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Top reasons why I'm woefully slow on my hybrid? Please help

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Top reasons why I'm woefully slow on my hybrid? Please help

Old 11-09-14, 07:34 AM
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gregeas
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Top reasons why I'm woefully slow on my hybrid? Please help

I have a fairly nice hybrid bike -- Spot Brand Acme with carbon belt drive and Alfine 11-speed sealed hub -- and have been riding 30-45 miles per week since last spring. At 44 years, I'm in good shape and work out several times a week doing other aerobic-intensive sports.

After reading forums on this site and tracking my performance on Strava, I've noticed that my performance is woefully slow. If I push myself hard through an entire 15-mile ride, I'm lucky to break 13 MPH as an average speed. My circuit is in a hilly part of Connecticut, but there are very few cars on my route, and zero stoplights. So I'm riding full speed without stopping once for anything.

As far as I can tell, 13 MPH average is quite lame, so I'm trying to figure out what makes me so slow. Here are my ideas:

* My bike is fairly light (22-23 lbs), but I've read that the belt drive and sealed hub have some drag vs a traditional chain system
* The upright position is less aerodynamic (but I tuck now when I go downhill)
* I weight 195 and am not a veteran rider
* The route is hilly, with a long uphill section at the beginning
* I don't wear spandex or anything that might reduce wind resistance

The slow speed shouldn't bother me, but it does. I'm feeling like I might want to swap my Spot Acme for something faster. I like the bike, but I also like the idea of going as fast as possible. Is there anything else I can do?

In most segments on Stava, I'm ranked number 150 or 160!

Thoughts? Any help is appreciated!
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Old 11-09-14, 07:51 AM
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cycling is great because fitness and riding skill beats equipment everytime. work on the engine
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Old 11-09-14, 08:02 AM
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A simple thing to check: whether your brakes are dragging, and need adjustment. Might not be obvious, unless you've checked, but this can knock of several MPH from one's speed. (Am assuming you've already done this, but it's worth double-checking.)
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Old 11-09-14, 09:32 AM
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Stop trying to compare yourself to everyone else and just get out and ride! It's all about having a good time.
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Old 11-09-14, 11:46 AM
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It's all in your head. I weight 200# The bike I ride most frequently is 27#. I often have a pannier or two hanging from the back. I wear appropriate clothing for moisture wicking and quick drying if I get rained on, but "aero" isn't in my vocabulary. 13mph is quite reasonable uphill. I probably average about 18mph on flat pavement. I can hit and maintain 25mph for quite some time on flat pavement if I desire to, but I'm not racing. I average about 10mph on gravel. If you want to go faster, pedal as hard/fast as you can and train with intervals.

I also don't use Strava, you are comparing yourself to people that are intentionally riding for speed... and you're on a hybrid. What size tires are you running? If not 28mm, that would be a good start.
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Old 11-09-14, 11:58 AM
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I felt I was slow on my hybrid as well. I started riding my road bike and increased by 2 mph. I am still slow if I compare myself to others but I notice I get a bit faster each month. Unless you are training for a race, enjoy the ride and small improvements.
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Old 11-09-14, 12:40 PM
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You could get 28c tires of better quality. That MIGHT help. Pump your tires up to just about max for road riding. You might have to play with pressure to balance smooth and fast. And pump them before EVERY ride, they lose pressure faster than you think.

But, in reality, that bike with IGH and belt drive was built for low maintenance, not speed. I'd like to think IGH and belt drives are full of more power loss than a conventional chain drive system, but I could be wrong...

And, most importantly, your not racing with that bike no matter what. Just get out and enjoy staying in shape
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Old 11-09-14, 12:47 PM
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You are not "woefully slow". A 13 mph 'average' on a hilly 15-20 mile circuit is perfectly respectable given (assumptions derived from what you say) that you are 44, that you've been 'seriously' riding since last spring, that you only ride 30 to 45 miles/week, and that you are riding alone. Some points, in no particular order of importance.

1. Pay absolutely no attention to claimed "average speeds" on forums, including this one. When it comes to speed on a bike, Bike Forums is Fantasy Island. Most of the claims one reads on here are ridiculous ... in the realm of speeds 'averaged' by elite pros who train/race 20,000 miles/year.

