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Thread: Need More Speed

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    Senior Member OH306's Avatar
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    Need More Speed

    OK, so I'm a retired old guy like many of you. I was never a serious rider and just got back in the saddle last year. Bought a Specialized Hybrid and it's very comfortable for me. Most of my rides now are 25 to 40 miles on MUP's and some on the road. I have increased my average speed from just under 12 mph to around 14 mph now. I ride often with my son and feel sometimes I am holding him back a little so I need to pick up the pace a little. The easy way would be just add another magnet to the front wheel but I think that wouldn't really help. My son rides a Jamis Coda and his ride is a lot lighter and quicker than mine, but mine is a lot better on my sorry old butt. Anyway I was thinking different tires would help and be a lot less expensive than a different ride. My Specialized has Alex DH19 rims (622 x 18) (18mm inner rim width) and Specialized Armadillo 700 x 38C tires that have a pretty aggressive tread. I was wondering what tire I may substitute that would help me pick up the pace. Could I go down to a 28C on the tires and would that help? Is there a specific tire you could recommend to decrease the rolling resistance? Thanks gents and ladies for your input.

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    Bike Curious.... bobby c's Avatar
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    I don't think tinkering with the bike is going to make huge improvements, though a less aggressive tire may help some. While I don't know specifics, most people find increase speed through a couple of different ways:

    - Training. Some intervals and/or hills & follow a specific regime. Lots of different techniques to choose from.
    - Lose weight. Not sure if this is needed in your case but many find great improvement by taking off some pounds.
    - Drugs. EPO, steroids, bloods transfusions, etc. Can't really recommend that, still trying to flush out the drugs I did as a young lad.

    Anyhow whether he realizes it or not, your son is a very lucky fellow to be able to ride with his dad. If he keeps coming back, it's not because he's doing it for the excercise or great view. He's there because of you so enjoy it!

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Put some 28mm slicks (any brand) on that hybrid.

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    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    absolutely. Lighter tires and or lighter wheels will add speed to a hybrid about as fast as anything mechanical you can do to the bike.

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    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Which Specialized hybrid is it? Mention the year too please, as they change things up a lot from year to year.

    If its a new 2007 Expedition or Crossroads, then it is going to be difficult to make it much faster. Those were not designed for any speed at all - in fact, they are slower than the typical hybrid.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    The words "hybrid" and "speed" don't usually go together. I can average 22+ mph on my recumbent for a 24 mile loop. The same course on my Trek 7500 hybrid gets me about 14.5 mph, if I really kill myself trying.

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    Senior Member OH306's Avatar
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    Which Specialized hybrid is it? Mention the year too please, as they change things up a lot from year to year.

    If its a new 2007 Expedition or Crossroads, then it is going to be difficult to make it much faster. Those were not designed for any speed at all - in fact, they are slower than the typical hybrid.
    It's a 2006 Crossroads Elite. I thought perhaps a tire change may be enough to do the trick .. just a couple more mph. I'm not really overweight but 10 fewer pounds wouldn't hurt. New tires is a cheaper option than a new bike.

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    The Grampster tlc20010's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobby c
    I don't think tinkering with the bike is going to make huge improvements, though a less aggressive tire may help some. While I don't know specifics, most people find increase speed through a couple of different ways:

    - Training. Some intervals and/or hills & follow a specific regime. Lots of different techniques to choose from.
    - Lose weight. Not sure if this is needed in your case but many find great improvement by taking off some pounds.
    - Drugs. EPO, steroids, bloods transfusions, etc. Can't really recommend that, still trying to flush out the drugs I did as a young lad.

    Anyhow whether he realizes it or not, your son is a very lucky fellow to be able to ride with his dad. If he keeps coming back, it's not because he's doing it for the excercise or great view. He's there because of you so enjoy it!
    +1 to Bob's comments. I tried all that bike tinkering stuff and at the end of the day found that what worked (in order of impact) was losing weight, training hard (and lots), and getting a faster bike.

    I actually went from a Specialized Crossroads to a Jamis Coda Comp then a Cannondale Road Warrior 1000 and now a LeMond Buenos Aires.....all of them are excellent bikes and each faster (and easier to ride)than the one before. Sure, you can improve the performance of a minivan by adding sporty tires, but if you want to go faster, get a higher performance car--same with bikes.

    As an aside, if you want to go any faster, you are going to have to give up that fat old squishy seat and go to a real bike saddle--don't worry, you will adjust (ask about Chamois Butter), and (as Tom Bombadil will be happy to tell you) your seat is too low.

    Finally, a double +1 about riding with your son. Nothing beats it.
    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
    --Ben Franklin

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    I love my hybrid and it has brought me many thrills in the 3 months I've been riding it. But, I have to admit that I'm starting to understand why so many here moved to road bikes after starting with hybrids. I would like to go much further in the same amount of time and with a little less effort.
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    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    The 2006 Specialized Crossroads Elite is a little faster than the 2007 model, for which they relaxed the seat tube angle for a more comfy riding position. However the 2006 model was a fairly comfortable, typical hybrid design. It carries extra weight in its suspension fork, adjustable stem, suspension seat post and cushy saddle. It has a very upright riding position.

