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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 05-19-14, 08:18 AM   #1
prime winner
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Difference between an inexpensive road bike and a trek 7.2 FX ?

Ive got a trek 7.2 FX and Im enjoying short 10 mile rides (just started) at about 15mph-15.7mph. Id like more speed and if possible less effort for more speed. but I dont have the budget for a new decent road bike since I just bought my FX and x-caliber 6 within the last two months. I was looking at entry level road bikes at bikesdirect.com and was wondering if I would see a big difference between my trek 7.2 FX and the inexpensive road bike. this isnt an option to save an buy better later, I have one shot, and its right now for $400-$500, no more.

Thanks !!

my 7.2 FX ....
7.2 FX Disc - Trek Bicycle

bikedirect.com ......

Gravity Liberty 1 $420
Save up to 60% off new Road Bikes - Gravity Liberty 2 | Save up to 60% off new road bikes

Motobecane Mirage SLX $500
Save Up to 60% Off Road Bikes - Motobecane Mirage S
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Old 05-19-14, 08:31 AM   #2
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The main thing that makes you "slow" on your current bike is your fitness. Ride more, get in better shape. The next thing is your setup on the bike. A more aerodynamic position will make you a tiny bit faster. You may be able to adjust your position with your existing bike. You could also put on narrower tires that will take a bit more pressure.
A road bike with drop bars will give you more hand positions compared to a flatbar, and is designed to put you in a more "racer" position compared to a more upright position. So a road bike is "faster", but don't expect a dramatic increase. You will get huge gains from improving the engine, and minor gains from equipment.
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Old 05-19-14, 08:35 AM   #3
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In my opinion, no it's not feasible that you will get much more speed or less effort starting from 15mph-15.7mph. by upgrading to one of those.

At those speeds rolling resistance is still a large factor in your drag, so you might improve your speed more by changing the tires from the stock "Bontrager H2 Hard-Case Lite, 700x35c" to something faster. The other gains you could expect from a road bike involve weight and a lower, more aerodynamic position due to the road bike geometry. I'm not sure that the Gravity or Motobecane either one are lighter than your Trek. They'll probably get you lower on the bike but unfortunately that's not a large factor unless the speed is higher, 18 mph or so. As an alternative to a new bike you could do something with your stem to get the bars lower, and some people have bullhorns extending the handlebar and get pretty low that way.
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Old 05-19-14, 08:37 AM   #4
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I've got the liberty, and some of the major differences you'll find between the two are the brakes, gearing, and fit, and componenets, so basically everything . To start, the gearing on the road bike will be higher in every gear. Your front has a 48/38/28 while the gravity has a 52/42/30. They are both an 8 speed, however, the gravity has a 12-25 cassette vs your 11-32. What that means is that your 7.2 will have a much easier gear than the gravity. The gravity will be faster in any given gear for the same cadence. The brakes on your 7.2 are undoubtedly better than the bargain bin rim brakes thrown on the gravity, just FYI. The wheel set on the gravity is also very basic, but the have stayed tryed for me, though it doesn't get ridden that much. The gravity is a pretty heavy bike too, it's probably right around 26 pounds unloaded.

Other than that, the gravity does what it does well for the price. If you go that route, make sure to have it set up properly - I had to grease pretty much everything that would reqiure it and adjust the hubs, headset, brakes, derailleurs, ect.. If you can't do this yourself it can easily cost $100.00 to have a bike assembled at a shop, something to keep in mind.

If I had to do it over, I would have gotten a few year old used bike. The reason I didn't was because the frame size was unavailable.
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Old 05-19-14, 08:41 AM   #5
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Whoooaaah! Stop the Press!

You mean you've just purchased two new bikes within the last two months, and now you're looking to buy another?

I say, just stop, relax, chill out for a few minutes, have a cup of tea, and think about what you're really doing...

Last edited by WestPablo; 05-19-14 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 05-19-14, 08:44 AM   #6
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whoooaaah! Stop the press!

