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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 04-15-12, 01:29 PM   #1
WonderMonkey
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Hybrid vs Road Bike

Assume a standard setup and similar quality bike.... what is the difference in mph for the same distance and effort?

Here is why I'm asking.....
My one way commute to or from work is 20.3 miles. I can do that one way and could eventually work up to do it both ways. However I'm not going to put that much time away from the other things I have to do in my life. If a road bike would significantly decrease the time to make the commute then I might be able to do it.

So.... if I do 14 mph for 20 miles on a hybrid, what would one theorize that would be on a comparable road bike?
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Old 04-15-12, 01:48 PM   #2
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There are a lot of variables. A High End Hybrid may actually be faster than a Lower End Roadie. All things being equal, though, the change will not be super dramatic. No bike will give you a 20mph average. To get that, it comes down to the engine which is you.
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Old 04-15-12, 02:00 PM   #3
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Lots of variables of course - but when I went from Hybrid to road bike I jumped from about 24kph average to about 28kph in mph form about 15 to about 17.5 or about 16% faster.

The hybrid had been set up with slicks so it was a pretty good setup and the road bike was a Surly CrossCheck so it was heavy and not very aggressive body positioning
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Old 04-15-12, 02:59 PM   #4
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As the others have noted, there are a lot of variables. The largest gain will come through aerodynamic changes in riding posture. The more aggressive and aerodynamic friendly your road riding posture is, the less air you have to push out of the way. Riding narrower handlebars and in the drops as much as possible would also decrease the resistance.

This of course can vary from frame to frame and rider to rider, with TT genre bikes probably being the pinnacle.

Setting all that aside, I don't think it would be unrealistic to expect ~ 20% + gain.
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Old 04-15-12, 03:26 PM   #5
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It's all about wind resistance. The faster you are the more difference it makes. The more time you spend in the drops the more difference. The windier it is the faster you'll be riding into the wind. I'm glad I got one because to me they're more fun to ride but it takes time for your body to adjust to the different position.
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Old 04-15-12, 03:52 PM   #6
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Thanks all. So far I'm hearing a 15-20% with "all things being equal".

And for the new dropped position that is an odd thing. I've only been on a few bikes that are like that and it is an odd thing.
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Old 04-15-12, 03:56 PM   #7
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It's all about wind resistance. The faster you are the more difference it makes. The more time you spend in the drops the more difference. The windier it is the faster you'll be riding into the wind. I'm glad I got one because to me they're more fun to ride but it takes time for your body to adjust to the different position.

You can, of course, get a lower and more aerodynamic position with *any* bar configuration. It's maybe just more comfortable to stay there with drops.

I've commuted to work on everything from a traditional 700x25c geared road bike to a 32x17 single speed mountain bike rolling on 29x2.55 knobbies. Haven't yet ridden the Pugs into work yet, but I suspect the outcome will fall in line with the rest of my results. On my 20 mile one way commute, no matter what I ride, all my ride times fall within 20 minutes of eachother. I suspect the time difference has more to do with many of the various variables listed above than the actual bike.
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Old 04-15-12, 04:37 PM   #8
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On my 20 mile one way commute, no matter what I ride, all my ride times fall within 20 minutes of eachother. I suspect the time difference has more to do with many of the various variables listed above than the actual bike.
Maybe, but a 20 minute difference on a 20 mile ride is huge. The difference between 15mph and 20mph.
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Old 04-15-12, 06:35 PM   #9
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I average about 1.5 mph faster on my caad 10 5 vs my trek 7300...
(the difference was bigger before I also went clipless on the hybrid)

I can ride longer on the road bike too before getting tired, but I can't assign a number to it.

If I had to choose between commuting on my hybrid and my road bike, I'd pick the hybrid every time. For one - it doesn't get touchy if I hit a patch of gravel or sand in the road. It's also got hardcase tires on it, and is much less likely to get a flat. Also it has eyelets to hold racks/etc.

