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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:30 am 
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Posts: 305
I'm killing some time over here, so I thought I'd stoke some heated debate. I want to debunk a typical rebuttal that WW users employ to defend the worth of a cycling equipment against criticism. A rough summary of what I call "the pro's ride it" argument is as follows:

P1. Professional cyclists/teams use equipment that is physically identical to equipment accessible to consumers
P2. Professional cyclists/teams subject cycling equipment to more stress than would a typical consumer
P3. Professional cyclists/teams are privileged in their capacity to appraise the worth/value of a component in so far as they subject it to this stress
C. Therefore, if a professional cyclist/team utilises specific equipment, it must be good.

One of the goals of the WW forum is for users to provide subjective feedback on their experiences with equipment. A rough, first pass on the goal of this feedback is to allow other users to:

a. develop and understanding of what properties a given piece of equipment *may* possess
b. to utilise this information to distinguish between equivalent equipment produced by different manufacturers
c. to make informed decisions about whether said equipment is suitable for their unique wants/needs

The 'pro's ride it' argument is typically employed as a rebuttal against negative subjective evaluations of a given equipment performance. For example, someone may say 'X frame doesn't feel very stiff' to which a user will rebut 'Professional rider/team Y use it, therefore it must be stiff enough'.

I argue that the "pro's ride it" argument has little epistemic value over and above putatively establishing the basic functionality of the equipment being used. That is, the pro's ride it argument' contingently demonstrates that a given piece of equipment is able to withstand the stresses a pro applies to it. However, that contemporary cycling equipment meets this condition is demonstrated by the existence of strict manufacturing safety standards as well as the fact that market competition demands a minimum level of quality in the equipment being produced. In essence, pretty much all equipment produced by major brands is of a high standard these days. What distinguishes equipment are the nuances of their manufacturer and the concomitant impact on ones subjective experience which is why the forum ought to focus on goals a., b. and c. The next major confound to the 'pro's ride it' argument is that, bar a few exceptional athletes, the majority of pro riders have little to no choice over what equipment they use. Trade teams are given equipment by sponsoring manufacturers and riders are paid to ride the equipment they've been given. As such, P3 of the argument is aborted by the lack of choice. Given these points, the 'pro's ride it' argument contributes almost nothing to goals a., b., and c. i.e. the argument does not reveal anything about the specific properties of the equipment being used. Therefore, its employment as a rebuttal is moot. For example, just because Marcel Kittel rides it, doesn't mean it's good, or it has properties A, B and C, it just means he's been paid to ride it, and it must be good enough to be ridden just like any other piece of high quality cycling equipment. To the above example, just because Y professional rider uses is, it doesn't entail that it will feel stiff. All it says is that its stiff enough to be ridden, not that one's subjective experience of the equipment will be that its stiff.

My argument isn't perfect. I'll try and clean it up soon. My motivation is to discourage the 'pro's ride it argument' as it defeats what I perceive to be one of the goals of this forum

Caveats:
- Regarding P1, I've heard that modification of stock layups is not uncommon. E.g. The Lotto Jumbo Bianchi Oltre XR2's were apparently modified and therefore different to the XR2 frames offered to the public.
- Obviously Pro's can chose equipment within the stable of a sponsored manufacturers offering. This does give us some interesting information, but nevertheless it does not assist in distinguishing qualities of equipment between manufacturers.

_________________
Bianchi Oltre XR4 |BMC SLR01 16' |Cannondale SS Evo HM 12'| Focus Izalco Max | Ridley Helium SL 15' | Basso Diamante 15' | Bianchi Oltre XR2 | Scapin Dyseys S8 | Time ZXRS | Giant TCR SL 12' | Ridley Noah 08' | Look 585 | Cervelo Soloist SLC


Last edited by zappafile123 on Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:41 am 
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Bit of strawman here. "Pros ride it therefore it must be good" is in your words most commonly used as a rebuttal. A rebuttal is only as good as it's relevance to the statement it rebuts. That it doesn't forward your (emphasis: your) a/b/c goals of this forum says nothing about it's value as a rebuttal.

The premise is also incomplete. The full rebuttal is, usually: "Pros ride it therefore it must be good enough (for you)."


