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Does Power To Weight Ratio Really Matter?

Does Power To Weight Ratio Really Matter?


– Cycling performance
is often assumed to be a really simple equation. It’s all about power to weight. So just train your FTP, stop snacking, go faster, easy. Well, actually no, it is a little bit more complicated than that. So here’s why I think
power to weight is rubbish. I mean, well, obviously
not totally rubbish, just over-emphasized. (upbeat music) We all know those cyclists who are perhaps not exactly slim. Or you could even describe them
as generously proportioned, who are nonetheless
extremely strong on the bike. Now that is super annoying, as you have salad for
dinner, snack on celery and sip on black coffee. How do they do it? Well its important to remember that weight is only a
hindrance to you on the bike when you’re going uphill or accelerating. So of course, if you’re
running steady on the flat then it doesn’t matter if you weigh a lot. What matters is your absolute power. Even when the road does start to go uphill and your weight counts against you, don’t forget, that gravity is not the only thing holding you back. You still have to overcome running resistance and aerodynamic drag. So if you’re going up a five percent climb and rolling along at 20 to 30k an hour, get low, get aero, and sit on the wheel, it will really help. Of course aerodynamic
drag matters far more the faster you’re going. So on steeper climbs, yes, your weight will hold you back more. In fact, the steeper the climb, the more power to weight does count. That’s why on Angeroo I really
wished I had been a little bit more disciplined with
my chocolate consumption. (soft music) What goes up, generally also comes down. Going downhill gravity is on your side. So actually, the more weight you have the more it will help you. Especially if it’s so fast
you don’t have to pedal. Well then, power doesn’t matter and power to weight is
definitely meaningless. Heavier riders have a real
advantage on fast descents. (gentle music) Another thing to remember
is that when it comes to dropping people on the bike or if you’re on the receiving
end getting dropped. It’s very rarely about your
FTP to weight ratio unless you’re riding up a long steady climb. What matters is how well you
can attack or cover attacks and that’s about very
short bursts of power. You can have an amazing
FTP to weight ratio and still be unable to
produce short bursts of power. So sometimes you might care
more about your power to weight ratio over 15 seconds or a minute then over long climbs. Another thing to bare in mind
is that when power to weight does matter on a climb is
actually to total weight of you, your bike, and your helmet and shoes and your clothes that counts against you. So, if you’re a smaller,
lighter rider with a better FTP that weight forms a bigger
proportion of the total weight. So actually you could say
that lighter riders with a better FTP are actually being penalized. Now that sounds like the
wing of the small rider who had to race with the
usages at minimum weight climate of 6.8 kilos then
your right, it is me winging and I’m very happy that now
a days I don’t have to worry about that weight anymore. (upbeat music) Finally we come to what I
think is the single most important factor in cycling
performance, phycology. The best bike riders aren’t
just those with the good power to weight ratio. Their the ones that can
push themselves the hardest and that is really really hard to measure in a lab and put a number on. Basically, if you can suffer
for longer and hang on to that wheel then you might do
better then someone who has nom only a better power
to weight ratio then you. So there you go power to weight
ratio is not to bee or the endue or though yes it is quite important. Why not tell us in the
comments if you know what your power to weight ratio is. You can click down here to
subscribe for more great content, and if you want to watch
some GCN videos on how to improve your power although maybe not your weight click down here.

100 comments on “Does Power To Weight Ratio Really Matter?

  1. Power to weight at the moment is 4.6W/Kg (340W and 74kg), but I'm looking to improve it to 5W/Kg or more next race season 😀

  2. video is not including all variables.
    It didn’t factor rolling resistance for the difference in weight/gravity and power needed to keep in motion.
    63kg rider needs 1.85 Newton of force
    Wear-as a 106kg rider needs 3.11 newton
    This is using same resistance of tire .003 and gravity 9.81m squared.
    Does not take into account of flatting out of tire with heavier rider.

  3. Thanks Emma . Heavy rider will be penalized by needing to slow down more on switch backs. Too fast with a high center of gravity . Getting back to speed will take longer.

  4. This is such an important subject. Many cyclists put too much emphasis on their FTP. But this video is a mess. Mostly because it's too short and superficial. Viewers end up moore confused than clarified. You could do a hole series on this subject.

  5. 180watts/49kilos. Im a 18 y. old amateur cyclist so perhaps I could do more than 180 average.. What's the max average power I could get after a decent amount of training?

  6. Since taking cycling a bit more seriously from the start of this year I have lost 3 stone, feeling like a teenager again ! Definitely going to keep it up and able to get up most of the hill around my routes, as for power , slowly getting better with every ride

  7. Well I know my FTP … used to take one every 3 months, but stopped to take one per year. Just because am happy with my performance and my mental strength keeps me the most for getting dropped… every time and some times I get amazed how many younger and light rider's get dropped. Nice video Emma.

  8. Power to weight is not the be all and end all, Skinny riders like Froome win Grand tours, bigger/stronger riders win classics/Monuments…..Cancellara, Boonen, Sagan, Degenkolb…… Simples!

