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Can a better bike improve results?

Old 07-21-19, 08:12 PM
  #1  
bradyweb
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Can a better bike improve results?

This is probably a super common question, so my apologies. I'll try to keep it brief. I have ridden for the better part of 2 years, road bike and some cross/gravel riding. 1500 miles in the last 12 months but increasing more recently with about 600 in the last 2 months. So I'm pretty serious and I'm working hard on myself at being a stronger and faster cyclist.


So I ride with a group that has some really great riders. I could only dream of keeping pace with them. They are finishing our rides at times at 21+ mph average while I'm at 16. It's definitely a skill level gap and I wouldn't try to make excuses that it's equipment. But that said, my question is could I potentially close the gap at all with a better bike? I currently ride a Fuji Sportif 1.5. It was great for getting started because I really benefited from the more comfortable upright position it provides. I wouldn't say it's a slow bike, but I know it's not fast. It's got Tiagra group set with disc brake and I really like it. But now that I have some experience and am in better shape, I wonder if a more aerodynamic posture as well as higher level components and a lighter frame could benefit me?


So I'm still looking at endurance bikes as opposed to full on race bikes because I still prefer a more comfortable ride without being head completely down all the time, but any bike I pick out would be a much more aero posture. I would also end up with a higher quality and lighter frame with most likely Ultegra components.


If I'm serious, able, and willing to put $2k-4k+ into a high quality bike, would you expect one in my position to benefit in the way of improving time and speed?


FYI- looking at Giant Defy Advance 1, Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 8.0, Specialized Roubaix Comp, Bianchi Infinito CV Disc Ultegra, Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra
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Old 07-21-19, 08:27 PM
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Here's the short answer: No you can not close a gap of 16 mph AV to 21 mph AV with a better bike. Not even with the BEST bike will do that unless it has a mid drive electric motor. More fitness, more specifically, cycling fitness will help close that gap. There are some very knowledgeable people here regarding training methods. Have a look around for already posted material, no need to re-invent the wheel. If you're serious about going fast, get serious about your training, nutrition and rest. Then, when you've stepped thru that door and you need that last 1-2% buy a really nice bike. For now, with all the additional training it can't hurt to have a spare set of wheels but I wouldn't buy a new bike yet.
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Old 07-21-19, 08:27 PM
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Spend your money on a professional bike fit (typically $200 to $500) and good tires. If you still want to spend money to get faster, buy a training plan and power meter, or hire a coach. Buy a jersey and shorts (aka a “kit”) that are snug-fitting, too.
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Old 07-21-19, 08:29 PM
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IMO, Yes
Upgrades help ...
Faster engineered bikes are faster, ... +++.... with you knowing you have a faster bike.
(Physical & mental )
&
Lots of Seat time (Age a factor too)

Last edited by bogydave; 07-21-19 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 07-21-19, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Here's the short answer: No you can not close a gap of 16 mph AV to 21 mph AV with a better bike. Not even with the BEST bike will do that unless it has a mid drive electric motor. More fitness, more specifically, cycling fitness will help close that gap. There are some very knowledgeable people here regarding training methods. Have a look around for already posted material, no need to re-invent the wheel. If you're serious about going fast, get serious about your training, nutrition and rest. Then, when you've stepped thru that door and you need that last 1-2% buy a really nice bike. For now, with all the additional training it can't hurt to have a spare set of wheels but I wouldn't buy a new bike yet.
Sorry, Max. I should have been more clear. I know there is no way I can catch the good guys, I just wondered if a greatly better bike might get me another MPH on average, to get me slightly closer. Your point is well taken about training and fitness. In the meantime I was curious if I could be a little better/faster on a higher quality bike.

Thanks for the quick and great replies to all.
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Old 07-21-19, 08:49 PM
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yes, wheels and tires will help the most. efficient frame is right up there with helping too.
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Old 07-21-19, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bradyweb View Post
Sorry, Max. I should have been more clear. I know there is no way I can catch the good guys, I just wondered if a greatly better bike might get me another MPH on average, to get me slightly closer. Your point is well taken about training and fitness. In the meantime I was curious if I could be a little better/faster on a higher quality bike.

