Invest in time in the saddle; not more dollars on the bike

Many people think that you have to invest lots of money in a bicycle and gear to be a fast rider. They think that by buying that expensive part that saves them an extra couple of grams that they will suddenly become a much faster rider.

While professional cyclists who ride for a living climbing the world’s mountain passes will certainly want the latest, greatest and lightest gear, what about the average fitness rider?

My observation from riding the last 12 months is that fitness riders who do the occasional charity ride, and perhaps participate in a local team triathlon a couple of times a year will benefit more from spending time in the saddle, than spending money on a better bike.

So what is an okay bike? Look for something with 700c wheels with rubber narrower than 28c and at least a Shimano Sora groupset, but preferably Shimano Tiagra.

I picked up my first bike, a Fuji Absolute 3.0 flat bar road bike for $500 on special. It came with Kenda 28c tyres, which I have replaced with good rubber – 23c Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres. After being totally submerged in the January 2011 Queensland floods, I also purchased a pair of Easton OEM wheels for $179, again fitted with good rubber and a close ratio cassette.

My second bike is a Cell Bikes Mallet II fixie bought for $450. It was a riser handlebar fixie; it is now a drop bar singlespeed.

I have also replaced the pedals on both bikes with Shimano PD-R540 SPD SL sport (clipless) pedals.

Fuji flat bar roadie and Cell Bikes singlespeed

Now don’t get me wrong; I am no speedster. I am over 40 and about 8 kg over my ideal weight. But on the Saturday morning river ride circuit many Brisbane cyclists ride, there are not too many people who overtake me – and I overtake many other people on far more expensive bikes.

I do not put it down to anything special on my part. Sure, I have fitted good rubber with low rolling resistance, but my bikes are not special (far from it actually) and neither is my fitness level.

I do, however, try to make time to ride three to four times a week. I aim to ride 500 km a month, although sometimes that is often not achievable with family work and other commitments.

So would I benefit from a lighter, quicker, faster bike? Perhaps. But do I benefit from time in the saddle and getting my weight down? Ohh yeah!

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