2. Ditto Strava. You have no idea how long/hard those 'faster' than you are riding/training, nor whether they are riding solo or in groups. No basis for comparison.

3. For practical purposes it's not the bike. The drag from your drivetrain is real, but it is so slight as to be a non-factor. Position does matter; you would be very, very slightly 'faster' for a given effort on a drop-bar road bike, but again ... the difference is not as extreme as often made out on the interwebz. You might gain 5 minutes or so over a given hilly 50 mile circuit. Tires? Maybe; a set of supple, high quality road slicks will add a tiny bit of speed over distance if you are currently using a heavier, stiff touring/commuting tire, or a semi-knobby.

So, what's the issue? Simple: if you want to ride at faster 'average speeds' over a given distance you have to ride more, a lot more. 30-45 miles/week is not much at all -- in fact, it's next to nothing if your goal is to get faster on a bike.

To see an appreciable gain you'd probably need to ride more in the order of 100+ miles/week, and add a little structure (intensity, intervals) to your rides. The training effects would be increased were you to find and ride with a group; nothing like having to hang on for dear life to get you going!
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Old 11-09-14, 01:01 PM
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I always LOL when I hear it's the engine and not the bike. The bike makes a huge difference. My personal experience is that even after several years of enthusiastic riding, you will level off to your potential as dictated by genetics and training. The equipment can make a big difference. Tires, bike weight, drivetrain weight, aero setup, gearing,... makes a bigger difference than "the engine" IMHO.
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Old 11-09-14, 02:07 PM
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One question about your gear: do you use clipless pedals (such as SPD or some of the other locking systems)? That might help quite a bit.

You will easily feel the difference if you change various technical details in your setup (tyres, riding position, pedals etc.) but the speed difference may not be that drastic. Improving your engine is not necessarily so obvious (unless you ride the same exact loop every time), but you will notice it in your speed readings. Your current weekly mileage is not a whole lot if you're aiming at improving your engine.

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Old 11-09-14, 03:58 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by themishmosh View Post
I always LOL when I hear it's the engine and not the bike.
I had a friend who was a former CAT2 racer. When my friends were riding around the city,we'd be on road bikes and hybrids and he'd be on something weird like a full suspension folder or a SS cruiser. At will,he could drop every one of us like an anchor.

Nothing wrong with the OP's speed over that course. You want faster? Pedal harder,and ride more.
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Old 11-09-14, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
I had a friend who was a former CAT2 racer. When my friends were riding around the city,we'd be on road bikes and hybrids and he'd be on something weird like a full suspension folder or a SS cruiser. At will,he could drop every one of us like an anchor.

Nothing wrong with the OP's speed over that course. You want faster? Pedal harder,and ride more.
Like I said, there is a limit to what we individually can do. No amount of training will make you like Lance Armstrong.

I used to pedal at 14mph avg. Bike setup now makes me 16.5mph where I have been for a while now. No matter how many times I hear "pedal harder", I will probably never break 18mph on the paths I routine ride.

Of course, how fast you pedal is just an arbitrary number. But I find going faster is a whole lot more fun and is something to motivate me. Otherwise I wouldn't even use a bike computer and just ride. Nothing wrong with that either.
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Old 11-09-14, 05:08 PM
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What is your cadence? I fluctuate between 13 and 15 mph from April to Sept. When I check my cadence I usually end up around 80prm's for what feels like good output for me
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Old 11-10-14, 09:32 AM
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You're doing fine. I'm 47, down to 210# from 230#, and just started riding again at the end of May 2014. I was doing just over 100 miles per week through the later part of the summer on my Fuji Absolute 2.1, but that has dropped off to about 50-60 as the days get shorter and the demands on my time from other things have increased. I just try to keep my average above 14mph because I can tell that's giving me a nicer workout. It may drop a bit if there is a strong southerly wind since some of my longer runs are due south. They bottom line is you should be comparing your speed to your speed. Look for incremental improvements on overall speed, speed through certain sections of your normal rides, etc. That's where you'll see the benefit.

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Old 11-10-14, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by camjr View Post
... They bottom line is you should be comparing your speed to your speed. Look for incremental improvements on overall speed, speed through certain sections of your normal rides, etc. That's where you'll see the benefit...
This is really great advice. The best way to tell if you're improving is not to compare yourself with others, but with yourself. Unless the other riders are riding the exact same routes/courses as you, comparisons are definitely apples to oranges.

