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Old 08-05-13, 11:04 PM   #1
AlaskaStinson
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Touring Vs Race Bike

I've been riding my Surly Disc Trucker about 300 miles a week to work and just general riding. After 2,000 miles, I thought I would pull out my road race bike and ride it to see to difference. The Surly weighs 32 pounds with fenders, racks and 700X37 tires. The road bike in 19 pounds with 700X23 tires.

I rode the same loops, each about 50 miles, both hills and flats, and compared the results.

The average speed was almost the same, only .4 mph faster on the road bike. I've now got about 300 miles on the road bike and the numbers are the same.

I have to grind up the hills on the race bike, and I spin up in granny gear on the Surly. I ride at a fairly fast pace.

I'm and engineer I get the F=MA equation, coefficients of drag, etc.

Kinds of puts the gram saving mods in perspective.
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Old 08-06-13, 01:04 AM   #2
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Most folks eventually arrive at a similar conclusion! Enjoy the ride!
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Old 08-06-13, 03:24 AM   #3
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For me the difference is acceleration. If I fall off the pace when riding with others I have a chance to stomp 'er down and recover with the Lemond Zurich...no chance with the Trucker. Of course the 26X1.85 tires might contribute as well
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Old 08-06-13, 06:25 AM   #4
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If you have to grind up the hill on the race bike then you are prob overgeared. Also, at high efffort a gained in .4 mph is quite significant.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:08 AM   #5
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Most folks eventually arrive at a similar conclusion! Enjoy the ride!
Most people do not ever come to the conclusion that riding a 32 lb bike for sporting purposes, on pavement is anything good.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:15 AM   #6
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Old 08-06-13, 08:19 AM   #7
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Puts things in perspective. .4 mph for presumably the same effort is only a couple of minutes time difference on a 50 mile ride. Huge if you are racing, trivial if you just want to get where you are going, or enjoy the ride.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:24 AM   #8
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I have a Giant Defy Advanced and a Windsor Tourist. The Windsor is about 10 lbs heavier. I'm about 4 mph faster on the Giant on a mostly flat course. Did I mention that the Giant has aerobars?

I also had a Bianchi hybrid (thankfully without aerobars) and compared it on the same course as the Windsor. The Windsor is a couple of pounds heavier than the hybrid, but I'm about 1-2 mph faster on the Windsor. The Bianchi hybrid had me sitting much more erect.

Looks like on a flat course, aerodynamics makes a bigger difference.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:36 AM   #9
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I've found the same thing with my Orbea vs my Soma. It sucks because I really like the Orbea, but the Soma rides so silky smooth. It's got 32mm Grand Bois tires on it and that soaks up the bumps and a low triple crank so like you I enjoy spinning up the hills. What's funny is the others I ride with are on very high dollar road bikes and have a hard time keeping up with me and I'm no better shape than they are. Difference is they are burning all their matches on the hills with their standard double while I'm recovering on the hills. I even had one guy ask me at a stop early in a ride once, "why are you riding a touring bike on a ride like this?". He would be constantly dropped on our ride and I think he had a different impression of my heavy, slow "touring" bike.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:42 AM   #10
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I have to grind up the hills on the race bike, and I spin up in granny gear on the Surly. I ride at a fairly fast pace.

It's because of this. As an engineer you'll realize that that your total time for the trip is dominated by the slowest speeds, not the fastest. Since your hills are relatively slow ("grinding up", "granny gear") compared to your faster pace, the top end speed is almost irrelevant.