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Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:41 am 


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:51 am 
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kkibbler wrote:
Bit of strawman here. "Pros ride it therefore it must be good" is in your words most commonly used as a rebuttal. A rebuttal is only as good as it's relevance to the statement it rebuts. That it doesn't forward your (emphasis: your) a/b/c goals of this forum says nothing about it's value as a rebuttal.

The premise is also incomplete. The full rebuttal is, usually: "Pros ride it therefore it must be good enough (for you)."


Good enough for you is implied by the argument. Its no less complete without it.

As a self contained argument, its valid. As a rebuttal in the context of goals abc it has little meaning because the conclusion of the argument is already contained within the motivation for asking the question i.e. "of course its good enough for me, thats why Im considering buying it." Its almost a kind of verbal dispute where the goals of those arguing are shooting past each other. In trying to understand a, b, c it adds no value so it defeats the purpose of asking the question 'what is X equipment like'.

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Bianchi Oltre XR4 |BMC SLR01 16' |Cannondale SS Evo HM 12'| Focus Izalco Max | Ridley Helium SL 15' | Basso Diamante 15' | Bianchi Oltre XR2 | Scapin Dyseys S8 | Time ZXRS | Giant TCR SL 12' | Ridley Noah 08' | Look 585 | Cervelo Soloist SLC


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:07 am 
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Good thing nobody answers "what is X equipment like?" with "the pros ride it so it must be good." It responds to a different set of questions and statements.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:19 am 
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kkibbler wrote:
Good thing nobody answers "what is X equipment like?" with "the pros ride it so it must be good." It responds to a different set of questions and statements.


You'd be surprised, it happens a lot on here, thats why I wrote the post. It more so happens like this

Bob: "I'm interested in C60 vs. V1R"
Charly: "I havent ridden a V1R, but I didnt think the C60 felt as stiff through the BB as my Giant TCR SL, it just doesnt feel as racey"
Raskolnikov: "Well the pro's ride it, the C60 must be stiff and racey"

_________________
Bianchi Oltre XR4 |BMC SLR01 16' |Cannondale SS Evo HM 12'| Focus Izalco Max | Ridley Helium SL 15' | Basso Diamante 15' | Bianchi Oltre XR2 | Scapin Dyseys S8 | Time ZXRS | Giant TCR SL 12' | Ridley Noah 08' | Look 585 | Cervelo Soloist SLC


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:29 am 
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How do you feel about the argument that if pros use a class of equipment (aero vs lightweight wheels) in a given scenario, it is likely to be optimal for speed in that scenario? I wouldn't think it unreasonable to assume pros have done their homework and tested the various combinations of equipment many times over to make sure they're using the fastest setup possible. Some examples that come to mind are the wheels they choose to use when climbing/TTing, frame choices, bar choices? Exceptions might be if you can go lower in weight than UCI regulations, or using equipment not legal for the pros? One brand of equipment vs another seems to generally be driven far more by sponsorship.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:54 am 
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More like, "If a World Tour team depends on it it can't be crap." Most of us realize pros are paid to ride parts and take what sponsors give them, rather than testing everything available and choosing the best*. So just because a pro uses a part doesn't make it the best. However, at the World Tour level a rider or team in contention won't risk results to equipement they don't like or trust just because it comes with a check. So the take away is that anything you see being used in the World Tour peloton is at least good enough. The exception would be discs. Everyone knows that the occassional sprinter who's taken a disc bike to victory did so purely for the money, not because he thought it would be faster than his rim brake bike.
Perhaps your statement may come out of the mouths of more mainstream cycling "enthusiasts" but most of the riders on here are a little more experienced and knowledgable.

*I mean come on, who here doesn't have a bike that's lighter and more tricked out than what the peloton rides?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:29 am 
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I honestly don't see the "pros ride it" argument very much. The most common thing I see, as mentioned above, is that many 'pros don't ride aero' so it must not be all that.

In any case, the pros ride top of the line off the shelf parts so, of course, anything they ride will be good enough for the average bike rider.

