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Should I get a race bike?

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Should I get a race bike?

Old 03-23-19, 06:26 AM
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Should I get a race bike?

I have a great road bike now, a giant defy 2. I've heard it referred to as an 'endurance' bike. It's pretty awesome but not as aggressive as a race bike. I'd assume the higher seat and lower handlebars etc on a race bike would give me some more power, but wondering how big a difference?
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Old 03-23-19, 07:09 AM
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What are you looking to accomplish?

If your position is already maxed out and you can comfortably ride lower, you might see some aerodynamic gains. You will eventually reach a point where you're trading aero gains for power production, though (position will negatively impact your breathing, comfort, etc).
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Old 03-23-19, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by cmac77
I'd assume the higher seat and lower handlebars etc on a race bike would give me some more power,
That would be an erroneous assumption.

An aggressive position is the result of riders looking to optimize their position. It is quite the balancing act:
  • least amount of drag
  • maximum amount of power output
  • that they can sustain over a 6+ hour race.
If they get too aerodynamic, their power output may drop and they might be uncomfortable and not be able to sustain it. And the contrary: if they get too comfortable, the aerodynamics may not be too good, off-setting the gains in power or their endurance.
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Old 03-23-19, 08:22 AM
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Most amateur bike racers don't need their bike to be comfortable for 6 or more hours. My race bike is setup with a position that I hate to ride over 4, for example.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:04 AM
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To me, steep angles at the head tube and seat tube, high seat, low handlebars, along with a short wheelbase and light-as-possible weight, are what make a race bike. I don't know enough about the bike the OP is riding now to know how "racy" it is. But if it's a mass-produced bike, it probably does not have those features, since the relatively uncomfortable ride and "twitchy" handling of a race bike are generally not something a casual rider likes or appreciates.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:06 AM
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How flexible are you? Have you tried increasing the saddle drop on your Defy and seeing how fast and far you can go?

I had a bike fit and my fitter told me that I ride in a pretty aggressive position, which we just made more aggressive in a follow-up. 7 cm drop on a medium frame, and yet I'm not even close to any race bike geometries without a stack of spacers on a medium/54 frame or a short stem on a medium-large/56. As much as my heart wants to get an N+1 race bike, my head is telling me to get an endurance bike that will leave me less battered for those 6+ hr rides.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:13 AM
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Also, in the pro peloton, the typical stem length is around 130 mm. I don't like riding every ride stretched out like that, but they seem to.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:50 AM
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Have you been on one? What did you think of it?
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Old 03-23-19, 11:50 AM
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Of course you should get a race bike. The answer is always yes, you need another bike.

(FWIW, I started riding a Defy and several years later, bought a TCR... No regrets.)
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Old 03-23-19, 12:30 PM
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This ^^^^^^^
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Old 03-23-19, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by cmac77
Should I get a race bike?
Yes.
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Old 03-23-19, 12:48 PM
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There shouldn't be any difference in seat height.
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Old 03-23-19, 01:08 PM
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The bike's geometry will have negligible effect on your speed or power output, taking into account the things @mkadam68 noted. @Lemond85 notes what makes 'race" geometry as a rule---short wheelbase, steep tubes, twitchy handling, and a stiff frame so no power is wasted (and all shocks are transmitted to the rider.)

Unless you race, the twitchy handling won't help in any way, and certainly won't improve your overall speed. If you can ride in a more aero position and still put out power, you might gain a tiny bit of speed, but only if you do long,fast runs. And you should be able to get a "race" seating position on your Defy---saddle position, stem length, reverse-angle stem, bar size, can stretch you out and lower you down on any bike (see @timtak's riding position sometime.)

@WhyFi asks the cogent question: what are you trying to accomplish?

If you want to ride faster, train better. It's not the bike. it's the rider that makes power. Leaning another inch lower isn't going to do much. Riding intervals, and maybe riding to a training program where you stress yourself by riding to your limit more often (or doing group rides a little too fast for you) will get you what you seek. Lots of good training advice on this site.

Of course, buying another bike in rarely the wrong answer overall, even if it the wrong answer to some specific question. Giant TCR, Cannondale CAAD 12, Cervelo S5 or R5 ..... drop a bundle, get a really nice race-oriented bike. Your numbers will be the same ... except for the bottom line on your bank account---but you will have a hot new bike.

Last edited by Maelochs; 03-23-19 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 03-23-19, 01:15 PM
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Do you race/want to race?
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Old 03-23-19, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by cmac77
I have a great road bike now, a giant defy 2. I've heard it referred to as an 'endurance' bike. It's pretty awesome but not as aggressive as a race bike. I'd assume the higher seat and lower handlebars etc on a race bike would give me some more power, but wondering how big a difference?
Some really good answers so far. Making power on a road bike involves tradeoffs. The most efficient position may not be the most efficient aerodynamically. The most efficient aerodynamic position may become uncomfortable after 3 or more hours. Your bike is designed for comfort on long rides, hence the "endurance bike" designation. I have beaten guys on "race bikes" in very long (160km) races with a bike very much like a current "endurance bike" simply because I was so much more comfortable than they were after that much time in the saddle
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Old 03-23-19, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
Unless you race


There it is.

