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Would it help me to get a different bike?

Old 10-19-20, 02:52 PM
  #1  
jamesgelwicks7
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Would it help me to get a different bike?

I'm new to biking but for the past two years I have enjoyed biking about twice a month on a flat, 184 mile towpath that is mostly dirt, or rock dust, but sometimes mud. I'm able to ride for about 40 miles a trip at a speed that averages around 10mph, but I would really like to improve both my distance and speed. I currently have a 2009 Diamondback Response Sport Mountain bike that weighs 33lbs, but with my bag and accessories it climbs up to 39lbs. So my question is if I go out to my local bike store and buy one of their $2000 bikes that weighs considerably less, would I see a major improvement? Would my mph go up, would I be able to peddle longer distances, and please take into consideration I ride on almost no hills? I have tried asking local bike shops but I feel they are just trying to sell me an expensive bike that might not help much. I really know very little about bikes, but I read a thread on here that most people were saying that weight doesn't matter on flat surfaces, but I think they were talking a difference of only a few pounds. I have read that some bikes weigh as much as 15lbs less than mine, I have to believe that would help me a lot, but I really dont want to spend $2000 to find out. Please any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks for reading.
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Old 10-19-20, 03:02 PM
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Sounds like a good job for a gravel bike!
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Old 10-19-20, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesgelwicks7 View Post
I'm new to biking but for the past two years I have enjoyed biking about twice a month on a flat, 184 mile towpath that is mostly dirt, or rock dust, but sometimes mud. I'm able to ride for about 40 miles a trip at a speed that averages around 10mph, but I would really like to improve both my distance and speed. I currently have a 2009 Diamondback Response Sport Mountain bike that weighs 33lbs, but with my bag and accessories it climbs up to 39lbs. So my question is if I go out to my local bike store and buy one of their $2000 bikes that weighs considerably less, would I see a major improvement? Would my mph go up, would I be able to peddle longer distances, and please take into consideration I ride on almost no hills? I have tried asking local bike shops but I feel they are just trying to sell me an expensive bike that might not help much. I really know very little about bikes, but I read a thread on here that most people were saying that weight doesn't matter on flat surfaces, but I think they were talking a difference of only a few pounds. I have read that some bikes weigh as much as 15lbs less than mine, I have to believe that would help me a lot, but I really dont want to spend $2000 to find out. Please any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks for reading.
Two years ago I gave away my C&V Raleigh Team USA (1984) and decided to buy a modern, low end roadbike. 20lbs. Carbon fork, Claris build set. You don't need better than this. Price $600. But the other poster was right. A gravel bike is better for what you want. Here, check this out. The Claris build of this bike retails for $650 whenever they come back in stock again. You will want the drop bars. While we are talking about 'n+1' (which is bike geek speak for "making your wife real mad by buying yet another stupid bike) we should also point out the fact that improvement takes time and practice. IMO "twice per month" x 40mi" will not lead to much improvement. 10 - 20mi at 3x/wk would lead to more improvement. Plus other attention to health and fitness like strength training at home or at a gym. BTW, a light bike is nice to have. It just is. But it isn't really that much faster. The fast is in you.
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Old 10-19-20, 03:36 PM
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Cyclocross bike will be advantageous. And, of course, continued riding with yield fitness and performance benefits.
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Old 10-19-20, 04:35 PM
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Beyond any doubt you would go faster with a lighter gravel bike.
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Old 10-19-20, 05:40 PM
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If you aren't racing, your speed will be the same --- Just sayin!
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Old 10-19-20, 06:22 PM
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Maybe...maybe not.

Are you comfortable on your current bike? Is the seat height adjusted so you can get the best power to the wheel? Do you have the correct tires for the trail you like to ride?

If you are willing to pay for lightness, you can lose bike weight. Don’t forget about your weight too. Light weight helps with going up hills and accelerating. Cruising...a little, but not as much as you think. Tires play a bigger role.