You mean you've just purchased two new bikes within the last two months, and now you're looking to buy another?

I say, just stop, relax, chill out for few minutes, have a cup of tea, and think about what you're really doing...
n+7
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Old 05-19-14, 10:34 AM   #7
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I'm no expert, but my experience is you probably wouldn't see much of a difference.

I've never ridden a road bike (aside from riding a 10 speed bike in the 80's as a kid) but I just came from a heavy piece of junk Walmart dual suspension knobbie tired worn out mountain bike last year to an aluminum framed, haven't weighed it but it feels 20 lb. lighter, half the width tire with smoother tread real brand hybrid and hardly saw any improvement in speed.

Thus, it is about the engine, which is you.

I'll note, first off, I couldn't pedal fast enough in top gear to keep up with coasting over 21 mph on my downhills with that Walmart bike and now I can pedaling 30+ mph with still 2 gears left on the hybrid, but that is down hill. Up hill, I'm still doing 5-6 mph. On the flat, I just rode the flat bike trail last week that I rode all last year and I was cruising at maybe 1 mph greater than I did on that heavy junk bike.

On the Walmart bike, my last half mile I would sprint as hard as I could to the trail head. Max speed I ever got was 21 mph. I sprinted on my hybrid and only got to 23 mph, again this is on perfectly flat. Not much faster. The only limiting factor on speed with that old bike was on a steep enough down hill that the bike would outrun my ability to pedal in top gear. I don't like going 30 mph, so it is a non-issue because I'm not pedaling to go that fast anyways.

I had hopes of cruising my flat bike trail at 18 mph when I got a better bike. I didn't see it.
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Old 05-19-14, 10:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
Whoooaaah! Stop the Press!

You mean you've just purchased two new bikes within the last two months, and now you're looking to buy another?

I say, just stop, relax, chill out for few minutes, have a cup of tea, and think about what you're really doing...
If you buy an entry level road bike now, in another few months, or maybe next year, you will be looking to buy another, higher end road bike. Just ride. 10 miles at 15 mph is not bad, but see if you can ride 30, or maybe 50 miles at that pace. Try riding a century on your FX. I saw riders on an organized century last summer riding bikes like the Trek FX and Cannondale Quick. Don't know if they were riding the full century, but chatting with some of these folks, many seemed like pretty serious riders.

Get to know your bike, your likes and your dislikes. That way, when you go looking for a shiny new bike next year, or 2 years from now, you will know what to look for.
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Old 05-19-14, 11:08 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
The main thing that makes you "slow" on your current bike is your fitness. Ride more, get in better shape. The next thing is your setup on the bike. A more aerodynamic position will make you a tiny bit faster. You may be able to adjust your position with your existing bike. You could also put on narrower tires that will take a bit more pressure.
A road bike with drop bars will give you more hand positions compared to a flatbar, and is designed to put you in a more "racer" position compared to a more upright position. So a road bike is "faster", but don't expect a dramatic increase. You will get huge gains from improving the engine, and minor gains from equipment.
I think you've got it backwards here. Changing from an upright position to an aero position with close to a flat back will make a very large difference. It's not hard to see a 10% improvement in speed which would take an extra 30% in power. Adding 30% to your power is difficult for someone who has been riding for a while although feasible for a newer rider. In any case if you want extra speed, changing your position is low cost and relatively easy.
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Old 05-19-14, 11:10 AM   #10
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Just ride what you got now, the fx is a pretty versatile bike and maybe relatively slow, but if you get some fitness into your legs you should be able to maintain 17-18 on it...especially if you put some clip on aero bars on it. (that's what I did when I had an fx)