Thanks for the quick and great replies to all.
Gotcha

But if you train hard and smart, you're gonna be one of the "good guys" very soon. Buy some tires and wear them out with a training plan. This is one of the last fair things on earth, you can't buy it (barring the subject of PEDs) you have to earn it. I suspect you will
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Old 07-21-19, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Gotcha

But if you train hard and smart, you're gonna be one of the "good guys" very soon. Buy some tires and wear them out with a training plan. This is one of the last fair things on earth, you can't buy it (barring the subject of PEDs) you have to earn it. I suspect you will
Thanks, Max. Since I joined this particular cycling club and I get in on at least 1 if not 2 rides per week, I have improved significantly. We do about 35 miles per ride with a fair amount of elevation included. That on top of just the natural competitiveness of wanting to keep up with other riders and pushing harder to do so, is the best thing that has happened to me.

Previously I was just riding 35-40 miles on a near flat route with my only motivation being to beat my own PRs. I wasn't really getting anywhere very fast.

I've found that hills make me want to cry just a little bit each time but they sure are beneficial in making improvements to my strength, speed, and stamina!
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Old 07-21-19, 09:15 PM
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Realistically, the gap between 16mph average solo and 21mph average in a group isn't as big as you think it is.

Take the bike you have now, and focus on riding faster. Work on body position. Learn to take advantage of any draft.

There may come a day when you realize the equipment is in fact limiting you. But today is not that day.
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Old 07-21-19, 09:29 PM
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The bike frame is far down the list of things you should be addressing to gain speed.

A few items that will help:
  1. Optimize your position on your existing bike. Get as low as possible.
  2. Get decent tires and tubes.
  3. Use tight fitting clothes. Nothing flapping in the wind
Each of the above items can be worth 10-20W. Once you've addressed the above work on staying out of the wind when riding in group. Plenty of free speed when drafting others.
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Old 07-21-19, 09:58 PM
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Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. This is exactly what I was looking for. We all get excited about the prospect of a new bike but if I'm not going to get much of a return on investment then it wouldn't make any sense. With that said, I may still make an change/upgrade but just to a lesser extent. My current ride is made to be really upright and I'm ready to get lower. It's also heavier than what I'd really like. I'll probably look at one of the bikes I mentioned in my original post but move down to a 105 instead of Ultegra and save some. I feel I'll be happier and more confident on something a little more built for speed and comfort as opposed to almost mainly comfort.
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Old 07-21-19, 10:03 PM
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I have a Tiagra equipped aluminum road bike and an Ultegra Di2 equipped carbon road bike (Roubaix). Fit is basically the same. I'm fractions of a mph faster on the more expensive bike, while I'm 1+ mph faster on the aluminum bike when I use the clip on aero bars. The takeaway is that an expensive endurance bike won't make you nearly as fast as being able to put out power in a more aero position. Sure, the more expensive bike is lighter and climbs and descends better, but depending on your weight, the difference may be neglible.

If you want to get significantly faster, a better use for your money is to buy a power meter and/or indoor trainer and follow a training plan from TrainerRoad, the Sufferfest, or Zwift. And for free, start getting used to a more aero riding position.

If a nicer bike will make you want to ride more, then by all means treat yourself. I did, and I have no regrets.
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Old 07-21-19, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
I have a Tiagra equipped aluminum road bike and an Ultegra Di2 equipped carbon road bike (Roubaix). Fit is basically the same. I'm fractions of a mph faster on the more expensive bike, while I'm 1+ mph faster on the aluminum bike when I use the clip on aero bars. The takeaway is that an expensive endurance bike won't make you nearly as fast as being able to put out power in a more aero position. Sure, the more expensive bike is lighter and climbs and descends better, but depending on your weight, the difference may be neglible.

If you want to get significantly faster, a better use for your money is to buy a power meter and/or indoor trainer and follow a training plan from TrainerRoad, the Sufferfest, or Zwift. And for free, start getting used to a more aero riding position.

If a nicer bike will make you want to ride more, then by all means treat yourself. I did, and I have no regrets.
I respect all the great advice so it sounds like I just need to keep putting in the work. Plus I think at least a slight bike upgrade will do me a little good even if it's mental.

Thank you!
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Old 07-21-19, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
The bike frame is far down the list of things you should be addressing to gain speed.

A few items that will help:
  1. Optimize your position on your existing bike. Get as low as possible.
  2. Get decent tires and tubes.
  3. Use tight fitting clothes. Nothing flapping in the wind
Each of the above items can be worth 10-20W. Once you've addressed the above work on staying out of the wind when riding in group. Plenty of free speed when drafting others.
I have found that a heavy bike with high rolling resistant tires, a draft doesn't offer much compared to say GP5000 on deep dish wheels and just getting sucked along.

a leaf will get blown around more than a brick ..
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Old 07-21-19, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by bradyweb View Post
I respect all the great advice so it sounds like I just need to keep putting in the work. Plus I think at least a slight bike upgrade will do me a little good even if it's mental.

