest I can go, until my legs don't go anymore, is about 26 on the Trek, and about 23 on the Cannondale.

(This is all checked by GPS.)

I thought fixing the seat height would help. There's ONE sweet spot that doesn't bother my knee arthritis which I've now found on both bikes.

I like to ride in the drops almost exclusively on the Cannondale. Riding on the hoods is terrifying if I need to brake in a hurry. I found the only way to stop the bike without scheduling in advance is from the drop position.

I have extremely tight hamstrings. Maybe that's the problem? Maybe I just don't know how to pedal? I try pushing forward, pulling back, all that in the pedal stroke.
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Old 01-31-12, 11:52 PM   #2
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Once you are dialed in and the muscles adapt, you will be faster on the roadie. The fact you can't ride comfy on the hoods is a sign you are not in tune. Heck, I descend on the hoods at 30-40 mph and have no problem using the brakes. Just takes time to get in tune.

Going from my Lemond to the Madone was a change. I could feel my glutes much more on the Madone. Took a few rides to get used to it. Even roadies can differ from one to the next. Lemond is a relaxed upright racer where the Madone seems more aggressive.
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Old 01-31-12, 11:56 PM   #3
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Road bikes are faster.

Like Mr. Beanz said, there is probably something not in tune.
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Old 01-31-12, 11:56 PM   #4
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I agree with Beanz

The hoods are a great place to ride...give it time and learn to use the hammies.
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Old 02-01-12, 12:01 AM   #5
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Something not in tune? Neuromusclar or mechanical?
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Old 02-01-12, 12:06 AM   #6
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Something not in tune? Neuromusclar or mechanical?
Fit. The way your body sits on the bike.
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Old 02-01-12, 12:09 AM   #7
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Hmm... sounds like the CAAD is just junk! I'll take it off yer hands so you don't have to deal with it!

Seriously though... keep us updated as I'm starting to think about replacing the hybrid myself. I'd like to hear of any possible problems I may run into.
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Old 02-01-12, 12:26 AM   #8
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Fit. The way your body sits on the bike.
Ahh yeah. The shop I bought it from does a free fit, but they can't even set a derailleur so... I'm waiting to gain some flexibility then I'll pay another shop for one.
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Old 02-01-12, 05:35 AM   #9
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ITs all about bike fit, and body fitness. Give your muscles time. And the sooner you can get in to have a proper fitment done to give you a good base, the better you can start to appreciate the bike as it was intended.

Its like trying to drive a manual car, getting into it, not adjusting the seat or steering wheel, and using the logic of "once i figure out the bite point of this clutch, and how much throttle to use, then i will adjust the seat and steering wheel". Uh...no.
Best to do the basic fitment first, get into the right place to be comfortable ergonomically, then tweak the small settings (seat position, seat tilt, handle bar tilt, stem length and reach, etc. etc.) as your body adapts to the riding style.

It took me a good 6 months after first getting my roadie to feel comfortable on the bike, and feel like i wasnt the physical limiting factor to its performance. Then it took another 6 months of playing with bars, stems, seats, tires, pedals, tape, shoes, hell even socks...before i found a setup that i could ride fast, and be extremely comfortable on. Its good to find a reasonable shop, with a solid return policy, that will allow you the time to test new components as you go, so you can find the sweet spot for your riding style. And most good shops, especially if you spend the money on components with them, will help you along the way with fitment, and and ergo adjustments at no charge.

Give it time man. You will get there. But start with that basic fitment first. And secondly, i would recommend you play with your gearing, and try to focus on spinning, rather then mashing. I get the impression that you may be over gearing, and that might be part of why you are slower. Try moving a couple gears up the rear cassette, and focus on getting around 75-80 RPM to reduce strain on your lumbar and glutes, and get your muscles used to the road bike position and pedal stroke. You may find that your speed increases by gearing down, as counter intuitive as that sounds.

Good luck.
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Old 02-01-12, 05:51 AM   #10
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What cadence are you pedaling at? Sounds like you may be running in too large a gear.
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Old 02-01-12, 06:42 AM   #11
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I don't know what it is but on my Trek 7300 I just don't spin at near the same cadence as my Madone. My "natural" not thinking cadence on the 7300 is 72. The Madone 88. It'll be interesting when I get back out on the Madone as my natural spin class cadence is 105-110 (don't have logging ability). Of course I don't have to think about where I'm going and the scenery in the spin class might be a factor.

