Thursday, February 8, 2018

# ┌∩┐= 0

OK boys and girls, time for a good ol’ fashion rant…

While doing my usual mix of activities (work, beer drinking, bike riding, reading about bikes, shopping for bike stuff, blogging, bike art, etc), I realized that many of us (including me at times) spend TONS of energy trying to eek out more speed on my bike.  We all read about carbon this or that to drop weight, new tires, training methods, blah blah…

What I realized is that the # of f*cks I was giving to things that had very little influence on my riding speed had creeped north of ZERO.  And that many of my riding buddies, and the conversations we were having centered around these same, somewhat insignificant things…

What are they you ask?

#1: Tires…  Arguing about tires is about as close to conversational masturbation as it gets.  Ask 10 people what their favorite tire is and you’ll get at least 5 different answers (even for a given terrain!).  Granted, you can’t compare a Walmart tire to a $75 race tire or to a downhill specific tire, but arguing that a high quality Maxxis XC tire is faster or slower than a high quality Bontrager or Specialized XC tire is just plain dumb.  (I’m sorry, those rolling resistance tests published are OK, but don’t tell the whole story) We all know people out there that are absolutely killing it on tires we’ve kicked to the curb saying that “traction was poor” or “it washed out in a turn”…    Guess what, it’s not the tire that sucks…it’s your technique.  Work on it, over and over and over…when you can get that worn out front tire to hold you in turns on kitty litter, you’ve got $hit down…

#2: Boost…  OK people, listen, I’m a mechanical engineer…I understand things like forces, stiffness/compliance, angles, etc….   But when did a small amount of additional lateral wheel stiffness make me measurably faster?  Nope…  If you can find a good, statistically valid study that proves the lateral stiffness that boost spacing provides makes me cover ground faster, I will sell all my non-boost crap and drink the Koolaide.  Till then, I will watch boost empty peoples wallets faster while the value of their non-boost components goes to hell... 

So, take that time you spend at the computer writing emails to buddies arguing about tires and boost and whatever else, and go f*cking ride your bike…ride it fast to the point of near puke….ride no more than 1x per week at Browns Ranch to practice momentum conservation and cornering, ride rocky stuff to practice sketchy handling…ride with faster people to push you...just be sure to ride and don't blame life for getting in the way.  Yeah, sometimes it REALLY does, but each time you think it does, i'll bet at least half the time you can come up with a plan that still gets you on the bike.  

THAT's the #1 thing that will make you faster.

If you’re getting in only 4 hours a week on the bike and spending that or more surfing the internet reading bike related stuff looking for things to make you faster, you’re doing it WRONG.



  1. Hehe, you said stiffness...twice. Well done!!

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  3. Yup. I did some calculations on speed improvement with my new tires. I compared the speed on my best efforts on several segments just over past few weeks. The average improvement amounted to 0.5% in speed/time per mile. Of course I also lowered the tire pressure by 3-4 psi. One also has to factor in the placebo effect of a "better" tire that gives you more confidence. New tires will also grip better than a ridden tire. (Heavier by 100 grams though) In the end my estimate of speed improved due to a "better" tire design is about 0.2% per mile. In comparison over the years better technique, conditioning and experience probably amounted to 50% speed improvement per mile.... I will say that discussing tires as any part of biking is tremendously satisfying.