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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 02-22-14, 08:02 PM   #1
bulboushead
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What quantitative performance gains did you get by upgrading your road bike?

I have a basic road bike from Performance Bike, 105 groupset but the bike is heavy (24-25lbs) and so are the wheels (over 2kg each including tires/tubes). Knowing full well the best way to get faster is to get a better engine, I'm curious what performance gains you have noticed when you bought a race style bike (i.e. CAAD10 or any other $1000+ road bike).

Did your average speed increase?
Could you pedal harder for a longer period (fit/components)?
Any other quantitative gains?

I'm not quite looking for "I felt faster" or "I climbed like a rocket", I'm looking for solid numbers to see what more money gets you.
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Old 02-22-14, 08:22 PM   #2
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It is all relative my friend. What type of rider are you? What are you goals. For me it was that basic my bike is badass. If it make me faster so be it. Removing 5lbs from your current steed should and will improve your riding but unless you have huge coin to drop forgot the measurable gains besides your own sense of pride. Just ride farther faster and eat less.
Enjoy
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Old 02-22-14, 08:33 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bulboushead View Post
I'm not quite looking for "I felt faster" or "I climbed like a rocket", I'm looking for solid numbers to see what more money gets you.
1) I really doubt that someone is going to have a collection of data that's can meaningfully show improvement attributed to only equipment.
2) I think that it's a mistake to completely discount perception - we're not machines and we are influenced by perception and emotion; feeling fast may actually bump your spirits and result in actually being faster. In addition, just liking the way your bike feels may result in you spending more time on your bike which will probably result in you performing better on your bike.

If you're going to justify upgrades based purely on quantitative gains, I think that you'll be hard-pressed to justify very many purchases. Why not go ride some stuff and see if it stirs you, instead?
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Old 02-22-14, 08:41 PM   #4
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I agree with Hammerdog on the dropping of 5lbs off the bike. Taking 10Lbs off the engine another measureable gain. Upgrades? Start with a light wheelset. You can grab a set of Velta Corsa Lites for cheap without much risk and come in at 1500gr the set (about 5lbs ready to roll) I recently grabbed a set but it will a few weeks before my first spring ride. Rolling weight is where you will feel it and that translates to real numbers.

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Old 02-22-14, 09:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bulboushead View Post
I have a basic road bike from Performance Bike, 105 groupset but the bike is heavy (24-25lbs) and so are the wheels (over 2kg each including tires/tubes). Knowing full well the best way to get faster is to get a better engine, I'm curious what performance gains you have noticed when you bought a race style bike (i.e. CAAD10 or any other $1000+ road bike).

Did your average speed increase?
Could you pedal harder for a longer period (fit/components)?
Any other quantitative gains?

I'm not quite looking for "I felt faster" or "I climbed like a rocket", I'm looking for solid numbers to see what more money gets you.
Wait wait wait.. You have a front wheel that weighs over 2000g?!? Do you fill the tube with sand?
my point is that maybe your bike isn't as heavy as you think it is?
i don't have the hard numbers you desire (who does) but I just went from a 1987 steel frame to a 2005 carbon/aluminum frame and I can feel a noticeable improvement in acceleration due to it being lighter and more importantly stiffer.
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Old 02-22-14, 09:24 PM   #6
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simply put, IME, a 25lb bike is a hindrance as far as performance goes. i'd get a lighter one.

a recent purchase of a very inexpensive aluminum Performance Bike frame and a mix of oldschool parts and a DIY wheel build resulted in a 15 lb bike for about 600. it could have been less if i hadn't splurged on a NOS Campy Athena crank and brake.
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Old 02-22-14, 10:27 PM   #7
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You want numbers...wheelset upgrade alone, I'm consistently 1-2 minutes faster over a 6.5 mile, 6% hill climb.

Going from a 25 lb tank to a "real" road bike...who knows what you could do.
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Old 02-22-14, 10:45 PM   #8
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Bought a Trek Project One, CAAD 10 (DA), Super Six, a 2nd Project One...went from riding 4K miles annually to over 9K. BECAUSE IT IS MUCH MORE FUN!
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Old 02-23-14, 12:03 AM   #9
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You want numbers...wheelset upgrade alone, I'm consistently 1-2 minutes faster over a 6.5 mile, 6% hill climb.

