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How to get faster

Old 06-13-22, 08:17 AM
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poeli
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How to get faster

Hi all,

I currently ride 38kms one way to work, with 300m of climbing, using
Cannondale topstone apex 1, all stock but:
schwalbe marathon supreme tyres to have a good balance between durability and speed. I did have 3 flats on the 120 rides I did to work.
I do have to cross brussels, so having something puncture proof is a must.
I also use pannier to take my laptop, breakfast, clothes and lunch with me. The laptop is certainly not daily. I do have sks longboard fenders
I do this commute 2 to 3 times a week, but it is not always a chill ride. it takes me around 1h20 to 1h35, depending on the wind.
now, how can I become faster except cycling more? Things I thought about (in order of what I think will be more effective):
- bike fit: would this help me be less fatigued and maybe in some way thus faster?
- gp4000/gp5000 tyres,though I'm afraid I'll have a lot more punctures. Brussels is not Amsterdam and not so bike friendly.
- backpack instead of panniers to be more 'aero' and lose some weight. Even though I don't have a good backpack and I'm afraid of backpain as well.
- ditch the dropper post & get other wheels.

If the above would not have much effect I'd just have to pedal more I guess. Thank you all for your input! Many happy kms!
poeli
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Old 06-13-22, 10:15 AM
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That's a respectable commute distance, and a very respectable time at about 25 km/hr.

Honestly, it's going to be tough to better that performance level. The only thing I can think of that might help is if you can change your route a bit (but not much!) to avoid stop signs and/or traffic lights; but I don't know if you're riding on grade-separated bike paths already.

It might be worth trying some of your ideas (bike fit, tires), but I wouldn't expect too much difference in timing; perhaps 5 minutes off each leg? You could try the backpack; I'd start with a cheap, perhaps a used backpack from a thrift store or similar. Only you can tell if the additional speed that's possible is worth the sticky, sweaty back that might bring.

Oh, one other idea; is there a bus or train you might catch to cut 20 km or so off your ride? Something with a bike rack, naturally.
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Old 06-13-22, 10:22 AM
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Much respect for riding that far on your commute. I always appreciate folks who are open-minded about learning new things. I think as a daily commuter I am constantly trying to figure out how to be more efficient, whether it's getting marginal gains in speed, dealing with the weather, carrying cargo, lighting and other electronics.

If you're bike is a poor fit, that's the first thing I'd address. Having a good-fitting bike will go a long way in making your ride more enjoyable and pain free.

Tires are always a compromise. So, you pick which is more important to you. I've run 25's, 28's, 32's, 35's and 38's on commutes, with more puncture protection on the wider ones, but I've had punctures equally on all of them. The difference in speed on my 40 km round trip is maybe 8 minutes. I am using 35's currently, find they are a good all round.

I don't like the panniers. Ditching them will probably make the most difference in your speed because for me they act like a pair of parachutes. I have carried heavier loads on a backpack, and I find that the position I ride with a road bike, the weight of the bag sits on my back rather than hang off my shoulder. And I have carried a backpack on longer 100+ km rides without any issues.

Hope that helps.
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Old 06-13-22, 11:33 AM
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My commute is much shorter than yours, but I notice that the only thing that makes any appreciable difference on time is whether the stoplights are in my favor. Doesn't matter if I ride my race bike or my old mountain bike.
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Old 06-13-22, 12:34 PM
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Backpack might actually make you slower due to discomfort from the weight and cutting off cooling airflow to your back. Panniers don't really add much to drag because it's already sheltered from the wind by your legs.

That was my experience between using backpacks and pannier. I recommend you keep using panniers for your cargo.

What can make a huge difference in aero is your riding posture and the type of clothing and helmet your wear.
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Old 06-13-22, 01:09 PM
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Here's a comprehensive study on how aerodynamics affects bikes:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...67610521001574

It's not my experience that panniers don't add drag. They add significant drag to a moving vehicle.
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Old 06-13-22, 01:25 PM
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First off, congratulations on your commitment to commuting.

We've long known how to get faster: more power and less drag. You'll get more powerful with continued riding, so that's taken care of.

Reducing drag depends on exactly what's slowing you down (traffic? hills? wind? roads?) and we don't have enough information about that, but in general drag reduction is about lots of small changes that add up rather than a single big change. Without changing your tires or position, you may be able to achieve small improvements by switching your route slightly to avoid traffic lights and small climbs, from panniers to a small backpack, and by wearing tighter fitting clothing. Loose floppy T-shirts or jackets and loose pant legs add quite a bit of drag. Each of these changes individually may not make much difference but together they can save you a few minutes even with no change in your overall power output.

