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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-09-17, 04:00 PM   #26
alathIN
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Bike shoes and clipless pedals do make a difference for me. On my commuter bike I have power grips pedal straps which - random guess here - 85% of the benefit while still allowing you to wear regular shoes Pedal Kits ? Power Grips

If you're changing your shoes when you get to work anyway, then sure, go clipless.

A big deal for me is the amount of cargo I'm carrying, and hence what kind of bike I am using.
On my commuter/tourer road bike, with panniers, I do my 12.5 mile commute in about 48 minutes.
I can do the same trip in about 39 minutes on my triathlon bike. But my tri bike doesn't allow carrying anything other than water, emergency kit, and a gel or bar.
Also, those numbers are for actual riding time. When you throw in stops and waiting and passing slower bike/pedestrian traffic, the difference is smaller.
And what's 11 minutes x two trips in a day anyway?

It's going to be hard to make your commute shorter by a difference that will really matter without going e-bike.
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Old 06-09-17, 04:29 PM   #27
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Reducing stops and slows, that's the main thing that can reduce your time. No matter how fast you ride, the stops keep your speed down. And even if you have no stops and can ride very fast, the sections where you ride the slowest determine your speed more. Because you spend more time there.

So after minimizing the number of stops and slow-downs, even if it means a longer route, the key is to increase the slow speeds that you spend any time in. The long hill, or through the park with foot traffic, or even a stretch where you rest. Warm-up or warm-down if you do that, can take up half the time on normal or short commutes. Getting faster, better equipment and training to reach half again faster top speeds will help a little, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to any slow sections.
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Old 06-09-17, 04:32 PM   #28
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I think there have some studies done for driving that suggest that people consider 30 minutes or under a reasonably short commute and anything much over that is considered "long".

For me at least that is true. For driving, I consider anything under 30 minutes to be close. A forty minute drive is psychologically different. Don't know why that is. Anyway, that's just for driving. For riding, my Winter commute is at least 10 minutes longer than my Summer one for various reasons and I consider it to be a significant difference.

So if you can cut 10 minutes off your commute, it's worth something. 5 minutes? Eh.

Personally, I don't think equipment changes alone are going to net you more than a few minutes. There is an X-factor though. Sometimes a change in equipment makes working harder more rewarding, or at least less uncomfortable. And other times just knowing that you dropped $200 or $2,000 on something in order to go faster, is enough for you to make damn sure you go faster.

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Old 06-09-17, 04:36 PM   #29
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Hey also, don't forget to reduce your time starting and finishing. That can suck up ten minutes on either end which makes a bigger difference to me than the time on the bike which is about +-5%
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Old 06-09-17, 05:11 PM   #30
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What speed are you reaching on flat roads with no wind?
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Old 06-09-17, 05:30 PM   #31
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It's probably Option C. Upgrading from a hybrid to a road bike won't really make much difference. There are some small gains in aerodynamics, but that's a matter of a few seconds over 28km. Depending on the tires you have now you might gain as much as 2 kph in average speed by switching to better tires. Clipless pedals are also a relatively small gain. Unless you feel like you're worried about your feet slipping off the pedals when you try to ride faster, clipless pedals won't really do a lot for you in terms of speed.

My guess would be that you need to train your body to ride faster. This isn't just about fitness. Riding fast requires a particular style of riding. You need good form and good cadence. A lot of casual riders are comfortable mashing along at around 60 pedal strokes per minute. That's fine if it's comfortable for them, but if you want to optimize your speed you should be spinning more like 90 times a minute.

Beyond that, it's a matter of pushing yourself. Riding every day doesn't make you any faster unless you are pushing your limits. If you're not a racer you probably think that you don't need to be training in the traditional sense, but the way that racers get faster is the same way that the rest of us get faster. They just do it more methodically. The key seems to be intervals. Use your favorite search engine to look up information on interval training. If you want to get faster that's the way to do it.
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Old 06-09-17, 05:41 PM   #32
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Definitely get pedals and shoes.

The reason people are passing you is probably because they are more fit than you.

If someone in sandals passed me it would certainly make my head turn.
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Old 06-09-17, 06:06 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anitza View Post
Hello all!

I regularly commute 28km round trip to work on a mid-grade hybrid bike, and although I'm reasonably fit, most people seem to smoke past me on the bike trails. But I'm getting mixed signals on what I can really do about this.