Look, the reason to get a "race bike," whatever that happens to mean, is because you like the way it handles, or the way it feels underneath you, or how light it is, or because it just looks cool. Or all of the above. I have a Ritchey Swiss Cross and a Blue Norcross, which as cyclocross are probably even more cushy and comfortable on the road than an endurance road bike. And I love these bikes. But for riding on the road, and yes, racing, my CAAD10 just feels fast and snappy and light. It's great fun. It's obviously superior for road racing, but it's also my preferred ride any time I plan to be mostly on pavement.

If you want a race bike, get one and don't let spoilsports tell you what you "should" be riding.
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Old 03-23-19, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by grolby
There it is.

Look, the reason to get a "race bike," whatever that happens to mean, is because you like the way it handles, or the way it feels underneath you, or how light it is, or because it just looks cool. Or all of the above. I have a Ritchey Swiss Cross and a Blue Norcross, which as cyclocross are probably even more cushy and comfortable on the road than an endurance road bike. And I love these bikes. But for riding on the road, and yes, racing, my CAAD10 just feels fast and snappy and light. It's great fun. It's obviously superior for road racing, but it's also my preferred ride any time I plan to be mostly on pavement.

If you want a race bike, get one and don't let spoilsports tell you what you "should" be riding.
Read the OP. Specifically ...
Originally Posted by cmac77
I'd assume the higher seat and lower handlebars etc on a race bike would give me some more power, but wondering how big a difference?
The OP is SPECIFICALLY asking if a he will gain power if he rides a bike with more aggressive geometry. Your post, with your eyerolls, does not at all address his questions. You just went on an ego-filled rant because you have an Opinion, dang it, and people need to hear it.

Also, actually READ what I posted, instead of cherry-picking a few words to launch your irrelevant rant.

Originally Posted by Maelochs
The bike's geometry will have negligible effect on your speed or power output … Unless you race, the twitchy handling won't help in any way, and certainly won't improve your overall speed.
So, are you saying twitchy handling Will increase his power output? If not, then what I said is precise and accurate … and you tried to troll and failed.

Good day, sir.
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Old 03-23-19, 02:36 PM
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Race bikes are designed for races where a lot of racers ride in packs making twitchy highly responsive steering more important to respond to other riders, and aerodynamics slighty less important than it would be if the racers could not draft. The exception to this is time trial races which are set up to maximize speed but they go a bit too far on reducing steering and braking ability since they are ridden on cordonned off roads without cars. Time trial bikes typically have handle bars with the brakes away from the main hand position since braking is rarely needed. I therefore advise those who want to maximize speed on normal roads, but not in a pack, to either put racing bike handlebars on a time-trial bike (but time-trial bikes tend to be expensive) or to adapt an endurance or racing bike to have a time trial position. This means using a forward offset on the saddle, and a longer stem. To convert an endurance bike the stem needs to ridiculously long and negatively angled but it has surprisingly little negative effect on handling.


Bike stem by Timothy Takemoto, on Flickr
I think that lBS affiliates will tell you other things, such as to avoid the ridiculous, due the way in which their livelihood is founded in selling the racing dream and the expensive bikes used in manufacturer sponsored races. I don't think that lBS affiliates are generally conscious of this, believing in the racing dream themselves.

Moving from an endurance position to time trial / racer on a breakaway position makes a great deal of difference. Trek has you tube videos comparing all sorts of things including position in their wind tunnel. It can be more difficult to put out the power when you are 'stretched out' but generally you will get a lot faster when you can do it.

Last edited by timtak; 03-23-19 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 03-23-19, 03:40 PM
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Thank you, Mr. Timtak. This is the perfect example.

So, basically ... you can test power gains just by buying a stem, not a whole bike.

With stems with removable face plates you can probably swap stems in minutes (assuming the cables are long enough) and do back-to-back rides for comparison purposes.

I wouldn’t overestimate the advantage gained by aero unless you go for the full, flat-back, lay down position … and in that case hip flexibility is at a premium. Not everyone can put out full power bent over like that, leading to a compromise.

Even @timtak admits that his set-up works best on half-hour commutes, not four-hour treks.

If you Really want to get faster, build up the motor. Get stronger, increase your breathing ability, and you will be able to put out more power.

But seriously, for the price of a stem (~$30) you can test the “race” riding position.

