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  1. #1
    Senior Member FMadridRN's Avatar
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    Out of shape or are Road bikes just that much easier to ride?

    Was trekking (get it?) one morning and was on this slight grade uphill. I was huffing pretty much and i just hear two women saying they were passing me on the left. So like a good biker should, I just slightly made room. i then noted that the two women on road bikes were just gliding by as if the hill wasnt really that big a deal. My ego was a little miffed but then i started reasoning. I was already 10 miles into a ride. I just came back from a cruise and have not ridden for 5 days. I definitely was not in shape.

    All this I thought, but the way they just passed me...they werent even fast. it just seemed like it was an easier for them on road bikes. Am I crazy in thinking this? This makes me want to have a road bike now especially if my terrain is this hard and being on a hybrid is what is killing my efforts. Im not one for racing but whatever makes my ride easier.

    Anyway the only saving grace for me is that I know my 35 tires are savings my ass from getting a flat. but damn seriously lol. I have never ridden a road bikes so maybe someone who has made the leap can share the experience.

  2. #2
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Up a hill? Yes, a road bike will probably clobber a hybrid and frankly, if a road biker loses to a mountain biker up a road hill it's grounds for severe sanctions.

    Typically road bikes are lighter and skinnier, higher pressure tires are more efficient. Having said that, 90% of it is the engine (ie rider) but that's not to say that a road bike of sufficient lightness and stiffness wouldn't make a difference.

  3. #3
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    Hybrids have lower gearing too so you're tempted to go keep downshifting and go slower. Road bikes kind of force you to ride harder up hills. Even with a compact double and 11-28 cassette you can run out of gear pretty easily and have to just ride harder. Fitness plays a big role too but by riding harder up hills your fitness will improve more quickly (just don't mash as that's bad for your knees.)

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    I like to think my Specialized Sirrus Comp is pretty road-ish. Road tires, but MTB gearing. I can't imagine what would make it much slower than a road bike, really, other than weight. But based on what I've measured, it's about 10-ish lbs heavier than a road bike. I am working on taking that 10lb off my butt rather than the bike...but we'll see what happens when I get my road bike in the November/December time frame.

  5. #5
    Senior Member FMadridRN's Avatar
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    Dammit. I guess i'll be focusing on getting a road bike sooner than i thought. Maybe a Christmas present for myself. I guess time to look for good deals. Anyone peruse nashbar.com for their Carbon frame bike? it looks good for the price. i just dont know which lbs to take it to assemble.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gforeman's Avatar
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    I'm much faster, and quicker on hills on my road bike. I had a Mtn. bike converted to road tires, and still could not average MPH I could get on my road bike. I finally sold the Mtn. bike and got a Cycolocross bike as my 2nd bike. It has wider tires than my Road bike, but a lot faster than my Mtn. bike.

    I still get better stats with the Road bike, probably due to gearing.

    If you want an in-between bike, go for the Cyclocross. I ride some less than optimal roads when I go to the beach and such, and l love my Specialized Crux Disc. I have 35 road tires on it (ditched the knobby ones since I don't ride it off the road). It's s a VERY smooth riding bike. I,m starting to like it more than my all carbon Madone.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Just don't forget how much of it is your own fitness and abilities. I am very slow uphill, road or hybrid I am about the same. I just did a long supported ride and rode with a guy for about 20 miles who was on a Trek FX. He would lose me on the uphills and I would catch up on the downhills or flats.

    However, I am much faster on the flats on the road bike than on my hybrid. I also find it less tiring to ride long distances and I can go much further on the road bike than on the hybrid.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Yes a road bike will be faster. HOWEVER, you did not say how much you or these ladies weigh.

    There is a direct correlation between how much you weigh and how much energy it takes to climb x feet. The formula is:

    Work = Mass * gravitational constant * height.


    Work is measured in joules, and is Power * Time. Power is watts. So say you weigh 250, and the ladies half of that, 125. This means that it takes the ladies half the amount of work to climb that hill. In order for you to match their speed you need to put out twice the amount of wattage.

    As an uber clyde at 380 pounds I have it even worse, since I'm 3-4x heavier than almost everyone I know. I will always get dropped on hills until I lose this weight, no matter what kind of bike I have. It's a fact of life.

    I highly recommend road bikes, but don't have the expectation that it will automatically make you an amazing hill climber. Here in the clydes forum, losing our excess weight will always be an easier and cheaper way to gain significant speed.

