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  1. #1
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    Every review you read in the cycling press seems to ignore the fact that they fail to quantify the term FAST.

    When a review says 'The bike felt faster thatn the rest', it has no correlation to the measured reality, just the testers opinion.

    So, if you were to pinpoint one factor of a road bicycle that would have the biggest effect on how fast the bike felt, what would it be?

    As you have probably guessed, I am a student at the University of Birmingham in England. The above discussion is part of my Final Year Project 'What makes a Bicycle feel fast'.

    My hypothesis is that, what makes a bicycle FEEL fast, won't actually make the bike faster in the measured reality.

    I start testing soon, so your comments would be appreciated.

    Nick Downham
    School of Manufacturing & Mechanical Engineering
    The University of Birmingham.
    ncd625@bham.ac.uk

  2. #2
    Q
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    Nick,

    Good question! Of course, we all know that making a bike go faster involves many variables. What makes a bike "FEEL" fast is probably mostly psychological. I'll respond by what works for me. Some of my responses will be tongue-in-cheek, some not. I base my responses on my own personal experience. I have ridden seriously (whatever that means) for 30 years. I am a former USCF Cat 2 racer, I've commuted and toured. All of my experience has been on road bikes. I've neither ridden, nor owned a mountain bike.

    1. Small frames feel faster. I always buy the smallest possible frame that fits me well.
    2. Short wheelbase makes the bike generally more responsive (feels faster)
    3. Upright angles. Head & downtube angles of 73-74 degrees will feel faster than 71-72.
    4. Nothing speeds up a bike like cleanliness. Naturally, clean, well lubed running gear, chain, chainrings, cogs, shifters, etc. will help, but so will overall gleam. I'll bet a spotless, shiney, freshly detailed bike would be worth at least a couple of clicks on the old Avocet.
    5. Comfort. If you're not comfortable on a bike, it won't feel fast.
    6. Fresh, new handlebar tape. Gotta give you a major speed increase.
    7. Color. Let's face it. If your bike is a color you dislike, it just won't go fast.
    8. Clothes. I know I'm much faster when I wear my favorite jersey.
    9. Perfectly trued wheels feel great, and feel faster.
    10. Perfectly adjusted brakes & shifters free my mind from unneeded distractions, allowing me to concentrate on speed, speed, speed.
    11. A ten pound weight loss always makes my "motor" rev a little higher.
    12. Misc. things like getting a haircut, flossing your teeth, new sunglasses or a new helmet are always a help.

    Hope this helps you. Feel free to contact me if you'd like.

    Q

  3. #3
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    Just got back on the bike after a layoff.
    Soon as i got back in shape, my bike felt faster.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Urban Shooter's Avatar
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    Narrow racing slicks make my bike seem faster, especially if the tread is red.
    ***** Chugga Chugga Doo *****

    ----] Team Viddy, Rolling On To Victory [----

  5. #5
    Flowbie
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    Flames, man. Big, blazing flame decals. They improved my speed immediately! My bike is fast just hanging in the corner.

    Joking aside, is rider fitness on the list? As mentioned by trog, the better shape you're in the "faster" you "feel".

    If it's a question of a physical part, then I'd throw my lot in with Urban Shooter and say road slicks. No tread. Not red.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Yeah, "feel" is very subjective. Take the same downhill on a bike at 60mph and it'll feel darn fast. Do that same ride on a motorcycle and you'll be completely bored. Drive it inside a BMW and you'll fall asleep..

  7. #7
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Flat or gently downhill roads make any bike feel faster. (I hate living on the side of a mountain...slow, slow, slow...)
    --
    -=- '05 Jamis Nova -=- '04 Fuji Absolute -=- '94 Trek 820 -=- '77 Schwinn Scrambler 36/36 -=-
    Friends don't let friends use brifters.

  8. #8
    Senior Member CPcyclist's Avatar
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    Pumping the tires up to 135psi (Rim MAX not tire max). G force in a turn.

  9. #9
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Dropping a bunch of fully kitted up roadies on my commuter hack

    Spending a wad of cash on an 'upgrade' makes me feel like the bike is faster, at least untill the sting in the hip pocket has subsided.

    A nice 'tight' bike always feels faster... no squeaks, no creaking noises, no rattles, no suspension, no flex, like a stiff light alu frame, a thin hard seat, and high pressure road tires. Feels like hell after a long ride, but feels nice and fast at the beginning or during a typical 'test ride' period.

  10. #10
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Speed is subjective, I always feel faster if I've just passed a few cars or a real looker. Grabbing the lead of a rush hour pack of cars on a timed arterial always makes me feel like I'm breaking the tape at a race.

    Checking and topping off my tire pressure always gives me a psychological and actual speedboost versus just hopping on and riding.

    And riding the painted stripe always makes my bike feel faster versus unpainted roadway.

  11. #11
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    TypeR sticker!

  12. #12
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    other people's bikes feel quick- especially when you get up a head of steam, only to find the brakes are non-operational......................

  13. #13
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    Streamers on the handle bars ... Flame decals ... a playing card against the spokes!!! On the serious side it is the wind flowing through my thining hair.

    I think the feel of faster is a conflation of many sensations including the rigidity of the frame, location of you CG on the bike, the drivetrain feel and even things like the riding surface noise. All are too subjective to have any real comparative meaning. Bikes like spouses appeal to us for many intangible reasons.
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
    courage to challenge the cagers I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
    (with apologies to AA)
    24 mi. roundtrip -- Maryland suburbs to DC and back.

  14. #14
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    stiffness and aggressive geometry are the main things for me. also, quiet well tuned components feel faster (i.e. no clacking and squeeking) as does a clean bike. i swear my bike picks up 2mph when it's shiny, clean, and tuned up properly.

  15. #15
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    44-16 Gear Ratio, and my oddy hubs.. just makes it feel fast.. plus I can get some awesome speed on the 44-16 gear ratio.

  16. #16
    cab horn
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    You want to feel fast? Ride at night with no lights. Feels like you're going 30 when you're doing 20.

  17. #17
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickDownham
    So, if you were to pinpoint one factor of a road bicycle that would have the biggest effect on how fast the bike felt, what would it be?
    Me. Specifically, the 10 or so pounds of me that sits on top of my shoulders. Inside there somewhere.

  18. #18
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    What makes Your Bicycle FEEL fast?
    moving

    Seriously though, I think it would be thinner tires. Feeling the road shock more seems to give a "sportier" feel.
    -------- __@
    ----- _`\<,_
    ---- (*)/ (*)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Ring Ring, Ring Ring, the bell went Ring Ring Ring.

  19. #19
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    Get a hair cut = feels faster

    Drink a pint = is faster

  20. #20
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    clothes make a difference. mostly gloves, shorts, and shoes.

  21. #21
    rider Jerl's Avatar
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    Putting some lube in my shift and brake housing,
    a new clean chain
    (I'm with lilHinault) shaving my hair short
    = fast

  22. #22
    hobby-ist peterbarson's Avatar
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    "Pimp" your bike, taking off the reflectors and dork disk.
    new handlebar tape.(alread mentioned I know, but I agree)
    new wheels (I rode my WorldSport with my wife's Specialized 700X 25's and felt a lot quicker)
    Losing a few pounds
    and riding without a helmet (I dont recomend on the street)

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