As I said above,
Originally Posted by Maelochs
…. buying another bike in rarely the wrong answer overall, even if it the wrong answer to some specific question. Giant TCR, Cannondale CAAD 12, Cervelo S5 or R5 ..... drop a bundle, get a really nice race-oriented bike. Your numbers will be the same ... except for the bottom line on your bank account---but you will have a hot new bike.
If what you Really want is a new bike, go for it. But I cannot count how many times I have seen posts just like yours … “If I get a (faster, lighter, higher-tech, racier, whatever) (bike, wheels, fill in the blank) how much will my speed increase?”

The answer is always, you will go as fast as the rider can pedal. Unless you are going from a fat bike to a road bike, the speed variance will be minuscule.

Buy what you like, but be prepared for the unavoidable fact that no bike can make you much faster than yourself.
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Old 03-23-19, 03:47 PM
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One final thought ... I have half-a-dozen road bikes, and I log every ride. If my racy, lightweight, Cervelo R5 clone were noticeable faster than my heavier aluminum Fuji Sportiv endurance bike, I'd notice.

I also have a very lightweight CF endurance bike, almost on par in weight to the R5 clone. It is not regularly slower or faster than the R5 clone. In fact, since I can bend equally low on either bike, it isn't the seat-bar drop that limits my aero, it is my body. If you wanted, even with your Defy, you could ride in the drops all the time and get some aero improvement.

A couple decades ago I did a lot of commuting and some camping on a flat-bar bike. I found I could bend down like I was in the drops on a drop-bar bike and reach up for the grips or even the middle of the bars if I wanted to get way under a headwind.

Again, experience, backed up by years of logged ride data, reinforce (in me) the idea that it is the rider, not the bike, which generally determines how fast the bike goes. Your mileage is guaranteed to vary.
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Old 03-23-19, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
So, basically ... you can test power gains just by buying a stem, not a whole bike.

With stems with removable face plates you can probably swap stems in minutes (assuming the cables are long enough) and do back-to-back rides for comparison purposes.

Even @timtak admits that his set-up works best on half-hour commutes, not four-hour treks.

But seriously, for the price of a stem (~$30) you can test the “race” riding position.
My pleasure. Thanks. But my rides including commutes are generally about 30 km / 1 hour, and I can keep it up for 2 hours. I am 54.

For even quicker adjustments an adjustable stem may be a good idea.
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=130+adjustable+stem&ref=is_s

Please see this somewhat contrarian fit video using an adjustable stem to its full advantage

I had a list of forward offsetable seatposts but the page disappeared from the Net. I generally use USE Sumo Carbon because the one bolt design can be rotated 360 degrees, but they have stopped making the post with the longer offset. The ones on sale now at the link only give you 1cm of forward offset, are fiddly to set, and require different clamps for different sized oval seatpost rails. They are cheap now though.

There is also this earlier discussion.

Last edited by timtak; 03-23-19 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 03-23-19, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by timtak
My pleasure. Thanks. But my rides including commutes are generally about 30 km / 1 hour, and I can keep it up for 2 hours. I am 54.
My pardon. No offense intended. Likely I misremembered 30 k as 30 min.
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Old 03-23-19, 07:55 PM
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Yes
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Old 03-23-19, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
My pardon. No offense intended. Likely I misremembered 30 k as 30 min.
None taken :-)

I am sourcing some forward offset seatposts for a TT position on a road bike.

The "7-offset" here, which looks like th time-trialised used old type of Profile Design "fast forward" seatpost can be faced fowards according to the seller
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/New-...918267764.html

You can use the real thing, in a new version which no longer has the bend, but as with all things time trial they tend to be expensive.
https://profile-design.com/products/...orward-alloy-1
https://profile-design.com/products/...rward-carbon-1
They are designed to "Launches Road Frame Geometry into the Aero Position Carbon bladed seat post effectively changes a 73° seat tube angle frame to 78° and moves riding position forward up to 38mm. Perfect solution for adjusting road bike geometry into a more aggressive aero position."

I am in the process of asking about these which look hopeful.
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Carb...986244380.html
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Full...909259983.html

I tried to take a video of my cycling position again but could not hunker down and put out the watts because I was afraid of my selfie stick and camera falling out of the torch attached to my helmet. I will get this to work soon.
It makes me look even older than I am!

Last edited by timtak; 03-23-19 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 03-23-19, 08:19 PM
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I don't know if getting a race bike only to race is really a valid argument.

Someone might want quicker handling just to have fun.

Both my road and gravel bike are pretty much endurance bikes and sometimes I wish they handled a little quicker when I try to carve turns. I mean, they are pretty good but I'd like to have something livelier just because.

Power and race have little to do with it. Its the fun factor.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 03-23-19 at 08:34 PM.
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