I also think most pros have to ride what is team issued. Unless you are really a superstar, you don't have much say as to what equipment you will be using.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:32 am 
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Lelandjt wrote:
More like, "If a World Tour team depends on it it can't be crap." Most of us realize pros are paid to ride parts and take what sponsors give them, rather than testing everything available and choosing the best*. So just because a pro uses a part doesn't make it the best. However, at the World Tour level a rider or team in contention won't risk results to equipement they don't like or trust just because it comes with a check. So the take away is that anything you see being used in the World Tour peloton is at least good enough. The exception would be discs. Everyone knows that the occassional sprinter who's taken a disc bike to victory did so purely for the money, not because he thought it would be faster than his rim brake bike.
Perhaps your statement may come out of the mouths of more mainstream cycling "enthusiasts" but most of the riders on here are a little more experienced and knowledgable.

*I mean come on, who here doesn't have a bike that's lighter and more tricked out than what the peloton rides?

Right - I guess what I was referring to was more related to setup of the bike and equipment. Based on everything I've read - I mean I'd be surprised if there were a meaningful difference between top of the line components from each manufacturer. I'm sure you might eek out some efficiencies, but I'm not persuaded that most of those efficiencies *matter*.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:13 am 
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The counter argument that it doesn't matter if the pros ride it has its limits.

First, clearly the equipment in question does meet a certain performance standard, or at least it's reasonable to believe it does, if it's ridden and raced hundreds of thousands of KMs in all conditions at that level

Second, and a connected point, is that the sponsorship benefit from a particular manufacturer doesn't trump everything. If the team believe the equipment in question would put them at a material disadvantage in races that are often incredibly tight, then they may well decide it is better not to use it, perhaps selectively for key riders, or - perhaps as is more the case - not to enter into terms with sponsors for equipment that are too restrictive for equipment they would rather be free to choose themselves, because of the performance benefit. We see this often.

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Stiff, Light, Aero - Pick Three!! :thumbup:


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:14 pm 
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Location: Vienna Austria
The reality is that pros will ride it if it's not a huge disadvantage.

The advantages of modern road bike equipment are massively blown out of proportion by marketing.

It's a bit different for TT bikes, but even there there's a lot of trickery going on with unrealistic yaw angles.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:36 pm 
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Marin wrote:
The reality is that pros will ride it if it's not a huge disadvantage.


I guess you are right most of the time ... though if you look at examples such as Froome using Tune Skyline wheels for the mountains instead of Shimano as per the rest of the team, and the multiple customised wheelsets we've seen under Cavendish etc over the years, it's obvious that for many the top guys, there is plenty of obsessing about equipment

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Stiff, Light, Aero - Pick Three!! :thumbup:


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:14 pm 
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Location: Vienna Austria
Weight is one of the few "simple" optimisations. Everyone can go to kreuzotter.de and check how much time he can gain by losing weight.

I rode one of my training segments (2.6km @ 7% avg.) on my new rain bike yesterday. Cold weather gear + heavy bike means I was 5kg heavier than when I did my PR. The added weight cost me almost half a minute - 10:15 vs. 9:48 with 5kg less.

A 1 kg difference still would have meant a 5s gain - something that can really matter when you attack on the last 2.6km of a mountain finish.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:08 pm 
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LOL you actually think these things make any difference? Are you at the absolute limit of your performance and fitness?

If the pros ride it... it to TO GOOD for you.

As someone who races Cat 1/2 it makes little to no difference once you are riding a 105 level bike.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:24 pm 
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waltthizzney wrote:
LOL you actually think these things make any difference? Are you at the absolute limit of your performance and fitness?

If the pros ride it... it to TO GOOD for you.

As someone who races Cat 1/2 it makes little to no difference once you are riding a 105 level bike.


Respectfully, I believe that just isn't true. A super stiff set of bars and a stem definitely helps in a sprint. Lightweight wheels, specifically carbon wish depth, save a ton of energy in races over 105 level wheels, because you freewheel way more. Equipment will not win you a race, but little to no difference?

To OP;
I think in certain situations you can say pros riding it proves something. If pros are racing it, banging out 1900 watt sprints and such, it isn't shit. It shows the company is actually testing the stuff very heavily and theoretically improving it as time goes on.

With that said, you're not wrong that the pros ride it isn't a great argument.

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Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:24 pm 


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