  9. As a heavier rider, I find the very strong emphasis on power to weight ratio to be very off putting. It's as if it's being suggested that if you are not ultra lean and lightweight, that you will never be a proper cyclist.

  10. The only objection I have to this video is that weight is completely irrelevant downhill. It is only aerodinamics that matter. That's just basic phisics.

  11. I love climbing (too bad I live in the Netherlands, but I work with what I've got). This year I increased my FTP to 248 W and decreased my weight to 68 (how I don't know, my food intake is not quite healthy or well dosed). So that's 3,6 W/kg and I'm happy with it 🙂 Next year aim for 3,8?

  12. The 3 original presenters were funny and knowledgable, but all your new sick kicks and the loss of Matt detracts from the show. I could not wait for the weekly GCN show but since July I have not really watched any of your shows. The dynamics are gone. Just like Top Gear. And I have unsubscribed.

  13. well… normally – as power as well as weight has much to do with the amount of training – power and weight show up strictly contrarious. At least it is the case for me; when I was passably fit my weight was 72 kg – now I am 78-79 kg and my FTP is ~30 W lower… AND I love to ride in the mountains, ride those amazing alpine passes – believe me, I know very well how much PTWR matters…☹️

  14. 106kg and 320w. Not great uphill although I tend to be in top half of most Strava climbs. Downhill though, rapid!! 😉 Think track cycling might be my thing?

  15. I'm a small rider, my weight tends to fluctuate between 52-56kg. I struggle with a good aero position when it comes to riding TTs but according to my Stages PM can usually average around 275w over 10 miles so quite happy with an ftp of around 5w/kg

  16. Power to weight is summed up for me by Strava segments this year whilst in the Alpes. Going up some classic Cols I'm usually in the bottom 1000 for time but always in the top 100 for descending.

  17. So your saying take 2 people 1 ways 350 lbs one ways 150 there at same and your in flat it doesn’t matter I hate to say it matters.

  18. I race motorcycles. You take a bike that ways 700 with 100 horse power 100 Tork one that 350 lbs 100 horse power 100 tork. Bigger bike looses every time. If riders are same level. Same as Cycleing. Please explain

  19. More than 4.4 watts per kg two weeks ago! 323 watts for 24m20sec after more than 50km… I didnt do ftp test often, but I should and I kind of love it. First year with a powermeter, last year without it.

  20. When I went over seas and came across some relatively long 27% and 24% gradients I can assure you that at the time I wished I was less than 96kg . I needed plenty of power and could have done with less weight .

  21. Or…you could just ride for the sheer joy of it, no matter the power or the weight. Nice thoughts though and well presented.

  22. 52 year old bloke, 174 cm high and 68 kg . FTP of 211 (don`t laugh please) That`s a watts / kg of 3.1. I do okay on the hills but anything over 3 k in length and above 10 % I still struggle and couldn`t sprint away from a rabid dog.

  23. I weight 100kg(lean) by a height of 2,05m. When I am in a Group Ride on the flat I am quite strong but everytime we go up the Mountains I can choose between 1. See some back Wheels or 2. Go into the Red Zone 🙂 . This occurs roughly on Climbs of ~>7%. Surely I want to get better but it'S gonna be a long Way….. Climb.

    PS: Love your Channel:)!! Greetings from Germany

  24. Having an FTP Around 4 to 5 w/kg, I find that my team always does better on the flats, but I everytime smoke them on the hills (I'm 6'3" 70-71kg). I think FTP is important but your weight changes your riding strength. My friend at 100 kilos will smoke me on the flats but he can never keep up on the climbs.

  25. I’m a neither a climber or a sprinter at 80kg and 169cm in height but what I do have is the ability to survive and cruise along like Diesel engine.

  26. @2:11 WAIT, why would weight be an advantage descending?!?!?! I could totally be wrong and missing something. PLEASE tell me, but the way I understand it gravity will accelerate a 86kilo rider the exact same amount as a 72kilo rider. Going over bumps will not affect a big rider as much, but their larger wind profile more than nullifies that. In fact it may be much worse to be larger while descending because it is more difficult to slow down for cornering! The only place weight would be an advantage is the momentum the large rider can carry from the hill onto the flat section, tbh I don't think this nearly makes up for nimble cornering and saved energy ascending.

  27. Yes, I know my power to weight ratio.

    Im most riders worst nightmare. 6'4" rider who puts out 2100+ watts, can climb like a beast, and loves being deep in aero positions so I'm tough to draft as well lol.

    Im a major problem in Cat 1/2.

    By Jan Ill be deep into Cat 1 : )

  28. A heavier rider going down hill has more momentum which works against them as soon as they have to slow down or corner; a lighter rider will do both faster, I.e. brake later and carry more speed through corners before they reach the grip limit. No way a heavier person can descend faster down a road with corners you have to brake for.

