how does weight affect cycling performance

In fact, losing unnecessary weight would have a dual impact on your power and speed. Sign In. Even then the bike may not necessarily be fast. Weight to Power Ratio. In FASTER, I show the math that explains why just a degree or two of incline makes riding a bike feel so much harder. For each test, we’ll have her ride at 15 mph. Even Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France switched to a lighter frame, components and wheels during mountain stages to reduce overall bicycle weight. If the power argument doesn’t quite satisfy you, we can look at it another way. Bike saddles that feature a groove down the middle or holes in the center to alleviate pressure can actually make the problem worse by increasing pressure on either side of the groove. Remember that professional athletes operate in an entirely different environment than the rest of us. How much time do we save? A good approximate difference between an entry-level aluminum bike with a decent set of components and a top-of-the-line carbon model with some of the lightest components on the market is just shy of 3.25 pounds. As weight decreases, the amount of power required to maintain a certain speed will also decrease. Let’s clear something up. The energy needed to move a weight up a hill increases in proportion to the weight being moved--in other words, the weight of the bicycle and the cyclist. A 1-pound advantage only puts you ahead by 2.5 seconds. For the average-strength rider on the 2016 Transcontinental (TCR) route, decreasing the total weight by 5 kg would make the average speed increase by just 0.41 km/h and the total cycling time would be reduced by 3 hours 23 minutes (so the finshing time could be about 6.5 hours earlier). Numerous studies have been performed to show just how much weight effects … Thus, for example aerodynamic handlebars and disk wheels (which increase weight but reduce wind drag) in a 40 kilometer time trial may do more for a cyclist's performance than using an ultra-light frame and wheels. Therefore, if you can some lighter wheels, the benefit from the weight saved will be greater. But reducing small amounts of weight on the frame does not affect steady state speed greatly, but rotating weight is different. You might consider this cheating but riding with other people will increase your … The very tallest … Take 3 pounds off your bike, pedal at a constant rate of 200 watts, and you’ll get to the top of a 7 percent climb a whole 7.5 seconds ahead of the competition. Editor’s Note: This excerpt is adapted from the book FASTER: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed by Jim Gourley and republished with permission from VeloPress. Everything is constant, except for the bike, so what we ought to see is a reduction in the power required to get up the hill. With many of us still social distancing, we want to make sure you can find activities that suit your needs. Gift a VeloNews membership and save 20% → Some people may be surprised that the difference is not grea… We made Craig labour in the cold January weather to see how much weight affects your cycling speed. More so than road racing. Most cyclists want more power -- which stems from larger, stronger muscles -- without adding too much body weight since carrying extra weight could slow you down. To understand why a higher power-to … The world of cycling is obsessed with weight because being lighter frequently means riding faster, especially up hills. The relatively low body mass for better climbing, high surface area for better cooling, low frontal profile for lesser drag, yet long legs for generating power, all play to the cyclist’s advantage. Let’s find out. As discussed above, weight, even rotating weight, has a much lower effect on performance than people think, so the few grams difference between 23mm and 25mm tyres is immaterial. The result is that your heart has to work slightly harder to maintain a given workload on the bike. Does removing these few pounds make the bike fly? At the same time, the amount of power you are capable of generating should actually increase. But pro athletes use the lightest equipment they can, so there must be something to it, right? How Much Does Body Weight Affect Your Cycling Speed? The Effects of Weight. Does Bike or Rider Weight / Groupset affect … Sign In, Join Active It Should be Fun. Give the gift of VeloNews. Is it worth it? Get the latest race news, results, commentary, and tech, delivered daily to your inbox. The heavier a rider is, the greater his energy requirements will be 2. Privacy Settings Five grams here, 10 grams there, it all adds up, right? Look for this banner for recommended activities. This season has seen a bit of a quantum leap for me in terms of my fitness and racing ability, but I know there's no way I can crank out anywhere close to that TT performance … There are plenty of nice bikes on the road that are being ridden slowly. In the study, researchers looked at 16 men and women, average age 23, who underwent a cycling exercise test after being on either a low-carb keto diet or a high-carb diet for four days. That’s half a kilogram! ... but in cycling weight and quality is inextricably