As far as braking. I do have better leverage down in the drops than in the hoods. One thing I did that the LBS questioned when doing the free tuneup was back off the brake cable adjustment to get a little more finger lapover while riding in the hoods. I've been thinking about getting a little shorter stem as I don't put my hands all the way into the hoods some of the time which would help with finger lapover.

On longer trips I'm about 2 mph faster on the Madone. There's much less dropoff of speed riding into the wind. As you get faster the more benefit roadbikes have over hybrids. Not to come off as a snob but you haven't ridden the Cannondale enough to adjust to it. I put over a 100 miles on mine the first week I had it and it rained 3 days.
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Old 02-01-12, 06:57 AM   #12
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The only issue that you might be having with a road bike is that the fit is restricting your ability to breathe freely and deeply.

Road bikes need to be fitted carefully. Without a careful bike-fit, road bikes can be uncomfortable and that can reduce performance.

By using the drops, you might be restricting the diaphragm. I would use the drops as needed, but not all the time. The drops are most needed at higher speeds, above 17 mph, and while pushing against a headwind. The hoods offer a better view of the road, less strain on the neck and back, and a more efficient and open diaphragm.

You might end-up with compact handlebars, like the FSA compact. They allow riders to stay in the drops with a more comfortable fit.

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Old 02-01-12, 07:35 AM   #13
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It sounds like your going through the same thing as myself. Besides fit, it take a lot of miles to start picking up speed. If your more comfortable in the drops, I would think something is going on with your fit. Stick with the road bike and you'll get faster. I use the drops going into the wind and when I want to stretch my back out.
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Old 02-01-12, 07:43 AM   #14
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Like George said.....You need more miles on the road bike to even talk about it.
Come back when you get 2,000 miles on it.
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Old 02-01-12, 07:52 AM   #15
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Hey Fred, did you get caught in that rain yesterday? I had my rain jacket, but by the time I got it on, it was to late.
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Old 02-01-12, 08:04 AM   #16
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This very thread makes me wonder if I should bother spending serious money on a road bike, I just enjoy my Hybrid, it is hanging on BF that contributes to the fact that I think I would like a Roadie, I am on the fence here. Being a clyde @ 220 etc...
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Old 02-01-12, 08:20 AM   #17
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It sounds like a couple of things are happening. One is the "Clyde Diaphragm Compression" factor, especially in the drops. That phenomenon made me think I was having a heart attack a number of months ago. A stem extension and a more upright posture on the bike immediately helped both my comfort and my speed - on the same bike. A big belly and riding hunched over just don't mix.

A quick fix might be to raise your handlebars, and practice getting comfortable with using the brakes while riding on the hoods. If you can't reach, then a shorter stem might be in order. Even when I was skinny and pretty fit, I only used the drops sometimes, mostly when fighting a really bad headwind.

The second issue might be that your road bike might have a big jump between two gears, causing you to move more slowly at the cadence you're comfortable with because you're actually using a lower gear.

But my money's on the first factor - I noticed a big difference when I raised my handlebars.
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Old 02-01-12, 09:52 AM   #18
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Something to check, don't use the saddle fore-aft adjustment to fix reach issues.
You have to have the right relationship between saddle and pedals to apply optimal force.
I'm not familiar with the road bike in question, but if it's designed for time trialing the geometry may not be right for you.
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Old 02-01-12, 11:13 AM   #19
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I remember when I was a fit young racer and I got my first good bike... I wanted to show off to my buddy across town so I called him and said I was coming over. I pedalled my arse off, and when I arrived he said "it took you five minutes longer than on your old bike!"

So I rode that bike for years and years and eventually got fast on it as my body learned the new position and I fine tuned the fit to be just as I liked it. Then a couple years ago I was riding in the local time trial series on an even fancier carbon/aluminum bike lent to me by the shop where I worked. I gave it back at the end of the season and did my last race on my old beat up steel bike... and cut 45 seconds off the best time I achieved on the 'better' bike!
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Old 02-01-12, 12:10 PM   #20
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I don't really have much of a stomach - I'm just really, really inflexible. Hoods are comfortable generally, it's just braking on them that I hate because it feels like I can't get enough leverage on the brake levers.


