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Does the bike really make a difference?

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Does the bike really make a difference?

Old 02-28-24, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Paradoxically, the bike holding you back makes you stronger. I don't think you develop bad habits on an older or heavier bike, you just get fitter faster because you work harder.
Originally Posted by Koyote
Nope. If that were true, we'd all be training on 50-pound bikes.
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Perhaps, but lots of other sports training adds weight or resistance to improve results. A weighted volleyball to train setters comes to mind. Train hard, and the competition is easy.
Still incorrect. In cycling, you get faster by training harder, as measured by Rate of Perceived Exertion, heart rate, or (best of all) a power meter. A nicer, lighter bike might allow you to ride faster, but the effort (and hence fitness gain) is unchanged.

If you want to build cycling muscle, a bike -- even a heavy bike -- doesn't provide enough resistance. For that, you need to hit the weight room and do squats, lunges, deadlifts, and other work on the core and leg muscles.

Last edited by Koyote; 02-28-24 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 02-28-24, 12:35 PM
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Since we know virtually nothing about what wither the OP considers an "older, steel-frame road" or what the "really nice, newer model aluminum road bike" is like it is hard to say much of anything with any certainty. A really nice older steel race bike may be a pretty good bike. The OPs bike could be one of those or a real clunker.
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Old 02-28-24, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Still incorrect. In cycling, you get faster by training harder, as measured by Rate of Perceived Exertion, heart rate, or (best of all) a power meter. A nicer, lighter bike might allow you to ride faster, but the effort (and hence fitness gain) is unchanged
I ride 38 miles/day to/from work each day. If I ride a beater bike with regular clothes and a lot of stuff in the rack, I'm doing more of a workout than if I rode some kind of racing superbike.
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Old 02-28-24, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
I ride 38 miles/day to/from work each day. If I ride a beater bike with regular clothes and a lot of stuff in the rack, I'm doing more of a workout than if I rode some kind of racing superbike.
But you certainly could ride the "racing superbike" with the same effort and exertion and hence get the same workout...You'd just be a little faster for the same mileage.
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Old 02-28-24, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Perhaps, but lots of other sports training adds weight or resistance to improve results. A weighted volleyball to train setters comes to mind. Train hard, and the competition is easy.
To a certain extent that works. But the big benefit of cycling is not how hard a effort you ride, but instead it's how long you ride. Too much more weight will have you wearing out to soon and headed home.

As well, you can do... say a 500 watt effort on a light bike as well as a heavy bike for a certain amount of time. So lack of weight doesn't prevent one from doing as good a workout on a bike. I'd rather ride faster for longer. So light is better.
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Old 02-28-24, 12:56 PM
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A heavier bike forces you to work. A lighter bike is more fun. In something like a group ride, the guy with the heaviest bike gets the most workout and the guy with the lightest bike gets the least.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
A heavier bike forces you to work. A lighter bike is more fun. In something like a group ride, the guy with the heaviest bike gets the most workout and the guy with the lightest bike gets the least.
The guy with the lightest bike also has the most fun!
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Old 02-28-24, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Perhaps, but lots of other sports training adds weight or resistance to improve results. A weighted volleyball to train setters comes to mind. Train hard, and the competition is easy.
Different sports, different scenarios. On a bike, you work as hard as you want to, regardless of the weight of the bike; i.e. a 300 W interval is still a 300 W interval, no matter how much the bike weighs.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
But you certainly could ride the "racing superbike" with the same effort and exertion and hence get the same workout...You'd just be a little faster for the same mileage.
To be fair, it has been a while since we had a "Does A Heavier Bike Give You A Better Workout?" thread, and it's nearly Spring.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
A heavier bike forces you to work.
Nope. You force yourself to work.

​​​​​​
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
A lighter bike is more fun.
Perhaps, but "fun" is subjective. I have plenty of fun on my 27 lb fendered all-road bike.

​​​​​​
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
In something like a group ride, the guy with the heaviest bike gets the most workout and the guy with the lightest bike gets the least.
If they ride the same speed and distance, and spend equal time pulling and drafting, yeah. Though the difference in effort is very small even for bikes of substantially different weights -- that's just physics and is well-proved.

