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  1. #1
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Weight of a bike for speed?

    Did a ride on my old OCR3 today. It is not a bike I ride much as it is of a lower grade than my main rides and heavier.

    Even heavier today as it was decked out with some posters on it and it was not excatly the safest bike to ride. But it was a flat course- just a few dips and rises and a pretty good road surface. I did not even put the "Go-Faster" wheels on the thing as it was going to be a slow ride. I even had time to have banter with a few of the onlookers as it was only a fun ride.

    BUT- 13 miles in 38 minutes. For me that is fast. Normally takes me 10 minutes before I can push myself on any ride and any gradient will slow me down. I was not even going for it either as the bike was a bit unstable and took some controlling

    I have heard it said before that once you get up to momemtum- then the weight of a bike or the wheels does not matter. Lightness only has an advantage on acceleration and once you get up to speed- "Extra" weight will assist you. Proved today that is right as my normal speed on a ride like this would normally be around 18mph.

    Only thing is- I know which bike I like to ride and it is not this one as set up today.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  2. #2
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    That's one of the reasons I keep putting off new wheels. If I'm going to cut weight to be faster, I just stand in front of the mirror. What kind of wheels do you have?
    George

  3. #3
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Bike weight really only matters when climbing, accelerating and when descending. A heavier bike will be a slight handicap on a climb but may be an asset on the descent. On the flat, as mentioned, once up to speed the heavier bike will tend to maintain that speed a bit better than a lighter bike. But there really isn't much in any of it if the bikes are only a few pounds different. But, a really light, well designed bike is a pleasure to ride but then so is my 17.5# Ti bike. So forget everything I just said.

  4. #4
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    I read a pretty interesting essay one time on climbing with a relatively heavy, fixed-gear bike. Can't remember where I saw it, but the author (a bike racer and college physics prof, according to his bio) maintained that up to a given point, the extra pounds combined with an essentially locked driveline made it EASIER to climb under most conditions, because the mo helped carry the pedals over the normal dead spots.
    I'm not supporting the theory, but when I built my singlespeed a few years ago, from an old touring bike, I took it out and rode some of the rides I've done many times on my other bikes. I expected a big difference, but there was almost none. On the one really tough short climb, I was actually a little FASTER on the SS, I assume because I couldn't gear down and spin like crazy--I had to nut up and ride a higher gear than I normally would. The SS isn't faster on the flat because I have it geared pretty low, but on rolling hills and mixed terrain (up to about 16mph average), it seems to come out about the same.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    When riding with a group on a course with tight turns there is nothing like a light bike. I have tried it with both and the light bike is a definite advantage.
    When riding at a reasonable speed in a group on a mostly flat course, say around 20 MPH, I have ridden my Surly LHT, a very heavy bike, with no problems. Actually, I have enjoyed the easy ride of the heavy bike.
    Riding in hilly terrain, especially when the climbs have over 10% grades mixed in, I really want the light bike, my Orbea Onix.
    Just my opinion from my experience.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  6. #6
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Just completed my first few rides on the recently completed Wayzata (cyclocross type bike) which is considerably heavier that the road bikes. Times/speeds were surprisingly close to what I average on the lighter bikes. Even adding heavier tires (32c) on the Wayzata felt slower and a bit harder but didn't make the times much slower.

    Edit: I do agree with Arkansas that hills and turns would bring out a difference.

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    My Cycling Blogspot

  7. #7
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    I'm thinking you were still stoked from having your picture taken with those podium girls.

  8. #8
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    I found this to be very true. On my Tarmac, lighter bike & wheels it acceleerates great but you have to stay in it otherwise it slows down just as quickly. On my Simoncini - it takes a little longer to spool up but you can take momentary breaks and not loose too much speed. I think this is one of the main reasons I like it for distance riding. However for group pace line rides - nothing beats that rapid accelleration of the Tarmac when closing a gap in a pace line or blasting up a small roller or when cresting a hill - getting back up to speed quickly.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  9. #9
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    Depends on your riding style.
    I did a test on a 50 mile round trip flat Trail with a 35# Trail bike and a 20# Trek Madone and a 50#+ Tandem.
    The riding style used was interval. That means that I set a low acceptable limit and stood up and accelerated 5 or more MPH faster. Sit down until I reach that low limit and repeat.
    ----------------
    This much more difficult to do with a heavier bike. You have trouble getting it accelerated. The Madone jumps and the Trail bike resists your efforts. This is even more dramatic with a Tandem bike.
    It feels like a truck compared to the Madone.
    All this adds up to an overall average speed of at least 10% of the Madone to the Trail bike and another 10% to the Tandem.
    BTW, the Trail bike had 23 mm tires so we are talking weight here.
    Last edited by will dehne; 09-19-09 at 09:54 PM.

  10. #10
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Try to answer a few points- This was a flat course- nothing even like a slope to take into consideration and for me that is an unusual ride to have. Locally- even what I term "Flat" rides will get in 400ft climbing over 10 miles or so. There were only two turns where I had to brake aswell so no accelerating from corners. Once I got the bike up to speed- it was turn the pedals to maintain that speed.

    Now on my local hilly rides- This bike would have been no good. 52lbs all up weight compared to say the TCR at 17 and I know what I would prefer to ride locally.

