Should I upgrade?

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Should I upgrade?

Postby snowball05 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:43 pm

Hi all, my first post.

I've been commuting to work (approx 10kms - flat route) about 3-4 days a week during summer for the past 7 years. I've been lucky to work for an employer that provides parking and shower facilities. It would almost be a show stopper for me now if they didn't.

Anyway, I started off on a MTB with slicks but when that bike wore out I changed to a Giant Cypress hybrid/comfort bike with the standard tyres (Maxxis Overdrive - Grooved Slick). I've never been into the bikes, I just see them as a form of transport so I've never bought any of the fancy gear and just use the standard pedals etc. And I've never cared too much for the speed factor - I'm a pretty lazy rider.

However, I now need to drop my son off at school which will make me late for work so I need to up the anti and reduce my commute time. So my question to the forum is what sort of speed increase should I get by changing to a flat bar road bike (in terms of %)?

An alternative would be to change the tyres on my current bike to proper road tyres and change the pedal set up to toe clips. I'm pretty tight so if this would yeild comparable results it would be my first choice. Comments?


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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby zero » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:00 pm

It depends on your base speed and what obstacles are in the way.

My MTB which is pretty much a worst case scenario - big tires, flat bars, high BB, dual suspension, does 30, where my road bike does 34. For 10kms, 2 and a half minutes saved on the roadie. If there was traffic lights, my worst road bike days would be easily worse than my best MTB days.

Sounds like you have a bike thats a third of the way between the 2 bikes I have, and you'll switch to a bike thats two thirds of the way between the 2 bikes I have. Maybe a minute faster ?

Note the roadie does occasionally waaaay outperform the MTB, ie there are spot points I can look down and see the roadie on 30 where the MTB would have fallen to 20, but those are generally transitional effects, and obviously if I ride harder, the MTB bends in the middle and wastes more power.

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby beani » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:54 pm


I was in exactly the same position, I do a ~50km round trip daily and face a number of hilly spots throughout, there is a 2km hill on the way home (not the best example but I have mapped out the commute here -

When I started I got a Giant Cypress for fairly cheap, put slicks on and spent a good day of adjusting to get the derailleur’s working the way I wanted (the running gear on these bikes are pretty average). I was consistent with trip times, pushing harder wasn't really getting me anywhere except exhausted, maybe 2 - 3 mins earlier. With the idea to go faster on the flats in mind, I bought an old 60cm Standish frame and did all I could to make her fly. Being immaturely minded to the whole cycling thing weight didn't cross my mind. I had slicks, toe-straps, bigger crank set, drop bars & Shimano leavers. I did this for about two years. Needless to say I was working hard to get that bike to go fast. What I did notice though is, the day I put toe straps on my legs didn't know what hit them. The push/pull motion it key to getting strength and consistency. If nothing else start with this and see how you feel.

Anyhow, 2 weeks ago I bit the bullet after getting hammer up the hills by a grandpa and a very pretty girl (on the same ride) I procrastinated over what bike I should get. After some great advice from very dear friends (one is a pro bike mechanic, the other a pro competition cyclist) I decided to get the works. I can afford $K's so I explained my budget to my mechanic and this bike was suggested.

Along with these

and these

The price tag was $1,100AUD but I got a free drink bottle :lol:

I have ridden 420km in 6 days since I picked it up & it hasn't skipped a beat. I am leaving people for dead up the big hill now & I’m clocking between 30km/h avg speed consistently. I have gone from a 1:10hr - 1:15hr down to a 55min - 1:00hr and only getting better.

I guess the main thing is $$ unfortunately. The only thing I would do differently in my time cycling is not have bought the only Standish and put light weight rims on the Giant along with toe clips, and if I had the cash the newer style drop bars & leavers (like the 3T Rotundo Pro with Shimano Ultergra leavers). If you’re going to invest anything I would try and get stuff that is transportable over the next bike you'll buy, so clips and rims are generally a good start I would think.

If you are on complete flats and have no ambition to hit hills maybe consider a large single crank and light small cassette? Along with shoes and road tyres, I think you would really notice a change then.

Just remember if you aren’t going to push yourself harder the bike won’t do the extra work for you to get better times.

Ride hard enough to throw-up then maintain that speed, well maybe don't go that crazy but you get what i mean.


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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby snowball05 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:06 pm

Thanks for the help guys. I think I'm going to spend a bit on the Giant as a starting point.

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby gdt » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:23 pm

I moved from a MTB to a road bike (also the Orbea Aqua). The roadie is about 10Km/h faster and the effort is considerably less. The lower bottom bracket means that the cabling and chain pick up more grime, so the road bike needs a lot more cleaning and general attention than the MTB ever did. Visibility on the road bike is less -- especially to the rear -- but that's not a huge issue for me.