I think you're getting closer, but you still don't seem to want to accept that it's the rider who determines the effort (and hence the workout) -- not the bike. There is nothing -- zero, nada, zilch -- about a heavier bike that, per se, leads to a better/harder workout.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
In something like a group ride, the guy with the heaviest bike gets the most workout and the guy with the lightest bike gets the least.
Tell that to the guys on the front of the group riding lightweight bikes, while you sit in the back on your heavy bike. I think they'll express a different opinion.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:17 PM
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Consider that the experts on Silca's Marginal Gains podcast estimated that modern equipment (clothing, helmet, bike) would have 15% less drag than 2014 Tour de France-winning Vincenzo Nibali's setup, and aerodynamic expert JP Ballard backed that estimate up (Escape Collective podcast link).

In real numbers, Ballard says from a completely unoptimized bike with round tubes and box rim wheels to a modern aero road bike with well-designed rims would save approximately 30 watts in drag at 35 kph, a reasonable speed for acompetitive amateur. A 30W disadvantage is a lot for an amateur to make up in "fitness," and anyone already decently fast as an amateur, an additional 30W may take years of training to achieve.

And that's just the expensive stuff. Lots of room for improvements to be had more cheaply from body position, well fitting skinsuit or aero jersey, aero socks and helmet, and tires.

Note that bike weight isn't a significant factor to the above discussion. At amateur speeds and power, unless you're averaging 4+% grade over the entire route, aerodynamic drag is what you should be reducing.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:19 PM
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I’m 60 & even with 3years of training, relatively slow.
Do I need an R5…. Nope!
Did I buy an R5, Yes.

Did I need to replace the OEM carbon wheels, nope.
Did I upgrade them, yes.

But I sure do enjoy riding that bike!
It’s my second new new bike in 43 years!

Sometimes you just want what it is you want!

I still maintain the best “need” money I’ve spent was a $300 bike fit.

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Old 02-28-24, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
A guy used to roll up to our Sunday fast pace road rides on a mountain bike with knobby tires - at first we all scoffed. During the ride, and subsequent rides, he put all of us to shame putting out unreal watts. I bet he was smirking to himself the whole time looking at the totally outfitted multi-dollar bikes. No one scoffed after that.
Yeah, we got a "jorts and t-shirt guy" in our regular group ride who does that here too. He's super strong - rides a ton and can out-sprint almost everyone. It's amusing to watch newer riders try to figure him out.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:22 PM
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When I swapped out that 46 pound bike to a 23 pound bike, my time for a 100 mile ride was almost cut in half.

As I previously said my lighter bike didn't make much difference in speed for a 30 mile ride. But I was really worn out after those 30 miles. So for longer rides, on the lighter bike I was able to maintain that speed I had in the first 30 miles and carry that all the way to the 100 mile line and still have energy left to ride some more.

Granted we don't really know how far the OP wants to ride. Nor how often they wish to do a long ride.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Yeah, we got a "jorts and t-shirt guy" in our regular group ride who does that here too. He's super strong - rides a ton and can out-sprint almost everyone. It's amusing to watch newer riders try to figure him out.
Yup.

I once went to a hill climb competition in WV, and at the start I met a guy on a dirty and beat up SS who was wearing Carhartt pants with a bluetooth speaker hanging from a belt loop. I figured he would be one of the strongest riders -- and indeed he was.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Nope. You force yourself to work.
​​​
"Fun" is subjective. I have plenty of fun on my 27 lb fendered all-road bike.
​​​
If they ride the same speed and distance, and spend equal time pulling and drafting, yeah. Though the difference in effort is very small even for bikes of substantially different weights -- that's just physics and is well-proved.

I think you're getting closer, but you still don't seem to want to accept that it's the rider who determines the effort (and hence the workout) -- not the bike. There is nothing -- zero, nada, zilch -- about a heavier bike that, per se, leads to a better/harder workout.
That's often tough to grasp for people coming from other sports, and especially for people attuned to weight workouts. There, the relationship between weight/load and the difficulty of the workout is pretty simple (ignoring, e.g. differing numbers of reps for different weights).

It takes a while to understand that bike gearing throws that relationship out of the window. However, group rides (whether recreational, training, or racing) are about the only setting where bike weight differences (among others) can result in differences in how hard the riders work.

Doing solo rides, my power meter shows me that when I average, say, 160 watts for two hours, it's immaterial whether I'm on my 18-pound drop bar bike or my 40-pound utility bike with racks, panniers, and fenders. I've done the same workout either way. As Greg Lemond didn't say, I don't ride harder: I just go slower.

[Editing for those who might not get the reference]

Famous Lemond quote, in response to an interviewer asking if bike racing becomes easier as a rider becomes stronger:

"It doesn't get easier. You just go faster."