What a new bike can do, is motivate you to reach a goal. If it gets you out more often, makes you happy to be on it or seen on it...then a new bike could make a big difference.
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Old 10-19-20, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Two years ago I gave away my C&V Raleigh Team USA (1984) and decided to buy a modern, low end 20lbs. Carbon fork, Claris build set. You don't need better than this. Price $600. But the other poster was right. A gravel bike is better for what you want. Here, The Claris build of this bike retails for $650 whenever they come back in stock again. You will want the drop bars. While we are talking about 'n+1' (which is bike geek speak for "making your wife real mad by buying yet another stupid bike) we should also point out the fact that improvement takes time and practice. IMO "twice per month" x 40mi" will not lead to much improvement. 10 - 20mi at 3x/wk would lead to more improvement. Plus other attention to health and fitness like strength training at home or at a gym. BTW, a light bike is nice to have. It just is. But it isn't really that much faster. The fast is in you.
Thank you, I looked at the Salsa bike you recommended and it is highly rated on all of the review sites that I could find, but I did notice that it is only 7lbs lighter than my current bike, so I still wonder if I would see any improvements. Sadly with my work schedule and the drive it takes to get to the canal, I find it difficult to bike any more than I currently do, but even still with my exercise bike at home and biking just a couple times a month I have went from 210 down to 185lbs in the last year. But I just seem to have maxed out at about 40 miles before I want to quit, for the record I was only biking about 15 miles before quitting when I weighed 210. Anyways I'm going to try to push it to 50 miles this coming week and see how that goes. Still undecided on getting a new bike though.
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Old 10-19-20, 06:44 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
Maybe...maybe not.

Are you comfortable on your current bike? Is the seat height adjusted so you can get the best power to the wheel? Do you have the correct tires for the trail you like to ride?

If you are willing to pay for lightness, you can lose bike weight. Don’t forget about your weight too. Light weight helps with going up hills and accelerating. Cruising...a little, but not as much as you think. Tires play a bigger role.

What a new bike can do, is motivate you to reach a goal. If it gets you out more often, makes you happy to be on it or seen on it...then a new bike could make a big difference.
Yes I guess I'm as comfortable as I'm ever going to be, as for the height, the seat is as low as it can go and if it was higher I wouldnt be able to easily get on it. As for the correct tires, when I bought it the bike shop said my tires were not big enough for the C&O canal and switched them to bigger ones, who knows if they are the best or not.

I have lost 25 lbs over the last year or so and thats how I've gotten to 40+ miles, thats just another reason why I thought maybe losing weight in the bike would help.

Everyone seems to be recommending a gravel bike and it seems like they are only 5-10lbs lighter, so I'm not so sure if its worth it.
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Old 10-19-20, 06:46 PM
  #10  
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A new bike will make you faster since you'll ride it more.

A light bike is easier to pedal.

I have a 15# road bike and a 20# cyclocross bike, i'm about 1mph faster on the lighter bike over the same route.
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Old 10-19-20, 07:17 PM
  #11  
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It’s not just about the weight. A gravel bike that is designed for exactly the kind of riding you’re doing will be more efficient, more responsive, more comfortable, and more fun to ride. Even though it’s only been eleven years, shifting, braking, and overall handling have come a long way since your bike was new. And a modern gravel bike can better provide the means to carry clothes and gear efficiently, lengthening your rides and your riding season.

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Old 10-19-20, 07:42 PM
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Op....have you considered getting a bike to ride in your neighbourhood and keep the mountain bike for the towpath?
I take my Single Speed when I only have 1-2 hours of riding time. To get a better workout I'll hit some loooong gradual hills. Do this a few times a week and you'll be blasting that towpath....
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Old 10-19-20, 07:47 PM
  #13  
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If the question is ever should I get another bike, the answer is nearly always yes. Getting a new more capable and lighterweight bike is a great option and may not make you exceptionally faster but it may be more comfortable or easier to ride and my make you feel better. You might also get faster but speed isn't everything sometimes just perception is good enough unless you are racing and need to eek out every last watt but let's not kid ourselves most of us are not racing and we are just having a good time or riding with pals or local clubs and groups (or at least were before the pandemic screwed all that up.
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Old 10-20-20, 06:01 AM
  #14  
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I have a similar situation. My MTB (actually hybrid) bike is heavy and has wide tires. A rather longish rail trail/canal towpath runs right through my township, convenient but still if I'm going to ride it I put the bike in my car and drive the 5 or so miles to a trailhead then ride. Because of work and other life things this is difficult to do except on the weekends. My trail, The D&L on the weekends is crowded, I don't let that stop me but it does slow down progress some. The roads where I live are hilly, rural with little to no berm. But they are hilly.

