General Discussion Triathlon Talk » How much bike upgrade with new bike? Rss Feed  
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2017-08-19 10:03 AM

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Subject: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
I'm currently riding a 30 year old Cannondale road bike with original components. As I continue to build my endurance base, I keep seeing performance improvements, which is encouraging!

I am curious, though, to see what kind of base performance improvements I would potentially see on a new (or newer) road bike. I doubt my budget would be anywhere over $1,000, too, so it's not like I'd be making a massive bike upgrade to a fancy tri bike or anything like that.

What have you all seen?


2017-08-19 10:14 AM
in reply to: robertChiefsFan

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
You probably realize that it is the engine that is the limiter in your biking improvement, not your bike. With that said, anything that improves your fit on the bike will have an immediate pay off in not only speed but comfort over the length of the race. Getting a proper fitting is probably your best bet. Beyond that, you will probably see an improvement in speed and acceleration if you get a set of wheels with deep rims and invest in a set of tires with good rolling resistance numbers. Upgrading components (ie, derailleurs) has more to do with operation than speed.
2017-08-19 11:48 AM
in reply to: #5226557

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
Yeah, the engine needs a lot of work, I won't deny that, and that's my main focus right now.

Just curious what an upgrade to my ride might do for me.

Thanks!!
2017-08-23 8:09 AM
in reply to: robertChiefsFan

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
Are you willing to go to a TT bike? Is this for triathlons? I feel like you would notice a very nice speed increase (1-2 mph? can't remember avg increase) going from upright road bike to riding in aero position on a TT bike. The speed increase will be less going from a properly fit road bike with clip ons to a pure tt bike, but I think there is still potential for gains. In your budget I would look for a used bike. I purchased mine used a few years ago for $1,250, and my brother just got a p2 used for about $1,400.
2017-08-23 12:21 PM
in reply to: robertChiefsFan

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?

I started with a $200 road bike and did okay. It wasn't the lightest bike on the market and I think this helped me develop a strong motor and legs for the future.

I upgraded after a couple of years of racing to a Trek Speed Concept carbon Tri bike. My speed increased about 2 MPH with the upgrade.

2017-08-23 12:31 PM
in reply to: GODAWGS

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
Thanks for the replies! I'd probably focus on a road bike, mainly for versatility. I don't see myself becoming fast enough to need a fancy TT or Tri bike anytime soon.


2017-08-23 6:39 PM
in reply to: robertChiefsFan

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?

All other things being equal...

You can expect the new bike to be a pound or two lighter.  Friction is a function of force, but the coefficient is pretty low, so figure <1% improvement in rolling resistance (tires and drivetrain) due to lighter weight.  

You can expect some improvement in bearings, so your coefficient of friction might go from 0.01 to 0.005.  See above.  

A 30-year-old Cannondale probably has a 6-speed or 7-speed rear derailleur, possibly 8-speed.  Modern drivetrains in your price range will be 10-speed (I think).  You can remain in your sweet spot over a wider range of conditions which will probably be the bigger impact (maybe 3-5%) improvement.  

With the reduced weight, you'll notice more responsive acceleration to increasing effort so you'll feel like you're making bigger gains than you actually are.  This will make a difference if you ride rolling courses.  

If you like riding your Cannondale, keep riding it and spend the $1000 in other ways.  Coaching, aero helmet, aero wheels, vacation, more races, movie night with the family, iPhone 8...

If you don't like riding the Cannondale, buy something else (at the expense of some of the above alternatives), but know that you it'll be hard to determine whether the improvement is because of the bike physics, your enthusiasm with the new toy, or better fit.  

2017-08-23 8:15 PM
in reply to: robertChiefsFan


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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
If you know enough to get something used. . . you'll notice a huge difference. Even a new bike in the 1k range should feel a lot better. Stiffer, more gears, lighter. . . there has been a lot of technology advances in that time frame. Yes, it'll be faster than what you got but as others have said, you still need an engine.
2017-08-23 8:53 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
I started riding about 3 1/2 years ago on a 20 year old mountain bike with 1.95" wide commuter tires, 4" riser bars, and fatboy seat. After about 6 months, I bought myself a brand new, entry level (Sora equipped, MSRP ~$900) road bike as a reward for losing 40 lbs. Couldn't wait for my first ride, expected I'd be ~3 mph faster than on the mountain bike. First ride on my "reference route" was only a little over 1 mph faster. Bad ride? Undetected wind? Nope, the next couple attempts confirmed the rather modest increase in speed.