Going from a 25 lb tank to a "real" road bike...who knows what you could do.
I'm sorry but that's not "hard numbers" unless you have a power meter that shows identical power output...

Anyway hard numbers have been out there since that Newton guy but they are pretty boring and do not agree with marketing...


But I'm the sort that is stupidly curious and always needs to "reinvent the wheel" so I've personally tested the theory on the dozen of climbs around Grenoble (many are almost constant 7-8% for 5-10 miles)... Climbing speed is proportional to power/weight, no mystery (of course I wanted to believe otherwise like everyone)...

I've done some of those climbs more that 100 times, most of the time with a Powertap wheel, and with varying weights and type of bike (generic alum bike to high-end canyon carbon)... I often use a big loaded seatpost rack when I'm back from work..


The good news is, having a better/lighter bike can vastly improves your enjoyment of the ride which is really all that matters (do recreational riders really care about getting to the top in 34 mins instead of 35?)...


Also, something more subtle I've come to realize other these thousands of climbs, a minor difference in weight/stiffness can have a big impact on bio-mechanical efficiency (in particular, the change of inertia can throw your pedal stroke timing off).. The human body is a very complex machine...

In other words: changing bikes can have a big impact on the *motor*, which is why in these threads there are always get people who swear that a minor change in weight made them faster.. they are right but for the wrong reasons!

Last edited by never_recover; 02-23-14 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 02-23-14, 08:32 AM   #10
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I'm not quite looking for "I felt faster" or "I climbed like a rocket", I'm looking for solid numbers to see what more money gets you.
The only valid way to capture data is a power meter. Then it's lot and lots of riding over the same route in the same conditions - or enough riding over a very long period to balance everything else out.

You'll likely get faster with another bike, such as a faster riding position, but weight is just one aspect. Probably the mental is most important.
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Old 02-23-14, 08:41 AM   #11
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Here is a cycling "marginal gains calculator": http://www.cycle-speed.com/marginal_gains.htm that a forum member put together. It is by no means exact, but if you put your numbers in you should get some idea of the relative merits of improving one thing vs. another.
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Old 02-23-14, 08:57 AM   #12
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Can you measure the endowment effect and confirmation bias quantitatively?
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Old 02-23-14, 03:12 PM   #13
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The actual, measurable, quantitative differences in performance, due to equipment choices, do exist but are almost always much smaller than typically presumed.

In terms of weight, here's a typical example: http://www.training4cyclists.com/how...on-alpe-dhuez/

A coach sent a rider up the Alpe d'Huez (8.6 miles, avg grade 8.1%, max grade 13%, one of the toughest climbs in pro cycling) multiple times, asked him to keep his power constant, and measured the times. Without extra weight, it took 49' 40". With 4 pounds added only to the frame, 51' 40'. With 4 pounds added only to the tires, 52' 01".

Using this as a guide, the local "hill" (which isn't much of a climb) is a 1-mile 7% grade. At that same power and pace, you'd save about 15 seconds out of about 6 minutes.

Also, keep in mind there is no real performance difference on the flats due to lower weight. The heavier bike will handle a little more sluggishly, but in terms of time savings, it's completely negligible.

So are these time savings this significant? If you're being timed in competition, then yes. If you aren't timing it, or staring at your bike computer, you'd never notice it. If you live in a hilly area, it might make things a tad easier. If you live in Nebraska, don't bother.


"What does more money get you?" is an examination of diminishing returns. A typical mid-range 21-pound $1500 bike costs about $75/pound. A 19-pound CF bike might cost $110/pound. 17 pound bike, $200/pound. The 14-pound über-bike is $500/pound or more.