Also, you didn't mention how you've been calculating your average speed; do you have a Garmin or some other cyclocomputer? Just dividing up the length of your route by the time it takes is a really rough average.

Are you on MapMyRide or Strava? These sites make it a lot easier to compare your improvements with graphs and charts. However, you need some sort of GPS-enabled computer (or, a smartphone!) to make the most of them.

I'm 46. And, over this summer, I've seen my average speed increase from mid-thirteens to high-fifteens (occasionally a 16!) and on level ground I can now hold 19-21 for a good while. I ride about 70mi/week on a new Trek 8.3 DS, which replaced a 25-year-old MTB. And, while I did see a jump in MPH with the new bike, I've seen a far greater jump with the increased fitness.

I plan to get an indoor trainer this Christmas, so I can keep up my cycling fitness and hopefully will be as fast or faster, next riding season.
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Old 11-10-14, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by themishmosh View Post
I always LOL when I hear it's the engine and not the bike. The bike makes a huge difference. My personal experience is that even after several years of enthusiastic riding, you will level off to your potential as dictated by genetics and training. The equipment can make a big difference. Tires, bike weight, drivetrain weight, aero setup, gearing,... makes a bigger difference than "the engine" IMHO.
I couldn't agree more. If it was all about the "engine" I'd have the same performance when I get on my road bike, my mountain bike or my hybrid.
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Old 11-10-14, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by BigRedClydesdal View Post
I couldn't agree more. If it was all about the "engine" I'd have the same performance when I get on my road bike, my mountain bike or my hybrid.
Not if he starting compareing to him self and not on other people on strava! Its pritty obeyous he will be faster on a roadbike vs mtb.
But i agree, from a belt driven hybrid du a nice roadbike he will likely go from 13 to 15-16 over night. But it still the engine thats make him go Even faster.
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Old 11-10-14, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by TakingMyTime View Post
Stop trying to compare yourself to everyone else and just get out and ride! It's all about having a good time.
Big +1 from me.
Just ride and stay fit while loving it!
Best regards
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Old 11-11-14, 04:10 AM
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On average (commute, road rides, trail rides, bike track, road, gravel, flat, hills, mountains) my CX is about 2 kmh average speed faster according to veloviewer.com. On both bikes I've done around 2000kms. It's not a full road bikes but you'd assume that the more bum up position, thinner tires (38 v30), lighter weight (15kg v 10kg) etc. would make a bigger difference.

My fitness over the last 2 years however has definitely changed immensely. I know I am faster, fitter and go further than I could when I first started riding again.

When I look at a segment on Strava and find I'm in position 753 and the KOM is 20 minutes faster than me do I despair? Nope!

When I achieve a PR and beat my time on a segment by 30 seconds do I rejoice? . You bet ya!!

From an "engine" point of view I can FULLY GUARANTEE that the KOM for ANY segment on Strava ISN'T almost 50 years old, DOESN'T weigh 73kg and DIDN'T smoke for 30+ years.....

I am riding segments that I've done at least once a week for the last two years on both bikes and I still improve my times and can hit PRs on my Trek DS 8.4 compared with my CX ( Ridley X-bow). So many factors come into play besides the bike and the engine: the wind, the weather, how well I slept, how many other people/cars/cycles on the route, what I ate, workday or weekend, time of day....

I don't go out and chase PRs on a segment I just ride to my ability that day and I'm only competing against my own times as I know there'll always be riders both faster AND slower than me. When I see my time on a segment drop from 5 minutes to 2 minutes that's better than any KOM for me.

If I can get my own times down and I'm still having fun cycling then both my cycling and fitness are improving (irrespective of what I'm riding) and that's the game plan

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Old 11-11-14, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
cycling is great because fitness and riding skill beats equipment everytime. work on the engine
+1,000

It has (almost) nothing to do with the bike, where all the differences combined might add or lose 10% or so, which might account for 1mph difference. What matters, especially in hilly terrain is the power to weight ratio, and here heavier riders are handicapped by the basic math and physics of scale.