If both bikes were stolen, I'd replace them with a single cyclocross bike with two sets of wheels, I think.
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Old 04-15-12, 06:56 PM   #10
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If there's stop lights on your commute, the gains could be minimal. Here in LA, I hit a bunch o' stop lights. I have to ride at 21mph+ to get an average speed for my commute above 18 due to slowing and starting at lights (doesn't count time sitting at them).
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Old 04-15-12, 07:07 PM   #11
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Road bicycle:

• 8-11lbs lighter (or more, depending on the hybrid)
• Sportier frame and riding position
• Lighter and narrower tires for less rolling resistance. (1-2mph faster?)
• Position and build allow for better aerodynamics
• Entry level road bicycles are usually equipped better than a hybrid

Hybrid bicycle (cross between a cruiser and a mountain bicycle):

• 8-11lbs+ heavier than a road bicycle
• Relaxed upright position for a more comfortable ride
• Heavier, wider tires for a comfortable ride. Usually more durable for urban conditions.
• Upright position is much less aerodynamic
• Most don't exceed Deore group sets (for the most part) and usually have Altus/Alivio FD's.
• Hybrids have brackets for panniers, allowing you to carry things

In short, the road bicycle will, in theory, get you there a lot faster. I used to own a hybrid and I can tell you I get where I need to go much quicker. If you need to carry stuff, stick with the hybrid. If not, don't bother with a hybrid and buy a road bike.

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Old 04-15-12, 07:18 PM   #12
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I'm definitely faster on my road bike, and even my cross bike, than I was on my hybrid, and I prefer the more aggressive body position on a road bike. Another thing to consider is that the components on a lower end hybrid probably won't be as good as those on a lower end road bike. My Jamis Coda had some bottom end generic Shimano components that pale in comparison to even Sora stuff on cheap road bikes. Also, many hybrids are geared more like MTBs rather than road bikes, so they are good for climbing, but aren't as fast at the top end. Of course that's a generalization, so just look closely at the componentry of whatever bikes you're interested in.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:04 PM   #13
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Maybe, but a 20 minute difference on a 20 mile ride is huge. The difference between 15mph and 20mph.
True, and turns into 40 minutes a day if you go both directions. I'm going to struggle riding one way a few times a week due to sleep, etc. but I'd like to find ways to shave time and do both ways. Removing 20 minutes is huge. I know my times would vary "depending" but it is still good to hear others experiences.

