Slow Rider

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Does gear matter?
« on: July 31, 2016, 19:26 »
Bike sponsors will always tell the world that their bikes are better, faster and stronger than anyone else's. And of course it matters whether you're on a 1960's Peugeot or a brand new 10.000 euro S-Works.

But in reality those bike brands such as Specialized, Pinarello and Bianchi only make the frames - which often even come from the same factories[1] And what I am wondering, is there actually any difference between them?

Of course cyclists will always say their current sponsor has the best bikes, but sometimes there seems to be something to it. For instance, I've heard a number of fans ascribe LottoNL-Jumbo's surprisingly good TT performances in 2016 to their Bianchi bikes. Is there anyting to that? I have rarely - if ever - seen huge changes in performance when a team changes bike sponsor between the years.

So are there actual differences between bike brands? As someone who has never cycled seriously, to me it would seem the difference between different bike frames is pretty much neglectible. If there are differences between gear, I would think those would be down to groupsets and wheels before the frame itself. So is it really just marketing, or is there more to it?
 1. See this link for an excellent article on that from 2012.
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  • just some guy

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    Re: Does gear matter?
    « Reply #1 on: July 31, 2016, 19:53 »
    Top of the range not a hugr amount of difference. There might be so bike fit issues for certain riders but not a lot
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    Larri Nov 12, 2014


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    Re: Does gear matter?
    « Reply #2 on: July 31, 2016, 19:58 »
    Dunno.  :D

    TT-ing would be the place you might see some differences and as you point out there are instances of teams that suddenly show an improvement from one year to the next:

    Katusha (in 2012 was it?)
    Lotto (Carlton going on and on about their dimpled paint finish a couple of years ago)
    FDJ (this year)

    Now that could be just that they have put in a lot of extra work in wind tunnels etc, but it could be something new/different about the bike too.

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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: Does gear matter?
    « Reply #3 on: July 31, 2016, 20:21 »
    (Lotto-Jumbo comments) Is there anyting to that?

    So are there actual differences between bike brands? ... So is it really just marketing?

    If there truly were differences between the brands, there'd be one brand of bike frame that absolutely dominated racing across the year.

    Think of any branch of motorsport as an analogy - another sport that is reliant on the interface between human operator and machine. There you do see the impact of mechanical advantage - eg., how many top riders became also-rans when they moved to Ducati in MotoGP? How much closer is the engine and tyre controlled Indy series than F1 (the latter with it's individual "stables")?
    (And no "their speeds are higher" doesn't explain anything. The components may be built to respond to different needs, but in each case they are tailored to the same objective: help their "pilot" to win in their chosen competition.)

    As you say, the vast majority of frames come from the same couple of factories. Add to that the fact that the same materials are available to all manufacturers, they've all got the same CAD systems and same understanding of physics/engineering ... and they all have access to each other's bikes to pull to bits and check over if they want ... and you tell me where there's room to build in a difference - other than in colours, design and that all important marketing bullsh*t.

    My post will of course bring howls of objection from anyone trying to sell bikes ... or anyone who's recently lashed out too much money in response to marketing claims ...  :D :D

    And of course it matters whether you're on a 1960's Peugeot or a brand new 10.000 euro S-Works.

    Not 1960's, nor Peugeot, and an unscientific test (not least because of the use of leather soled shoes that don't match that era), but check this out before you place too much weight in your comment here:

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  • AG

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    Re: Does gear matter?
    « Reply #4 on: August 01, 2016, 02:04 »
    manufacturer - no

    fit - absolutely

    It matters much, much more that the bike is fit for the rider (you or a pro) than the difference in manufacturer.

    A rider will get MUCH more speed and power from a bike that fits perfectly and suits his riding style.

    I did have to laugh at the absolute garbage trotted out by Phil and Paul during the Tour ITT stage ... when discussing Chris Froome and his 0 rings.   How they gave him about 10% more power - but other riders were not allowed to use them because of sponsor requirements blah blah blah.

    Made me want to throw something at the tv  :lol
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