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Old 11-18-12, 03:57 PM   #1
MinnMan
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n+1 for the win - I can hardly believe it.

Today was my first real ride on my new Felt F3. n was/is a Trek 2.1, so the differences between n+1 and n are several - n+1 is carbon rather than Al and weighs 5 lbs. less. It also has a more aggressive geometry and (much) better components, including better wheels.

I can hardly believe the difference.

I did a club ride that was nearly identical to one I did 2 weeks ago. - the same route with more or less the same crowd. Normally on this ride a faster group drops everybody else about midway through the ride. I normally go with the faster group, but do little or no pulling - I suck wheels and congratulate myself if I am not dropped.

But today, with the same route and same company as 2 weeks ago, i was on the front for much of the ride and it felt.....almost effortless. The hills were easier, but also I felt faster on the flats, too. Really.

Why? I know that a lighter bike makes no real difference on flat terrain, so I think it must be the more aggressive geometry and something I've read about but never believed made an appreciable difference - more efficient power transfer with a stiffer frame and wheels.

Maybe the hammerheads were taking it easy today. Maybe my excitement being on n+1 was making a difference - I don't know. But the fastest guy in the group commented that several times during the ride, he thought I was going to drop him.

People say that when your bike costs well above $1k, you are only making an incremental difference in speed, and I more or less believed that, but this feels like a HUGE difference. I bought this bike because I wanted to ride something exciting, but I didn't honestly believe that it would make me noticeably faster. More rides will show whether or not this was some kind of fluke, but for the moment, I am ECSTATIC.

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Old 11-18-12, 04:39 PM   #2
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Good running in Ride Report.

All you have to do now is kep up the effort when the "Newness" wears off.
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Old 11-18-12, 05:03 PM   #3
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It would be great to hear a report again next midsummer - but it sounds good for now!
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Old 11-18-12, 05:07 PM   #4
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It didn't sound like your experience was anything but real rather than something you imagined or a one-time fluke... And, while logically I could agree with the idea that speed / performance differences become (small) incremental differences, I also know that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts...

Last summer I had the opportunity to ride a high end Trek Madonne. The difference in weight, stability and shifting made it shine far more than my 20 year old Cannondale. While each of those things individually would have made it a "better" bike , together they made it a magnificent bike.

Congrats on your N+1!
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Old 11-18-12, 05:27 PM   #5
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For performance type riding, 5 pounds can be huge. You're also less tired after the hills if you're climbing at the same speed. Then there is the placebo effect.
Enjoy your new bike!

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Old 11-18-12, 05:37 PM   #6
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Nice bike, and good report! One day I'm going to N+1 like this!
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Old 11-18-12, 07:41 PM   #7
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That is a very fine bike you have there.
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Old 11-18-12, 08:57 PM   #8
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Nice bike.

5 pounds = 6 watts on an 8% climb but no benefit on flat
Frame aerodynamics (who really knows) but let's say 5 watts @ 20 mph. This assumes that the rider set up of the Felt is the same as the Trek. If you are lower on the Felt then there could be a significant aero advantage.
Wheels = 3 to 5 watts @ 20 mph and could be more
New Drive Train (gears and chain) = 6 watts New drive train 2% old drive train 5%, power produced =200 watts. 10-4=6 watts.
Frame and wheel flex = 5 watts **
Total Power Advantage Flat Terrain = 21 watts
Total Power Advantage Climbing = 17 watts

Assuming the rider is producing 200 watts (typical for 20 mph) then the new bike would provide approximately 10% savings in power to go the same speed as the old bike.

** This is a highly debated matter. Some believe that the flex in wheels and the frame is captured when it rebounds. In a mechanical system that is true. The problem is that this system is part mechanical and part human. The human has to put in a counter force capture the flex in the frame and wheels as they spring back. Sprinters know this without using any science. They are slower with flexible frames. Also, on a stiff frame and wheels, it feels good or easier to put in more power. It is hard to explain. I think that the frame flex causes riders to "fight" the flex as the body has to recapture the power as the frame springs back plus put in more. I am just trying to explain what I feel and IMO others feel when they ride a bike with a stiffer frame and better wheels that are engineered as a system.
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Old 11-18-12, 09:10 PM   #9
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Also, my analysis is about steady state conditions and constant speed. Most of the time, riders are dropped on accelerations where hundreds of watts are generated and the benefit of the new bike is just noise.
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Old 11-18-12, 09:15 PM   #10
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Thanks, as always, Hermes, for the great information.

I definitely think the stiffness enhanced power transfer. It's hard to believe that the small amount of flex in the other bike made a huge change to the ride efficiency, but the difference felt quite tangible.

In addition to the effects you quantified, there are definite geometry differences between the two bikes. The head tube on the Felt is shorter and the bars are lower. Also, the fitter at the LBS put my saddle up a little higher than where I have the Trek... And, I think the BB is a little lower on the Felt. I could probably reproduce some of this on the Trek - slam the bars (there's one spacer left on the head tube) and raise the seat a little, and that would diminish the differences.

I really didn't expect much difference in speed and I"m willing to believe that some of it was placebo effect. But some of it wasn't.
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Old 11-19-12, 05:39 AM   #11
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Sound like you and the F3 are going to be friends.
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Old 11-19-12, 05:42 AM   #12
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Better acceleration means more efficient power transfer. It was very noticeable for me when I upgraded. Weight is also very much part of the equation.
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Old 11-19-12, 08:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Thanks, as always, Hermes, for the great information.

I definitely think the stiffness enhanced power transfer. It's hard to believe that the small amount of flex in the other bike made a huge change to the ride efficiency, but the difference felt quite tangible.

In addition to the effects you quantified, there are definite geometry differences between the two bikes. The head tube on the Felt is shorter and the bars are lower. Also, the fitter at the LBS put my saddle up a little higher than where I have the Trek... And, I think the BB is a little lower on the Felt.
I could probably reproduce some of this on the Trek - slam the bars (there's one spacer left on the head tube) and raise the seat a little, and that would diminish the differences.

I really didn't expect much difference in speed and I"m willing to believe that some of it was placebo effect. But some of it wasn't.
You are welcome. It sounds like your body position is lower on the Felt reducing the frontal area. There are two metrics that are key to performance - Watts/Kg of weight and Watts/Frontal area. You improved both with the new bike. Improving watts/frontal area greatly improves your performance off the front.

Congrats on the new bike and improved fit / performance.
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