How much does the bike matter?

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by AllAboutTheEngine

Fun question.

If you had to estimate as a percentage - how much do you think the bike matters in terms of overall performance of the rider?

Lets say the mimimum bike we are talking about is something like a ~£500 entry level specialized road bike with basic shimano or similar (so no old ladies bikes etc). All the way up to the most weenied high-spec carbon frames kitted out with top-end wheels.

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by serbelo

For Aerodynamics they say bike is just 30% and the rest rider position.
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by thisisatest

That's basically the aero difference between a rider with bike and a rider with no bike at all.
Difference between a poor bike aerodynamically and a very aero bike is a couple percent. Rider position from upright to a low tuck is huge. Weight, well weight only greatly affects changes of speed, the bike, like with aerodynamics, is a small part of the mass of the whole system.
Rolling and mechanical resistance- the worst tires can dissipate more than twice the energy that the best tires do. Bearings, more so. Not so much from bearing material, or even smoothness of surfaces, I'm referring to alignment and preload as the dominant factors there. Chain and other drivetrain parts, as long as we're talking about a chain drive system, I don't see much of anything gained from best to worst. chain drive systems are inherently very low drag.
comparing the entry level Allez with an SWorks Tarmac, positioning and such being equal, it turns out that from point A to point B, times will be very, very close. in a race, the better bike will likely shft smoother for a longer period of time, in key tactical moments the cheaper bike's shifting may let you down. The cheap no-name brake pads may require earlier braking into a corner, and the hard compound, stiff casing tires won't grip as hard when you start leaning it over. So time is more likely to start adding up.
note that the inexpensive stuff, tires, brake pads, (and good pedals and shoes and a dialled fitting) would make the biggest difference.

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by elviento

Questions like this are inherently difficult to answer, as people ride for different reasons -- pros are after different things than the dentist (no offense, just an expression). Even some pros are after different things than other pros. A sprinter will be pretty pissed on a noodly bike.

To equipment geeks like me, the bike is pretty important. However for some people it could well be a negligible element and I wouldn't be surprised.

If we have to assume the typical Cat 3/4 amateur racer, I'd say 25%-30%. The rest is training, neutrition, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, NATURAL TALENT.
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by sawyer

Training would be way above natural talent for most 3/4s. Most of us are nowhere near full potential and it's the limits of time and motivation to train that are greatest.

Crap bike can get you dropped, in which case it makes a big difference. Rolling along in the pack - not much difference unless tyres are rubbish.
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by Tapeworm

elviento wrote:... A sprinter will be pretty pissed on a noodly bike...

What feels noodly, and what actually is robbing power are two different things. Track sprinters of old still went exceptionally fast on "noodly" bikes.
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by Tinea Pedis

Joel Calderon won this years Tour of the Philippines on a Giant which had 105 and was a carbon/alu mix frame. Beating my team mate, whose bike was worth at least 5 times his. Not amazing wheels and average tyres.

I'd say that should speak for itself really.


Disagree, for the most part.

The rest is training

Agreed, for the most part.

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by aerozy

A more expensive bike will function better for longer (less maintainence). That peace of mind takes you a long way be it in a race or training. Weight will impact performance quite a bit too. Im not such a strong believer that frame aerodynamics will have any significant impact even though I have two aero bikes :) Its more that it looks fast and that pscicological BS seems to matter to me :mrgreen:
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by fa63

aerozy wrote:A more expensive bike will function better for longer (less maintainence).

I have to disagree with this. I don't have to maintain my Sram Apex group any more than I have to maintain my Sram Red group.

I would say that as long as it fits and everything works like it should, the bike matters very little and falls into the negligible gains category (which is important for pros, but not so much for the rest of us).

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by Kasparz

Hahaha, ditto!

More expensive bike - very fragile frame and parts, tyres waer faster, so does drivetrain parts Probably shifters and derailleurs will function longer, but what are we comparing Dura-Ace vs Sora or Ultegra? Ultegra is more or less the same, just a tad heavier, Sora shifters will wear out faster.

Aero advantage is huge, can save lots of watts, but only if you are alone, busting wind and going fast.

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by kgt

AllAboutTheEngine wrote:If you had to estimate as a percentage - how much do you think the bike matters in terms of overall performance of the rider?

5 %

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by nathanong87

AllAboutTheEngine wrote:If you had to estimate as a percentage - how much do you think the bike matters in terms of overall performance of the rider?


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by HammerTime2

Of course Armstrong had this nailed. Doping is way more important than the bike.

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by Tokyo Drifter

The bike is always at fault.

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by Northoceanbeach

Bottom end specialized with Sora vs the tour winner, same rider I'd say 5-10%.

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