Thank you!
well there is that... I mean it looks stupid to have a beer and burger gut on a higher end bicycle.

So take that burger/beer money and spend it on a bicycle.

Or ride the cheaper bicycles as an Excuse to carry a beer and burger gut around, and keep going to the slow group rides as an excuse to eat out.

lol
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Old 07-21-19, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
I have a Tiagra equipped aluminum road bike and an Ultegra Di2 equipped carbon road bike (Roubaix). Fit is basically the same. I'm fractions of a mph faster on the more expensive bike, while I'm 1+ mph faster on the aluminum bike when I use the clip on aero bars. The takeaway is that an expensive endurance bike won't make you nearly as fast as being able to put out power in a more aero position. Sure, the more expensive bike is lighter and climbs and descends better, but depending on your weight, the difference may be neglible.

If you want to get significantly faster, a better use for your money is to buy a power meter and/or indoor trainer and follow a training plan from TrainerRoad, the Sufferfest, or Zwift. And for free, start getting used to a more aero riding position.

If a nicer bike will make you want to ride more, then by all means treat yourself. I did, and I have no regrets.
^ if that 1+ mph is from 13mph to 14mph, then yeah.

if that 1+ mph difference is the difference between 20 and 21 mph averages... then I don't believe you.

Distance will also come into play.... how long of a ride? at what kind of output?

huge difference between not pushing, and pushing. If I am not pushing myself than yeah my Supersix Evo himod is not really any faster than my 1991 Schwinn hybrid. but when push comes to shove, there is a black and white difference.

As for the Original Poster.... He will be better advised in the ROAD section for bettering himself, than he will here in the GENERAL part of the forum.
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Old 07-21-19, 11:14 PM
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as has been said already a newer bike won't make u must faster maybe 1mph .IMHO I would spend the money on a good wheelset and good tires so when u come around corners and descent you have the confidence to go 25 mph or faster around turns and up to 50 mph down the hills if you have some steeper ones near you.as for the bike I have a few higher end bikes .and some of my fastest time are on a older cannondale downtube shiftter bike .but I will admit my bmc with di2 shifting is so much more fun to ride but not much faster.but as others have sad I seam to be on it much more than the other bikes being its an insurance bike and hundred mile rides are much more comfortable on ot
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Old 07-21-19, 11:17 PM
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Its not always about the bike. I have a couple of modern bikes, one carbon everything, aero this and that, Di2, disc brakes, 15 lbs. On a recent Malibu run over almost 50 miles I set my personal best 17.3 mph avg on a '78 Raleigh Super Course, a 26 lb steel, 6 speed bike that began as a $20 CL find. Ride more, spend less.


My $20 CL project Raleigh.
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Old 07-22-19, 12:08 AM
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From my experience no. Just this saturday i overtook a TDF-LARPer group. Me on a 16kg bike, wearing normal clothes and having a backpack on the rear rack. They all on carbon frames and full race apparel. And like 15 years younger than me.
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Old 07-22-19, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
^ if that 1+ mph is from 13mph to 14mph, then yeah.

if that 1+ mph difference is the difference between 20 and 21 mph averages... then I don't believe you.

Distance will also come into play.... how long of a ride? at what kind of output?

huge difference between not pushing, and pushing. If I am not pushing myself than yeah my Supersix Evo himod is not really any faster than my 1991 Schwinn hybrid. but when push comes to shove, there is a black and white difference.
I'm hoping you just misread my post, and not that you don't understand the concept of aero bars having a benefit at higher speeds... Just to reiterate, I get more speed for the same power when riding on aero bars with my cheaper road bike compared to my more expensive road bike that doesn't have them.

Rest assured, my power meter and speed sensors work without your belief.