Would y'all suggest I start messing with the stem and handlebars before I reach my flexibility goals then?


The geometry may be a bit aggressive for me, but my options in 63+cm were limited.
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Old 02-01-12, 12:20 PM   #21
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W
I like to ride in the drops almost exclusively on the Cannondale. Riding on the hoods is terrifying if I need to brake in a hurry. I found the only way to stop the bike without scheduling in advance is from the drop position.
Your palm rests on the hood with the front bump in the V between thumb and index finger and you can wrap a few fingers around it when standing or if the road is very bumpy. When you want to stop you just wrap your fingers around the top of the brake levers and squeeze taking no more time than you would to grab the bottom of the blade from the drops. There's plenty of leverage, especially with modern brakes (dual pivots have more mechanical advantage).

Cheap brake pads can take more force (companies like to use inexpensive brakes and pads instead of Shimano/SRAM to keep costs down) but an upgrade to Kool Stop is inexpensive.

Anodized rims without machined braking surfaces can also be slippery until they break in which takes a while if you don't live someplace rainy/snowy where they'll pickup grit that helps the process.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 02-01-12 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 02-01-12, 01:03 PM   #22
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I don't really have much of a stomach - I'm just really, really inflexible. Hoods are comfortable generally, it's just braking on them that I hate because it feels like I can't get enough leverage on the brake levers.


Would y'all suggest I start messing with the stem and handlebars before I reach my flexibility goals then?


The geometry may be a bit aggressive for me, but my options in 63+cm were limited.
Do you notice any restriction of free breathing? If not, then that's probably not it. I put on a lot of weight over a fairly short period of time, and was definitely noticing that I couldn't seem to get enough air into my lungs. The stem extension and new handlebars solved that.

But, if you don't have much constriction, then it's probably something else, though I'd still bet it's the hunched over position. I'll tell you, though, even when I was skinny and used to ride a road bike for long stretches, I spent most of the time on the hoods, and that was my favored position for using the brakes. Maybe you could spend a little time trying to get used to braking from there?
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Old 02-01-12, 01:23 PM   #23
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There's a lot of good advice in this thread, but it's also a pretty open-ended question, and without a lot more info than we can get over a web forum, it's almost impossible to nail a diagnosis.

People have mentioned that a road bike puts you in a different position from a hybrid, and this takes some getting used to. Honestly, it took me months to really adapt to drop bars. It isn't just your arms, shoulders, and back, either. Plus, the gearing tends to be different, partly as a way to help you go faster, and partly because of the way you're positioned over the cranks, and all that. It could very well be that you also need to get used to this.

I'd suggest reading up about bike fitting, watch some videos, etc, and get a bike friend to help you mess with this. It's as much an art as a science, I think, but you can do some basic stuff like drop a plumb line to make sure your knee is in the right place over the pedal - that one will help you get the fore/aft right on the saddle. Make small adjustments. Also, I'd suggest spinning your easiest gear, and this is something that will get easier as the weeks go by. It'll take very little leg strength, but a lot of cardio vascular fitness. We Clydes tend to have stronger legs than most people, and we tend to take advantage of them when we get on a bike. What can seem easy and natural, can add up to an energy drain that slows you down in the long run ... or it might have nothing to do with what's going on for you. But it's worth trying.
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Old 02-01-12, 02:33 PM   #24
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Thanks a lot for the input, a lot to look over.
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Old 02-01-12, 03:23 PM   #25
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Are you spending all your time on your little ring in the front? I have ridden with some folks who were comfortable in the big ring on their hybrid (46 tooth prolly, maybe 48), and they felt the road big ring (50/52/53 depending) was too big to ever use, so they would spin away on the small ring, and think that they were working, but were slower than their hybrid. They would shift down in the rear til they crosschained, then jump to the big ring, feel totally overwhelmed, and just stay small in the front.

If this is the case, force yourself to use the big ring, and start out on the large end of your cassette, even if you cross chain. As you get used to it, you will naturally step down.

And as to road bike vs hybrid (drops vs flats), I am the exact same speed on both. My hybrid has road wheels and a road standard crank, and I definitely have to work to do it, but there is no miraculous 2 mph speed increase, unless it is a brutally windy day.

Good luck, and keep at it.
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