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Changes to increase speed

Old 07-07-20, 01:20 PM
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joebiker1
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Changes to increase speed

Hi everyone -
I have a recently purchased Surly Midnight Special (~25 lbs) in the 1x configuration (40t chainring, 11-42t 11-speed cassette), 650b wheels with WTB Horizon tires (47mm). I purchased the bike to have the versatility to ride mixed terrain and thought the gearing was fine for my needs even on pavement, but I am finding myself more and more on the roads/paved bike paths and more addicted to speed! I am a 44 year old longtime runner, so started in good shape about 6 weeks ago and have gotten up to solo near 30 mile rides at avg speed of 17 mph with flat pedals and running shoes. I find I can cruise around 20 mph for some good stretches (mostly flat since I live in FL), but would like to get to a comfortable cruising speed of 22-24 mph for 30-40 mile rides. I do have clipless pedals and shoes on order, but am wondering how much my current bike/configuration is affecting my speed vs just my own ability. Would I see any appreciable speed increase from the following changes?

1. Change gearing to have a 50t up front (max the frame can handle) and 11-30 or so in the back
2. Change wheels and tires to 700c x 28mm
3. Both of the above
4. Purchase a more dedicated, lighter (17-19 lb) road bike with gearing and wheels/tires per 1 and 2 above (though I would do a semi-compact in front). By my estimate, this would cost at least ~$700 more than 1 and 2 above combined for something like an aluminum or basic carbon w/ 105 and rim brakes such as a CAAD13 or Orbea Orca M30. Of course, I could also spend a bit more for something nicer and am in the fortunate position of being able to do so if I feel it would be useful. This would give me 2 bikes, which would be a luxury, but I'd hate to see each bike only get used part time, I feel like it would be somewhat wasteful.

Wondering what you experienced folks think. I love the Surly, and maybe I will get to my goals with it as is, but I feel like the wheels/tires/gearing might be holding me back either now, or soon as I continue to get stronger. Thanks!
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Old 07-07-20, 01:28 PM
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It's not the bike. It's the fact that going from a 17mph ride average to a 22mph ride average requires almost double the power.

The chassis is fine. The engine needs work.
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Old 07-07-20, 01:31 PM
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If you just purchased the bike specific to the mixed terrain....but seem to find yourself on the road more I could make no suggestion other than the dedicated road bike.
In the case that money or SO support isn't into that one, a second set of wheels and narrow tires will help a LOT in respect to those 47mm boat anchors. Even if you went down to something in the 28+ <40mm range it would make a huge difference in your rolling speed.

The other alternative here would be to enjoy the purchase you made for the reasons you made it. Enjoy the ride and worry a whole lot less about average speed. I would probably consider this route the hardest.
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Old 07-07-20, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by joebiker1 View Post
Hi everyone -
I have a recently purchased Surly Midnight Special (~25 lbs) in the 1x configuration (40t chainring, 11-42t 11-speed cassette), 650b wheels with WTB Horizon tires (47mm). I purchased the bike to have the versatility to ride mixed terrain and thought the gearing was fine for my needs even on pavement, but I am finding myself more and more on the roads/paved bike paths and more addicted to speed! I am a 44 year old longtime runner, so started in good shape about 6 weeks ago and have gotten up to solo near 30 mile rides at avg speed of 17 mph with flat pedals and running shoes. I find I can cruise around 20 mph for some good stretches (mostly flat since I live in FL), but would like to get to a comfortable cruising speed of 22-24 mph for 30-40 mile rides. I do have clipless pedals and shoes on order, but am wondering how much my current bike/configuration is affecting my speed vs just my own ability. Would I see any appreciable speed increase from the following changes?

