How much does the bike/equipment help?



lbraasch

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Jul 24, 2007
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My friend and I go riding daily, training for various Tri's and such. We pace off each other, and generally push off each others attacks.

His bike is a 2007 Fuji Roubaix RC, ultegra everything, carbon fork and seat stays. MSRP is $1800 USD for this bike.My bike is a 1999 Trek 1200, RX100 everything, downtube shifters, steel fork, aluminum frame. I bought it used for $200 USD

My question is this: How much effect does a more expensive bike have? Assuming neither rider is using aero bars, and in the drops during the same periods of time. Obviously in instances where I find it more important to keep my hands on the bars instead of reaching down to shift, he pulls away from me, as he's in a better gear. I'm curious how much harder I'm working/training due to the equipment difference. Incase someone asks, he is 6'1" 170lbs, I'm 6'1", 155. I generally kill him in climbs, but I feel like that is more of a weight thing.

edit: mods, I accidentally posted this here. Intended it for the equipment forum. Please move if you feel it'll fit better.
 

fujibike

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Aug 4, 2007
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In terms of equipment I would imagine your friend's bike may be lighter and have more road dampening ability with the carbon components that can reduce fatigue. I don't know what your gearing is. I recently upgraded bikes from a triple to a double. The double is a 9 speed cassette vs 8 on the triple. The gearing is a bit closer (as I never used the granny on the triple) and I find that I can always select the right combination that fits the condition.
 

davidhowland14

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Jul 8, 2007
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fujibike said:
In terms of equipment I would imagine your friend's bike may be lighter and have more road dampening ability with the carbon components that can reduce fatigue. I don't know what your gearing is. I recently upgraded bikes from a triple to a double. The double is a 9 speed cassette vs 8 on the triple. The gearing is a bit closer (as I never used the granny on the triple) and I find that I can always select the right combination that fits the condition.
his bike is lighter, so he's pulling less weight, also, it's probably more efficient, so he's putting more of his energy into actual movement as opposed to starting the movement (his activation level is lower, if you will). The bike does make a big difference, but only to a point. A full-carbon, dura-ace bike will not help a fat couch potato beat an experienced cyclist.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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lbraasch said:
... I'm curious how much harder I'm working/training due to the equipment difference. Incase someone asks, he is 6'1" 170lbs, I'm 6'1", 155. I generally kill him in climbs, but I feel like that is more of a weight thing.....
Sorry to be the contrarian, but the bikes aren't making much of a difference. As you point out you ride away from him where weight is dominant so it's not a weight issue. He rides away from you (not in the drops, not on the aero bars) on the flats. That's almost entirely a power issue. Your friend is a more powerful rider with similar aerodynamics while up on the tops. His power to weight probably isn't as good as yours so you beat him on hills but his power to frontal area while riding on the tops is better than yours so he rides away from you on the flats. Your bike isn't exactly made out of plumber's pipe or a department store special so there really isn't that big of a difference while riding on the flats unless he gets into his aero bars but I assume you have well fitted aero bars as well since you mentioned tri's.

I'm still riding and racing a full steel bike I bought in the mid '80s. It doesn't hold me back and I've raced very effectively against a lot of carbon and titanium frames. I'd love to shed a few pounds of frame weight, but it really doesn't matter on the flats. Unless you have some sort of horrendous fit problem (stem too tall or too short or too much rise giving you a really upright position) then you really shouldn't look to the bike for answers. Your best bet is to keep training and get your sustainable power up. It'll help you on the flats and you'll destroy folks in the hills at your weight.

Good luck,
Dave
 

lbraasch

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Jul 24, 2007
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I guess what I was really asking is: How much faster is a rider on a $1000 bike vs. a $4000 bike, or any other difference? How much of a speed benifit is there between a 10 yr old road bike and a modern?
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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lbraasch said:
I guess what I was really asking is: How much faster is a rider on a $1000 bike vs. a $4000 bike, or any other difference? How much of a speed benifit is there between a 10 yr old road bike and a modern?
Virtually none as long as the 10 year old bike was decent to begin with and has been maintained. You can get a psychological boost by buying a new bike and new bikes are often lighter with more features(like 10 speed clusters vs. 8 or 9) but the difference in speed and mechanical efficiency on the flats that you asked about is basically meaningless in most cases. It really is the rider, not the bike.

But heck, we all like new bikes :) If you've got the disposable cash get a new high end bike and you'll almost certainly train more and harder just from the mental boost of having a new rig. That can really pay dividends in terms of faster split times, but unless you're really on a lemon now the new bike won't make you magically faster. Check out these guys for really good deals on very good bikes that you can have built up to your custom specs without spending a small fortune: http://www.pedalforce.com/online/ you can choose a frame then see how it builds up in terms of both weight and cost with different components.

Good luck,
Dave
 

hmronnow

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Aug 12, 2006
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You are same height - why not just swap bike with your friend halfwayt through a ride, and you'll know exactly.