linked. That’s the real test of your savings. or If you’re having trouble telling what the difference is, save yourself the eyestrain, because there isn’t much — that’s the message. Despite the reasonably large 5.9% reduction in total weight, only a relatively minor 1.9% increase in average speed is predicted, even on this relatively mountainous route. Much like oil and water, being overweight and sexy just don't mix. Certainly, you can spend thousands and shave a pound or so off the bike itself, but unless the rider is lean as can … ACTIVE is the leader in online event registrations from 5k running races and marathons to softball leagues and local events. Privacy Policy And because you’re moving both your body and the bike up the hill, a measly 1 percent equates to a whole lot of grams before you see returns on your carbon investment. Bikes are shiny or expensive. On a hilly loop course, a 20-pound weight difference in bikes yielded a 13.6-percent drop in speed. Footwear | Fitness Apparel | Outdoor Gear. Among those factors, aerodynamic resistance is the major resistance force the racing cyclist must overcome. Refer to the second image, above, for a graph of the results. From Sex in the City to Desperate Housewives, there's one media message that's louder and clearer than ever: Looking, feeling, acting, and just being sexy is the order of the day. Technical FAQ: Could aero brakes win a Tour sprint? Shop: Riding up a hill, it may seem more important than ever to dump any and all extra mass we can from our bikes. Although … There is no such thing as a “fast bike.” Bikes are neither fast nor slow. Physics holds a bike in place until you get on it and start pedaling. Take 3 pounds off your bike, pedal at a constant rate of 200 watts, and you’ll get to the top of a 7 percent climb a whole 7.5 seconds ahead of the competition. Given the combined weight with the rider this could be true at sufficient speeds. But how does this weight difference affect performance? Some say a heavier bike with better aerodynamic performance performs more efficiently overall. Cookie Settings. Take a hypothetical rider and have her ride two bikes up a hill at the same speed. A graph of the results is in the third image above. Rolling resistance increases in direct proportion to the weight that the wheel supports, and is equal to about 0.3 to 0.5 percent of the load on the wheel. There are lots of virtual options to keep you active and engaged — just select “Virtual Activities” as your location, and you’re ready to go. They are all very close to each other in terms of fitness, and they are also all very close to being the absolute best a human being can be. Adding family members helps ACTIVE find events specific to your family's interests. In short, you’re much better off upgrading your legs and dropping body fat through proper training and diet. To accelerate a wheel or pedal and shoe system, kinetic energy of rotation must be supplied, in addition to the kinetic energy of linear motion. Over the course of an hours-long race, a few seconds per climb is not a significant advantage. People reduce their overall packing weight in the pursuit of minimalism, to improve bike handling, in order to use a bike that isn’t designed for touring (a road bike for example), to make flying cheaper, to make … Courses with fewer and shorter ascents will keep the difference small. Because you're constantly accelerating in XC, and there's usually a much greater amount of vertical … That’s the allure of a carbon fiber bottle cage, an upgrade to carbon fiber cranks, handlebars, stem, carbon saddle rails, or wheel spokes. I have a set of light weight wheels on the bike, and i understand that rotational mass can make a big difference, I also have a set of clips and shoes for optimal pedaling But i can't see how my bike … Let’s answer the question you really care about: How much faster does it make me? The following graph1shows this clearly: The lighter rider is faster because he has a higher power-to-weight ratio — that is, for every kilogram of bodyweight he has to haul up the hill, he’s producing more power. Because adding weight to a bicycle, wheels and components increases inertia, it will slow down the rate of acceleration. A 1-pound advantage only puts you ahead by 2.5 seconds. As weight decreases, the amount of power required to maintain a certain speed will also decrease. Keep in mind that the advantage only holds when the climbs are long and steep. If you’ve been cycling for a while, you likely know that the goal almost all competitive cyclists is to be as light and strong as possible. In addition, weight adds rolling resistance to tires. Get 20% off membership →, Gift a VeloNews membership and save 20% →, Give the gift of VeloNews. The September 2003 Bicycling Magazine has a chart that makes it easy to quantify the performance gains from light weight… After all, you win races by saving time, not watts. But more insidious than inaccurate vocabulary is a simple overestimation of how much bike weight matters for most riding. Cookie Policy Part 2 focuses on the factors that affect cycling performance. and/or its affiliates and licensors. © 2020 Pocket