1. Change gearing to have a 50t up front (max the frame can handle) and 11-30 or so in the back
2. Change wheels and tires to 700c x 28mm
3. Both of the above
4. Purchase a more dedicated, lighter (17-19 lb) road bike with gearing and wheels/tires per 1 and 2 above (though I would do a semi-compact in front). By my estimate, this would cost at least ~$700 more than 1 and 2 above combined for something like an aluminum or basic carbon w/ 105 and rim brakes such as a CAAD13 or Orbea Orca M30. Of course, I could also spend a bit more for something nicer and am in the fortunate position of being able to do so if I feel it would be useful. This would give me 2 bikes, which would be a luxury, but I'd hate to see each bike only get used part time, I feel like it would be somewhat wasteful.

Wondering what you experienced folks think. I love the Surly, and maybe I will get to my goals with it as is, but I feel like the wheels/tires/gearing might be holding me back either now, or soon as I continue to get stronger. Thanks!
Get the second bike. Trust me, they don't care how much you ride them.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:02 PM
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Ha, thanks guys. Some great enabling here!
@DrIsotope, I do understand the big driver of speed is the engine/power, I was just curious how much of a limiting factor the other items might be. I'd love to try a road bike on the same route to see if the results would change at all...
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Old 07-07-20, 02:17 PM
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IMO there's quite a difference between a Surly adventure bike and a decent road bike. Will you go from 17mph average to 22-24? No, you will likely go from 17mph average to 18/19 mph average depending on the tires and wheels you choose.

The nice thing about having those two bike though is having one you can use to get groceries, go off the beaten path, and tour with, and one you can use to post rides with satisfying speeds on Strava with and maybe even race with at some point.

FYI, I have an Emonda road bike with 50mm deep carbon wheels on tubeless GP5000s and a pretty aggressive position. If I'm cruising tempo for 30-40 miles without much climbing I'd probably be around 21.5mph average. Recently, I've been switching between that and a very cheap alloy wheelset with Gatorskin tires, the difference is massive, with the second setup I would average around 20mph for the same effort.

I also have a full-on Time Trial Argon-18 bike, with deep carbon wheels, and an aggressive aero position; on a flat road, typical tempo cruising speed is around 22-24mph, if I want to hurt it would be 24+mph.

Just some thoughts; also, I'd vote for the CAAD13 + deep wheels from that cheap Light Weight brand or Hunt.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:17 PM
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I've done same-route testing of my 25lb steel 1X cross bike vs. my 18lb carbon road bike, and the difference is about 8%. I have to work 8% harder to get the CX bike to do the same speed as the road bike, or the road bike is 8% faster for the same effort.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:21 PM
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Aero position with aerobars, skin suit, shoe covers, and aero helmet
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Old 07-07-20, 02:26 PM
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If you want to comfortably cruise at 22-24mph, your second bike should be a recumbent or TT bike.

For more speed on your Surly you'll want to optimize your aerodynamics (practically free: body position, a small investment: clipon aerobars, a few hundred bucks: clothing/helmet, thousands of dollars: wheels and bike frame) and reduce rolling resistance (a hundo to buy a pair of fast 25-28mm tires -- TT tires if puncture resistance isn't a concern, otherwise something like the Continental GP5000, tubeless or with latex inner tubes).
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Old 07-07-20, 02:32 PM
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You could probably get 1-2 mph for free with a lower and narrower position, tighter jersey, and intervals to boost your FTP.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:53 PM
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Really excellent info guys, thanks! Just to clarify, I am not looking to up my avg speed on, say, a 30 mile ride from 17mph to 22-24mph as that is a very big jump and I also don't think that would be doable with stop signs, lights, etc. I am mostly trying to up my cruising speed on flats from 20mph to 22-24mph. But I am not that experienced and given the references to TT bikes/bars, maybe my expectations are not realistic? Then again, the 8% figure from DrIsotope makes me think that if I were riding a road bike on the same route, I'd avg 18mph and hit close to 22mph cruising on flats. I'm assuming the main difference would come from the wheels and aerodynamics vs weight and gearing.

