Hey mechanic, my bike’s too slow, can you do something about it? Is it me or have we all been there? Well, in this three-part series Alex Heaney of Spoken Cycles takes us through where to get free speed, speed on a budget and speed where money is no object on your bike. First up, where can you get free speed?
Clean bike/Drivetrain and Lube
Making sure you have a clean bike and drive train is an easy and cheap way to make your bike go faster. Especially during the wetter conditions, you can save up to 8 Watts by not having the greasy grime stuck around your chain cassette and chainrings. It will not only make your drivetrain a lot more efficient but function a lot better as well.
Hot Soapy water and a brush/Toothbrush is a very cost-effective way while the Morgan Blue Chain Cleaner is the best we have come across for your Drivetrain. Once you have a clean drivetrain it needs to be re-lubed, up to 10 watts can be the savings by having a lubed chain over a dry and squeaky one, wiping all the excess lube off afterwards will then keep it a lot cleaner and efficient.
At the end of the day there are four things that affect how fast your body goes, your weight, aerodynamics, fitness and how much power you can put out. Your weight and power work in together and Watts/Kg is worked out as your Power divided by your Watts. Essentially this means that the higher your power is and the lower your weight is the faster you go. So the person that can put out the most power doesn’t necessarily win the race if they are the heaviest there and vice versa, the person that puts out the least power won’t find it the easiest if their weight is the lowest.
It effectively means you are trying to find that perfect balance where your watts/kg is at its highest, if you lose a couple of kgs and your power stays the same your watts/kg goes up but if you put on weight and your watts stay the same it will go down. It’s just about trialling were best works for you.
As mentioned previously aerodynamics effects how fast your body can go. Obviously, in events such as time trials, triathlons, Ironman, your body position is different because it is a different bike setup so you will go faster, but it’s not just about that or going out and buying the most aero helmet, body position on your road bike has an effect as well. Riding the drops with straight arms compared to riding your hoods in a standard position can save you 3% while if you’re on the drops and bending your elbows down you can save up to 10.5% vs riding the hoods. By riding a different position you can be saving watts and energy that doesn’t need to be used, next time you’re out try riding the drops and bending your elbows while keeping the pressure on the pedals the same and watch your speed go up.
There are many things that come out about why cyclists shave their legs, aerodynamics, better for road rash, easy to massage, they look bigger etc. But it has been tested and proven that it is faster and more aerodynamic to have clean shaven legs. A number of athletes were tested and came out with an average of 60sec over 40km, that’s a pretty big saving and is really easy to do.