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Old 06-29-07, 11:44 AM   #1
jbarros
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Go fast mods on commuter bikes?

Hi Everyone.

I started commuting on an old 35+ lb mountainbike with knobbies.

Then I got a 14 speed old steel frictionshifting road bike that fit me well.

Now I'm going somewhere inbetween with an Aurora + rack, fenders, Arkel Bug, etc.

I'm still learning about this, and for example, the difference between even 20 psi (90 to 110) or some skinnier tires, or just getting into the habbit of cleaning and lubing my drivetrain every week seems to make a noticable difference to me.

I keep looking around and seeing people pitching low resistance bearings, lighter wheelsets, supra dupra go fast bits etc.

Now, I'm not going to spend too much on loosing weight off the bike, as if it's that important to me, I'd just put less than the 20lbs of stuff that goes into my backpack currently, but for example bearings, do these type of things make a really noticable difference to an average commuter?

Thanks

-- James
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Old 06-29-07, 11:57 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarros
I keep looking around and seeing people pitching low resistance bearings, lighter wheelsets, supra dupra go fast bits etc.

Now, I'm not going to spend too much on loosing weight off the bike, as if it's that important to me, I'd just put less than the 20lbs of stuff that goes into my backpack currently, but for example bearings, do these type of things make a really noticable difference to an average commuter?

-- James
Short answer:

NO!

you have the 2 big ones done: hi-pressure slicks and a clean drivetrain.
a light wheelset does make a noticeable difference but you're talking $250+++
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Old 06-29-07, 12:01 PM   #3
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20 pounds in your backpack? That seems to be the thing holding you back the most at this point. You might shave a part of a pound off here or there... like mentioned wheels would be the next thing... but beyond that lightening the load would give the best benefit....

or shifting the load a rack would improve things
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Old 06-29-07, 12:49 PM   #4
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you have the 2 big ones done: hi-pressure slicks and a clean drivetrain.
a light wheelset does make a noticeable difference but you're talking $250+++
To improve ineffeciencies, replacing any moving parts (wheels, drivetrain, etc.) is your best value but you are looking at spending some dough.

Another consideration is bike fit. An aggressive fit will likely prove more efficient than a lax, upright position. Of course, comfort is a huge consideration as well.
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Old 06-29-07, 01:01 PM   #5
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Reduce air drag.

Seriously.
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Old 06-29-07, 01:01 PM   #6
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Big honkin' quadriceps. Best 'go-fast' mod for any bike.

I've got a 38 pound MTB commuter rig, and I weigh 250 pounds. That's a lot of weight to get movin', but I can keep a 17mph average on my rolling commute, and 18-20mph on the flats.

If you're already keeping the hubs and drivetrain well serviced, then shaving off a couple grams here and there might not really add up to much of a total weight savings. You're already getting the benefit of clean, smooth running components. The next step in 'go-fast' technology is to beef up the engine.
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Old 06-29-07, 01:09 PM   #7
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There is a difference, but it's hard to quantify.

I had one fixed-gear bike - a Cannondale Capo with lower end parts. I have the gearing like I like it to stay in my comfortable cruising range on the flats.

I purchased a different bike with the same gearing but high-end parts. On this bike, my speed increased several mph and pushed me to the top of my comfortable cadence zone in the flats.

I can't pinpoint what, exactly did it. The hub bearings are definitely better, the drivetrain is slightly smoother, and the bars are slightly lower.
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Old 06-29-07, 01:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightc1
or shifting the load a rack would improve things
+1.

Once you've ditched the backpack for a light duty rack and a pair of small panniers you'll never go back.

If you consider how much cooler you will be, they probably won't slow you down at all.

Tires: 700x32 Randonneur Pro
Tubes: find some good 700x28-32's that weigh ~130g
Drivetrain: clean and properly lubricated with no rust whatsoever
Wheels: Cheaper than $250 is fine but make sure they're perfectly tensioned 32-spoke with double wall rims that are at or below about 470g each. CXP23's on Tiagra or Sora Hubs?

I see plenty of hybrids built up with poorly tensioned 36-spoke wheels and rims weighing 550g each. If properly tensioned, these wheels qualify for clydesdale or touring duty. As they come of the machine, they're no stronger than a much lighter, well tensioned, 32-spoke wheel. If you lose 100g of rim weight, another 100g of tire weight, 30g of spokes, and 30g of tube, you'll probably pick up almost 2 mph. The weight of the rest of the bike makes much less of a difference.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
Big honkin' quadriceps. Best 'go-fast' mod for any bike.