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby silentbutdeadly » Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:39 pm

I'd keep the Giant for the moment. Go with toe clips or even cleated pedals if you dare. Change the tyres to a narrow 26x1.5 or even 1.25. The Schwalbe Marathon's are ideal for this as they can be inflated to 80 PSI (very hard) so your pedal effort translates into road speed. Just doing this will get your average road speed up quite a bit...

I've basically taken a Learsport hardtail MTB down this track and it is doing very nicely as a commuter hack. Just about to put a Shimano Deore hollowtech touring crankset on the thing (after the bottom bracket snuffed it) which will give me a taller chain ring set than a typical MTB.....
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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby sogood » Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:43 pm

beani 6 days since I picked it up & it hasn't skipped a beat. I am leaving people for dead up the big hill now & I’m clocking between 30km/h avg speed consistently. I have gone from a 1:10hr - 1:15hr down to a 55min - 1:00hr and only getting better.

New bike syndrome... :mrgreen:
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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby goneriding » Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:11 pm

Is this even a question? Perhaps it is rhetorical? I'm confused!

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby beani » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:19 pm

sogood wrote:
beani 6 days since I picked it up & it hasn't skipped a beat. I am leaving people for dead up the big hill now & I’m clocking between 30km/h avg speed consistently. I have gone from a 1:10hr - 1:15hr down to a 55min - 1:00hr and only getting better.

New bike syndrome... :mrgreen:

Oh indeed, today was my last ride before two days rest & I'm just getting more and more hooked. The only problem is knowing when to have a "rest" coz I'm really loving going fast. WHOOT

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Should I upgrade?

Postby Comedian » Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:03 pm

I don't think a road bike will make a huge difference over that distance with like effort. Maybe only a couple of minutes?

Busting a gut might save you five though!

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby ghettro » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:55 pm

If you're already running narrower higher pressure tyres, then switching to a flat bar road bike will probably make next to no difference. The biggest variable in commute time usually is traffic lights and intersections, particularly over 10km (not sure what your route is) the difference would probably be negligible.

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Should I upgrade?

Postby Redbull » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:19 pm

Lots of replies but the simple answer is YES!!!

You should always upgrade whether you need it or not.

We are cyclists after all. :)
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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby DavidS » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:32 am

I would say definitely get toe clips. I basically haven't owned a bike without toe clips since I was 15, and recently I got cleats. Cleats are better but the difference between nothing and toe clips is much larger than the difference between clips and cleats. Go for the thinnest tyres you can get and that would also help. These should make a bit of difference and with some effort you should be going a bit faster.

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby jules21 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:21 pm

i deliberately commute on a heavy MTB with knobbies. it's safer on shared paths, due to being a bit slower and i get a better workout. in fact i've recently started taking a longer loop to get more of a ride in.

i don't need to upgrade to a roadie as i already own one, but it's reserved for proper road rides.

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby CommuRider » Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:30 pm

goneriding wrote:Is this even a question? Perhaps it is rhetorical? I'm confused!

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby Becker_11 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:18 pm

Waaaay back when I was 15 I was riding a no name steel bike that cost maybe $250. I was running 27x1.3/8 inch Michelin World Tour Tyres on it. Then I started getting competitive and recording my times from home into town. No matter what I did my times after a few days leveled out. Then I switched to 27x1 1/8th inch tires that could inflate to 100psi & the difference was chalk and cheese. The tread difference was like going from a mtb knobby to the 1 1/8th siped tread.

I knocked 2 mins off my best time and was hooked. So I'd definitely recommend skinner tires with higher air pressure regardless of what bike your using. Also forget the petrol station for inflating your tires. They max out at 60psi. Get yourself a floor pump to keep at home and inflate your tires to their max rated pressure then check them every 3 to 4 days. I consider a floor pump an essential purchase if your serious about riding. That's the best low cost advice I can give you.

edit: forgot to add you can get floor pumps from $40 upwards I spent $80 on mine after Cycle Mania in North Perth told me they'd used the same one in their workshop everyday for 6 months and it was still going strong btw it's a Basta Pit Crew Pro. If it lasts 6 months in a shop it will last me a lifetime. A good friend of mine bought one over 20 years ago and still uses it today. I only mention this to point out that you may feel it's an expense you don't need but once you've got one if you look after it your bike should wear out before your pump does.

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Re: Should I upgrade?

Postby Hamster » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:16 pm

10 kms (AT) 20 kph = 30 minutes, 10 kms (AT) 30 kph = 20 minutes. If your route is conducive to a high speed run then yes a roadie will save you time, but if there are intersections, round-abouts, traffic and other urban obstacles to negotiate then any time saving will be reduced. Realistically the saving would be around 5 minutes per trip.

I ride a fairly heavy MTB as my commuter, firstly nothing much bothers it and being heavy it gives me a better workout. After being on the MTB all week the roadie feels ultra-light which makes it more fun to ride. :D
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