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Huge gains for amateurs, some advice

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Huge gains for amateurs, some advice

Old 11-18-19, 07:50 PM
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Zberg
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Huge gains for amateurs, some advice

So I have been cycling for a very long time, honestly since I was a kiddo. I have always used a variety of workouts for cardio (always including biking, however I have always been an amateur/casual). I have recently caught the bug, and have fallen in love with it. With that, I have been experimenting with ways to get faster and better on the bike. Man it is fun.


To my fellow amateurs / novices / noobs, for some huge performance gains:


1. Clipless pedals

2. Low-medium range carbon bike

3. Decent wheels


Those 3 things can be done for a reasonable price, and are such a huge upgrade. Super carbon bikes are a huge waste for a noob, you wont get the benefit that the pros get.


Pedals: I was not thrilled about the idea of clipless pedals, but I ski and I figured I can try it, worst case I can put the flat ones back on. Holy Sh*t. Maybe the biggest upgrade, and the cheapest I made (amazon: 120 for both pedals, easy install). On my entry level road bike (literally NOTHING else changed) I went from an average of 14-15 mph to around 16 without any other changes. Instantly faster. You can feel the difference in confidence, engagement, and power transfer in a way that made sense in theory, but now that I am a believer I could never ever go back without always noticing.


Medium carbon bike: Put this second because it has a price tag, but not as bad as it could be. Something in the medium range. The biggest upgrade is going from garbage store bought variety or entry level to a cheaper/medium carbon or Al bike (think an emonda aluminum, cervelo R2, etc). There were a few feels of straight up performance gains (stiffness, acceleration, lighter weight when climbing noticeable) that are sometimes almost intangible and sometimes very stark. Regardless, there are a large amount available from lighter Al frames with good components, to even lighter Ca frames with maybe entry components (honestly 105 is pretty good) that will feel like a leap skip and jump ahead from a heavy, poor component entry bike.


Wheels: More of a bonus, as said medium bike may come with some decent wheels, but this price comes in between the above two (not cheap like just pedals, but cheaper than a bike) and goes a long long way. Man a nice new set of wheels makes a difference. Ride quality, potentially aero benefits, easier to keep the wheels going. It is wonderful.



All that said, my story is I had ridden a 700$ entry level bike for years (5-6 I believe). Always rode it at least twice a week. I sold it for 400 on craigs list (glad I got that much!; kept the upgraded pedals for the new bike, put the flats back on for sale); upgraded to a very entry level carbon road bike; that plus the pedals was such an enormous upgrade. Adding some decent carbon wheels has made it even better. I really think the sweet spot is somewhere in the 2-3k total price tag, the 10k bikes are for the beast pros.
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Old 11-18-19, 08:11 PM
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Tires/Tyres

(better)Tires.
The BF crew convinced me.
Cheaper than wheels. Don't miss out.
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Old 11-18-19, 08:25 PM
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If you want to get fast; structured workouts, specifically interval training. Sweet spot type work and work that gets you into your Vo2 max range. Oh, and the hardest one of all; lose body fat.
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Old 11-18-19, 08:29 PM
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I think wheels will likely make a bigger difference than a carbon frame, provided the frame you already have has the correct geometry for your body. I can't imagine riding without cleats.
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Old 11-18-19, 08:37 PM
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Bend your elbows more. (cost: zero)
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Old 11-18-19, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Zberg View Post
Super carbon bikes are a huge waste for a noob, you wont get the benefit that the pros get.
This is good to hear and will likely save folks a bunch of money. What sort of testing did you do to arrive at this?
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Old 11-18-19, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Bend your elbows more. (cost: zero)
Yup that's it. Get lower, don't eat so much wind, flatten your back, bend your elbows and have them pointed down, not out....
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Old 11-18-19, 10:48 PM
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Thanks for the tips.
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Old 11-18-19, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
... bend your elbows and have them pointed down, not out....
That depends on where you are riding. By yourself, trying to minimize wind resistance, OK. Riding in a group in close quarters - rotate them OUT, not down. Crashes slow you down; a lot and for a long time. Elbows out mean that contact with other riders is much less likely to take you down. Elbows held out firmly but not rigidly mean you have good bumpers AND good insurance that you never hook handlebars with anyone; the crash you never want to experience.

In my racing days, if I rode with my elbows down in groups, I would have received a stern lecture by one of the vets in my club for being a danger to myself and others.

Ben
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Old 11-18-19, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
That depends on where you are riding. By yourself, trying to minimize wind resistance, OK. Riding in a group in close quarters - rotate them OUT, not down. Crashes slow you down; a lot and for a long time. Elbows out mean that contact with other riders is much less likely to take you down. Elbows held out firmly but not rigidly mean you have good bumpers AND good insurance that you never hook handlebars with anyone; the crash you never want to experience.

In my racing days, if I rode with my elbows down in groups, I would have received a stern lecture by one of the vets in my club for being a danger to myself and others.

Ben
A very interesting and helpful point. It goes hand and hand with a discussion about half wheeling....
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Old 11-19-19, 12:07 AM
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Didn't we have this thread six months ago? Get faster without getting fitter or something like that?
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Old 11-19-19, 07:54 AM
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I completely disagree with point number 2. There are many high-end aluminum bikes that are significantly better than low-to medium-end carbon bikes. If you're a beginner your first priority would be getting a bike built with 22 speeds, something like Shimano 105. For
$1,800 or $1979.99 respectively you could get well-specced, lightweight, quality bikes like the CAAD13 or the Allez Sprint Comp Disc. Then, when it's actually worthwhile, you can spend extra cash on a power meter and deep-section wheels (or some very lightweight carbon wheels... so many options).