    And I may not have wheels as light as some of you but I have a set of Ultegra wheels- a set of Hand built and a set of Aksiums. All good wheels but the aksiums are the winter/foul weather set. Tyres and I use Michelin PR 2's in 23 so a light tyre aswell. Compared to stock wheels- they are light but more than that- they roll. On this ride- I put a pair of stock Giant wheels on that I carry as spares. 600grammes heavier and I also used a 26 tyre inflated to 120psi to take the weight. The whole bike was heavy And it felt it on acceleration.

    And to give an example of how stock wheels do not work

    When I got the OCR, I went cheap and got the OCR3 The bike was good enough as my first road bike and the spec of the bike was not bad. But on a ride I did a downhill and got to 30mph and had to ease off round a long curve. Problem was that on my MTB with knobblies fitted- I get 37mph. Had a chat with the LBS and they loaned me a set of Krysiums. They transformed the bike. It was completely different with speed getting back on the downhills, easier going up the hills, I gained 2mph on my average rides of around 40 miles and the bike took corners and curves better. I could not warrant the Krysiums but got the shop to build me a set of Handbuilt 105 hubs- 36 DB spokes laced x2 to Mavic CXP33 rims. A lot cheaper than the Krysiums and only a few grammes difference in weight. They are good.

    Next bike was Boreas and a few changes. Ultegra wheel set that are light and stiff- and a compact double instead of a triple. I use the triple on our hills and often in 30/26. The compact is 50/34 and 12/27. Hills are no harder than with the triple- but they are faster (Till I get to the 16% and that is taken in a very slow cadence by the end) Think this is that mentally- it is a steep hill so to make it easier I go down on gears till I have none left. But as the Compact is higher- I can't find a lower gear so have to go with what I have got. Hence the increase in speed.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  11. #11
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    It seems I spend way too much time getting dropped and chasing the folks I ride with so give me lighter for the acceleration needs-or just give me different folks to ride with!!!

    While it's not a true test because of the many variables, I have not experienced any speed increases with my lighter carbon TT bike over a little heavier Al frame with essentially the same design. The wheels are the same wheels on both bikes, and the route is exactly the same (Lowes Motor Speedway). However the Carbon TT bike is a much, much smoother ride and better fit and can be ridden comfortably for much longer periods.

  12. #12
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    Only thing is- I know which bike I like to ride and it is not this one as set up today.
    Then, that's settled. Ride the one you like to ride.

    I have a C-Dale T-800 touring bike with mud guards, racks, bags, lights, etc. It is by no means light, but as you described, when on the flats with steady forward motion it holds speed well and seem as effortless to ride as something half its weight. There aren't, however, many place when I can actually ride on all flat, straight roads.

    My favorite ride isn't my lightest bike. It is the one that give me the most pleasure for a variety of reasons. Mostly, it just makes me smile when I'm on it.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  13. #13
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    It seems I spend way too much time getting dropped and chasing the folks I ride with so give me lighter for the acceleration needs-or just give me different folks to ride with!!!

    While it's not a true test because of the many variables, I have not experienced any speed increases with my lighter carbon TT bike over a little heavier Al frame with essentially the same design. The wheels are the same wheels on both bikes, and the route is exactly the same (Lowes Motor Speedway). However the Carbon TT bike is a much, much smoother ride and better fit and can be ridden comfortably for much longer periods.
    Yes - this is my experience exactly. When I first got my Tarmac two years ago I did a lot of experimentation with it - alternating bikes over the same course every other day. My testing told me that the light CF bike was no faster overall than my steel bike - both performance bikes. It's all in the ability to accellerate quickly when needed whether its on the flats or up the hills. IMHO - If you are already on a pretty good road bike and you want more overall speed - work on the engine.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  14. #14
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    If you ride with a group a lighter bike will help when adjusting your pace to catch or match a paceline.

    At higher speeds, aerodynamics plays an increasing role.

    Riding solo, bicycle weight is really not much of a factor.

  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
    If you ride with a group a lighter bike will help when adjusting your pace to catch or match a paceline.

    At higher speeds, aerodynamics plays an increasing role.

    Riding solo, bicycle weight is really not much of a factor.
    Aerodynamics did not come into this ride
    And I was definitely not riding solo
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    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  16. #16
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    This is why I only have one bike to ride on the road. I would never know what bike to take if I had to choose.
    Truth is stranger than reality.
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  17. #17
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    My 10kg Bianchi is light enough for my purposes. Basic physics says that the other contributors to this thread are essentially correct -- bike weight matters only when gravity or acceleration are involved. If you want fast acceleration, reducing the mass of your tires and rims will help you twice as much as reducing the mass of the frame.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    My 10kg Bianchi is light enough for my purposes. Basic physics says that the other contributors to this thread are essentially correct -- bike weight matters only when gravity or acceleration are involved. If you want fast acceleration, reducing the mass of your tires and rims will help you twice as much as reducing the mass of the frame.
    Reducing the mass of the rider makes a bigger difference....and your wallet will be fatter. I agree on the wheels v. frame.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    Aerodynamics did not come into this ride
    And I was definitely not riding solo
    OMG!!! Is that you????!!!

  20. #20
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Stapfam - can I use that pic of you for my avatar - I love it!!
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  21. #21
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
    OMG!!! Is that you????!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
    Stapfam - can I use that pic of you for my avatar - I love it!!
    It is me- and the bike and you can see why I got so much attention on the ride- Being the only one in Fancy dress.

    And as an avatar- Would be better if I had an action shot of me on the ride- but that may turn up- But use whatever you like.

    But down in Sussex- we are a bit less refined than in London- Pics taken from a local ride we have in April.
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    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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