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  1. #1
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    is size relative to skill?

    Most things being equal--age, level of fitness, passion for the sport (MTB or Road)--are smaller bodied people likely to be better skilled riders? In other words, can a 200 pound guy, be as skillful as a 140 pound guy assuming they are similar in other areas like age and fitness?
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    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    In preaching, I'm more skilled than my 28 year old assistant, who 7 months ago weighed about 50% less than I did. Despite the fact she is 7 months pregnant and thus gaining in pounds and I've been losing weight--- her skill in preaching has not caught-up.

    If we then take that analogy to biking, then age always wins out over weight! And I am thankful for this!

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  3. #3
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    If by "likely" you mean if I took a large sample population and tested the mean and standard deviation, then would smaller people win more frequently at the Tour De France? Yeah, probably. But this is due to the fact that there are lots of mountains, and smaller guys tend to climb better because it's a power-to-weight ratio and you'd need massive power at higher weights (but tell George Hincapie that!). It's not true at all for the non-mountain stages.

    I suspect that the real answer is that a lot of 200 pounders are really 150 pounders who drank too much beer...

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    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzy_cyclist
    I suspect that the real answer is that a lot of 200 pounders are really 150 pounders who drank too much beer...
    You bet!! And don't forget those sausage and mushroom pizzas too.
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    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    OK, back to the OPs question, we were having this same conversation at my LBS last Wednesday. The guys behind the counter swore that shorter people have an advantage when mountain biking because they have a lower center of gravity. I'm certainly no expert on this subject, but the guys I know that are really good mountain bikers are taller, (over 6 foot) with powerful legs.
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  6. #6
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    And here I thought this was going to be an x-rated thread.
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  7. #7
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    And here I thought this was going to be an x-rated thread.
    Completely surprised me as well.....it has actually turned out to be about cycling.

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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh
    In preaching, I'm more skilled than my 28 year old assistant, who 7 months ago weighed about 50% less than I did. Despite the fact she is 7 months pregnant and thus gaining in pounds and I've been losing weight--- her skill in preaching has not caught-up.
    Bob
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  9. #9
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toolba
    Most things being equal--age, level of fitness, passion for the sport (MTB or Road)--are smaller bodied people likely to be better skilled riders? In other words, can a 200 pound guy, be as skillful as a 140 pound guy assuming they are similar in other areas like age and fitness?
    I certainly believe that skills like bike handling, line selection, group riding, etc. are not affected by the size of one's body, but the light rider will outclimb the heavier one, all things being equal. I also believe small, light riders have an advantage in tight turns. BTW I'm 6'2" and 210#

  10. #10
    jcm
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    Things being equal is the key. Usually, they are not. To Wit:

    Up til two weeks ago, I rode my Trek 830 MB on our club rides of up to 45 miles. It has the old Ovaltec (I love it) chainrings and only 18 speeds, steel North Road bar, heavy sprung saddle, rack with day pack, Ford-size fenders, and me at 230 lbs and I'm 50 years old. It now has 1.5" Armadillos which I do feel make it roll alot easier than the fatties. The set-up is all of 44lbs.

    On hills, I smoke 'em. They have to be very strong to outlast me to the top. I'm breathing down their necks coming down, too. Upright and all.

    How? Well, like I said, things ain't equal. I believe the Ovaltec (see Sheldon Brown's BioPace article under his glossary B) gives a real advantage going up hill. The guys pushing round rings just poop out, that's all. Even though their bikes weight 10 lbs less than mine. BTW, BioPace is extremely effective at near stall speeds as well, allowing very precise power application in tight situations.

    Down hill? You can't beat round chainrings, that's a fact. But, this is where my weight comes in handy. Gravity favors the Clydesdales, just like a tractor/trailer rig.

  11. #11
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Weight does have a bearing on various parts of a ride, but over a 30 mile ride- any of these differences will iron out. I am a lightweight but speed uphill is slow. On the flat it is normally me that leads the pace, and Downhills I am gone. Sounds the reverse to what all the text books say so Perhaps I am a 200lb guy in a 150 body.

    What does count though is experience and bike set up. I have a friend who is 240lbs. He can climb hills well, on the flat never leads, but has learnt to slipstream very effectively, but downhill he is C&%p. He is learning very fast, but I think he had a wobbly moment in about 1910 and he can't get get over the feeling that if he comes off at speed- it will hurt. I suggested a change of tyre to him and he tried them. Improved his downhill speed a bit, still never leads but has enough breath left to make comments that he is going too slow, but uphill he improved. Over a 30 mile ride- we are about the same. Then there is the 160 lbs rider that slaughters me everywhere. Trouble is- He wont do a century ride. Well he will, but we are carrying him for the last 40 miles.

    Doesn't matter what your weight is. What does count is whether you enjoy riding.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Red Baron's Avatar
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    I don;t believe its SKILLS that yields this impression (if indeed that impression is there). Rather its efficiency in size rergarding physics.
    As an engineer, I have read literature that indicates Size is optimized due to physics of movement (moment of Inertia mostly). We all know big tall folks are 'gangly' while short thin folks are 'quick on thier feet'. In some military literature I read on extreme ranger school exercises, it was pointed out that 5'9 +/- (assumption was that skills, fitness, etc was equal) was the optimium size efficiency.

    Perhaps 'junk' but interesting.
    **Fate is a fickle thing, and in the end the true measure of a person is not fate itself, but how they master it**

  13. #13
    Senior Member edp773's Avatar
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    I think the op is looking for the word performance rather than skill. Skill would be like being able to stop on a bike without puttung a foot down. In skill, a larger rider can be more skilled than a lighter rider with the same age and fitness.

    As far as performance goes, then I agree with Red Baron, where an optimal size can be more efficient. This can be overcome. I seen a guy in a Criterium, who was built like a runnung back in football, trying to chase down the leader. This man did not have a typical bike racing body, but finished a 1/4 lap ahead of the peleton, or pack.
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