I'm sure you've read sometime stuff like how ants or spiders are 1,000 (or more) times as strong as humans proportionately. It's not that their bodies have any miracle biologic advantage, it's purely because they're smaller. All things being equal muscle strength is proportional to the square of the size, but weight is proportional to the cube, so larger size automatically means a lower limit in power to weight ratios.

That doesn't mean you can't improve, but it does mean that you shouldn't compare yourself to others who are probably not only fitter, bit smaller. Focus on yourself and work on what needs improving, which where you ride will mainly be the ability to sustain higher effort longer so you can top those hills without losing as much time.

There are also some techniques which can help, such as knowing how to gauge hills, and change your approach accordingly. Shorter steeper hills can often be attacked in higher gears with maximum effort (like a spring) and topped with minimum speed loss. Longer hills call for finding a gear that will get you to the top without exhausting yourself, so there's something left for later.
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Old 11-11-14, 05:28 AM
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It has to do with both, the rider and the bike. I am 3.5 to 4.5 mph slower over the exact same route on my hybrid vs. my road bike.
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Old 11-11-14, 07:05 AM
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I feel it's all dependent on terrain and personal factors. Ask yourself what you want to get out of riding? Do you feel you are getting a good workout after each ride? I am a 65 yr old, just got back into riding 4 yrs ago....Love my Specialized Crosstrail Disc Expert hybrid....and enjoy every minute of my daily , 15-20 mile rides at a "Very steep, hilly, road circuit around my local State Park. Some of the hills are super steep...as in Granny gear at 3-4 mph for 1/2 mile. Did I forget to tell you I was over 300#s and am now down to 255#s? (6'4") I am getting a great workout regardless of my average speed over the entire ride. My speeds vary from 3mph....to 28mph....with averages around 11.5mph. I have no doubt that my cardio shape is very good. My 35 yr old Son won't ride with me any more...lol...he calls me a "machine" hahahahh. Bottom line is meet YOUR goals, not anyone else's....and HAVE FUN!!!!

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Old 11-11-14, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Lt Stonez View Post
Not if he starting compareing to him self and not on other people on strava! Its pritty obeyous he will be faster on a roadbike vs mtb.
But i agree, from a belt driven hybrid du a nice roadbike he will likely go from 13 to 15-16 over night. But it still the engine thats make him go Even faster.
That was my point. Its not "all about the engine". Its about the engine, the bike, the inclement weather, the terrain, etc.. Yes you can always work on the engine. But you can also work on the bike. The two aren't mutually exclusive.
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Old 11-11-14, 02:45 PM
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I think it's part engine, part bike, part terrain. I'm 40 and my partner is 50. On some rides we average around 15 MPH and on others we only average 13. I used to think it was slow but we only started riding this year in May. When we first started, 13 MPH had us breathing really hard on easy relatively flat terrain. Now on that same flat terrain, we ride 17 MPH. But when you add in all the hills in lovely NW Arkansas, we average closer to 13 MPH. What we learned is that it's more fun to just get out and ride and not pay attention to the speed. We pay more attention to how we feel while we ride. The scenary that we get to see and the comraderie with each other.

Race against yourself and not others. There will always be others that are faster but to what end? How do they train? Do you have a specific goal? If you have a goal, it's easier to get there than just saying, well, I'll go as fast as I can. That doesn't work as well.

For instance, several years ago, I couldn't do 1 pull up. So I just set out to do 1. Then, another, then another. I peaked out at 12. But I read on the interwebs that people can do 20. I thought how, I can't get past 12. So, I made it a goal to reach 15. You know what? That made me work towards something. I got to 15. Then I got to 20. Now, I scale back. I normally do 3 or 4 sets of pull ups with 10 - 12 reps each. Some days, I put on a weight and do 5 or 6 reps with a 45 lb weight strapped to my waist.

My point is goals. Set one and then work towards it. It may take a while to get there. But if you get closer each time, even if it is only .01 MPH faster, that's a gain. Take that gain and work to the next step.
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Old 11-12-14, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by simplybao View Post
But when you add in all the hills in lovely NW Arkansas, we average closer to 13 MPH.
The hill on the greenway leading up to Veteran's park in Fayetteville comes to mind. I call it "cardiac climb"
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