Another way to measure the diminishing returns is to figure out how much more you pay, to save a pound off the bike. Compared to the midrange bike, you usually pay $300 per pound taken off the bike, and it can go as high as $900/pound. (And yes, I've done the actual math on this. )

A third way is to ask how much you need to pay to take off, for example, 8 pounds of weight. A new 17-pound bike could run you anywhere from $2400 to $3200 or more. That's affordable for some people, a stretch for others.

And of course, it's usually cheaper just to take the pounds off your body than off the bike. (But not necessarily easier....)

You're paying for more than weight reductions, but... well, not much really. A more expensive bike won't necessarily be more comfortable. It probably won't handle any differently, since less expensive models almost always use the same geometry as high-end models. "Crisper shifting" might make you happy, but it's not going to produce a quantifiable performance advantage. And for all the claims that "it feels better!" that's just expectations -- tone down your expectations and you'll be just as happy.
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Old 02-23-14, 03:38 PM   #14
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Quantitative? OK, for sure you end up with less money. You can measure that.

Why do you need people to convince you with numbers in order to justify in your mind your own spending? Be a grown up and make your own decision. Go ride a nice bike and decide for yourself.
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Old 02-23-14, 03:39 PM   #15
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I just upgraded from a Chinese aluminum/carbon frame to a CAAD10 (frame only) primarily because I needed to go down at least one size. That $1000 frame bought me a miniscule increase in ride quality, miniscule increase in BB stiffness as it relates to the bicycle going forward when I pedal, but it mostly gave me a bicycle frame that fit right which was worth the money. It also looks cool and it's a machine I'm a bit more proud to own. The small increases in stiffness and ride quality didn't necessarily justify the $1000, but the fitment issue did.
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Old 02-23-14, 03:53 PM   #16
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i could dial it up to 405 watts instead of 400. and my guads got bigger
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Old 02-23-14, 04:39 PM   #17
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I'm not quite looking for "I felt faster" or "I climbed like a rocket", I'm looking for solid numbers to see what more money gets you.
Then you're dismissing the right data in favor of the WRONG data. Riding a light, stiff, high performance bicycle with nice components is all about PLEASURE.

That's for us, anyway. Now if your next paycheck depends on edging out another pro in a sprint, by all means go for the performance technology.
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Old 02-23-14, 04:54 PM   #18
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No numbers here but I am decent bike mechanic and changing my FSA mego expo crank to a shimano made the shifting go like gold. I have no data on if I actually could ride faster but the front shifting was all of sudden much smoother and better. I upgrade a 105 to an ultegra crank and the shifting was basically the same but the cool factor was too much. I built my own wheels and dropped about 1.2 pounds off the bike the bike, cannot say I actually started riding any faster but again they were my wheels and I was a proud rider.

To be faster is mostly about the engine, training, and genetics so that is the first place to make decisions. As a 35 year long distance runner I realized that I never had the 5 minute mile speed as a youth, therefore my only hope was to keep running so I could drink a little beer, eat donuts. and ice cream without going overboard.

I have to quit preaching but as you know it is Sunday.
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Old 02-23-14, 05:01 PM   #19
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I have found a direct linear correlation between the amount of carbon on my bike, and how often I get laid.
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Old 02-23-14, 05:07 PM   #20
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I have found a direct linear correlation between the amount of carbon on my bike, and how often I get laid.
A positive or negative correlation?
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Old 02-23-14, 05:08 PM   #21
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obviously positive
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Old 02-23-14, 05:09 PM   #22
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I gained ~4 min over a 33 min ride going from an older Allez to a new CF bike. Similar gains on every route that I regularly timed.

I suspect the majority of the gains were because the hubs on the Allez were worn resulting in very high rolling resistance. My straight-line downhill roll speeds also increased dramatically.
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Old 02-23-14, 05:10 PM   #23
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1) Comfort
2) Motivation
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Old 02-23-14, 05:11 PM   #24
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obviously positive
There was no place to go but up?
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Old 02-23-14, 05:16 PM   #25
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well I started biking when I was 3 years old, and had no carbon on my bike, so I guess it could only have been up from there.


Now to fully test this theory (for science), I think we need some virgins on all carbon bikes, and slowly change out components for steel
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