Ever wondered how much difference it would make if you made your bike lighter? I guess most serious riders once in while have concerns about their bikes whether they are light enough. As previously described the bike weight has impact on performance – especially during climbing.
Thus, I thought it was interesting to find out how much difference it makes if you ride a heavier bike up Alpe d’Huez. This little trial was performed by the best rider I coach as a part of his preparation for Tour de l’avenir (U23 Tour de France) in September 2008.
In this experiment he had to ride up Alpe d’Huez four times with different setups. He was supposed to keep a pace around 275w on all four rides. The test bike was a Pinarello Prince equipped with Shimano Dura Ace and SRM crank:
1. Normal bike + 1.8L extra water in tyres(!)
This setup was quite interesting and got quite a lot of attention the day before when he had a puncture..! It was possible to fill 900ml into each tyre. Reducing weights on wheels is more important than reducing weight on non-rolling equipment e.g. bike saddle.
2. Normal bike + 1,8L extra water on bike.
This setup also got some serious attention because he rode a relative fast pace compared to most riders visiting Alpe d’Huez. Thus, when he performed the trial, well-trained riders were trying to keep up with his pace because this setup looked so extreme.
3. Normal bike
This setup was a completely normal bike.
4. Normal bike, reduced tyre pressure only 3 bars.
The last setup was ridden with reduced tyre pressure to 3bars. This was a tough finish on the last ride up Alpe d’Huez this day.
1. 52.01, 275w
2. 51.34, 277w
3. 49.40, 278w
4. 50.38, 273w
1,8L extra weight costs 1.54min up Alpe d’Huez. This is a remarkable test that shows us how important weight savings are when you are riding on steep hills. Also it shows that weight savings on wheels might be more important than weight saving on non-rolling equipment. These trials were only possible because of his SRM Crank that made it possible to compare each ride up the hill. You can make similar trials to test your bike setup if you want to optimize your bike equipment. These tests can be extremely helpful for e.g. time trialists if you don’t have wind tunnel in the neighbourhood.