Personally, I know far more Cat 1/2/3 riders, racers, and generally fast guys who ride aluminum because it's incredibly similar to carbon without the extra $$$$ and you can afford extras like the power meter, carbon wheels, or electronic shifting.

I also have a Tarmac Expert and a custom build-up Emonda ALR with Aeolus 5 wheels, carbon handlebars, stem, etc. and the wheels alone make it far faster and a significantly better ride than the Tarmac.
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Old 11-19-19, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Didn't we have this thread six months ago? Get faster without getting fitter or something like that?
Oh no, this is the most earth shattering, revolutionary info I have read since............the thread six months ago you are talking about.
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Old 11-19-19, 11:10 AM
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Add some LIGHTWEIGHT MEILENSTEIN OBERMAYER wheels to that low/midrange crabon bikecycle and you'll be flying. Switching from Not-Bibs to bibs is good for another few mph.

Just sayin'.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:22 PM
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Hi!

What's this thread about?
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Addiction is all about class.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:22 PM
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A red bike is easily worth 3 mph.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
Switching from Not-Bibs to bibs is good for another few mph.
Until you add the extra time it takes to have a whizz. Yeah, yeah, I know the hard ones don't even get off the bike.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Didn't we have this thread six months ago? Get faster without getting fitter or something like that?
Maybe this one??

Gaining 4mph Without Fitness
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Addiction is all about class.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:50 PM
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To me, it totally depends on what you spend your time doing on your bike. If you are cruising on flats a lot, trying to optimize the aero piece of your ride could really help. If you're a climber, to me, that's maybe a different sort of bike. Or maybe you just want something that is versatile. So. figure out what you are looking for, first. Then, you can start making a list.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
To me, it totally depends on what you spend your time doing on your bike. If you are cruising on flats a lot, trying to optimize the aero piece of your ride could really help. If you're a climber, to me, that's maybe a different sort of bike. Or maybe you just want something that is versatile. So. figure out what you are looking for, first. Then, you can start making a list.
I've really been working on my aero belly. It's gonna pay big dividends, but not on the climbs.

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Old 11-19-19, 04:42 PM
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Seconded on tires. Difference in gators and gp5000s is more than most amateurs can gain from training in a year. Or two.

Next, flexibility and core to stay aero. No need for aero wheels if you ride buck shot upright. Sure tou can, but, get flexible. Yoga. Do it.
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Old 11-19-19, 07:47 PM
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Has anyone said a motor yet?
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Old 11-20-19, 07:12 AM
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I'm with you on clipless setup. But, you don't "need" a CF bike. I have a steel Guru and an AL CAAD 12 and both weigh under 18 lbs. The price of a similar quality CF bike will cost you significantly more money. So, for the cost of a good CF bike with 105 you could probably buy an AL bike with Ultegra. If that matters to you then it's significant. As for wheels...I went to Mavic USTs and I'm not going back. Just my experience and opinion.
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Old 11-20-19, 07:41 AM
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Best purchases for the money? Good tires, snugly fitting jersey, power meter.


Training is the biggest deal in going faster.Clipless pedals are required for a proper road bike, but they don't really make you faster in sustained efforts on road. My times on uphill road segments improved only about 7-8% going from a beeeefy steel touring bike with flat pedals and a touring triple, to a carbon fiber road bike with clipless, which is exactly what mathematics predicts due to a simple 7kg weight difference. Carbon fiber gives you a bit of weight reduction, but weight reduction is worth about 1% per 1kg of bike weight up your typical 6-7% climb, and the difference between a high end alu frame with carbon fork and a full carbon fiber bike is pretty marginal.
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Old 11-20-19, 12:49 PM
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If that's supposed to be a list in order of value to the rider's performance, I put clothing second, maybe a multi-hour saddle third, learning to eat and drink on the bike fourth, fast tires fifth. I put nice new bike of whatever material last, and nice wheels even below that. What you need to get fast is miles and hills. Clipless sure makes the most difference there. All the rest of it is secondary. It doesn't matter how fast you go unless you're doing competitive group rides. It only matters how long you can stay on the bike and how well the bike extracts energy from your body. That's what will make you fast, over time. Once you're fast, then buy the fancy stuff. By then, you'll know what you want to spend money on.

For electronics, all you need is a wired Cateye computer, maybe $30. For effort, an $80 HRM will serve one well for years.

In the OP's case, having presumably already done all of the above, yeah, the next step is a good carbon bike (should have already had the clipless). I'd agree that an aero fit to that bike is a big and inexpensive performance gain, but then I'd put tires ahead of wheels in value. I still don't run carbon wheels. In side-by-side coast downs, position beats everything, tires are next, wheels last. So far I've never had a carbon wheel bike beat my deep section alu rims with CX-Rays. Besides, I run rim brakes. If the mid-range carbon rig comes with rim brakes, I'd stick with the stock wheels until they're worn out. I admit to running tires same width as the rims on my home-builts.

Somewhere in there, I'd put customizing the new bike's gearing to better match the rider to the riding in their area - if necessary.
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