I can tell you what I do as I'm also interested in improvement in my cycling performance. I dabbled around with bicycling for about a year trying to improve things and actually made some progress and wanted to keep that progress but winter being unkind to my cycling I was faced with the prospect of losing it. My solution is and I've become a big proponent of indoor trainers. Personally and I'm not a salesmen for anything related to the bicycle industry but I'm happy with my used craigslist Kinetic Road Machine fluid trainer and my subscription to Zwift. I put in a ton of trainer miles over last winter and this transformed my cycling. I lost 23 pounds going from 159 to 136 in 5 months. I wasn't trying to lose weight rather improve performance.

Once last spring arrived I started transitioning back to outside. I use my heavy hybrid on the rail trails and I have a road bike for all other things. I seem to limit my rail trail to one day a week, in the summer when it's light out long enough I hit the roads after work and usually ride with a club once a week. So I'm getting a mixture of flat and heavy and light and hilly. No one is asking me for my autograph but I've made steady progress in the last year.

When I'm on the rail trail I'm not trying so much for speed rather I'm looking at distance. This year I have 6 rides of 65 miles or more and a bunch in the 40-50 mile zone on the trail. In the beginning of spring my average was about 11 MPH now I'm doing 14 MPH but again I'm on the trail more for endurance and a cardio workout. I made no changes to the bike, all of the speed gains are from conditioning. I have gone from an attitude of I want a better (fancier more expensive) hybrid bike to my hybrid is great as a heavy bike because it makes me work harder. And to be honest, very few riders I encounter on the rail trails, and there are 100s of them, pass me. Not that I'm a honcho, far from it but I push myself. My hybrid has a triple chainring. Last December I did a group ride that was on a 20 mile MUP that has about a 2-3% gradient average and at the start which is on an actual town road, it's about a 6% grade for about 1000 +/- feet. I used my small chain ring for the first half mile then the middle for the rest of the ride. There was a day, early in the spring while on a short 20 warm up ride when I put my chain on the big chain ring for the first time. I have not moved it off the big ring since.

So for me it's three things, or bikes, one for the flat rail trails, another for the roads and another for my trainer. On average I'm on one of the three 5 or 6 days a week. That's me though.

I am, btw, according to Strava, for year 2020, going to hit 5000 miles (combined trainer and outside) by the end of next week. Should hit 6000 combined miles by the end of the year. This would have seemed an impossible task this time last year.

ON EDIT: Allow me to also add. All last year and in the beginning of this year (spring) riding my MTB hybrid was very uncomfortable for me. I felt terrible after riding 50 miles. My hands were numb after 20 minutes. I have made many tweeks, in particular with the seat height and angle and some grip changes. But now I give credit to conditioning and a slight increase to core strength as I'm doing long rides with very little in-ride discomfort. Big improvement but it was a painful journey.

Last edited by Thomas15; 10-20-20 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 10-20-20, 06:24 AM
  #15  
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jamesgelwicks7 Congrats on the weight loss and your commitment to maintaining it and your fitness!
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Old 10-20-20, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jamesgelwicks7 View Post
Yes I guess I'm as comfortable as I'm ever going to be, as for the height, the seat is as low as it can go and if it was higher I wouldnt be able to easily get on it. As for the correct tires, when I bought it the bike shop said my tires were not big enough for the C&O canal and switched them to bigger ones, who knows if they are the best or not.
As far as (bike) weight, on a flat, straight path, it really doesn’t make a big difference. There are a number of things you can do that are free, or at least inexpensive, that can improve a ride.

Bigger tires for the C&O? If the surface is fairly dry, you could ride it on “skinny” road bike tires without much issue; at least everything below Harpers’ Ferry. Generally, fat knobby tires take more effort to go a given distance at a given speed. I don’t know what you’ve got on there now, but a touring tire, like a Conti TourRide or Schwalbe Marathon might be better suited.

Let’s look at bike fit, too:Your saddle may be too low. A lot of adult ‘new’ riders try to have the saddle low enough to be able to touch a foot down while still seated. If you do that on most bikes, the saddle will be be too low to allow you to fully straighten your legs out, which lets you use more of your leg muscles, and use them more effectively, thereby allowing you to ride farther, or faster, with less effort.
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Old 10-20-20, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Thomas15 View Post
A rather longish rail trail/canal towpath runs right through my township.
D&L Trail?
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Old 10-20-20, 04:41 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
As far as (bike) weight, on a flat, straight path, it really doesn’t make a big difference. There are a number of things you can do that are free, or at least inexpensive, that can improve a ride.

