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Why do road bikes coast better than other bikes?

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Why do road bikes coast better than other bikes?

Old 07-01-20, 06:35 AM
  #1  
littleArnold
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Why do road bikes coast better than other bikes?

I have noticed on the bike trails and bikes that I have ridden that some bikes coast better than other bikes?

Road bikes seem to coast the best. Like for example I will be peddling at a pretty decent cadence going like 12 - 14 miles an hour on my Trek Hybrid and a guy on an expensive road bike will pass me and I will keep tailgaiting behind him, but he will be mostly coasting not moving his legs much. I will have to do a lot peddling to keep up with him on my hybrid, but on his expensive road bike he can go 12-14 miles an hour with very little effort not doing a lot peddling just coasting a lot.

I have noticed my Trek hybrid FX2 can coast a lot better than my wifes hybrid Schwinn. Like she will be peddling the whole time going at around 5-6 miles an hour and on my hybrid I can coast 5 miles in an hour barely putting any peddle strokes in.

I have tried riding my wifes hybrid myself and the bike is a much slower bike than my trek hybrid and I cant coast nearly as good on it. I also cant coast on my schwinn mountain bike like I can on my trek hybrid.

What causes some bikes to coast better than others?
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Old 07-01-20, 06:44 AM
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Old 07-01-20, 07:14 AM
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So many things.
1) tire rolling resistance. Slick tires with supple casings that absorb little bumps in the pavement. Higher tire pressures.
2) More aero position. Hybrids mean you probably sit more upright. The road bike cyclist probably was more hunched over, creating a smaller silhouette against wind resistance
3) Your arms/hand are out further, creating more wind resistance. A road bike, with the correct handle bar size, means your arms are tucked in more. Again, see #2 "creating a smaller silhouette against wind resistance"
4) More aero wheels/spokes
5) More aero clothes. Less stuff catching and fluffing away in the wind.

Edit
6) Good wheel hubs that aren't worn or assembled with too much tension.

Last edited by friday1970; 07-03-20 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 07-01-20, 07:32 AM
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In addition to the previous response, the wheel hubs, mainly the hub bearings, can also make a noticeable difference. The aero aspect at the speeds you mentioned play a lesser role, it's mostly down to the wheels - tires and hubs.
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Old 07-01-20, 08:03 AM
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You should see my velo coast! Even with 3 wheels, the combination of weight and aerodynamics means it coasts down really slowly. I can be cruising at ~22 mph and if I see a red light ahead, I'll start coasting from ~300 yards away, if the light doesn't change, I still have to brake pretty good to stop (like, I'll still be going 16-17 mph coasting that distance). All this assume relatively level ground.
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Old 07-01-20, 09:57 AM
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I think we've all experienced the phenomen of some other rider effortlessly rolling past us and wondered, "WTF?". There should be a single word for this in the English language, maybe a long compound word in German too.

Probably 75% of the time I attribute this phenomenon to the other riders determination to overcome you. They
accelerated a LOT before reaching you and once passed can bleed off that energy by coasting. We immediately default to the reasoning our gear or bike is somehow inferior... Moreso if they keep accelerating away.

For those other 25% of cases, IMHO Rolling resistance (Hubs and tires). is a bigger factor. Aero is overrated at lower speeds under ~12 mph.

​​​​​​But perception is reality. And sometimes they do have a better bike or legs or energy from that Red Bull or a full night's sleep we didn't get.

Last edited by Toadmeister; 07-01-20 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 07-01-20, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
In addition to the previous response, the wheel hubs, mainly the hub bearings, can also make a noticeable difference. The aero aspect at the speeds you mentioned play a lesser role, it's mostly down to the wheels - tires and hubs.
This! Freewheeling creates drag!

even on road bikes upgraded wheels will outroll entry level wheels.

and Light weight people on better wheels, can out roll heavy people down hill while coasting.
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Old 07-01-20, 11:34 AM
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On a Tour de Grand ride a few years ago my bike with Schwalbe CX Pro 30 mm tires with knobs outcoasted many many bikes shod with narrower smooth road tires. I was in a more aero positing and had my legs much closer to the frame. I was surprised at how well such positioning aided coasting and bicyclists with skinny tires were surprised as I coasted past them. Position on the bike can make a hugs difference in coasting distances.

Cheers
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Old 07-01-20, 03:20 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
This! Freewheeling creates drag!

even on road bikes upgraded wheels will outroll entry level wheels.

and Light weight people on better wheels, can out roll heavy people down hill while coasting.
ok that is probably why then my Trek Hybrid seems to coast a whole lot better than my wifes cheaper Schwinn hybrid I got her, the tires and wheels. I probably have better wheels and tires on my bike. Her bike has her more in a very upright position, I got her bike more for comfort rather than speed she suffers from low back pain and that bike felt the best on her back.
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Old 07-01-20, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
I have noticed on the bike trails and bikes that I have ridden that some bikes coast better than other bikes?

Road bikes seem to coast the best. Like for example I will be peddling at a pretty decent cadence going like 12 - 14 miles an hour on my Trek Hybrid and a guy on an expensive road bike will pass me and I will keep tailgaiting behind him, but he will be mostly coasting not moving his legs much. I will have to do a lot peddling to keep up with him on my hybrid, but on his expensive road bike he can go 12-14 miles an hour with very little effort not doing a lot peddling just coasting a lot.