  9. #9
    Bicycle Evangelist BeSelfPropelled's Avatar
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    Physics and Hill Climbing

    Think high school physics. Force = Mass x Acceleration. When you're climbing a hill you're fighting hard to overcome gravity while air resistance and rolling resistance, which are important on the flats, are no longer significant. Rolling resistance comes from all the friction in the bike's bearings and tires on the road: better bearings and thinner tires with less surface on the road equals a faster bike. Mass is how much you and your bike weigh and force is being generated by your leg muscles. The ladies that passed you likely had more of a weight advantage than a bike advantage. The gearing provides a mechanical advantage but in the climbs you shouldn't have a gearing issue on your hybrid. How you drop gears as you climb can make a difference. Shoot for a constant cadence which is the RPM of your pedaling and drop gears to maintain a comfortable pace. My road bike has a lot more top end gearing which means I can go far faster on the flats and downhills which provides for the faster overall time in a ride but the gearing doesn't provide an advantage in the climbs. If you want to climb fast, weight loss is significant. The road bike will be lighter but as others have mentioned as much body mass as you can get rid of is important with the exception of those leg muscles which provide the force. I would get a road bike because they're a lot of fun to ride but don't expect it to suddenly having you flying up the hills. When I purchased my road bike the shop owner told me "any bike you buy from my shop can be raced professionally, and if you lose, it won't be the bikes fault".

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  10. #10
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    road bikes totally faster. get one, but don't be surprised if you still get passed. but you get passed less! :-)
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  11. #11
    Senior Member FMadridRN's Avatar
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    Out of shape or are Road bikes just that much easier to ride?

    I don't care about being passed. I care about how I get passed lol.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMadridRN View Post
    I have never ridden a road bikes so maybe someone who has made the leap can share the experience.
    The first bike I bought when I got back into riding after college was a mountain bike. I put semi-slick tires on it, since I never rode off-road, and had a blast. Eventually bought a true road bike and found that I could, quite literally, ride it twice as far as the old mountain bike!

  13. #13
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    Yeah... it's not the bike. Especially if you're on a hybrid. Maybe if you were on a mountain bike with knobbies and full suspension, then you could do much better climbing on a road bike.

    If anything, you'd see bigger improvements switching to clipless pedals than from switching from a hybrid to a road bike.

    Now, if you're talking 16mph+ on a flat stretch of road, then road bikes really make a difference.

  14. #14
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Slap some clipless pedals or clips & straps on the hybrid and practice pulling back and up when climbing hills. You won't be much faster, but you'll distribute the work load around better. When you get a roadie, the improved pedal stroke will propel you up the hill better than just mashing.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Road bikes are faster....how much is up to you. My understanding is that it comes down to two factors.... biomechanical position and wind resistance. Basically the road position is more efficient in use of your muscles. and at any speed at all aerodynamics have a an affect.

    I have two bikes one is an upright utiliyt/commuter bike I built...english 3 speedesque looking. and a Miyata 1400 road bike. on the same route I easily go 2-3 mph faster on the road bike than on the utilyt bike..... with the same perceived effort.

    YMMV
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    To underscore my point about weight. Figures courtesy of http://bikecalculator.com/veloUS.html

    Figure A:

    Power-A.png

    All things equal except for rider weight. Person A is 250 pounds, Person B is 125 pounds. On a 5% grade, with both riders putting out 200 watts of energy, Person A will go 6.22mph, and Person B will go 10.39mph, nearly twice as fast. Simple physics.

    Figure B:

    Power-B.png


    In order to match speeds, Rider A will need to increase their wattage to about 350 watts, 150 extra. That's a lotta watts. That's pro-level wattage, in fact. Basically, there's nearly no way for an amateur cyclist to be able to climb as fast as Person B unless you lose the weight.


    And Figure C:

    Power-C.png

    Comparing myself to a 125 pound cyclist. I'd need to put out over 500 watts to keep up. I could probably do that for a couple seconds. At most. But to climb an actual hill? No way in hell is that going to happen. Simply impossible.



    I'm usually last place on most Strava segments in my area, by a large margin. There's quite a few where my time is twice as long as the person right above me. I also usually have one of the highest wattage figures for each segment. I'm putting out a lot of power, but most of that effort is wasted carrying all of this fat to the top of a hill.

    It's the weight. It's always the weight. We simply cannot expect to go anywhere near as fast as thin people on climbs; it's just not within the realm of realism until we are thin ourselves. Likewise it's not fair of us to get discouraged whenever we are passed on a hill. We should expect it, and use that knowledge to inspire us to lose the fat.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I was given an MTB/hybrid. I rode it once. Going 2 miles on this Trek Mountain Track 820 is like going 20 miles on my Cervelo. I've "climbed" Mounts Rainier and Baker, ice giants of the Cascades, on my road bike, and seven mountain passes. I wouldn't even consider doing it on a hybrid.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Yes a road bike will be faster. HOWEVER, you did not say how much you or these ladies weigh.

    There is a direct correlation between how much you weigh and how much energy it takes to climb x feet. The formula is:

    Work = Mass * gravitational constant * height.
    And this is why you should climb hills at high tide; the gravitational constant turns out to be a variable.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  18. #18
    internettubes engineer st3venb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
    I like to think my Specialized Sirrus Comp is pretty road-ish. Road tires, but MTB gearing. I can't imagine what would make it much slower than a road bike, really, other than weight. But based on what I've measured, it's about 10-ish lbs heavier than a road bike. I am working on taking that 10lb off my butt rather than the bike...but we'll see what happens when I get my road bike in the November/December time frame.