I have worked on body position and have some jerseys and shorts coming, so am trying to hit most of the low hanging fruit and get better informed before spending any serious $ on either mods to the Surly or another bike.
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Old 07-07-20, 03:13 PM
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Sounds like a great reason to get a new bike!

But I wouldn't expect 22-24 mph average speeds any time soon. That's getting right up there towards "good average speed" territory. And that doesn't happen overnight.
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Old 07-07-20, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by firebird854 View Post

Just some thoughts; also, I'd vote for the CAAD13 + deep wheels from that cheap Light Weight brand or Hunt.

Meilensteins would be primo. ;D
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Old 07-07-20, 03:51 PM
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Okay, I had to look up what your bike is. If you've got a 40 x 11-34, you shouldn't be running out of gears - not in Florida, anyway. If you're able to spin at 90RPM in 40 x 13, you're already doing 22 mph, whether you're using your current wheel/tire set up, or 700c x 28. So I wouldn't bother with a larger chainring. By the same token, I don't see what earthly need you'd have for 42 teeth in the back, so sure, go to 11x30. AND get the large wheels/narrower tires, they'll be easier to push and more aero.

You only really need more gears if you find yourself grinding up a climb at a painful cadence - in Florida? - or spinning out on a fast descent - again, in Florida?

Can you flip the stem to go more aero? Or is it already flipped? Or lower it?
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Old 07-07-20, 03:56 PM
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Just to give you some idea what weight does for speed on a bike.

10 or so years ago I went from a 45 lb bike to a 23 lb bike. My average speed didn't increase even a full mile per hour. And I was already in decent riding shape. The less weight did let me go for longer rides without tiring as quick. And I could climb a hill much more effortlessly.

In those ten years I've increased my average speed by a good bit, but only from riding more. Not by changing things on my bike. Bike changes only help if you have to be the first one across the line in a sprint or first to the top of a hill. And if you don't put in the miles per week to build up the speed you can average for an entire ride, then you will be too late to the finish line to have that sprint with your light bike because the others will already be finished with their ride.
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Old 07-07-20, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by firebird854 View Post
I'd vote for the CAAD13 + deep wheels from that cheap Light Weight brand or Hunt.
LOL. You got me excited and googling around for these cheap light weight wheels for my 1 month old Emonda SL5. Took about 5min to realize what you did there.
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Old 07-07-20, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Hikebikerun View Post
LOL. You got me excited and googling around for these cheap light weight wheels for my 1 month old Emonda SL5. Took about 5min to realize what you did there.
He meant Light Bicycle wheels, not Lightweight wheels. Not just a difference in name, but a difference in decimal points.

https://www.lightbicycle.com/carbon-road-bike
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Old 07-07-20, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I've done same-route testing of my 25lb steel 1X cross bike vs. my 18lb carbon road bike, and the difference is about 8%. I have to work 8% harder to get the CX bike to do the same speed as the road bike, or the road bike is 8% faster for the same effort.

Plus another 8% for 47mm tires?
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Old 07-07-20, 10:32 PM
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700x23 on the road bike, 700x37 on the CX bike when initially tested. Im now running 700x30 WTB Exposure on the CX, which mount to 32-33mm, and the gap is... pretty much the same.

Over 31 miles w/ ~1,300ft of vertical, the difference between the two averages about 6 minutes at the same intensity.
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Old 07-08-20, 12:05 AM
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You are a runner. Now you are cycling.... start swimming and join us on the Tri Side!!

So I have recently been riding my 10,2kg steel bike as well as my 7.3kg blinged out Venge with Dura Ace Di2, deep section wheels, the works. I've actually had rides where my average speeds on the two bikes were exactly the same for the same power, although that was admittedly a bit misleading, as winds were different. That said, I will estimate about 1-1.5kph difference in going to a lighter bike.

I will say this, though - on the road, a lighter bike just FEELS a lot more fun to ride. Can you get faster on your current bike? Absolutely. But if i were in your shoes and had the funds, I would TOTALLY spring on a new, lighter carbon bike.