Bigger tires for the C&O? If the surface is fairly dry, you could ride it on “skinny” road bike tires without much issue; at least everything below Harpers’ Ferry. Generally, fat knobby tires take more effort to go a given distance at a given speed. I don’t know what you’ve got on there now, but a touring tire, like a Conti TourRide or Schwalbe Marathon might be better suited.

Let’s look at bike fit, too:Your saddle may be too low. A lot of adult ‘new’ riders try to have the saddle low enough to be able to touch a foot down while still seated. If you do that on most bikes, the saddle will be be too low to allow you to fully straighten your legs out, which lets you use more of your leg muscles, and use them more effectively, thereby allowing you to ride farther, or faster, with less effort.

You sir are a genius. Your comment made me google correct saddle heights, and after watching a video about the rule of 109%, I found out my saddle height was at least 4 inches too low. I had my saddle all the way down to the frame so I could easily jump on and off but I just raised it up, so I'm excited to see the difference this weekend.

As for the C&O, my area is between Hancock and Harpers Ferry, I live in Hagerstown, so only maybe the 5 miles or so above Harpers Ferry is the stone dust, the rest is much rougher and constantly changing. I think I would be scared to change the tires to any smaller than I currently have, I just looked and I have Kenda KIaw XT, 26 x 2.10, also I just figured out that I have put on about 1200 miles or so on them, I'm not sure if that is a little or a lot.

But again thank you for the advice about the saddle height. I have had some random minor knee pains after rides in the front part of my knee and I just seen that the saddle being too low can cause that, so I owe you one.
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Old 10-20-20, 06:15 PM
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Congrats on the weight loss and increased fitness!

Here is my experience for what it's worth, as it is perhaps not too different from what you are considering. For years I enjoyed riding my fairly heavy hard-tail mountain bike with aluminum frame and wide knobby tires in the local national forest. Because of work and other interests, I averaged about every other week, same as you. This is in the coastal plain, so also very flat. When, for various reasons, I was forced to just ride the primary forest service roads (mix of dirt and gravel, but well maintained) my MTB felt sluggish and not as much fun. Not that long ago I convinced myself that a gravel bike was absolutely the answer and would make me so much faster. I decided to treat myself to a pretty nice carbon frame gravel bike (Giant Revolt Advanced), which was definitely a bit of a splurge compared to what I had previously spent. It is quite a bit lighter than the MTB. Well... on the same primary forest service roads I was... a little faster. But not that much. However, the bike riding experience was night and day compared to the MTB, and I was suddenly having a ton of fun riding those roads. Now I am riding a lot more (despite continued work demands and sometimes to the sacrifice of other interests) and I am just amazed how much I am enjoying it. I still love my MTB, but the gravel bike is so much fun, comfortable, responsive and 'feels' more effortless than the MTB that the MTB now gets left at home most of the time (but not always - getting off the primary forest roads is still better with the MTB). And because I am riding more, I am now getting more fit and thus faster and riding farther. No regrets whatsoever!

So, if you can comfortably afford a new bike (and can find one for sale that properly fits you) I personally see zero reason to try to talk you out of it.
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Old 10-20-20, 07:05 PM
  #20  
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If you're only riding twice a month I would say that just riding more often will do a lot more good than a different bike. I have basically one day a week I can make time for a long ride and I work long days during the week but force myself to get up in the early morning and get in 15-20 miles on my old rigid MTB a few days a week before work. It makes a huge difference for me in terms of improving my speed and endurance on the long weekend rides.
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Old 10-20-20, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesgelwicks7 View Post
I'm new to biking but for the past two years I have enjoyed biking about twice a month
Ride more often. Then you will get fitter, enabling you to ride further & faster.
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Old 10-21-20, 05:16 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
D&L Trail?
Yes
BTW Gary I work in PBurg we should get together sometime for a climb!
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Old 10-21-20, 06:50 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Thomas15 View Post
Yes
BTW Gary I work in PBurg we should get together sometime for a climb!
Agreed.
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Old 10-21-20, 10:27 AM
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There was a separate topic on this forum about riding heavy women , eh bikes.

The physics be Such that a higher weight (mass) of bike only penalizes your speed during accelerating and going up hills.

So for your application, I would suggest not pay extra $ purely to drop A little weight, just my opinion.
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Old 10-21-20, 01:51 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
Agreed.
This afternoon at lunch time I drove over to Harmony (via Belvidere Rd) to take a look at Fiddlers Elbow Rd (off Ridge). Do you know about this road?

I might give it a try next week.
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