Best of luck.
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Old 06-13-22, 11:33 PM
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Thanks you all for the repies! I might study the route but I don't have much choice to cross brussels
Part of the fun is to optimize everything and improve.
I'll try a small backpack instead of panniers ( or use my saddle bag whrn not taking my laptop).

in the beginning, the 38km was killing me! It's al about having the discipline to keep doing it and it will improve
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Old 06-14-22, 02:46 PM
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If you can scout a route with less stopping and less climbing that is a good bet. It doesnít just pause your time, it exhausts you.

Also good if everything on your bike is working properly. Drag from seals and grease is baked in, but drag from badly adjusted or filthy bearings can slow you down while itís also chewing up your bike.

Tires can make a difference but itís a trade off. Faster lighter tires have less armor. Light tires are just nicer to ride on. Thatís why some of us go tubeless, but itís not a panacea either. Slick tread is faster.

If you are going fast enough to worry about aerodynamic efficiency then itís easy to understand. Get in the drops. Smooth round shapes, which means tight fitting clothes, nothing flapping, no luggage outside your front silhouette

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Old 06-15-22, 08:01 AM
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I have a similar commute and I have an E-bike on the way. Have you considered that?
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Old 06-15-22, 09:06 AM
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Ebike is a great idea for that distance. You could conceivably do the commute everyday.
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Old 06-16-22, 02:15 AM
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Originally Posted by timdow View Post
I have a similar commute and I have an E-bike on the way. Have you considered that?
yes for sure! I will test one in a few week to see how it goes. In summer when there is a lot of Light and good weather (even rain doesnt bother me in summer), its all fun. But in winter it can be cold and very very dark
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Old 06-16-22, 07:58 AM
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Same issues as riding a standard bike, yes? The E-bike can be pedaled vigorously if you are cold, and you would be in the cold for less time. Many E-bikes come with a super bright headlight.(1050 lumens on the one I bought). I bought a Juiced CrossCurrent X ( https://www.juicedbikes.com/products...12524643975191 ). I chose this one due it having an 80+ mile range, and seems better built than the competition for the price.

Originally Posted by poeli View Post
yes for sure! I will test one in a few week to see how it goes. In summer when there is a lot of Light and good weather (even rain doesnt bother me in summer), its all fun. But in winter it can be cold and very very dark
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Old 06-18-22, 01:29 AM
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I had an aero bike ( systemsix ) and a topstone alloy shimmano 105 (2019/20 model I think? before they changed the name to apex 1 2 3 4 ) at the same time. I used to ride them both on the same 10 and 20 mile loops.
When I put the road wheels from the aero bike on my gravel bike the times did not change much at all in stop and go commute traffic.

I have a 37 mile loop route that I optimized with less lights, going clockwise ( right on red etc..) on this route there's 1 to 2 mph difference in avg speed which is a lot.

I have had bad luck with gp5000 and flats. I still use them when I want to go fast but I would not use them as my I have to get work tire.

My day to day tire is tubeless gravelking slicks in 32mm. These I ride on gravel and road all time. I am not sure how that compares for speed to your schwalbe marathon supreme.

Aero clothes and body position make a night and day difference when going over 15 mph / 24kph.

kind of embarrassing :-) I used to wear just normal clothes while biking. BF helped me out. ha-ha
What to wear @ 20+ mph?
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Old 06-18-22, 07:00 AM
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U know to get faster I usually bend my back down to the handlebars of the bike
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Old 06-19-22, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by poeli View Post
Hi all,

I currently ride 38kms one way to work, with 300m of climbing, using
Cannondale topstone apex 1, all stock but:
schwalbe marathon supreme tyres to have a good balance between durability and speed. I did have 3 flats on the 120 rides I did to work.
I do have to cross brussels, so having something puncture proof is a must.
I also use pannier to take my laptop, breakfast, clothes and lunch with me. The laptop is certainly not daily. I do have sks longboard fenders
I do this commute 2 to 3 times a week, but it is not always a chill ride. it takes me around 1h20 to 1h35, depending on the wind.
now, how can I become faster except cycling more? Things I thought about (in order of what I think will be more effective):
- bike fit: would this help me be less fatigued and maybe in some way thus faster?
- gp4000/gp5000 tyres,though I'm afraid I'll have a lot more punctures. Brussels is not Amsterdam and not so bike friendly.
- backpack instead of panniers to be more 'aero' and lose some weight. Even though I don't have a good backpack and I'm afraid of backpain as well.
- ditch the dropper post & get other wheels.