Given a lesser grade on hills or more "oomph" in climbing I'd bet that you'd see a much bigger difference using your faster, lighter road bike.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:47 AM   #11
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I've found the same thing with my Orbea vs my Soma. I sucks because I really like the Orbea, but the Soma rides so silky smooth. It's got 32mm Grand Bois tires on it and that soaks up the bumps and a low triple crank so like you I enjoy spinning up the hills. What's funny is the others I ride with are on very high dollar road bikes and have a hard time keeping up with me and I'm no better shape than they are. Difference is they are burning all their matches on the hills with their standard double while I'm recovering on the hills. I even had one guy ask me at a stop early in a ride once, "why are you riding a touring bike on a ride like this?". He would be constantly dropped on our ride and I think he had a different impression of my heavy, slow "touring" bike.
Showed him, I guess. There are newbies who rush in and buy way more bike than they should, perhaps believing the hype, perhaps just buying whatever the LBS has in stock? I rode a group ride last week and a woman showed up riding a full carbon race bike, but riding it with cheap, platforms (she hadn't yet learned how to use clipless, and was afraid to risk using them outdoors on her expensive CF racing bike), and no water bottle. About 10 miles in, she asked if we could stop so she could get a drink, pulled out a bottle of Gatoraide from her single water bottle mount and drank it. She apologized for slowing down the group, but explained she didn't feel comfortable drinking from a water bottle while riding. It was OK, but I did tell her that to get 2 water bottle mounts (perhaps even mount one on handlebars) and to practice drinking while riding before her next group ride.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:56 AM   #12
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What I showed him was that the bike isn't what makes you faster. He may have been having an off day and I for one, was having a very good day but If you looked at me and my bike, most people wouldn't have thought that I would have kept up for the 54 miles and 2400 ft of climbing we did. I was worried myself but the gearing in the end, was what made the difference for me. I may not have made it in as good a shape on the Orbea.
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Old 08-06-13, 09:04 AM   #13
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What I showed him was that the bike isn't what makes you faster. He may have been having an off day and I for one, was having a very good day but If you looked at me and my bike, most people wouldn't have thought that I would have kept up for the 54 miles and 2400 ft of climbing we did. I was worried myself but the gearing in the end, was what made the difference for me. I may not have made it in as good a shape on the Orbea.
Exactly right. I am just starting to get into the cycling club scene here, but have already learned not to make assumptions based on appearances. The middle aged guy riding a well worn Trek 520 wearing generic black cycling shorts and jersey is as likely to be the strongest rider in the group as is the guy who shows up on a shiny new Madone in full kit.
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Old 08-06-13, 09:12 AM   #14
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As the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by it's cover.

I, for one, thought that I needed an expensive, light bike to ride fast. I was really surprised how well I can keep up all the while riding a bike that is very, very plush. While the fancy road bike is fun to ride and is quicker than my Soma, at the end of the day, I feel much more fresh, energetic and less beat up on the slow, heavy "touring" bike. It just kills me that I have this $2500 bike sitting there that I really don't care to ride anymore.
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Old 08-06-13, 09:19 AM   #15
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I have to grind up the hills on the race bike, and I spin up in granny gear on the Surly. I ride at a fairly fast pace.

It's because of this. As an engineer you'll realize that that your total time for the trip is dominated by the slowest speeds, not the fastest. Since your hills are relatively slow ("grinding up", "granny gear") compared to your faster pace, the top end speed is almost irrelevant.

Given a lesser grade on hills or more "oomph" in climbing I'd bet that you'd see a much bigger difference using your faster, lighter road bike.
I'm not sure he would really. Using your example here, if it was less gradient and is pushing more, wouldn't he go that much faster on the heavier bike as well? I still doubt the difference in overall time would be that significant. I bet his legs would be more tired, but time, not so much.

One thing I do find is when riding rolling hills, my heavier bike is even faster than my lighter one due to momentum. My lighter bike is quicker to get up to speed but it seems harder to keep it there, while the heavier bike seems to stay at that speed longer. Same thing on flat ground as well. Unscientific sure, but that's how it seems.
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Old 08-06-13, 09:53 AM   #16
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As the old saying goes, you can't judge a book by it's cover.