Option A: upgrade to a nicer road bike. But given the cost, I only want to do it if it would *really* make a difference. (Current hybrid is a generic "Genesis" bike). Plus, I have some bumpy roads to navigate, needs paniers, etc.
You don't need a 'nicer' bike but one that will put you in an aerodynamic position. You don't say how fast you're riding now but 32kph is likely a good target. Panniers are going to make it more difficult so if you can use a pack instead that would be preferable.

Quote:
Option B: Get real bike shoes and clipless peddles (Yes I bike in sandals, please don't judge ). Would this be the best bang for the buck?
I like clipless as they're more comfortable but my tests with a powermeter and HR monitor showed essentially zero difference between the two options for steady state riding. I would recommend it but it won't make you faster.

Quote:
Option C: Something I'm not thinking of.
90% of your power goes to overcoming wind resistance so you need to minimize your aero drag. The following items will help:
1. Getting into an aggressive aero position. No need for a fancy bike to test this, just bend your arms and get your back as close as possible to horizontal. It won't be as comfortable as a properly fit bike but it's an inexpensive way to experiment.
2. Tight clothes. Baggy anything, including panniers, will suck power and slow you down. Try a ride with the tightest clothes you have and no panniers and see what you can do.
3. Decent tires. For rough roads GP4000s 25 or 28mm.

Quote:
If I can shave even 5-10 minutes off my commute this would matter a lot.
How long does it take you to go 14km? I can usually manage 31km in under an hour if I'm not against the wind but I don't have many stops and travel 30 min or so on a highway. If you have frequent stops it will obviously be more difficult.

Last edited by gregf83; 06-09-17 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 06-09-17, 06:25 PM   #34
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Going from an upright rigid frame hybrid with riser bars to a road bike with drop bars increased my average speed from 14 mph to 16 mph with the same effort. Above 14 mph wind resistance becomes a factor -- and that's on a dead calm day. Add head winds and the lower, more aero position makes a huge difference. But it comes at a cost.

Just got my first road racing bike in 30 years this week. Yeah, it's faster. And a third lighter. But it's damned uncomfortable compared with the hybrid. I doubt I'd choose the road bike for commuting. I prefer a higher, heads up position riding in traffic. A drop bar bike designed for touring, commuting or less aggressive riding than racing would suit me better.

The Genesis looks like a typical comfort hybrid with suspension fork. I have a similar bike and love it for grocery runs and errands. But it's a bit heavy and sluggish for longer rides or traffic. I average about 12 mph on it now. When I first got it a couple of years ago I struggled to average 10 mph.

As a compromise you might consider a rigid frame/fork hybrid, or older mountain bike, with flat bars. These will be a bit lighter, a bit more responsive, a bit more aerodynamic without going to extremes. And you can buy 'em off craigslist or other sites for around $300 or less in good shape.
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Old 06-09-17, 06:36 PM   #35
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Oh, regarding shoes and pedals, etc., it doesn't matter as much as conditioning. One guy we ride with in casual group rides is capable of some serious speed but he often wears sandals and rides an old school cruiser, something like a Raleigh or Schwinn with riser bar -- bike probably weighs 30 lbs with the rear rack, basket or pannier, etc. He cruises at 15-16 mph and looks like he's loafing, not really trying. I follow him on Strava and on his serious longer rides on a road bike he's doing better than 20 mph.
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Old 06-09-17, 06:40 PM   #36
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Im having the strangest sense of deja vu.
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Old 06-09-17, 08:43 PM   #37
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Is it my imagination or did about 2 pages worth of posts disappear from this thread?
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Old 06-09-17, 09:11 PM   #38
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Easiest way is to suck the tail of those fast guys. 18 mph will feel like 14 by yourself.
A month ago, I was tootling down quiet streets when the U of A Tri team happened along. 2 guys leading and 2 girls behind. So I couldn't pass this chance up and I cranked up my roadster 1973 CCM 3 spd to 18/ 19 mph and kept up for a km until they went the wrong way, darn. The girls were looking back at me. LOL
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Old 06-09-17, 10:00 PM   #39
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Easiest way is to suck the tail of those fast guys. 18 mph will feel like 14 by yourself.
A month ago, I was tootling down quiet streets when the U of A Tri team happened along. 2 guys leading and 2 girls behind. So I couldn't pass this chance up and I cranked up my roadster 1973 CCM 3 spd to 18/ 19 mph and kept up for a km until they went the wrong way, darn. The girls were looking back at me. LOL
A few did that to me on my commute. I wouldn't mind if we would alternate but nope, they leach of me until our ways split.
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Old 06-09-17, 10:14 PM   #40
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Is it my imagination or did about 2 pages worth of posts disappear from this thread?
Two threads by OP, different answers in each.
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Old 06-09-17, 10:19 PM   #41
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I would look at the part of the commute that has nothing to do with the bike: the route. Sometimes the one slightly longer in distance will be quicker. Only right turns when possible. Learn the cycle of the lights. If there's a way to go around a hill instead of over it, by all means, do that.
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Old 06-10-17, 03:01 AM   #42
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Put your bike in a higher gear, get out off your seat and stand on your pedals (mash). Then when your going faster get back in a lower gear, sit down and spin. When you slow down too much, repeat. Traffic will interfere with this process, but do what you can and watch your times get faster.
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Old 06-10-17, 09:02 AM   #43
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Two threads by OP, different answers in each.
Definitely mixed signals to/from OP. Is he racing or commuting or what?
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Old 06-10-17, 09:24 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Anitza View Post
Hello all!

