Does the bike matter?

I had my last event of the year yesterday, a short crit race. This wasn’t an A race, more a fun event with my brother-in-law. My last A event was actually a running event (the Fuji Marathon) in late November, so I’ve actually been taking it relatively easy, no taper etc. Anyway, I did better than expected, coming in 7th, at the head of the second main group, about 45 seconds behind the front group. After the race, I was talking with one of the riders, and he said “You’d be with the main group if you had a faster bike with proper wheels”.

Now, I live in central Tokyo. Riding outside here is generally a death wish. So over 90% of my riding is indoors. For 2018, I have almost exactly 300 hours of bike workouts done, of which less than 30 were outdoors. Should also mention, my FTP has gone from 150 to 240 in that time, while my weight has gone from 110kg to 83kg - TrainerRoad: it works, people!

My bike is a fairly generic low-end bike, the 2017 Giant Contend SL1 with the same wheels it comes with. It was a reasonable, all-around bike that I could have on the trainer and outdoors for comfortable riding. I certainly didn’t buy it for its speed - at the time I was planning on doing some outdoor rides - maybe Fondos etc - but had not given any real thought to racing.

So, my question is - is he right? Will getting a faster bike and faster wheels really make that big of difference?


TrainerRoad took ya from 1.36 w/kg to 2.89 in less than a year for $120. Kudos! And that’s better bang per buck than any bike. :+1:


Do you have the ‘cheap’ stuff? Skin suit, helmet, shaved legs, etc? Is being in the main group your goal?

1 Like

It all helps but, it really depends man! What happened to create that 45 second gap is an infinite number of factors including fitness, tactics/reading the race, and equipment.

With that said, the number one piece of equipment that you will notice an improvement from are tires/tubes. Not sure what you’re using but, a top shelf tire like the Continental GP5000, Vittoria Corsa Speed, Michelin Power Comp etc…combined with a good latex tube like the Challenge Corsa Latex, can increase speed and improve cornering by a noticeable amount.

After that, wheels are a great upgrade but, expensive. Do your research. Internal rim width is really important (I feel) as it allows the tire to be more round which can help reduce Crr and give you better cornering characteristics. Shape of the rim is important. Depth, spokes and finally hubs. Together the tire/tube wheel system can make a noticeable speed/handling difference.

Is that difference going to equal you getting in the front group? Depends.

1 Like

Would you be better off with a nicer bike? Sure. But is your current whip holding you back in racing? Not until you are at your peak fitness and others are still beating you out. If you want a nicer bike get a nicer bike, but don’t do it because some dude thinks you need a faster bike.


That’s an awesome improvement in one year! If you can improve at anyway close to the same level next season, you’ll probably close that gap anyway!! As I understand it, the aero properties of a bike don’t matter as much in crits where you draft most of the time. I have an relatively vintage carbon road bike that has served me well in crit-type races in the past, whereas it wouldn’t work in a non-drafting race at all.

By the way, I can’t imagine cycling in Tokyo!! I live in Kyushu, and it still scares the life of me, but at least I’m only a 15-minute ride to get into some nice countryside.