I, for one, thought that I needed an expensive, light bike to ride fast. I was really surprised how well I can keep up all the while riding a bike that is very, very plush. While the fancy road bike is fun to ride and is quicker than my Soma, at the end of the day, I feel much more fresh, energetic and less beat up on the slow, heavy "touring" bike. It just kills me that I have this $2500 bike sitting there that I really don't care to ride anymore.
It just meant you bought the wrong bike. You should trade it in for a Roubaix or a Domane. I bet they are just as comfortable.
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Old 08-06-13, 10:34 AM   #17
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It just meant you bought the wrong bike. You should trade it in for a Roubaix or a Domane. I bet they are just as comfortable.
Actually that's what I was wanting, but couldn't find any in just a frameset. I'm cheap so I tend to buy framesets and build them up with parts I already have. So I ended up with the Orbea. It's billed as a endurance type frame that's a bit stiffer than the Roubaix. It's not uncomfortable by any stretch, but I doubt any "race" bike with 23mm tires is going to compare to a steel bike with 32mm tires that's billed as "extra smooth".
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Old 08-06-13, 11:25 AM   #18
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I'm not sure he would really. Using your example here, if it was less gradient and is pushing more, wouldn't he go that much faster on the heavier bike as well? I still doubt the difference in overall time would be that significant. I bet his legs would be more tired, but time, not so much.

One thing I do find is when riding rolling hills, my heavier bike is even faster than my lighter one due to momentum. My lighter bike is quicker to get up to speed but it seems harder to keep it there, while the heavier bike seems to stay at that speed longer. Same thing on flat ground as well. Unscientific sure, but that's how it seems.
No, because going faster aerodynamics is more of a factor, and because when the slow parts are faster then the fast parts contribute relatively more to the overall speed. Aerodynamics aside, the math also aside, your observation is that coasting downhill and then back up to the same level doesn't cost more energy with a heavier bike, which is true. But that doesn't mean the lighter and more aero bike won't be easier and faster.

Mathematically you don't gain back the time lost on an uphill from heavier weight by time gained by it on the downhill. Momentum is conserved (comes out as a wash), but time is isn't.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:33 AM   #19
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The purpose of a racing bike is not to go fast. The purpose of a racing bike is to win bike races.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:45 AM   #20
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The purpose of a racing bike is not to go fast. The purpose of a racing bike is to win bike races.
Only if you're a racer Or to lose bike races, for most racers.

Many of us have "racing bikes" just to ride on the roads, and we like them because they are lighter and easier to make go fast.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:58 AM   #21
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The purpose of a racing bike is not to go fast. The purpose of a racing bike is to win bike races.
Of course. But not being able to go fast when it matters could mean losing the race.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:59 AM   #22
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Of course. But not being able to go fast when it matters could mean losing the race.
Exactly.
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Old 08-06-13, 12:29 PM   #23
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No, because going faster aerodynamics is more of a factor, and because when the slow parts are faster then the fast parts contribute relatively more to the overall speed. Aerodynamics aside, the math also aside, your observation is that coasting downhill and then back up to the same level doesn't cost more energy with a heavier bike, which is true. But that doesn't mean the lighter and more aero bike won't be easier and faster.

Mathematically you don't gain back the time lost on an uphill from heavier weight by time gained by it on the downhill. Momentum is conserved (comes out as a wash), but time is isn't.
Yeah, seems like there are different forces at play here with the different types of bikes. Weight seems like it helps with momentum going down hills, but so does aerodynamics. So like you said, it may be equal when it comes down to it. I agree in principle that a lighter bike might be quicker to go up hills, but that depends on the rider and gearing. I can go up a 10% grade on my Soma at say 6 mph but I would have to go up faster say 10 mph on my Orbea simply because of gearing. I can't do that. Others on my rides couldn't do it either so in reality, I was quicker on the Soma going uphill than the others that were near my capability on their higher geared race bikes.
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Old 08-06-13, 12:35 PM   #24
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Old 08-06-13, 01:22 PM   #25
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Yeah, seems like there are different forces at play here with the different types of bikes. Weight seems like it helps with momentum going down hills, but so does aerodynamics. So like you said, it may be equal when it comes down to it. I agree in principle that a lighter bike might be quicker to go up hills, but that depends on the rider and gearing. I can go up a 10% grade on my Soma at say 6 mph but I would have to go up faster say 10 mph on my Orbea simply because of gearing. I can't do that. Others on my rides couldn't do it either so in reality, I was quicker on the Soma going uphill than the others that were near my capability on their higher geared race bikes.
To muddy it up even more, on a short double-hump hill on my commute my fastest time ever was using a bike weighing about 35 pounds, with an aero modification. I can't duplicate it on my 22 pound commuting "racing bike".
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