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Old 09-17-12, 07:54 PM   #1
jjames2b
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Why is my road bike so much faster than my hybrid?

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I just started commuting to work earlier this year, having bought an inexpensive aluminum hybrid (a Fuji, if it matters). As I got more into both riding and commuting, I picked up an old 70's chromoly Norco road bike and fixed it up for fun. Today, I rode it to and from work for the first time.

I was amazed how much faster it seemed. I may only have saved a couple of minutes, but I really noticed how much better it performed on hills. On climbs that I used to huff-and-puff up, I felt like I got up there faster and with less effort. The bike just seemed to GO with each stroke.

So, I'm curious... what makes the road bike seem so much faster / more efficient? It's probably a combination of things, but I'm curious what factors are the most important? Not trying to start a holy war here, just genuinely curious.

Is it the weight? The chromoly road bike feels 5-10lbs lighter than the aluminum hybrid.
Is it the wheels? 27 x 1 1/4s on the road bike, vs 700 x 35mm on the hybrid.
Is it the posture? The hybrid is quite upright.
Is it the toe clips on the road, versus flats on the hybrid?
Is it something else?

I'm really amazed at the different. It felt like I used only half the energy that I normally expend on the hybrid.
James
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Old 09-17-12, 07:56 PM   #2
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Tail Wind and more coffee for breakfast.

You may have a better fit to the road bike.
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Old 09-17-12, 08:16 PM   #3
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You could weigh the two bikes to see if the Norco really is substantially lighter.
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Old 09-17-12, 09:07 PM   #4
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I think you answered your own question.
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Old 09-17-12, 09:25 PM   #5
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it's basically everything you listed.
the road bike has thinner wheels, presumably better gearing, lighter weight, more aero position, stiffer frame, toe clips so you don't lose as much power per stroke, and you probably have a better fit on the road bike. Does your hybrid have any kind of suspension? I know some will have front suspension, which I think steal some pedaling efficiency.
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Old 09-17-12, 10:48 PM   #6
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Like others have said you answered your own question. Think of a Rad bit as the Sports car of the bike world and the hybrid as a 4 door commuter sedan. If you pull the motor out of a commuter sedan and stick it in a two seat light weight sports car the sports car will be faster. At least from 0-60.
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Old 09-17-12, 11:35 PM   #7
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The biggest difference is the riding position because you reduce you cross section so you are in a more aerodynamic riding position. Everything else is trivial in comparison.

One thing that can make the bike feel faster, at least off the line, is if there is a big difference in rotational mass such as in the wheels, tires, and crankset. The weight of the frame and everything else that doesn't spin still matters, just not as much as rotational inertia. Even a difference of as little 100g added or removed from the rim or tire is very noticeable.
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Old 09-17-12, 11:50 PM   #8
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My Swiss Army bike would haul ass down hills, it weighed 60 pounds. With me on it we were closing in 370lbs, that's a lot of weight going downhill. Getting a 60lb single speed bike to the top of the hill is another story.

My Raleigh Revenio is much faster than my Giant Escape, but the Giant is more comfortable. The Revenio is probably not getting any road bike stablemates, road biking is ok but other than a once a week group ride I don't take it out much. I enjoy the company of other riders more than dressing like a sperm and hunching over the handlebars struggling not to get dropped.

Recently I test rode a full suspension mountain bike, now that is a slow bike. Lots of effort to get that thing going and keep it going. When I hook my trailer to my Giant and load it up with groceries it really makes a difference, both uphill and down. The point of all this rambling is that weight makes a big difference, but the other details are just as important. Gearing, tire pressure, riding posture are all factors to consider which bike is faster. Lets not forget the physical condition of the rider.
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Old 09-18-12, 04:22 AM   #9
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Hard to say without any real specifics like actual models and equipment specifications. Tire size, for example, isn't as important as tire construction. And I don't personally know of any Norcos from the 70's made from cromoly, and even higher end cromoly road bikes from the eighties usually weighed over 23 lbs. So any real differences might be gearing and bearing conditions.

And a speedo might tell a different story too. My road bikes FEEL faster than my hybrids, but average speeds and top speeds on the speedos say that aint so.
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Old 09-18-12, 05:10 AM   #10
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I think most of the "feel" of quickness is in the weight of the tires. The increased flywheel effect of the heavy tires makes acceleration and directional changes more sluggish.
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Old 09-18-12, 07:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
The biggest difference is the riding position because you reduce you cross section so you are in a more aerodynamic riding position. Everything else is trivial in comparison.
Everybody says this, but you know nobody notices how very much weight goes on the seat and hands versus the pedals. Upright bikes have more weight on the seat, road bikes throw a lot more of your weight on the pedals. The riding position is really awesome.
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Old 09-18-12, 08:42 AM   #12
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Because race bike?!?!
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Old 09-21-12, 10:48 PM   #13
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I've been riding a hybrid this year. I crashed my custom road bike 2 years ago and it's totaled. My dad gave me a "garage sale" Trek hybrid so I'm riding it this year. My road bike had a 42 tooth small chainring, my hybrid has a 38 tooth small chainring. Of course my strength may not be back to where it was 2 years ago but I cruise the in the same freewheel cog with the hybrid as I did on the same road conditions with my old road bike. With the difference in chainrings I'm going 10% slower with the hybrid. I've put the narrowest tires I can on the hybrid and I'm on flat roads, so the main difference would be wind resistance from the different riding position.
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