That's one of my favorite bike racer quotes. Another is a reply from Jock Boyer, a prominent American pro whose career overlapped Lemond's, in response to a reporter asking whether his having raced the Tour de France three times previously was going to be helpful going into his fourth Tour:

"Not really. Because I know what's coming. And what's coming isn't good."

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Old 02-28-24, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Doing solo rides, my power meter shows me that when I average, say, 160 watts for two hours, it's immaterial whether I'm on my 18-pound drop bar bike or my 40-pound utility bike with racks, panniers, and fenders. I've done the same workout either way. As Greg Lemond didn't say, I don't ride harder: I just go slower.
Haha! That old Lemond quote came to my mind as I was trying to get ScottCommutes to understand this point.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:41 PM
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If you have a chance to try a lighter/newer/ bike or a bike with better tech (better gearing, STI shifters as opposed to downtube shifters if applicable) and lighter wheels, see how it feels to you.

When training for a tour I have loaded my panniers with gallon jugs of water, or bags of concrete mix, to experience the feel of maneuvering a heavy bike. I am sure i got marginally stronger, but only while actually climbing or accelerating ... otherwise static weight is static weight, it provides its own momentum. It was good to feel how the bike handled under load ... but ultimately I went back to riding empty because as others say, what matters is how you push, not what you push.

I better bike is better .... obviously. However, most "better" bikes provide only marginal gains. Much of the gains will be perceptual more than measurable. However, a "perceived" benefit is what we call "pleasure," and pleasure is a good thing.

One limit we rarely discuss is ... reality. Unless you are unusually wealthy/committed, there will be real limits to which bikes you can actually test and buy. If you can contact a dozen custom builders, have your chauffeur-driven limousine pick up each and fly them on your fleet of private jets to your mansion for consultations .....

Most of us have compromised and found a good enough bike, the best of what was available in terms of price and availability, and likely you will do the same ... someone in the group will have a slightly older bike for sale, or you will see something at a shop, Maybe you will test-ride somethi8ng and decide to order one online, or a friend will let you test his/hers and it will grab you .....

I'd say, save up, learn about components, options, current retail offerings, and when you see the right new or used bike, grab it ....

Ultimately it is always You on a bike, and while the bike matters, You are always the deciding factor.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:55 PM
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Yes, it does make a difference. Try your friends bike, or rent a bike for a day that fits. Maybe try a small upgrade like nice tires when your current ones wear out. Those tend to make the biggest difference for the least cost.
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Old 02-28-24, 02:28 PM
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once the OP has enough posts it would be good to see pics of the bike, lots of pic to under stand what the frame is and the components

an older steel bike for 250 could a schwinn varsity or a de rosa

a decent frame may be worth upgrading, but almost always is less expensive to get a whole bike (that said I really like the combo of high end older frame with modern gear)

as noted by others the single most cost effective upgrade is to get good tires, but if current bike has 27 in rims, tire choice is limited

IMHO, it is not one single thing like frame weight that makes a difference but the combination of frame, components, position on the the bike in total
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Old 02-28-24, 03:53 PM
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47 replies and counting. Asking a simple question and getting this many replies can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming to a newbie. Welcome to the forum.
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Old 02-28-24, 03:58 PM
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The bike does make a difference, but so do your shoes.

light wheels with bladed spokes make a way bigger difference over regular OEM wheels than I expected.

A stiff frame is a hoot for sprinting, but Im among the group of riders whove gotten their best avg speeds on frames thatre halfway to flimsy on the spectrum.

Losing 1lb from the wheels makes a way bigger difference than saving 2lbs going from a decent Columbus, Tange #2, or Reynolds 531 tubed classic steel frameset to a carbon or aluminium one. But carbon & aluminium frames look cool.

no-fenders is the correct look for some group rides, but full length fenders are demonstrably more aero than a naked tire top going double your speed. And sometimes the roads are wet.

My bike of choice especially for fast & long rides is something in the rackless randonneur style with mildly aero rims. My current fave is a Panasonic Team that Ive got down to 19lbs with full alloy fenders, lights, repair kit, Brooks, 2x, and one full water bottle.
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Old 02-28-24, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by MattoftheRocks
My current fave is a Panasonic Team that Ive got down to 19lbs with full alloy fenders, lights, repair kit, Brooks, 2x, and one full water bottle.
I think your scale is broken.
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Old 02-28-24, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
To be fair, it has been a while since we had a "Does A Heavier Bike Give You A Better Workout?" thread, and it's nearly Spring.
Wouldn't you get a better workout with a heavier bike ?

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