changing tires is a good idea too. I suggest Compass Tires, something like the stampede pass or even Grand Bois Cypres. You will probably feel a difference in rolling resistance compared with your current tires. Compass Bicycles: 700C Tires
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Old 05-19-14, 11:11 AM   #11
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I think you've got it backwards here. Changing from an upright position to an aero position with close to a flat back will make a very large difference. It's not hard to see a 10% improvement in speed which would take an extra 30% in power. Adding 30% to your power is difficult for someone who has been riding for a while although feasible for a newer rider. In any case if you want extra speed, changing your position is low cost and relatively easy.
It will make a difference, but at 15-16mph, it's not huge.
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Old 05-19-14, 11:51 AM   #12
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Just ride what you got now, the fx is a pretty versatile bike and maybe relatively slow, but if you get some fitness into your legs you should be able to maintain 17-18 on it...especially if you put some clip on aero bars on it. (that's what I did when I had an fx)

changing tires is a good idea too. I suggest Compass Tires, something like the stampede pass or even Grand Bois Cypres. You will probably feel a difference in rolling resistance compared with your current tires. Compass Bicycles: 700C Tires
+1. I have the Cypres Extra Legers on my cross bike and they easily ride faster than mid-range 700x23s. Fat tires have a reputation for being slow because most of them are geared towards commuters and have stiff casings and thick treads. High quality fat tires ride just as fast as skinny tires (until you get to the point that tire aerodynamics starts to matter, but that's much higher than the speeds we're talking about here).
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Old 05-19-14, 12:01 PM   #13
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The difference between my Trek 7100 hybrid and my Trek 1.5 entry level road bike is 10%. To be specific, for a 10 mile route which takes me 40 minutes to ride on the hybrid, it takes 36 minutes on the road bike; for a longer route which takes 70 minutes on the 7100 I can get 63 minutes on the road bike. On the 7100 I have 700x25C road tires but otherwise it's a little less efficient than a FX 7.2 because of the additional weight and suspension. I suspect there is a significant difference between the FX and a road bike, not sure about the models in the links.
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Old 05-19-14, 12:03 PM   #14
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I'm new to cycling again after several decades - so basically a complete newb. Not in horrible shape, but a good way from where I want to be. I go faster than that on my 7.2FX and expect I will go faster yet as I build strength and stamina. Dude, it's not the bike. The equipment that needs upgrading is you - just as it is for me. You will go faster with a more powerful engine.
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Old 05-19-14, 12:20 PM   #15
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OP
One easy starting point is to take your FX, flip the stem, put it all the way down (slam it), and cut your bars narrower. This will put you in a more aero position for free.
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Old 05-19-14, 05:59 PM   #16
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There are a lot of people in the cycling community that say 'buy the most bike you can afford'. Going the other way, if you're new to cycling the extra $400 would be better spent on some nice cycling clothes so you can ride more than once between laundry loads. I'm of that mindset.
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Old 05-19-14, 07:07 PM   #17
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thank you all very much for the information. Im going to go with what so many have suggested and put more time on my FX, strengthen my motor, and try to get lower for better aerodynamics.

I have already installed bar ends on my FX, and the ends helped greatly with hand numbing. my setup is similar to this ...


aerobars have been suggested here but Im not sure if I prefer the aerobars or one of the options below. which option would be best for a faster, more efficient ride?

these drop bar adds ons may be good for getting me lower, but I would not move my brakes.


these trekking bars look like a nice option for numerous hand positions, and the ability to stretch out.


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Old 05-20-14, 08:46 AM   #18
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thank you all very much for the information. Im going to go with what so many have suggested and put more time on my FX, strengthen my motor, and try to get lower for better aerodynamics.

