Author Topic: Bicycle Speeds Question  (Read 12053 times)

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Offline Solonger

Bicycle Speeds Question
« on: January 17, 2011, 03:15:34 pm »
I am planning an upcoming self supported (camping) east to west cross country tour this summer on the northern tier, ide like to average over 100 miles a day. I recently bought a 2010 Raleigh Sojourn (frame weight 34lbs) that i found a great deal on craigslist. My background is in triathlon (i train >15 hrs a week) so for training purposes i mostly ride my carbon fiber time trial bike. I just took the Sojourn on a weekend one night out and back tour (170 miles round trip). I only had rear panniers on the bike but i plan on getting a front rack and putting small front panniers as well.

One thing that really bothered me throughout the trip is how slow this bike feels.  I understand that its a very sturdy and solid bike and i may be extremely jaded from triathlon training however i cannot get over the speed. I ride for training purposes 21-23 mph steady state and i averaged about 15 mph on the tour (although i did have some 7-12mph headwinds for most of the trip). Without getting a completely new bike, does anyone have any tips for upping the speed. I currently have 35c vittorio randonuerr tires with a fair amount of tread on them, what about a 28c slick? Also in a fully loaded touring bike lets be honest, will a few pounds that i would save getting a lighter frame or using a different bike really make all that much of a difference? I do enjoy going fast and covering alot of ground. Advice from experienced touring cyclists wanted! Is it the bike or is it my expectations?

Offline litespeed

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 05:09:32 pm »
I'd say it's your expectations. When I tour I am happy to average 12 mph although I routinely knock off 100-mile days. Touring takes persistence, not adrenaline. Actually, your 15 mph average with headwinds is pretty impressive. Just adjust your mind to setting a comfortable pace, coast when you can and enjoy the scenery. Remember you will be bicycling all day, day after day and maybe taking a rest day from time to time. As for tires you want sturdy, not fast. Trying to gain a little speed won't do you much good if you flat or the tires wear out under all that weight. I use 35mm Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. Also you might consider having the wheels tuned up by an expert. Broken spokes are a real hassle.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 05:15:03 pm by litespeed »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 05:38:37 pm »
Frame weight 34 pounds??? I doubt it. Surely you're talking about the whole bike with the wheels, tires, fenders, handlebars, seat, crankset, pedals, gears, chain, derailleurs, brakes and rack, right? That's typical for a touring bike. This bike looks like it has everything you need right out of the box (except maybe the pedals). It's got a lot of extras. It even comes with a Brooks B-17 saddle. This bike is already upgraded to what most people would upgrade to. Pretty cool if you ask me.

I ride about 3.2 MPH slower on my loaded touring bike than I do on my unloaded road bike.

You say you "21-23 MPH steady state" on your road bike. Is that what your bike computer says is your average speed for the ride when you park it back in the garage? Or is that what your bike computer says to you when you glance down at it? Then you say you "averaged about 15 MPH on the tour". Where did that number come from? Are you sure you're comparing apples to apples, collecting "average speed" numbers in exactly the same way.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 05:44:00 pm by John Nelson »

Offline rvklassen

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 05:48:45 pm »
I averaged about 15 mph on the tour (although i did have some 7-12mph headwinds for most of the trip). Without getting a completely new bike, does anyone have any tips for upping the speed.  I do enjoy going fast and covering alot of ground. Advice from experienced touring cyclists wanted! Is it the bike or is it my expectations?
Two things sap your speed when you tour: weight (and changes you make in the bike are small compared to what you can add in gear) will slow you down on the up hill and when accelerating, and bulk (largely due to the panniers) will slow you down on the down hill, level, and especially where you encounter headwinds.  So yes, 15 is a pretty good speed.  That said, you may be faster with different tires, at higher pressure.  But it might not be significant.

Offline whittierider

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 05:55:53 pm »
Quote
what about a 28c slick?  Also in a fully loaded touring bike lets be honest, will a few pounds that i would save getting a lighter frame or using a different bike really make all that much of a difference?
Wind resistance is primary, and you can't do much about the large panniers.  Next is rolling resistance, and that will improve with less weight and slick tires.  Unfortunately none of the high-performance tires are made any wider than 25mm, but the Continental Ultra Gatorskin is not bad-performing considering its toughness, and it comes in 28.  In the high-performance tires however, the Continental Grand Prix 4000 seems to be the king of the hill at the moment.  Conti sure did something right on that one.  They are close to the best in rolling resistance, and yet they are excellent at puncture resistance because of their vectran breaker layer.  I got a box staple in my rear GP4000 a couple of summers ago and it did not penetrate that layer.  I just pulled it out and continued my ride, without having to fix a flat.  These tires also last much longer than any previous tire I've tried.  See http://www.conti-online.com/generator/www/de/en/continental/bicycle/general/downloads/download/tourtest_gp4000s_en.pdf