  29. The thought of drinking coffee before or after a ride, makes me sick. Come to think of it, the thought of drinking coffee period, makes me sick 😛

  30. I'm 5"7, with a weight of 52 KG. No problems with climbing and no problem keeping up with bigger riders on flats. I do get overtaken sometimes by better bikes, I have an endurance frame which is 8.7 KG & only have an 8 speed groupset 🙁

  31. Yes it DOES really matter,it’s the critical data point for climbing!!!
    Sure there’s other variables that if aren’t considered can blunt it’s importance but I feel Emma’s being a little disingenuous here.

  32. "Weight doesn't matter", says GCNs smallest rider. Seriously though sprints are a great example of when W/kg have very little influence on outcome. But downhill is a bad example, the increased wind resistance going downhill will severely cut any weight advantage for heavier riders. Better to be lighter and faster over the climb and sit in the wheels of a heavier rider down the climb.

  33. The smaller you are the less weight you have to push when accelerating and climbing. It also means being fairly aero while sitting upright in the drops. And of course weight plays a massive advantage in braking and cornering.

  34. It is not true that heavier ridders have an advantage on descents . At the top of the climb they have a potential energy equal to: mgh, which then is converted to kinetic energy: (m*v^2)/2, so this cuantitites will be equal at all points during a descent, when you put them both as an ecuation your mass cancels out so it is NOT a factor in descent speed.

  35. So I weigh 95kg (down from 112w 18 months ago) and have an ftp of 306 so P2W of 3.2W/Kg…want to loose another 10kg to get to a P2W of 3.6W/Kg. Assuming I get stronger as I drop Kg then I might even nudge 4W/Kg. That’s the dream!

  36. Don,t now.power/weight… But i enjoy the bike and i enjoy mi friends i don't have the race them it's all sports.your spot on Emma the .pat from Belgium 🚴

  37. I’m 6’3” 220lbs, to keep up with my friend at 27-29mph on flat I have to put out around 300-340 watts vs him 240-270! He is a 150 lbs rider 5’7”….

  38. You can't really argue any of Emma's individual points but in the real world, most of us would be faster if we were lighter.

  39. In MTB it's certainly noticeable in the long steep climbs we do for downhills, with no aero worries and similar rolling resistance, although often evened out somewhat, +20 or 30lbs but can maintain higher wattage overall than the small people. On downhills even +20lbs is very noticeable on how fast you close in on someone when we're all off pedals, which is often! great video

  40. Over the last 4 months I have lost about 17kgs. I started out at 103kg and now sit on 86kg @ 184cm. I have used Zwift for over a year now I have noticed the w/kg improvement. My FTP in Zwift is 230 watts so at 100kg it would be 2.3w/kg at 86kg its 2.67w/kg

  41. Aerodynamic drag is vastly more important than any other resistance (until you're going slow up something steep). If we are to use an arbitrary ratio to judge a cyclists performance, surely we should use Power to Drag Co-efficient!

    My (1 to 2 hour) power to weight ratio is about 3.8 W/Kg, strangely, it doesn't increase all too much for a 20 min effort, only to 4.2 W/Kg – not a clue about my sprint power/weight though!

  42. I don't think heavier riders have an advantage on fast descents.
    Gravitational force is proportional to the inertia of an object. So when you're heavy, yes gravity will pull on you harder, but since you have more inertia, you'll accelerate at just the same rate as a lighter rider would, ignoring wind resistance. So what I'm trying to say is, weight doesn't matter on descents, rather, aerodynamics does.

  43. Most recent power test put me at around 5 w/kg at current weight and closer to 5.3-5.4 at race weight. I’m 16 now currently working my way to higher levels of racing and the w/kg of some junior cyclists is ridiculous, there are definitely a bunch of 6 w/kg freaks of nature out there and not all are 60 kg twigs

  44. Zwift over emphasise power to weight. Go on the flattest Zwift course, Richmond flat, and watch guys putting out far less power, but more w/kg fly pass you.

  45. Psychology, I am rubbish at. I get overwhelmed easily. I need an incentive, even in a race. Like a straight line or beautiful mountains. HYPNOSIS.

  46. Going up a 5% climb while rolling along at 20 to 30 kph? You're kidding. I'm 101 kg. The only power measuring device I have is my Wahoo Kickr on Zwift. On a 5% climb in Watopia or elsewhere, I'll be putting out about 300+ watts standing on my pedals at a measly 12 kph! And that speed mimics my real-world outdoor rides at 5%. Anyway, I'm hooked on GCN! My spouse and I enjoyed your Oman video! Thanks!

  47. Watts per kg can be little misleading though a 100 kg rider making 6 watts /kg would have to be a much more dangerous weapon then a 50 kg rider making 300 watts because watts per kilo may be the same but the 100kg rider would destroy the 50 kg rider just from sheer power on the flats. I understand stand wouldn't be quite as Areo dynamic ect but the extra 300 watts would be more then enough to overcome that surely

  48. I'm heavy…so, I've naturally got strong legs as I'd have to 2 haul myself around all day. If l were 65 lbs. lighter let's say, it'd be fun 2 see what I could do with that on the bike. But sadly, it's just not that easy to get rid of the weight.

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