If the above would not have much effect I'd just have to pedal more I guess. Thank you all for your input! Many happy kms!
poeli
Hi poeli, i have a similar commute, how long have you been doing it ?
My commute is 44 km long, and in the beginning it took me 2h30 (3h - 3h30 on my way back home) to reach my destination but after 4 years i finally got that time down to 1h45 (both ways).
These are the things to keep in mind :
  1. . Breathing: the most important aspect, you have to consciously breathe, all the time, otherwise you get lost in your thoughts and emotions and forget to oxygenate properly your muscles and later you wonder why you are so slow. Breathing is the most important technique you will have to master.
  2. . Always start your commute slow. As slow as possible, don't rush in the beginning otherwise your whole commute will be a hell, you will be tired and it won't go away.
  3. . Never eat before your commute, always start fasted. Start eating only after half an hour or so. Staying fasted the whole day is great too, and you won't get tired on your way back. The caveat is that the next day you'll be very tired. So fast only when you can rest the next day. Riding fasted will improve your ability to burn fat, and that's a great fuel for long sustained effort.
  4. . Keep in mind that your bike fit is not static, your body does adapt over time and you will always discover that some tuning will improve your riding confort. Make it a habit.
  5. . Wear only cycling clothes on the bike.
  6. . Not drinking enough water will make you tire fast, so always drink enough water.
  7. . Don't overeat.
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Old 06-20-22, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by holytrousers View Post
Hi poeli, i have a similar commute, how long have you been doing it ?
My commute is 44 km long, and in the beginning it took me 2h30 (3h - 3h30 on my way back home) to reach my destination but after 4 years i finally got that time down to 1h45 (both ways).
These are the things to keep in mind :
  1. . Breathing: the most important aspect, you have to consciously breathe, all the time, otherwise you get lost in your thoughts and emotions and forget to oxygenate properly your muscles and later you wonder why you are so slow. Breathing is the most important technique you will have to master.
  2. . Always start your commute slow. As slow as possible, don't rush in the beginning otherwise your whole commute will be a hell, you will be tired and it won't go away.
  3. . Never eat before your commute, always start fasted. Start eating only after half an hour or so. Staying fasted the whole day is great too, and you won't get tired on your way back. The caveat is that the next day you'll be very tired. So fast only when you can rest the next day. Riding fasted will improve your ability to burn fat, and that's a great fuel for long sustained effort.
  4. . Keep in mind that your bike fit is not static, your body does adapt over time and you will always discover that some tuning will improve your riding confort. Make it a habit.
  5. . Wear only cycling clothes on the bike.
  6. . Not drinking enough water will make you tire fast, so always drink enough water.
  7. . Don't overeat.
superb advice! Been doing it for one year now.
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Old 06-20-22, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by poeli View Post
Hi all,

I currently ride 38kms one way to work, with 300m of climbing, using
Cannondale topstone apex 1, all stock but:
schwalbe marathon supreme tyres to have a good balance between durability and speed. I did have 3 flats on the 120 rides I did to work.
I do have to cross brussels, so having something puncture proof is a must.
I also use pannier to take my laptop, breakfast, clothes and lunch with me. The laptop is certainly not daily. I do have sks longboard fenders
I do this commute 2 to 3 times a week, but it is not always a chill ride. it takes me around 1h20 to 1h35, depending on the wind.
now, how can I become faster except cycling more? Things I thought about (in order of what I think will be more effective):
- bike fit: would this help me be less fatigued and maybe in some way thus faster?
- gp4000/gp5000 tyres,though I'm afraid I'll have a lot more punctures. Brussels is not Amsterdam and not so bike friendly.
- backpack instead of panniers to be more 'aero' and lose some weight. Even though I don't have a good backpack and I'm afraid of backpain as well.
- ditch the dropper post & get other wheels.

If the above would not have much effect I'd just have to pedal more I guess. Thank you all for your input! Many happy kms!
poeli
I'm not familiar with the Topstone Apex. What is the crankset gearing like? I assume it's a gravel bike seeing how you say there's a dropper seat? Often gravel type have 1x setups for climbing and have wider tires too. So at 40t, your topspeed is limited. You may want to consider going to a 42t or even 44/46t if you don't mind the gearing shift toward the top end. Also consider switch to a 2x system, which does complicate the drive train slightly but gives you the gearing width to climb around 26" and also top speeds nearer road bikes at around 120" gear inches. That should give you more speed on flats.
One thing you may also want to consider if you want to get more protection while improving rolling resistance is going tubeless. The GP5000 S TR is a nice choice for that, being lighter, fast and tubeless ready. It isn't as tough as the Marathon Supreme, but I don't think the Onestar TLE versions of the Marathon Supreme are available anymore, and they were heavier anyways. I used the 35c TLE Marathon Supremes but I'm down to my last 2 tires, so have been testing the GP5000 S TR in 32mm, and they are quite a bit faster. I'm saving my MSs stock for touring, and using the GP5kS for commuting.
Now adding all this stuff will probably be in the hundreds of dollars, more if you get someone to install it for you. So you may want to consider just getting a fast commuter bike instead and run your topstone on gravel/off road.
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Old 06-21-22, 01:36 PM
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I have nothing to add to this thread other than I can attest to this remark:

Originally Posted by poeli View Post
Brussels is not Amsterdam and not so bike friendly.
I rode from Brussels (starting near the EU buildings) to Amsterdam once a few years ago. I was warned about Brussels drivers and so I made sure I left early on a Sunday morning when traffic was light. Once out of Brussels, the cycling was great. Beautiful city.
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Old 06-24-22, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
My commute is much shorter than yours, but I notice that the only thing that makes any appreciable difference on time is whether the stoplights are in my favor. Doesn't matter if I ride my race bike or my old mountain bike.
This is my finding, too, with city riding, except that the absence of a headwind helps, as does having a tailwind. In other words, there may not be much you can do.
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Old 06-24-22, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by poeli
May I ask you how the gp5000 tl improved your commuting times? Or not much a difference?
My commute is about 15km shorter than yours, and about 150m elevation climbs. It's all paved road but no bike paths. When I switched to 32mm GP5000 S TR (not the TL), the marginal gains were in the long straights and climbs (rolling resistance), and down hill corners (grip). In the city traffic, there is literally no gains. Equipment efficiency gains from tires/wheels will be at best very marginal, depending on your route. I gained about 10W on the flats. The biggest gains will be gearing optimized for your ride, which is why I asked about your drive train. No matter what, you won't be cutting off 20 minutes off your commute with just equipment change.
Switching from a pannier to a backpack, will lower your Cda. However, depending on how heavy it is, the toll on your body, in terms of heat etc may make that aero gain moot. I know I don't like a backpack for a long ride, especially in summer heat and if it's a heavy bag.

Last edited by Sardines; 06-24-22 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 06-24-22, 07:33 PM
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Old 06-25-22, 04:57 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
My commute is about 15km shorter than yours, and about 150m elevation climbs. It's all paved road but no bike paths. When I switched to 32mm GP5000 S TR (not the TL), the marginal gains were in the long straights and climbs (rolling resistance), and down hill corners (grip). In the city traffic, there is literally no gains. Equipment efficiency gains from tires/wheels will be at best very marginal, depending on your route. I gained about 10W on the flats. The biggest gains will be gearing optimized for your ride, which is why I asked about your drive train. No matter what, you won't be cutting off 20 minutes off your commute with just equipment change.
Switching from a pannier to a backpack, will lower your Cda. However, depending on how heavy it is, the toll on your body, in terms of heat etc may make that aero gain moot. I know I don't like a backpack for a long ride, especially in summer heat and if it's a heavy bag.
I ordered a 44t chainring instead of a 40t to test if there will be differences.
the casette is still 11-42t.
I know I won't cut my time by 20 minutes, but small improvements combined should give me some minutes (but no way double digits).
thanks for your post!
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Old 06-25-22, 08:30 AM
  #24  
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If most of your commute passes through urban centers with lots of intersections with medium to heavy traffic, there's about nothing you can do to get faster on commutes unless you're only holding a speed of around 12 mph.

If your situation is the opposite and most of your commute is uninterrupted open / country roads, then the best possible tech can certainly help but not by a large degree. In such situation, good quality training would give you the best performance boost if you already have a decent bike.

But gear-wise, the best performance boost I got excluding training is simply wearing aero clothing! You don't even need the most expensive line and even a bottom tier reputable brand clothing would already give you immediate results. So I'd say, wearing aero clothing is probably the most cost-effective performance boost outside of training. It will also help you in climbing trust, in days with headwinds and for the simple fact, you'll be starting the climb with fresher legs because you didn't have to fight as hard in the flats.

Last edited by koala logs; 06-25-22 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 06-25-22, 08:32 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
If most of your commute passes through urban centers with lots of intersections with medium to heavy traffic, there's about nothing you can do to get faster on commutes unless you're only holding a speed of around 12 mph.

If your situation is the opposite and most of your commute is uninterrupted open / country roads, then the best possible tech can certainly help but not by a large degree. In such situation, good quality training would give you the best performance boost if you already have a decent bike.
its 65% rural roads on which I can ride fast, and then 35% city with traffic lights yes. Guess id have to train to get faster to my cruising speed again.
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