Last week when I rode 213 miles from Seattle to Portland, I easily kept it above 20 mph riding my Roubaix at high Z2/endurance in the paceline. I also kept it above 20 mph when I pulled at Z4/threshold. I know from experience that it would have been easier for me on my aero bars, but that would've been overkill for group riding. In fact, I dropped my group, who had been overtaking me downhill all day because I was by far the lightest, when I went IAB to rest my wrists around mile 180 on a tiny decline.
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Old 07-22-19, 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bradyweb View Post
This is probably a super common question, so my apologies. I'll try to keep it brief......................If I'm serious, able, and willing to put $2k-4k+ into a high quality bike, would you expect one in my position to benefit in the way of improving time and speed?FYI- looking at Giant Defy Advance 1, Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 8.0, Specialized Roubaix Comp, Bianchi Infinito CV Disc Ultegra, Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra
Last week I did 3 rides --- 112 miles Tuesday, 125 miles Thursday and 128 miles Saturday on my 2018 Roubaix Expert and they were GREAT comfortable laid back "chill'n" rides. If I did the same rides on my 2013 Giant Propel Advanced SL3 they WOULD NOT have been as comfortable BUT they most definitely would have been faster. My thinking is a VW Karmann Gia vs Porsche 911.

Butt watt due eye no bee-ing eye m a 69yo GEEZER.

Tons of room for you to improve SO have a BLAST GOING AT IT.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:54 AM
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You should absolutely get a nicer new bike.
If you can afford it you certainly seem to have earned it based upon the miles you have been riding.
And you should immediately see a small gain based upon the better, lighter equipment.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Kovkov View Post
From my experience no. Just this saturday i overtook a TDF-LARPer group. Me on a 16kg bike, wearing normal clothes and having a backpack on the rear rack. They all on carbon frames and full race apparel. And like 15 years younger than me.
Nice to have a well substantiated expert opinion in the thread
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Old 07-22-19, 06:45 AM
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Can a better bike improve results?
Originally Posted by bradyweb View Post
This is probably a super common question, so my apologies. …

I have ridden for the better part of 2 years, road bike and some cross/gravel riding. 1500 miles in the last 12 months but increasing more recently with about 600 in the last 2 months. So I'm pretty serious and I'm working hard on myself at being a stronger and faster cyclist...

But now that I have some experience and am in better shape, I wonder if a more aerodynamic posture as well as higher level components and a lighter frame could benefit me?

So I'm still looking at endurance bikes as opposed to full on race bikes because I still prefer a more comfortable ride without being head completely down all the time, but any bike I pick out would be a much more aero posture. I would also end up with a higher quality and lighter frame with most likely Ultegra components.

If I'm serious, able, and willing to put $2k-4k+ into a high quality bike, would you expect one in my position to benefit in the way of improving time and speed?...
Back in 2012 I was a year-round commuter, and modest road cyclist, about 3K miles per year.. I was forced to buy a new bike after an accident, and I had entertained such considerations as you describe, especially speed.

I have previously posted about the benefits:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
“I want a new bike but how do I justify
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
For years, I rode a steel Bridgestone RB-1, costing about $650 down from about $800 as an end-of-year model when I bought it in the early 1980’s. I came to learn it was considered a classic.

After the introduction of carbon fiber bikes, I always wondered if the premium prices of CF, which I considered to be about $2000 was worth the presumed enhanced riding experience.

The Bridgestone was totaled in 2012 in an accident from which I was not sure I would ride again. Well I did, and decided to get a CF. My trusted mechanic said here’s the bike you want, knowing my riding style. Well the MSRP was $8000, but he got it for me at half off…[Specialized S-Works]
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
My average speed stayed the same, but I think I was hampered by injuries from the accident, and I believe the new bike compensated at least to maintain my average speed. I did note that I was more inclined to sprint (successfully) to beat traffic lights before they turned red.

I further craved the smoothness of the ride, including the shifting,making cycle-commuting more pleasurable. Of greatest benefit, while long (greater than 40 mile) rides took the same amount of time as before, I felt much less tired at the end.][
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Performance in this context does not mean outright speed because that is down to the person riding it and their strength and endurance.

But rather is in the quality of the shifting, braking, ride, handling through corners and over rough surfaces, aerodynamics and (dare I say it) comfort.
Originally Posted by datlas View Post
The benefits you would get would be quite modest, but they are real. That said, it's really an economic and philosophical decision that you should decide for yourself.

My advice is to go to the LBS and test-ride a few bikes that fit your budget and decide what's right for you.

One additional benefit of getting a new bike is you could relegate your old bike to beater duty for crappy weather and/or backup when main bike is in need of repair.
Originally Posted by Sojodave View Post

Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
Nice to have a well substantiated expert opinion in the thread
Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
You should absolutely get a nicer new bike.
If you can afford it you certainly seem to have earned it based upon the miles you have been riding.
And you should immediately see a small gain based upon the better, lighter equipment.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 07-22-19 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 07-22-19, 06:45 AM
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PepeM
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You can get as low as you want on an "endurance" bike with the right stem. Total cost, $15 maybe?
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