Personally, I would NOT spend the money in lightening a 25lb bike. I mean, how low can you get it? 22lb? That's still a pretty heavy bike. Might as well use it as your exploring/off-roading/rain bike and put those funds towards a lighter bike.
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Old 07-08-20, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Just to give you some idea what weight does for speed on a bike.

10 or so years ago I went from a 45 lb bike to a 23 lb bike. My average speed didn't increase even a full mile per hour. And I was already in decent riding shape. The less weight did let me go for longer rides without tiring as quick. And I could climb a hill much more effortlessly.

In those ten years I've increased my average speed by a good bit, but only from riding more. Not by changing things on my bike. Bike changes only help if you have to be the first one across the line in a sprint or first to the top of a hill. And if you don't put in the miles per week to build up the speed you can average for an entire ride, then you will be too late to the finish line to have that sprint with your light bike because the others will already be finished with their ride.
+1
I'm not surprised. If all else is close between 2 bikes, While weight alone has a proportional impact when accelerating and climbing, That extra effort is not lost unless you brake, or you're on a fast decent where the increased air resistance uses up some of that energy you put in.

If you're ride involves many stops or hills that require significant braking on the downside, Then the heavier bike will require more work then the lighter one. But even then, I think its much less then many believe.

I believe the perception that light bikes are much faster then heavy ones is because in racing, Where fast acceleration is very important for that last sprint to the finish line, Weight does matter.

And because a lighter bike will feel faster when you pedal from a stop because a heavier bike and wheels have a flywheel effect. A heavier flywheel will accelerate slower, But will coast longer. Very little energy is lost maintaining speed

Joebiker:

Actualy it looks like you have a quick bike now. I think some more time on the bike will help. And as some have suggested a comfortable, low riding position and proper fit. Personally I'd be happy being able to maintain 30 kph (19 mph) avg both ways with no obstacles on a road bike. On my comfort bike, with its bolt upright position and 50mm semi-knobby tires, at 63 I might average 22 kph. I ride 3 - 5 hours a week. Comfort is my main goal here, Could care less about speed.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 07-08-20 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 07-08-20, 11:51 AM
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All good thoughts, thanks everyone. At this point I am leaning towards adding a second bike (not in a huge rush) vs changing the setup on my current bike while I continue to work at increasing speed and endurance w/ my current bike. I'm leaning towards a 105 semi-compact w/ and 28mm tires for some comfort and rim brakes for ease of maintenance, either aluminum or carbon. Other than CAAD13, is there anything else I should consider in the under $3K range (best if $1500-$2500) that would be alum or carbon and good quality/value? Am I crazy for wanting rim brakes (lighter, cheaper, and easier maintenance), semi-compact rather than compact, and 28mm vs 25mm or does that sound like a good setup?
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Old 07-08-20, 01:13 PM
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Am I crazy for wanting rim brakes
I always liked rim brakes and to me it simplifies the issues if you ever have to borrow a wheel from someone during some important event. However when looking for my new bike I thought about how some of the things that have gone by the wayside in the past, though still available, don't give you much of a selection anymore.

So I figured I'd jump on the disc brake bandwagon just so when I decide to get new wheels, I'd have a good selection of choices.

Until those get superseded by a newer technology of course. <grin>

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Old 07-08-20, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by guadzilla View Post
I will say this, though - on the road, a lighter bike just FEELS a lot more fun to ride
Sho'nuff!
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Old 07-08-20, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I always liked rim brakes and to me it simplifies the issues if you ever have to borrow a wheel from someone during some important event. However when looking for my new bike I thought about how some of the things that have gone by the wayside in the past, though still available, don't give you much of a selection anymore. So I figured I'd jump on the disc brake bandwagon just so when I decide to get new wheels, I'd have a good selection of choices.

Until those get superseded by a newer technology of course. <grin>
Shimano's new Dura Ace Repulser technology should be available with the 12 speed Dura Ace.....
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