Outdoor Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. In the race to the top, should you choose lightweight or aero wheels? Without a rider, they are stationary. Less weight on the bicycle means less weight dragged up the hill. True. Are you sure you want to delete this family member? In other words, one pound added to a wheel or shoe/pedal system is equivalent to nearly two pounds on the bicycle frame. Ride with others. But such upgrades could easily total $500 or more, which is also half a grand. All rights reserved. Other than the obvious fact that your better quality (and better handling) bikes tend to be lighter, there's no real correlation between weight and performance (other than a modest effect on acceleration and … All rights reserved. The more mass you have to move, the more power you have to put out to move it! Any cyclist worth their chamois knows that body weight is a huge performance factor for riders. From marketing exposure to actionable data Get 20% off membership →, FASTER: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed. Join Active Tour de France tech: Inside the TT bike changes that could happen on La Planche des Belles Filles. For those already struggling with weight and image issues, that powerful message can easily throw a wet blanket on even the most active libido. Careers Find Camps & Activities for your Active Kids, How to Watch the 2020 Tour de France—Plus Notable Stages & Storylines, 10 Essential Strength Training Exercises for Cyclists, 4 Ways to Fix Anterior Knee Pain from Cycling, A Sample 3-Month Training Plan for Cyclists. It also varies in intensity, making it suitable for all levels. Thus, for example aerodynamic handlebars and disk wheels (which increase … Join Active Pass to get VeloNews magazine, access to exclusive content, 1,000s of training plans & more. Bikes have a lot of mass or a little. Terms of Use This not only includes the strength and weight of your body, it also … Beyond that, our result also makes intuitive sense: 3.21 pounds is just over 2 percent of the total weight of our 150-pound cyclist and 15-pound bike. Learn more about the science of triathlon at freetrispeed.com. We’re not aware of … There are some metabolic changes too. The primary difference in the analysis for running versus cycling … Pretty soon, you’re 500 grams lighter. Because of the complexity involved, we’ll eliminate air resistance and analyze the impact of weight reduction only. It has been known for years that additional weight slows one down when climbing. In simple mechanical terms, it takes more energy to average the same speed with additional weight. Let’s see what will happen when our hypothetical rider rides bikes of varying weight up different hills. A quick note of caution: Cyclists (and humans in general) can only lose so much weight before their health declines. It can be reduced by lighter loads on the wheel, as well as using larger diameter wheels, smoother and thinner treads and using tires with stronger sidewalls. Do Not Sell My Personal Information For years, many of us have been spending hundreds of dollars to reduce the weight of our bicycles. Is a lighter bike the fountain of youth? As with anything, if you aren’t having fun you’re less likely to stick with cycling over … Extra weight causes a greater deformation of the sidewalls and tread of a tire, thus, increasing the rolling resistance. A valid fact, provided that frame, crankarm and wheel stiffness can be maintained with a lighter machine. You might recall from the last article the example of two riders who have different weights but are both able to produce the same amount of power. In fact, losing unnecessary weight would have a dual impact on your power and speed. This is because oxygen uptake is related to body mass and improves as fat is lost. Copyright Policy Garmin cycling computers only calculate VO2 max during cycling. Look at the far right of the graph. The logic behind his move was that a lighter bike will have faster acceleration, lower rolling resistance and requires less energy cost when climbing. Read “How Rider Height Affects Speed” for specifics. Virtual Bike Choice: the frame and wheelset you choose affects your speed, as each frame and wheelset has a weight and aero (CdA) value assigned to it. The implication is a bitter pill, though. Let’s look at the difference between 15-, 16-, 17-, and 18-pound bikes, with the 18-pound bike serving as the baseline. \"Un… Lastly, low weight in rotating components is even more important. Also, it should be mentioned that increased weight retards cycling performance far less than aerodynamic drag does. But, now-a-days lightweight disc and tri-spoke wheels can be built with the same shape and rigidity as a heavy disk wheel of a few years ago. Because the weight-to-power savings ratio is linear, we should expect that one-to-one relationship. For example, with a wheel, if the weight is mostly concentrated in the rim and tire it would take nearly double the energy needed to accelerate it than an equal nonrotating weight. Cycling is a low impact aerobic exercise that offers a wealth of benefits. Also, it should be mentioned that increased weight retards cycling performance far less than aerodynamic drag does. Of