I have noticed my Trek hybrid FX2 can coast a lot better than my wifes hybrid Schwinn. Like she will be peddling the whole time going at around 5-6 miles an hour and on my hybrid I can coast 5 miles in an hour barely putting any peddle strokes in.

I have tried riding my wifes hybrid myself and the bike is a much slower bike than my trek hybrid and I cant coast nearly as good on it. I also cant coast on my schwinn mountain bike like I can on my trek hybrid.

What causes some bikes to coast better than others?
The combination of supple road tires and an aerodynamic riding position on a road bike will make 12-14 mph on a road bike so slow and easy that it will be less comfortable to go that slowly than it would be to go somewhat faster, since you arenít needing to pedal enough to unweight the saddle appreciably.

But unless something else is really wrong, itís mostly tires and then aero profile once you get going a bit faster.

Otto
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Old 07-01-20, 05:45 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
and Light weight people on better wheels, can out roll heavy people down hill while coasting.
Given that freewheel resistance fixed, rolling resistance scales about linearly with weight, and drag scales with area, which is could generally be considered constant, more weight = better coasting.
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Old 07-01-20, 06:41 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Toadmeister View Post
I think we've all experienced the phenomen of some other rider effortlessly rolling past us and wondered, "WTF?". There should be a single word for this in the English language, maybe a long compound word in German too.
English: Veloshaming.

German: Fahrradweltscherezmachen.
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Old 07-01-20, 07:17 PM
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I suspect the OP is overlooking the biggest difference of all - the motor.

A fit rider in a high gear will easily pass a weaker rider in a lower gear while not appearing to be working nearly as hard.
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Old 07-01-20, 07:25 PM
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Pffft. What you (op) are noticing is the difference between a $500 and a $5000 bike. That, and clipless 'peddles' (sic) vs. flat 'peddles'.

Oh, and 'Drop Bars' vs. 'Flat Bars' ... that too.

These are all important considerations.
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Old 07-01-20, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Mista Sparkle View Post
Given that freewheel resistance fixed, rolling resistance scales about linearly with weight, and drag scales with area, which is could generally be considered constant, more weight = better coasting.

Or do the Superman..JK
My Giant Sedona rolled so much better after I changed to road tires, but my Trek FX-2 was miles ahead in the rolling department. But then I traded that to get the Trek Emonda SL-6, wow, is all I can say.


Last edited by 1964GTO; 07-01-20 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 07-02-20, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
and Light weight people on better wheels, can out roll heavy people down hill while coasting.
Not in my experience. At least not unless the heavy person is on REALLY crappy wheels. Downhills are all about weight and aero.
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Old 07-02-20, 04:40 PM
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There are many variables and, they all add up. BITD we called it a "two finger" bike. Nowadays we call them "weight weenies". Light bikes with light wheels & drop bars roll faster than other bikes. Lighter, smaller, high quality, high pressure tires add to the effect. That's it. That's all. Done deal.
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Old 07-02-20, 04:45 PM
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When you are in the drops on a road bike you are always going down hill regardless of the actual terrain.

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Old 07-02-20, 04:46 PM
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Old 07-02-20, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Not in my experience. At least not unless the heavy person is on REALLY crappy wheels. Downhills are all about weight and aero.
so overweight people take an aero penalty. Like enough so.... to be slower than the not so wide person. Cool!

BTW In my opinion the stock wheels on most road bikes are "REALLY crappy wheels", but still better than the "REALLY crappy wheels" on hybrids.

IMO hub drag, can make or break rolling long before aero is even a factor!

Maintenance is important, Repack the grease every 500 miles. some people are running the same grease they had in the hub 4 years ago! Buy Cartridge bearings. cool!, However I like my shimano loose ball hubs with the finger adjuster.

Last edited by Metieval; 07-02-20 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 07-02-20, 05:29 PM
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I just figure the rider who passes me is getting more out of a few pumps than I get out of continuous pedaling. I know that when I'm riding below a certain speed and trying to keep pace with someone who's much slower than me, it's hard for me to pedal continuously and not speed up. So instead I alternate pumping and coasting. When I'm with a faster rider, then the roles are reversed.
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Old 07-02-20, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
The combination of supple road tires and an aerodynamic riding position on a road bike will make 12-14 mph on a road bike so slow and easy that it will be less comfortable to go that slowly than it would be to go somewhat faster, since you arenít needing to pedal enough to unweight the saddle appreciably.
I can vouch for this. My first real ride on my road bike was 2mph faster over the same ~3 mile flat segment than on my flat-bar commuter bike with stiff puncture-resistant tires, and it felt easier too. My speeds started out in the 12-14mph ballpark. A few months of riding later (without any structured training) I rode it at 20 mph, and that's having never gone all-out on that stretch since it's at the beginning of my rides to farther destinations.
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Old 07-02-20, 07:26 PM
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Old 07-03-20, 10:05 AM
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Hub drag is nearly irrelevant in real life. At any speed over 12mph, air drag is the dominant force ******ing the cyclist. The lower air drag of a 23mm tire vs a 32mm or more section clincher is real. The better aero position of being on the drops, even on the hoods vs. being sat upright ... ...
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Old 07-03-20, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by littleArnold View Post
I will have to do a lot peddling to keep up with him on my hybrid, but on his expensive road bike he can go 12-14 miles an hour with very little effort not doing a lot peddling just coasting a lot.
That's because the road guy is pedaling and you are peddling. Wrong technique. Pedaling is always way more efficient.
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