Is the bike holding me back?

Hi All,

When i first started TR in January, i told myself i would not get a new bike until i was much fitter, leaner, faster, and importantly - I felt as though the bike was my limiting factor.

Is now is right time for an upgrade? And will a new bike give me a few more kph

I’m currently riding a 10yr old Giant Defy which i bought brand new for £1000. They’re on ebay now for £300! My favero assioma pedals cost 2x my bike!! :man_facepalming:

Since January, I’ve cut down 11kg (100-89kg), increased my FTP to 340w (270-340w) and as of this weekend i was holding onto the wheels in the A group on both a Saturday and Sunday ride (110km each). On 5 different Strava segments i was in the top 5 (out of c10k ppl), I was so close to taking 5yr old KOMs!

If i get a new bike, will it give me a few more seconds? Will i be able to hold a wheel a bit longer, or do a bigger push on the front? Is it all even worth it?..



Seconds yes, probably.

Main thing here is the Defy is an Endurance bike, not a race bike so even a 10 year old race bike would be quicker by virtue of a more aerodynamic position. An aero bike or aero optimised bike (eg wheels) would be quicker still in most situations.

A new/newer bike would feel a lot more efficient and the improvements in bike design would be noticeable.

At nearly 4w/kg you’d be quick on anything


Trying to put a number on it is difficult but I would consider a best bike on that basis that;

  1. You can afford it
  2. It’ll ride better/feel more fun to ride & put a smile on your face
  3. It’ll be a bit faster
  4. You can keep the current bike for training [Bonus]

I’ve recently acquired a ‘best bike’ and it’s nice to have something sat there ready with deep sections/GP5000 TL ready to go. If the weather is bad, I just use the gritty commuter bike that’s all set up with mud guards and bigger tyres.

A new frame will help, mainly if you can hold a more aggressive position. Wheels 50mm-60mm deep will likely make a bigger difference than a new frame if you’ve got some shallow rims at the moment. Aero helmet and a tight jersey will help a lot too. Do all four and you’ll be faster for sure.

I’m thinking of just slamming the stem and getting some deep sections - that should get me a bit faster.

I promised the wife i wouldn’t get a new bike until we’ve settled our new baby who is arriving in January.

If i bring home with a new £6k tarmac she’ll be mad. But some 50mm Zipps she wont know the difference…

Seems like you’re just trying to justify the decision to yourself.

Whatever bike you have, there’ll always be something that “holds you back”.

Hell, you could spend £12k and still have room for improving equipment.

If you want a new bike, just get one.


Play it safe and wait for the baby.
Chances are you won’t want to ride a new bike outdoors for much longer, and by Jan/Feb you should still be able to find a 2019 bike on sale if you are not set on a specific bike.

You might buy wheels now and then decide on a disc braked bike in the new year


The defy probably has a compact (50/34)? Swapping that to a 52/36 will make you instantly faster if you can push the gears…which you probably can it sounds like. As an added bonus 36-28 is an easier climbing gear than 34-25 if you swap out the cassette at the same time as I presume you have an 11-25 on the rear.

Probably the only place my race bike makes any substantial saving over the training bike I barely ride is uphill because it’s about 2kg lighter…but I really really like riding the fast bike fast (both of them actually). Aside from things you can easily measure like time through a segment there’s the much harder to quantify how a bike makes you feel. My propel is stiffer, accelerates faster, and holds speed far better than my training bike. The 50mm deep sections also really make the bike feel fast and the sensation of holding higher speeds is great.

So essentially… A new bike might only make you marginally faster in ways you can measure…but it could make you feel like a hero.

What are you priorities on the bike? I would second the statement on the race v endurance thing. If you are a racer then the endurance frame will be a bit of a drag.

My last two horses were endurance frames. Told myself I was getting old. They were the first CF bikes I had. So much of the wow factor was taken up by that aspect. I began to suspect some issues that were affecting my enjoyment were down to the bike set-up. For example on group rides I would routinely loose 3 or 4 meters during cornering. I would then partially burn a match to make the catch. Not a big issue but an irritant that sapped the energy. Sand in the shoe. At first I thought it was just me; HTFU, upskill whatever.

So I recently switched from an endurance frame to a more race balanced steed, not for this reason but others that had a higher priority for me (aero being one). Now I don’t loose the wheel during maneuvering so much, which came as a bit of a pleasant surprise. The ride is a little more robust but not hellishly bad. So that bike change materially affected my ride experience and suits my wants and my ‘limiter’, such as it was, has been addressed.

The question is what do you want from a notional new bike? Anything new will make you faster if only from Newbikitis. If it is KOMs and you are close I bet even changing the bar tape will work for you.

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A new bike with decent groupset, discs and decent deep wheels can be an absolute pleasure to ride. If you love your riding you will love it even more with a decent bike. You’re going fast enough to notice the benefit of a decent frame and fast wheels.

Take note of what everyone has said about it getting into indoor season now so it won’t get much use outside, the availability of end of line discounts which can be huge(!) and not pissing off the wife.

and then get one anyway.

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Just stopping in to say congratulations!

Unless the OP is frequently spinning out on the top gear, no, it won’t (make him faster).


if you wanna go faster… try pedalling harder! Got it! thanks! will try next time

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If you still have spacers under the stem on a Defy a racier frame will just mean you have more spacers under the stem.

It is worth thinking about how position might impact your power, if you drop the front end and reduce drag do you also lose power?

Thankfully if you have spacers under the stem you can test it by dropping the stem and doing a repeatable test until you find where power starts dropping off. Even then you might accept a power drop if aeroness makes you faster (that needs more testing which is trickier as brings in more variables!) and because you may well adapt to the position and find the power again.

All that said the bike is probably holding you back seconds if anything. Save the cash and play with stems, baby changes everything.


I second that- congrats!!!


Congrats on the new addition to the family! Everyone I know who’s gone and had a baby has had significantly less time to ride so… I think the real question you should ask yourself is will you feel $6000 is well spent if you’re only able to ride the bike 25% of the time that you do now?

For me, I think I’d make the purchase since it would make my limited time on the bike that much more fun.

Or just buy new handlebars and new wheels and throw some nice new bar tape on it and have the best of both worlds.

Thanks very much for this.

I’m gonna lower the stem, maybe lengthen it a bit, get the bike a proper service, and maybe get some wheels…

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Getting a good set of wheels would probably get you much better bang for buck improvements if the money is tight. Hell, if you don’t already have them, a speed suit and an aero helmet are the biggest bang for buck aero improvements.

Putting some of your info into Best Bike Split and using their generic data for a Road bike vs an Aero road bike, with some weight savings. It looks like it would be good for ~30 seconds over 40km on a slightly rolling course.

I’m sure there’s some other non-aero gains to be made going to a new bike, as others have said, alot of it is mental gains.

I have very same bike (defy) and as many said it is an endurance frame. The alu frame is plenty stiff, but is quite harsh to ride. To make it similar to my (better) race bike I had to run a negative stem minus the headset bearing top cup, and it is still a little higher. Anyway, this bike is great for recovery rides and very reliable, but when things get spicy it does not perform well… After certain speed/power it starts to resist or something is holding it back.

Campy Zondas is what it has these days. Standard Giant wheels are quite horrible, but their slick tyres are pretty good actually.

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