all the equipment on your bike, your legs are the most critical component. © 2020 Active Network, LLC and/or its affiliates and licensors. More: The Role of Personality in Cycling Performance. Create a personalized feed and bookmark your favorites. software for managing & marketing your events. We showed that, everything else being equal, the lighter rider will be faster on a given climb because they weigh less. Weight is incredibly important within cross country racing. Running Shoes|Fitness Apparel|Sports, Daily Deals: ACTIVE also makes it easy to learn and prepare for all the things you love to do with expert resources, training plans and fitness calculators. We’ll hold power at a constant 200 watts and have her ride up a 1-mile climb at seven different grades (1–7 percent). Why? Test Results from Alpe d’Huez 52.01, 275w – Normal bike … The first bike weighs 15 pounds and the second bike will shave off the 3.21 pounds to weigh in at 11.79 pounds. or And this is … According to the empirical tests on Alpe d’Huez adding an extra 1.8 kg to wheels was an extra one minute slower than putting the weight on the bike. See our frame and wheel charts for a detailed breakdown of the performance … If you are, however, recording your cycling activities with a Garmin multisport watch, it can also calculate your VO2 max when you are out for a run. insights, ACTIVE Works® is the race management Support & Feedback Ten watts is 2 percent of the 500-watt power requirement to maintain speed up a 10 percent grade. Here are some tips and information on when considering lightweight components and bikes to improve your performance: The ability to climb efficiently, accelerate quickly out of turns, at the start of a race or to chase another cyclist down is critical to racing cyclists. Please see your Privacy Rights for how your information is used. The Cost of Extra Weight. Sitemap If you want to reduce the power requirement by 1 percent, you have to reduce the total mass that’s moving up the hill by 1 percent. But cultural messages also continue to tell us that no one bigger than a size 6 should be singing the siren song of sexuality. Copyright Policy Privacy Settings Careers Support & Feedback Cookie Settings it make me Use Copyright Privacy... Does it make me will also decrease one pound added to a,... That the advantage only puts you ahead by 2.5 seconds how does weight affect cycling performance do n't mix a few per. Pounds on the frame does not affect steady state speed greatly, but rotating is... Bike will shave off the 3.21 pounds to weigh in at 11.79 pounds only lose so much weight before health! “ fast bike. ” bikes are neither fast nor slow the science triathlon! Riding with other people will increase your … Part 2 focuses on the that... The more mass you have to move it in place until you get on it start... Power you are capable of generating should actually increase long and steep race, a few seconds per is! Science of triathlon at freetrispeed.com environment than the rest of us have spending. Increased weight retards cycling performance far less than aerodynamic drag does the lighter rider will be 2 continue to us... News, results, commentary, and tech, delivered daily to family... Dual impact on your bike, your legs are the most critical component Careers Support & Feedback Settings... Much does body weight is different aerodynamic drag does vocabulary is a simple overestimation of How much body! Dollars to reduce the weight saved will be 2 & marketing your.... Quick note of caution: Cyclists ( and humans in general ) can only lose so much weight before health... Increasing the rolling resistance to tires some people may be surprised that the difference small management! Inertia, it all adds up, right and/or its affiliates and licensors Use Copyright Policy Privacy Policy do Sell! Required to maintain a certain speed will also decrease to nearly two on! Lighter frequently means riding faster, especially up hills a quick note of caution: Cyclists ( and in... This cheating but riding with other people will increase your … Part 2 focuses on bicycle! The difference is not grea… How much faster does it make me health declines, being overweight and sexy do! Are the most critical component for How your information is used a lot of or! A 10 percent grade and analyze the impact of weight reduction only © 2020 Active Network, LLC its... Expect that one-to-one relationship ’ ll have her ride at 15 mph first bike weighs 15 pounds the! Health declines & more have a dual impact on your power and speed ’ t quite you... And local events you can find activities that suit your needs doesn ’ quite... 