    The tires aren't particular wide & heavy for this type of hybrid, in fact Specialized put thinner, lighter tires on it than they put on their Expedition version of this same bike. You could go down to something like 700x28 or 700x32 and save 4-8 ounces, while slightly lowering your rolling resistance. Might make a very small difference in your speed, but as long as you are riding a 30+ pound bike in an upright riding position, the tires are not a huge factor here.

    If you want to make the bike faster, then you could change out the tires, dump the suspension seat post for a rigid alloy post, install a lighter saddle, replace the stem with a lightweight low-angle one, and replace the handlebars with lighter, lower-rise bars. With the latter two having the most bang for the buck.

    That would drop maybe 3 pounds and put you in a more forward, lower riding position. You should be faster then, but it will still limit your speed. As one regular here has posted, he's taken a hybrid to the 17 mph range over long distances on flat courses. But that is after years of hard riding and he has lowered his riding position.

    Unfortunately if you are really comfortable with your present riding position, it is going to be difficult to make changes that will result in significantly increasing your speed.

    Most 700x28 road tires are going to have similar performance on a 30 pound hybrid. Your LBS should be able to give you good advice. Two that I frequently see on $1000'ish comfort road bikes are the Vittoria Zaffiro and Kenda Kontender.
    Last edited by Tom Bombadil; 07-17-07 at 12:31 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    "I don't think tinkering with the bike is going to make huge improvements,"
    Depends on whose bike he tinkers with!

  12. #12
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Put some 28mm slicks (any brand) on that hybrid.
    +1
    Something with smooth tread and higher pressure will roll easier.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    As Tom B said, I think the only thing that's going to make a significant difference is a lower riding position. I had a Jamis Aragon, and changed the tires from 38s to a small 32 with about 20 more PSI of pressure with minimal impact on my speed. I have since changed to a Surly Crosscheck with drop bars and have increased my speed somewhat. Yes, it's lighter, and there is no suspension, but I attribute my speed increase primarily to the lower riding position reducing air resistance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OH306
    New tires is a cheaper option than a new bike.
    New tires will help . . . . but the answer is a new bike. For a year I was trying to get in better shape by riding my old mountain bike. (Like you, I was riding the MUPs.) I bought road slicks to go faster. That was an improvement. Then I decided to buy a road bike. What a difference! I was able to get in some long rides and a decent average speed.

    Two days ago I decided to take a ride on the old mountain bike. Dang, was I ever slow again. The workout was probably just as good but it was a slow workout.

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    OK, my father was visiting last night and I was showing him this forum. As we scanned down the threads, he said, "What's this one about?" I answered it was about a guy riding with his son who was a bit faster and was looking for ways to keep up better. Typical of the him he simply said, "Pedal faster."
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

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    Senior Member OH306's Avatar
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    Typical of the him he simply said, "Pedal faster."
    Gee, why didn't I think of that????? Does he ride?

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    Quote Originally Posted by OH306
    Gee, why didn't I think of that????? Does he ride?

    Yeah, he actually does, but with two knee replacements, a hip replacement, and spinal surgery, he only rides two or three miles at a time on an old three-speed... mostly laps around the neighborhood. He was a drill instructor for the Army-Air Force in his younger years, so his approach to life is a bit different than most people. As I was growing up, these kind of comments were standard from him. I'd comment, "Wish I had more gas money," hoping he'd maybe throw a dollar or two my way. He'd respond, "Get a better job." I'd say, "Wish my bedroom was bigger." He'd reply, "Move." I remember the year my brothers and I all got footlockers for Christmas. It finally sunk in that "life with Dad" was never going to be normal. Your post just created a situation in which a bunch of memories came flashing back. Some of the others have given good advice. If it were me, I'd go for the different tires first. It's the least expensive way to make and improvement. Moving from 38s to 28s will allow you to accelerate much faster. Once your at rolling speed the difference won't be quite as much, but you'd be surprised at how often on a typicaly ride one must accelerate.
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

  18. #18
    bobkat
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    The simplest cheapest way to solve the problem would be to sneak out at night and adjust your son's brakes so they drag just a little bit! Works every time!
    Or go to a lowracer like Blazin, the Ferrari of bicycles!