I have already installed bar ends on my FX, and the ends helped greatly with hand numbing. my setup is similar to this ...
Nice - what bar ends are those?
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Old 05-20-14, 05:53 PM   #19
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Nice - what bar ends are those?
thats not my bike, I was just using pic as an example until I took my own pics. this is my bike below. the grips were about $16 on amazon. I like the length, and they have a bit of texture on the ends to help grip.
Amazon.com : RavX Lite X Long Black Bar Ends : Bike Handlebars : Sports & Outdoors



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Old 05-20-14, 06:28 PM   #20
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^^^ Thanks - I'll be going to my LBS when next I can to see what they have to offer in bar ends.
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Old 05-21-14, 03:15 PM   #21
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Having personally moved from Trek 7.2 FX to a road bike (Giant TCR 2), I do see quite a bit of improvement in my rides. While you won't notice much difference in normal and downhill roads, uphills/headwinds are much easier to ride with the road bike. I have been clocking about 13mph in Trek 7.2 FX and now clocking about 15 mph on much longer rides. But, if you just bought the bike, it makes sense to ride it for sometime before considering the next upgrade.

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Old 05-21-14, 04:55 PM   #22
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Might a true road bike let you go a little faster for the same power output? Yes, but all you're doing is spending a non-trivial amount of money just to hit a new plateau. At 15 MPH, it isn't the bike that's limiting the speed, it's the engine.

I've watched a guy on my weekly group ride take long pulls at 20+ MPH on a mountain bike with knobbies while waiting for a replacement road bike to come in. Your hybrid is much faster than a full-suspension MTB with knobbies, so you can get a lot more speed without spending a dime ... you just need to ride more ... a lot more. Ten miles is a good start, but as a beginner you should be able to increase that pretty rapidly. Try to add 10% per week to your distance and/or speed. When you're averaging 18 MPH over 40 - 50 miles on your Trek, you will: know you're committed to cycling (not just the fun buying stuff part), have gotten some good miles out of your current bike, have a much better idea of what you might want in an upgrade.
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Old 05-21-14, 09:14 PM   #23
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The life-changing difference is the Carbon Forks which Enable Aero Position

I went from a Trek 7.2 FX to a road bike and my life, or at least my body-weight, changed drastically.
My 7.2 FX (with aero bars)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/2690570519
My road bike

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/3527621951

I don't think that I understood what was going on: why the road bike made such a big difference. I thought that it was about the lightness of the carbon bike, and I also thought, like you, it was because *the geometry* was more aero.

However, as people say, you put handlebar extensions on your Trek (as I did - note the long aero-bars), and loose the small (% wise) weight differential from your posterior. But that did not happen. So, why didn't I loose the weight with my aero Trek? A mystery?

The answer is that carbon is for suspension not weight-saving, and it is suspension that allows moving into aero position, not the shape of your handlebars.

I did not use the aero-handlebars on my Trek, much, for long distances, on longer distance rides was because the aluminium frame shook not only my hands but the part of my body on the saddle. This shaking is not cognized all that much, but in fact over the course of a ride, unpleasant enough to stop you from wanting to do it again. I did force myself to ride, but it was not fun.

It was even more unpleasant back then because I was not using a hollow saddle, so I was sitting in part on the boneless region of my body (perineum). When I got carbon I felt a sort of chocolatey glide. It was wonderful. I wanted to go cycling every day. I still do.

It was this cushioning that let me get down further forward onto more soft regions of my body (man bits included), and move into a more aero position, and the combination of the lack of shocks to my body and the better position, made cyclying all that much more fast, far, and fun.

Another question is why are there so many people riding mountain bikes with suspension and tractor sized wheels on the roads? Are they morons? I used to think so! The reason I now think that mountain bikes are so popular on the roads is not because suspension looks cool, but because again, having your crotch bashed is what prevents us from cycling, far and fast.

Paradigm shift: Carbon provides the lightweight version of MTB suspension, it is not just a lighter-than-aluminium road bike frame. Carbon is not 10% lighter but twice as good (with longevity drawbacks). You don't pay all that money for a couple of pounds of lightness, but for cushioning provided by the carbon bits - most importantly the forks.

Once you have bought one of those two roads bikes both with carbon forks (or even better a make up a bike with an OEM full carbon frame) then buy a hollow saddle (e.g. Selle SMP) and get down even further, and finally, if you wear spectacles, you could get some that allow you to get down long and low.