I regularly commute 28km round trip to work on a mid-grade hybrid bike, and although I'm reasonably fit, most people seem to smoke past me on the bike trails.
This could just be your perception. Faster riders are going to pass you, but you'll never encounter others riding about the same speed as you.

To increase speed takes a lot of small changes to the bike, including reducing windage (bags, body position), smooth tires at the right pressure, clipless pedals, reducing your and the bike's weight, etc. But the one big change is your effort and fitness. You may consider yourself fit, but it takes years to develop the strength and aerobic capacity to sustain long hard efforts. I ride essentially a hybrid, and keep up with or pass most road bikes on my commute, but this didn't happen overnight.
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Old 06-10-17, 09:59 AM   #45
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One thing that can really make a difference is good wheels, are your wheels true, and otherwise in good shape, bearings & hubs serviced, are the wheels old / too heavy ... next maybe upgrade the tires.

Also, learn how to shift effectively if not already.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears.html
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Old 06-11-17, 08:54 AM   #46
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There are some very helpful suggestions in the above - thank you.
I have no idea how 2 identical threads started (I just replied to the earlier thread with clarifications, and from that point forward something changed). Sorry about that.
And I-Like-to-Bike - not sure how you're getting mixed signals. I am commuting, but simply want to know how best to speed up that commute.
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Old 06-11-17, 09:06 AM   #47
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And I-Like-to-Bike - not sure how you're getting mixed signals. I am commuting, but simply want to know how best to speed up that commute.
From your OP, you seem to be getting mixed signals about your own commute speed only because "most people seem to smoke past me on the bike trails."

Are you in a race with the other bicyclists on the bike trail and/or in a race to get to/from work? If not, ride whatever speed you like, fast, slow or indifferent, and forget about responding to the mixed signals you are getting from strangers on the bike trail.
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Old 06-12-17, 10:55 AM   #48
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Old 06-12-17, 11:06 AM   #49
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You will be able to answer your question better if you first do a bit of athletic training. Measure your accomplishments over time as you execute a plan of strengthening yourself. I recommend some sort of high intensity interval training. Basically, it's where you take a minute at a time, a few times through your ride, to ride as hard as possible, to the point of exhaustion, where you can't maintain the level of exertion after the one minute. Do that every day and see how fast you get. Once you have made an improvement, you'll know which equipment changes will help. You may decide to make none, but you'll probably make one or two such as clipless pedals, lighter tires, lighter wheels, lower handlebar, or new bike. But do the training and measurement before you put money down. Your body will tell you what's next.

I use ridewithgps to track my progress. The completion times are interesting, but the conditions vary from day to day, so I don't take the times too seriously. I face some strong headwinds on some days, and my time doesn't really reflect the level of exertion. But one of the graphs this app provides is how much time I spend at each speed. I wasn't improving my overall time until I pushed myself over my 13 mph limit. I was spending all of my time at or below 13 mph and hardly any over that speed. I pushed myself to keep the speed readout high, and now I spend a lot more time above 13 mph. But this is what has worked for me and not necessarily the approach that would serve you best.

How much faster do you want to be? In real world time, a very fast rider doesn't get to work much sooner than a slow rider, but I don't blame you for wanting to improve anyway.
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Old 06-12-17, 11:27 AM   #50
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I'd choose option B (pick a clipless shoe and pedal system) and option C (keep riding and get bigger legs ). Yes, a decent road bike would also help but is more expensive and you sound like you have a decent hybrid.
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