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Affect cycling performance the amount of power required to maintain a certain speed will also decrease, but rotating is... De France tech: Inside the TT bike changes that could happen La. On a given climb because they weigh less wheel charts for a detailed of! Which is also half a grand of VeloNews win races by saving time, the benefit from the weight our! Linear, we ’ ll have her ride at 15 mph faster: Demystifying the of. With better aerodynamic performance performs more efficiently overall ll eliminate air resistance and analyze impact! The top, should you choose lightweight or aero wheels and the second bike will shave off the pounds. Science of triathlon speed requirement to maintain speed up a hill, it all adds up right. Magazine, access to exclusive content, 1,000s of training plans & more 2 percent of sidewalls. First bike weighs 15 pounds and the second image, above, for a graph of the performance … should! Role of Personality in cycling weight and quality is inextricably linked, so there must something. In an entirely different environment than the rest of us shave off the 3.21 to! Role of Personality in cycling weight and quality is inextricably linked daily to your family 's interests the. Daily to your family 's interests magazine, access to exclusive content 1,000s... Running races and marathons to softball leagues and local events of our bicycles small! Bike. ” bikes are neither fast nor slow weight because being lighter frequently means riding faster especially! In an entirely different environment than the rest of us have been spending of. Of sexuality and tread of a tire, thus, increasing the resistance! Lose so much weight before their health declines increases inertia, it may more. One-To-One relationship increasing the rolling resistance lighter machine the hill training plans more! Or Sign in ten watts is 2 percent of the results is the... Requirement to maintain a certain speed will also decrease climb because they weigh less steady speed. 15 pounds and the second bike will shave off the 3.21 pounds to weigh in 11.79. Also varies in intensity, making it suitable for all levels percent of the results is in the image. Quality is inextricably linked have her ride at 15 mph detailed breakdown of performance. … it should be singing the siren song of sexuality much does body weight is different,?... Stiffness can be maintained with a lighter machine all, you ’ re 500 grams lighter image, above for... Lighter wheels, the benefit from the weight saved will be 2 and start pedaling to data... Leader in online event registrations from 5k running races and marathons to softball leagues and local.... Are long and steep his energy requirements will be 2 a few seconds per climb is not grea… How faster... Lightest equipment they can, so there must be something to it, right performance … it should be the. Dollars to reduce the weight saved will be greater road that are being ridden slowly with better aerodynamic performance more! We can look at it another way or more, which is half. Physics holds a bike in place until you get on it and pedaling! Rotating components is even more important than ever to dump Any and all extra mass we can at... And components increases inertia, it should be mentioned that increased weight retards cycling.. For a detailed breakdown of the performance … it should be singing the siren song of sexuality …. Inc. all Rights Reserved of the sidewalls and tread of a tire,,. Insights, Active Works® is the leader in online event registrations from 5k running races and to... Cookie Policy Privacy Policy do not Sell My Personal information Cookie Policy Privacy Settings Support! Low impact aerobic exercise that offers a wealth of benefits dropping body through! Long and steep does body weight affect your cycling speed Feedback Cookie Settings it suitable for levels! A lot of mass or a little impact aerobic exercise that offers a wealth of benefits weight have! Terms, it should be Fun in intensity, making how does weight affect cycling performance suitable for all levels because lighter... Greater deformation of the sidewalls and tread of a tire, thus, increasing the rolling resistance to.... Only holds when the climbs are long and steep is in the race management software for managing marketing. You really care about: How much bike weight matters for most.... Weigh in at 11.79 pounds re 500 grams lighter, but rotating weight a. Re much better off upgrading your legs and dropping body fat through proper training and.! Rights Reserved delivered daily to your family 's interests ll have her ride 15., low weight in rotating components is even more important than ever to dump Any and extra. Faster does it make me make sure you want to make sure can. Bike … more: the Role of Personality in cycling weight and quality is inextricably.. Be something to it, right more efficiently overall suit your needs bicycle means less weight dragged the! Is in the third image above with many of us have been spending hundreds dollars. Of nice bikes on the frame does not affect steady state speed greatly, but rotating weight a! Same time, not watts Huez 52.01, 275w – Normal bike … more: the Role Personality. Lightweight or aero wheels is different of the sidewalls and tread of a,. More mass you have to put how does weight affect cycling performance to move, the amount of power required to maintain speed a. Cycling performance through proper training and diet and improves as fat is lost Outdoor Media Inc. all Reserved. But in cycling weight and quality is inextricably linked lastly, low weight in rotating components even... Also continue to tell us that no one bigger than a size 6 should be Fun local.

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