Road cycling for long, fast, weight-loss distances, is all about getting into the aero position, but it is not only the shape of your bars that allows/prevents you from getting there. It is comfort. Big tyres and MTB suspension provide it, at a big weight cost. Carbon road bikes provide it, saddles provide it, bike shorts provide it, cycling specs provide it, just as much the right shaped bars.

(If I had know this 8 years ago I would never have bought that Trek from an L BS.)

Addendum
You could try swapping the FX 7.2 aluminium forks for carbon, such as the following all from China.
Carbon forks (I am not promising they fit your FX but I may get some for myself to try)
http://tinyurl.com/npozoa6
Low down 30 degree stem (meant for raising but I think it will work for lowering)
http://tinyurl.com/p6u4t5v
Un-padded, hollow carbon saddle (it is amazing how little padding matters. Hollow matters a lot.)
http://tinyurl.com/nvz62ku
Aero bars
http://tinyurl.com/n9q3ove
If you are good with mechanics and know what fits your bottom bracket etc then you might consider moving your Trek (Shimano Tiagra?) components to a cyclocross full carbon frame.
http://tinyurl.com/q4x5r4x
I'd probably be too scared but the results may be lifechanging :-)See the thread below.
http://weightweenies.starbike.com/fo...p?f=4&t=101228

Relevant Threads
Trek 7.2 fx fork change?
Carbon fork or no carbon fork?...that is the question!
Upgrade fork on Trek FX bikes
Convert Trek FX Hybrid to Drop Bars

Another Addendum
I sense a contradiction in my post above. On the one hand I am saying that it is a good idea to believe in the behaviour of crowds (people buy carbon bikes for good reason, people ride MTB on the road for good reason) but on the other I am dissing those many that say "Oh, it is only a 10% weight differential," "Forget carbon, you should loose the weight off yourself, that will make more difference." Both of these opinions are common, so why aren't they correct? Upon reflection I think that they are also correct for those that hold them.

Camus (I think) said something like "the biggest difference between people, more than race, social standing or education, is between the sick and the well." Modifying that, I think "the biggest difference between cyclists, more than their speed, or experience, is between the overweight and the not-overweight." We don't notice much because a lot of us gradually put on weight over the years but if you go between one and the other quite quickly, you can notice how much of a difference 20 pounds makes. Try picking up something heavy and then attempting to run.

When I went to my LBS about 8 years ago to purchase a new bike I was fat. The guys in the Japanese bike shops were as thin as rakes, as most Japanese cyclists, and many bike shop workers world wide are. I was riding an entry level Giant aluminum road bike and suggested getting a bike like the OP recommended above with carbon forks. They said "no, get a Trek F 7.2 FX, you can loose the weight saving of the carbon off your (big) posterior," they said "it is only 10% different, forget it". Were they wrong?

They were right for themselves. I think that when you are at your high-school weight like the guys at my LBS, then suspension of a carbon bike is not important. Indeed, as full on cyclists will tell you, carbon can lack stiffness, and be worse for them (those thin guys). But when you are packing the pounds, (about 30 or 40 in my case) suspension can make a lot of difference. If you are further overweight, 3 stone, 50 pounds or more over your thin, then getting a MTB with big tyres and suspension may be the only tolerable way to go.

Those LBS guys, with their non-existent bottoms, took one look at my posterior and thought "why is this guy worrying about a few pounds (a couple of Kg diff in bike weight)?" But they did not know what it is like to be a overweight, on a road bike, and attempting to go fast. 

I am back down to a stone (7kg) above my high school weight. If I keep this up, maybe (I doubt it) I'll end up like a LBS cyclist, and my next and last bike will be a full aluminum, or purist steel/titanium framed bike, like the guys in the bike shop.
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Last edited by timtak; 05-22-14 at 05:54 AM. Reason: thread suggestions/ cyclocross frame/ defence of L BS
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