I've got a 38 pound MTB commuter rig, and I weigh 250 pounds. That's a lot of weight to get movin', but I can keep a 17mph average on my rolling commute, and 18-20mph on the flats.

If you're already keeping the hubs and drivetrain well serviced, then shaving off a couple grams here and there might not really add up to much of a total weight savings. You're already getting the benefit of clean, smooth running components. The next step in 'go-fast' technology is to beef up the engine.

Guadrophenia!

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Old 06-29-07, 02:26 PM   #10
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There's nothing like new wheels. I wonder if more regular attention to hubs (like, uh, *any* attention...) would regenerate that new wheel feel.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cachehiker
+1.

Once you've ditched the backpack for a light duty rack and a pair of small panniers you'll never go back.
or just strap the backpack (if not overfilled) onto the light duty rack or get a more aero trunk and no panniers.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
There's nothing like new wheels. I wonder if more regular attention to hubs (like, uh, *any* attention...) would regenerate that new wheel feel.
a lot of recent hubs have sealed bearings... what are you dealing with?

i generally poo-poo on fancy bearing claims, since those things spin slow. the wheel spins only once per second for every 5mph (approx), so even at like 20mph, the bearings are lazing along at 240-250rpm. that is ssssllloooowww. i'd love to see some quantization of how much if any extra drag there is from a bad vs good bearing, or standard vs ceramic, etc.
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Old 06-29-07, 02:54 PM   #13
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Get "Urban" Tires. Smoother, more efficient coasting

Try Drop Bars. I've seen commuter moutain bikes with drop bars before. Drop Bars allow you to lean and have less air resistance

Pedals w/ toe clips allow for more efficient pedaling.

If the bike has front shocks, get a new fork. Nothing kills efficiency like shocks

Get helmet if you dont have one, and a shirt that isn't loose. Both will slightly decrease your air resistance, and the helmet might save your life.
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Old 06-29-07, 03:49 PM   #14
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Well, I'm picking up my Arkel Bug today, so that will take care of getting the weight off my back and onto a rack.

I know I'm going to be in trouble for this one, a quick search on Sheldon's site yielded nothing... how do I do hub/wheel maintenance?

Thanks


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Old 06-29-07, 03:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acroy
a lot of recent hubs have sealed bearings... what are you dealing with?

i generally poo-poo on fancy bearing claims, since those things spin slow. the wheel spins only once per second for every 5mph (approx), so even at like 20mph, the bearings are lazing along at 240-250rpm. that is ssssllloooowww. i'd love to see some quantization of how much if any extra drag there is from a bad vs good bearing, or standard vs ceramic, etc.
Granted roller blade wheels are a LOT smaller and hence spin alot faster, but the difference between abec 1-3-5 bearings on those is amazing. That being said, those things spin REALLY fast for a given speed. Like you said, not so much with bicycle wheels, and it's $200+ to find out directly (at least for those ceramic ones)

-- James
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Old 06-29-07, 04:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeUnit
Get "Urban" Tires. Smoother, more efficient coasting

Try Drop Bars. I've seen commuter moutain bikes with drop bars before. Drop Bars allow you to lean and have less air resistance

Pedals w/ toe clips allow for more efficient pedaling.

If the bike has front shocks, get a new fork. Nothing kills efficiency like shocks

Get helmet if you dont have one, and a shirt that isn't loose. Both will slightly decrease your air resistance, and the helmet might save your life.
well since the OP has an aurora, he has all of those by default. But that would still be good advice for the mountain bike commuters.
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Old 06-29-07, 06:21 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cachehiker
+1.

If you lose 100g of rim weight, another 100g of tire weight, 30g of spokes, and 30g of tube, you'll probably pick up almost 2 mph. The weight of the rest of the bike makes much less of a difference.
Does the weight of the wheels make a big difference once you're underway? I can see how it would affect accelerating and braking, but once you're at steady speed, is the spinning weight any different than weight on the rest of the bike?
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Old 06-29-07, 07:59 PM   #18
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Clips and straps or clipless pedals, study pedal technique and perfect it.