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    Senior Member wrobertdavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OH306
    OK, so I'm a retired old guy like many of you. I was never a serious rider and just got back in the saddle last year. Bought a Specialized Hybrid and it's very comfortable for me. Most of my rides now are 25 to 40 miles on MUP's and some on the road. I have increased my average speed from just under 12 mph to around 14 mph now. I ride often with my son and feel sometimes I am holding him back a little so I need to pick up the pace a little. The easy way would be just add another magnet to the front wheel but I think that wouldn't really help. My son rides a Jamis Coda and his ride is a lot lighter and quicker than mine, but mine is a lot better on my sorry old butt. Anyway I was thinking different tires would help and be a lot less expensive than a different ride. My Specialized has Alex DH19 rims (622 x 18) (18mm inner rim width) and Specialized Armadillo 700 x 38C tires that have a pretty aggressive tread. I was wondering what tire I may substitute that would help me pick up the pace. Could I go down to a 28C on the tires and would that help? Is there a specific tire you could recommend to decrease the rolling resistance? Thanks gents and ladies for your input.
    I had a giant cypress lx hybrid and did exactly what you suggested. I moved from 700x40 tires to 700x28. They were not even a slick, just thinner. I picked up 1-2 mph in speed. However the rock solid handling disappeared and the bike became very twitchy. I hated it so bad, I put the old tires back on. I continued to be frustrated because I was losing weight and getting in better shape but all the roadies continued to pass me. I finally broke down and bought a carbon road bike. My gosh what a difference! My wife got left in the dust on her Electra townie. We got her a carbon road bike, too. and now we both grin and enjoy the much reduced effort and faster speed.

    Bob

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    It's really useless to try to make a hybrid into a road bike, or a road bike into a hybrid, but it won't hurt to have more road-oriented tires. By that, I don't mean necessarily narrow, but rather without much thread. That could help a little to maintain a faster pace. I don't think it's necessary to go as narrow as 28mm. 32mm would be fine (lots of touring road bikes are equipped with this size). Any "touring tire" should be fine on your hybrid. Then you could stop being a big braking parachute on your bike by dropping your handlebars at least to the level of the saddle (if they aren't there already), and also adding some L-shaped bar-ends so you can stretch out and change hand positions every once in a while (I would use a flat handlebar rather than a riser bar). You don't have to change the saddle itself right now if it's not uncomfortable, but I would be willing to bet that yours is not positioned to give you the most efficient pedaling. Just that alone can make a huge difference. It should be high enough (and you really do need to work yourself up to that gradually), and probably a little farther back. It takes a long time to regain or to achieve fitness when we're older. A moderately-fitted and styled road bike can help make the most of what you've got to give, but let's face it, it can take some adaptation and a lot of riding to get comfortable on one, and you really have to ride with some intensity to gain full advantage from a road bike.

    By the way, I ride with my 20-something daugther. I've come back to more intensive riding after years of dialysis and then finally a kidney transplant. I'm on my 10 year old custom sport touring road bike, and she is on her heavy mountain bike (on which I put slicker tires for her). She can keep up with me on level ground and no wind, but the minute there is any head or even side wind at all, or any mild, prolonged incline, she can't keep up with me. This is the difference a road bike can make.

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    I have to assume that my wife and I have become all of a sudden faster bikers or look for other reasons. We bike on the same trail for 15 years and have improved our personal best time by significant margins recently (>10%). What did we change except becoming faster bikers?
    The Tandem was changed from 45 mm, 50 PSI Armadillos to 38 mm, 85 PSI Bontraggers.
    The Hybrid was changed from 38 mm, 80 PSI Bontraggers to 28 mm, 120 PSI Continentals.

    Both bikes are set up in aggressive road bike posture. Bars below saddle elevation.
    The trail is Limestone and somewhat bumpy and relatively flat. Our/my best time for 46 miles round trip is 2:40 hr.
    There are many cross roads forcing a stop or slow down.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yen
    I love my hybrid and it has brought me many thrills in the 3 months I've been riding it. But, I have to admit that I'm starting to understand why so many here moved to road bikes after starting with hybrids. I would like to go much further in the same amount of time and with a little less effort.
    I also started with hybrids and changed to a road bike for the very same reason It took my 5 years though
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    The Grampster tlc20010's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yen
    I love my hybrid and it has brought me many thrills in the 3 months I've been riding it. But, I have to admit that I'm starting to understand why so many here moved to road bikes after starting with hybrids. I would like to go much further in the same amount of time and with a little less effort.
    Quote Originally Posted by Beverly
    I also started with hybrids and changed to a road bike for the very same reason It took my 5 years though
    Same progression for me--I was in between Jen and Beverly...took me a bit over two years to make the change to a road bike. I think that if a competent hybrid rider is interested in going faster, she/he will be amazed at how much faster and easier they can ride on a road bike. I still have a hybrid that I use for in town errand running and the like--love it. But when I want to put in some miles at a quick pace, my road bike is the weapon of choice.
    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlc20010
    Same progression for me--I was in between Jen and Beverly...took me a bit over two years to make the change to a road bike. I think that if a competent hybrid rider is interested in going faster, she/he will be amazed at how much faster and easier they can ride on a road bike. I still have a hybrid that I use for in town errand running and the like--love it. But when I want to put in some miles at a quick pace, my road bike is the weapon of choice.
    I just sold my hybrids this year. The original road bike has been setup with a rear rack for around town errands and riding with the park program. It has 700 x 28 tires and can handle even the crushed limestone trails as long as they're not too wet. The newer road bike is used for the club rides.
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    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Don't forget that a traditional roadbike puts you in a position to maximize sustained speed. Getting down and forward is not only aerodynamic, but brings more muscles into play propelling the bike. The drop bar also adds more hand positions for those slight variations that keep you comfortable and thereby keep you going at a higher level of exertion.

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