    Also, road bikes tend to be stiffer than most other bikes... Making more efficient transfer of power from you to the ground...

    Is that all you've got?
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  19. #19
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    Try it yourself. Find a shop that will allow you to take an extended test ride. Not just for five minutes. Or borrow one from a friend. Instead of a "road" bike you may also want to consider something like a cross bike that would allow you to have the flexibility to ride narrow or wider tires as conditions warrant. If I had to have only one bike it would be a cross bike. If you were passed while doing 10-15 MPH it's less likely to be your position on the bike. If you were above that speed you are probably using a lot of power to overcome wind resistance due to your upright position on a hybrid. After the quality of the motor, I find tires make the most difference in performance up to about 16 MPH. Then wind resistance and aerodynamics start to kick in and effort increases exponentially as speed rises. A heavy wheelset will slow acceleration (and also climb slower), but once up to speed their higher inertia will keep you moving. I vary between 250 and 260. Riding 700x25s tires is more than adequate for paved surfaces, including commuting the broken streets of NYC. I can't think of any high performance tires in 35s. If your wheels are a suitable size (including rim WIDTH) try a good tire like a Continental GP4000S in 25. You may be surprised at the change.

    One other thing. It's not easy to make the change from a hybrid to an all out racing machine. Torso and arm strength as well as added flexibility are required. For me now 59 years old, in my early 50s it took a couple of years. My bike fit evolved over that time. I still only run a slight drop from my saddle to my bars. Point being FIT is most important. And be aware if you put in the miles that fit is likely to change. There are road bikes marketed as comfort bikes that typically have longer head tubes and less aggressive riding positions.

  20. #20
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    It's the weight. It's always the weight. We simply cannot expect to go anywhere near as fast as thin people on climbs; it's just not within the realm of realism until we are thin ourselves. Likewise it's not fair of us to get discouraged whenever we are passed on a hill. We should expect it, and use that knowledge to inspire us to lose the fat.
    I don't know. There are plenty of big beefy guys who out climb me on hills. I just can't put out the power.

  21. #21
    Senior Member SeanBlader's Avatar
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    I climb hills with my Allez that I'd never have thought I'd climb on a bike. I was certain I'd have to jump out of it, but the bike just seemed to keep moving! Well it was like a 70 foot climb, but it was at like a 30 degree angle, maybe it was a little less, but I was thinking it could've been stairs!

    Madrid, you should hook up with a fellow rider and see if they'd let you borrow a roadie for a ride. I'd let you ride mine if you were in Silicon Valley... assuming we could get the seat back to my level. :-)

  22. #22
    Senior Member FMadridRN's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the notes, guys. Ill definitley be looking into a test drive. most of the people I know have mountain bikes and hybrids. I have 1 friend that made his own carbon bike a 49cm one that would be perfect but hes a hard person to get a hold of. I guess Ill be waiting to go to my LBS and try to make friends so I can try out some bikes.

  23. #23
    Member Mark.from.Texas's Avatar
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    Your overall fitness and weight vs theirs probably played a bigger role then their bikes vs yours. I (6'7 ~270) rode a century last month on my hybrid and passed quite a few nice road bikes ridden by skinny people, also saw a few bikes that probably cost 10x what mine did pass me in the SAG wagon. I did get passed by a few fairly large ladies that where kicking ass on roadbikes.

    If a hill is kicking your ass, regardess of what bike you ride, it's most likely your fitness level, not the bike. Even on your bike (whatever it is) the hill will eventually not kick your ass, you would simply be slower (but not wore out) then the roadies passing you. The way I see it most of us ride as much for exercise as we do for fun, buying a nice bike to make it easier kind of defeats the purpose, no? =)

  24. #24
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    On the flats aerodynamics makes as much difference as weight, perhaps more. When I ride a fairy fast MTB commuter upright body position, getting +15 means real work. Switching to my CF road bike I'm at 19mph working no harder. Beside my road bike being much more aero my bars are 2 inches below the saddle, I'm showing a lot less body to the wind. There are other variables for sure, like using different muscles in a rotated position, but if you get a road bike that is set up so you're sitting upright...it's still going to leave you like a sail in the wind. If you go up hills at any speed, same effect. You may have to work on your riding position if you want to go faster, regardless of the bike you're riding.

  25. #25
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    If the hill is long enough fitness plays a bigger role.
    I've outclimbed some women who were probably 80 pounds lighter than me.
    They did not have the fitness to put out a sufficiently large percentage of their max power for the duration.


    Usually it's me getting passed in a very humbling manner. Big power guys, small wiry guys, thin women.
    The bike, gearing, technique, conditioning, power/weight, they all play in.
    Almost all of them ride hilly routes on a regular basis.
    Many fit people who don't ride hills can have a very tough time climbing.

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