Proper fit. Seats you can sit on and bar grip that feels good lets you push harder, longer.


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Old 06-29-07, 08:49 PM   #19
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Engine upgrades. It's like a video game. The more you play, the better engine you have. If you still have a mountain bike, take it out and do some really good technical singletrack and dirt hills with it on the weekends. Work on endurance during the week (maintain a little higher cadence than usual all the way home, for example) and don't worry about the bike for a bit.

Really, the human on the bike is almost always the cheapest to upgrade, but you have to do it over time. It also happens to be the weakest link most of the time. For instance, there's no sense in me worrying about the difference between a 7 pound madone and a 35 pound schwinn varsity when I'm still more than 40 pounds overweight. There's no sense in worrying about infinitesemal inefficiencies in bearings and drivertains when my lungs, heart, and legs are holding me back. There's no sense in going for aerodynamic wheels, bottle cages, or handlebars when my flabby belly and thick wasteline are acting like a barn door.

The way I figure it, work on the engine first.
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Old 06-29-07, 08:58 PM   #20
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For hub repair info check the Park Tool web site Repair Help section. They have good descriptions and you will discover it is pretty obvious once you get it apart.
Be sure to get cone wrenches before you try this out as you *need* wrenches that thin to do it correctly, there is no substitute that I am aware of. The wrenches are cheap and pay for themselves in a hurry.
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Old 06-29-07, 09:51 PM   #21
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Put 35 or larger cross tires on the Aurora.

Hit the trails to improve handling.

Out of laziness, don't take the cross tires off the bike for a week of pavement riding. Then put the 28 slicks back on. I guarantee the bike will feel faster, and your handling will be better to boot

Well, it worked for me.
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Old 06-29-07, 10:15 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeUnit
Nothing kills efficiency like shocks
Only shocks that suck.....


Edit: Okay, let me expand on that. I think shocks designed for XC racing have very little impact on mountain bikes on the road. I had a XC fork with lockout, and I used to constantly be locking it out whenever I was on pavement under the impression that it was soaking effort. Then I began riding to work with and without it locked out, and found... no difference in time whatsoever.

Big DH and freeride shocks slow the bike down noticeably, but if a XC suspension is robbing you of more than a tiny bit of efficiency, it isn't set up right (or is too low-end TO set up right).

Last edited by ghettocruiser; 06-30-07 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 06-30-07, 01:18 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
Only shocks that suck.....


Edit: Okay, let me expand on that. I think shocks designed for XC racing have very little impact on mountain bikes on the road. I had a XC fork with lockout, and I used to constantly be locking it out whenever I was on pavement under the impression that it was soaking effort. Then I began riding to work with and without it locked out, and found... no difference in time whatsoever.

Big DH and freeride shocks slow the bike down noticeably, but if a XC suspension is robbing you of more than a tiny bit of efficiency, it isn't set up right (or is too low-end TO set up right).
Your right, most people that "commute" on bicycles with shocks do it because that's their only bike. They are either poor, don't know better or don't care that much(they are not bike geeks like us). Which almost always means it's a cheap bike with really sorry dual suspension from walmart. I think the perception (for non-bike people) is that road bikes are for geeks that wear tights and mountain bikes are for tough X-games people. The more gadgets the better. Dual suspension, disc brakes, 27 gears...all for $199. I think we've all seen these people, we all probably know a few of these people and tried out their bikes at one point and developed a negative opinion of shocks.

To the OP: I'm upgrading my entire bike to dura-ace(from tiagra that came stock). To be honest, I'm doing it just because I find it fun and I can never leave anything alone. The only thing that'll really help me go fast is when I upgrade the wheels and maybe the crank. Not from weight savings so much but just because my stock wheels and crank seem to flex alot when really going up hills.
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Old 06-30-07, 05:48 PM   #24
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I can see how it would affect accelerating and braking, but once you're at steady speed, is the spinning weight any different than weight on the rest of the bike?
At constant speed on flat ground, bike weight barely matters at all.

At constant speed on an uphill, weight definitely matters but the difference between spinning weight and non-spinning weight does not matter.
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Old 06-30-07, 06:06 PM   #25
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Twenty pounds is a lot in a backpack. Leaving the whole thing home would help mpre than any conceivable bike upgrade.

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