Offline Solonger

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 06:14:25 pm »
Thanks for all the great info, i had a feeling that it was just my expectations and not really a serious equipment issue. Yes sorry 34 lbs with wheels, racks, etc. The speeds that i average are both what the computer says at the end of the day and i divide my distances (i map most of my routes on google earth) by my actual riding time (stopping my watch at intersections etc.) The computer on the touring bike said 15.1 avg which according to my watch and the known route distance was about the same. I am fairly new to touring and coming from a racing background its quite an adjustment to not be thinking about time! But you are correct litespeed, this is about pacing and enjoying the scenery and adventure (which is the entire reason i want to do the tour in the first place)! I guess i just want to get the most bang for my buck energy efficiency wise while on tour.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 08:15:05 pm »
When I go out on a day ride I average 15-18 mph.  Loaded touring, 12-13 unless there are lots of hills or headwind.  Then I may average 11.  I don't try to push it any more like I did at age 30 (I'm 62 now).  I just keep it steady and end up where I intend to.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline DaveB

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2011, 09:46:37 am »
There is no question a loaded touring bike (or even an unloaded touring bike) is going to be slower than a light sports or racing bike.  I have a Litespeed Tuscanny with a full 10-speed Campy drivetrain and 120 psi 700-23 slick tires.  I also have a Surly Cross Check with fenders, a rack, lights, an 8-speed mongrel drivetrain and 700x32 mixed surface tires.  The Litespeed weighs 18 pounds, all-up   The Surly weighs 35 pounds.  Guess which on is faster?  :D

Since you are used to a tri-bike, you might consider adding a simple aerobar to the Raleigh.  It certainly won't help with climbing but will reduce your air resistance in a headwind situation.  Of course, the Raleigh will never have anywhere near the aerodynamics of your tri-bike but the aerobar will help.   

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2011, 01:33:01 pm »
I am going to go with your expectations are wrong.  A touring bike has no aerodynamics, and it bulk make it slower in every way.

If you continue to focus on performance issues, I think you are going to short change yourself.  You could miss out on the sounds the gound makes when you ride over it, the smells of agricultures, or industry, or brook, lake, or ocean.  If you really want to see a place, then ride through it.  You won't know what steep is until you have climbed it on you own two wheels.

I am not judging you, I am only asking you to consider that there is a lot more to touring than average speed and distance covered.
Danno

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2011, 11:25:21 pm »
I am going to go with your expectations are wrong.  A touring bike has no aerodynamics, and it bulk make it slower in every way.

If you continue to focus on performance issues, I think you are going to short change yourself.  You could miss out on the sounds the gound makes when you ride over it, the smells of agricultures, or industry, or brook, lake, or ocean.  If you really want to see a place, then ride through it.  You won't know what steep is until you have climbed it on you own two wheels.

I am not judging you, I am only asking you to consider that there is a lot more to touring than average speed and distance covered.

Well said, paddleboy.  I agree.  Day riding and touring are somewhat different sports.
May the wind be at your back!

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2011, 10:46:00 am »
Another vote for expectations.  When I did the nothern tier, a few of us had a running joke about how our computers almost always seemed to show a 12.4 mph average for the day, regardless of the day's terrain.

BTW...If you get severe headwinds in eastern and central MT, 15 mph is going to seem fast.  We went west to east.  During a 20 mile stretch with a strong tailwind I spun out at 32.5 mph on the flats.  Was able to maintain that speed for maybe 3 miles before having to drop down to a comfortable cruising speed of 28 mph.  On days like that, ride early in the morning and/or later in the evening.  Depending on when you go, you may have plenty of light.

Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2011, 03:16:44 pm »
Another vote for expectations.

In similar vein, and please do not interpret the monotone and non-voice-inflective message board to suggest I'm preaching at you or telling you one way or the other...  but one comment you made really stuck me.  You said, "I do enjoy going fast and covering alot of ground."  Been there and done that.

I have found as I have aged considerably with parenthood that I learn more from my kids (two boys, 4 and 3) than I suspect they learn from me.  On a routine training ride my older son alerted me from the trailer to stop.  Sensing nothing wrong with the bike or trailer I feared something wrong with him.  Nope, he saw a bird I missed along the way that had some pretty colors we do not routinely see.  We watched until it flew off.

When we exceed the age where our biggest decisions are what color crayons to use, or we're too busy to count the leaves falling from the trees, etc...  I think we forget the important things in life.  I thank my kids for reminding me to stop now and again and take in those details that make this truly an enjoyable life afterall.  A tour is the same way.  If we go just a little too fast we might miss something really important along the way.  Regardless, enjoy the ride the way that is best for you.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2011, 09:51:01 pm »
Smell the flowers and you'll get a lot more out of your travels.

Have fun - hmm that's an order  ;)
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline DaveB

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2011, 03:54:52 pm »
If getting across the country as fast as possible is the object, there are tours that make it possible.  Lon and Susan Haldeman run "Pac Tours" that are fully sagged and suported so you can ride an unladen sports bike and they average about 125 miles/day.  I assume they don't visit many tourest or nature attractions or meet many local people along the way.

Offline whittierider

Re: Bicycle Speeds Question
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2011, 07:24:54 pm »
Quote
I assume they don't visit many tourist or nature attractions or meet many local people along the way
which is fine for some of us who don't enjoy that kind of thing.  The riding itself is the attraction for me.  So if you can go with a pretty minor load so you can still go fast and burn up the road and have fun, so much the better.