I wonder if I could rent a road bike for a few 10 milers so I can get a feel for the bike?
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Old 04-15-12, 08:05 PM   #14
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If there's stop lights on your commute, the gains could be minimal. Here in LA, I hit a bunch o' stop lights. I have to ride at 21mph+ to get an average speed for my commute above 18 due to slowing and starting at lights (doesn't count time sitting at them).
I have two stop lights which are fairly close together. The rest is basic bike trail.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:08 PM   #15
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I'm definitely faster on my road bike, and even my cross bike, than I was on my hybrid, and I prefer the more aggressive body position on a road bike. Another thing to consider is that the components on a lower end hybrid probably won't be as good as those on a lower end road bike. My Jamis Coda had some bottom end generic Shimano components that pale in comparison to even Sora stuff on cheap road bikes. Also, many hybrids are geared more like MTBs rather than road bikes, so they are good for climbing, but aren't as fast at the top end. Of course that's a generalization, so just look closely at the componentry of whatever bikes you're interested in.
I'm happy with my hybrid (Cannondale Quick 5) due to the price I was willing to pay but I will say that if I get a road bike I'm going to go a notch higher in quality, both the bike and the components. If I don't get a road bike I'm going to replace a few key components on my hybrid. What those things are I'm not sure yet but I'm sure I'll get advice from people on here.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:09 PM   #16
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I do carry stuff on my commute but it is just a change of workout clothes. I keep my work clothes at work and ride from home to a nearby shower place. I then change into fresh riding clothes and do an easy 2.5 miler into work.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:33 PM   #17
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Hybrid frames are pretty heavy. You could swap out the suspension fork for a nashbar carbon fork for about $90. Then you'd want to swap the wheels out for something lighter with narrower tires.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:45 PM   #18
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I'd have to start adding up all the things I could do to make a significant difference and then see how much more it would be just purchase a new road bike.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:50 PM   #19
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I'd have to start adding up all the things I could do to make a significant difference and then see how much more it would be just purchase a new road bike.
A nice entry level road bike would probably set you back a good 7 or $800 dollars. You'd probably be able to convert your Cannondale in to a fitness hybrid for 1/3rd of that.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:56 PM   #20
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Could be. I'd have to see if there were any downsides to any of these upgrades, whatever they may be. Things like not being able to have a rack on the back for my commute stuff, etc. I'd hate to start upgrading then realize that if I went any further I'd mess things up and have to start using a backpack.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:56 PM   #21
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A nice entry level road bike would probably set you back a good 7 or $800 dollars. You'd probably be able to convert your Cannondale in to a fitness hybrid for 1/3rd of that.
Once I show myself I'm consistent on the commuting I'm going to look into this. Thanks for the estimate.
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Old 04-15-12, 09:33 PM   #22
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Hybrid frames are pretty heavy. You could swap out the suspension fork for a nashbar carbon fork for about $90. Then you'd want to swap the wheels out for something lighter with narrower tires.
Keep in mind that you will need to try to match the axle to crown(A to C) measurement of the suspension fork or you will change the headangle of the bike and the handling as a result. All suspension forks have a pretty large A to C because of the suspension and you cannot just throw any random fork in it's place. A fork designed for road bikes will most likely not have a large enough A to C. I'm not saying that a fork that will fit does not exist but you will need to do your research before going this route.

Edit: I just looked up the quick 5 and it doesn't show it specced with a susp fork, If so then disregard my post.

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Old 04-16-12, 06:53 AM   #23
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I also have to consider that my Quick 5 frame is large due to my height. Not sure if the forks need to match this or if the difference is handled another way.
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Old 04-16-12, 07:41 AM   #24
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Wonder: I looked at doing this to my Trek 7300 and found suspension compensated steel forks for around $120. They were compensated for either 75mm or 100mm and so forth. I decided not to invest in this change as the rest of the components on the bike weren't all that great. When looking up the spec's of the Suntour fork, the model was just one size so I don't think the frame size effects fork length/ specs. I think there is a fair amount of luck involved when doing a change like this as the compliance of the fork will effect handling. I went the N+1 route. I'm 230 and my Trek Madone is maxed out with 25mm tires. Couldn't get 28 mm to fit and no rack/fenders ect would make commuting a pain.
Lots of bikes to pick from but I went with a Surly Cross Check frameset. I have all the parts but my LBS is awaiting tooling to properly machine the frame to install the headset. I wanted to actually build this one myself even though I'll have much more in it than the complete bike from Surly. I would have changed a lot of stuff eventually on it anyway so In the long run this was a better way to go for me.
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Old 04-16-12, 07:49 AM   #25
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The A to C is usually pretty consistent in a model line regardless of size because it's mostly based on wheel size, desired tire clearance and whether or not suspension forks are specced for the bikes. Since suspension forks add the length of their travel to the distance from axle to the crown those forks will always be longer than a non suspension fork. For example 80mm forks generally have an A to C of around 450mm but a typical fork for a road bike is usually around 360-370mm. That means if you were to use a standard road fork to replace your suspension fork your headtube would sit 80-90mm lower than it does now, and would have in my opinion a very noticeable difference in handling.

Sheldon Brown has a good article about the effects of A to C on handling. Keep in mind that this article is based on a straight swap of road forks to another pair of road forks with A to C differences of around 10mm. Suspension to non suspension will have you at differences a lot greater than that.

There are manufacturers that make forks designed for the greater A to C but I can't remember any off of the top of my head. and really the only purpose of my post was to forewarn you before you spend good money on a set of forks that you might not notice were possibly unsafe until you went out for your first post-overhaul test ride.
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