Assuming your old Cannondale is in good working order with decent tires, and your new road bike is set up with roughly the same fit coordinates, you're not likely to see much, if any, speed gains.

The 5 things that influence speed the most are these, in roughly this order:
1. Rider's fitness (i.e. "the engine")
2. Rider's position on the bike (frontal area, drag)
3. Kit (how aero is your clothing?)
4. Tires (rolling resistance)
5. Helmet (aero drag)

The only one that's even bike-related is #2. If you're going from road bike to road bike with roughly the same geometry, #2 is a wash. Modern frames, wheels, and drivetrains aren't really going to make as big a difference as you've likely been led to believe.


Riding was a summer-only activity for me for the next two years, and I didn't really work at it too hard, as competitive swimming was my main focus. I saw only small gains in speed. I dabbled a little with trainer work over this past winter, and rode a little more this summer than summers past. I can now do that same reference route on that same road bike nearly 5mph faster than I did back then on the mountain bike. Most of that speed differential came from "building then engine," very little from the bike itself.

FWIW, I recently added a Triathlon bike to my stable and experience roughly the same thing. Thought I'd be ~2mph faster than on the road bike, but again found it was only worth ~1mph for me.


Edited by gary p 2017-08-23 9:19 PM
2017-08-23 11:19 PM
in reply to: robertChiefsFan

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?

I have been rocking a 1988 Peugeot for several years and have invested about a grand into it. I have gone from the original 6sp to a 8sp setup. Still clicking downtube shifters. Upgraded the derailers and brakes to Shimano 600's. (Ultegra grade back in the day) Ditched the quill stem and went with a modern stem setup so I can use different setups to position the handlebars to my liking. I also went to modern ergo handlebars. My biggest 'fit' improvement was a custom 155mm Sram Apex crank setup with modern BB. This allows a more aggressive position on the bike. Next upgrade will be a set of modern wheels, right now I am running a staggered setup with 25mm in the rear and 22mm up front. (I was previously doing lots of aggressive downhill mountain twisties and the wider rear gave me more meat on the ground on those hard leaning high speed turns, fun!)

All of these improvements worked to get me into better position which in turn allowed me to turn more power for longer periods of time. I don't have any hard numbers but I can tell you that with each modification I felt better and made some significant improvements over previous rides on the same routes.

If you like your bike, I would say upgrade it. If your in the market for a new bike, I would set your budget to a more realistic $1,800-$2,300. From my window shopping anything less just gets you subpar components, I would consider group 105 as minimum entry level for a competitive bike. 

Hope this helps.

2017-08-24 8:21 AM
in reply to: rjcalhoun

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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?
Great feedback - thank you so much!!!! I have given some thought to upgrading components, so I might look into that. I don't mind the downtube shifters, now that I've gotten used to them. I wish the big ring wasn't a friction shifter, but otherwise, we're good.


2017-08-25 8:39 AM
in reply to: robertChiefsFan


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Subject: RE: How much bike upgrade with new bike?

I actually strongly suspect you'll get quite a significant boost from upgrading to a good racing TT bike!

 

Note that it wouldn't necessarily be because the TT bike would be so much better of a speedster ride compared to your 30 year old road bike (it's only a small gain in speed at best) but you'd likely have both a better fit (hopefully) which adds the most gain for speed (the bike aerodynamics are puny compared to your body's effect on the wind) and more importantly, you'll likely LOVE riding your new sexy bike which lead you to a lot more bike training and commitment, which will then take you to the next level. 

 

I'm the last person to advocate getting pricey trigear for looks and bling (I actually run mostly in $20 water shoes now since they're cheap, surprisingly durable, super lightweight and portable, and work well with my minimalist shoe stride) but the bike is definitely an area where having a bike you're excited to ride and look at makes a big difference for the AGer.  

 

I'll also warn that you probably won't find the ideal tribike for yourself at <$1000 - the options at that range are few and far in between unless you get lucky finding a great used deal. At $2k, and for sure, $2-3k though, you're look at stuff like Cervelo P2 and similar true aerobikes which look and ride awesome, no matter what vintage. There are a bunch of used Cervelo P2s being sold online in various places for well <$2k, many barely used and which look near-mint. 

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