Light Bike Vs. Heavy Bike – What’s The Difference On A Climb? GCN Does Science
– [Matt] GCN does science. – [Simon] #data. – A while ago, we tested the effects of a
bike weight on climbing speeds, but in a laboratory setting. And while this is
undeniably the most accurate way to test it, there’s a big part of us
that still wants to see what the effect is out on the open road. – And what better place to do than here
on the Colle del Sestriere? The scene of many battles in the Tour de France
and the 2015 Giro d’Italia. – Yeah. So what we’re going to do,
Matt and I are going to do two runs of this climb, each. Now, it’s about eight
kilometers long, an average gradient of about 7%. I am going to use my Garmin
bike to power me to ride at consistent power both runs, and then I’m going to do
the second run with two kilograms of ballast added to my bike and then
we can compare the times directly. – I’m going to do exactly the same but my
power meter is going to be in here, old school, all on feel because I think
that perception is still really valuable and very, very important. – Yeah, you calibrated this morning? – It took me a bit of time
because obviously we’re at altitude, but it’s pretty much spot
on and I’m ready to go. – Let’s do some pedaling. ♪ [music] ♪ – My bike weighs in at 6.920 kilograms
without weight, and then with a full water bottle, 7.595. Then finally, with ballast
added, it comes in at 9.505. So that’s a differential of around two
kilograms taken into account the full water bottle on both runs. So round one,
the ballast bike, let’s give it a nudge. ♪ [music] ♪ – Just trying to keep a nice rhythm, keep
my breathing controlled which is actually harder than you think at altitude. But I
think I found a good level which I can sustain for the half an hour
effort, there abouts. ♪ [music] ♪ – Okay then, first run, light bike.
Let’s give it a go. ♪ [music] ♪ For my support,
kind of feels like normal. ♪ [music] ♪ Well, round one done.
That was pretty tough. – This is quite a hard climb, isn’t it? Especially with the altitude,
but well, let’s do it again. – Indeed. Well, we’ve been doing
the comparisons until round two, but I think might need a quick lay down. – My bike weighs in at 7.3 kilos
and that’s with a Garmin Virb on the handlebars, obviously.
With a bottle, it takes it up to 7.875, then with the ballast, it weighs
in at a pretty hefty 9.8 kilograms. ♪ [music] ♪ It feels weird getting out the saddle.
You can feel the weight of the bike. Definitely nose room ahead. ♪ [music] ♪ – So, ascent number two coming up,
just hope the legs hold out. See you later. ♪ [music] ♪ I’m trying to keep the same effort,
perceived effort, so it’s difficult and breathing’s controlled, but the bike
does feel just that little bit lighter and more spritely on the steep sections. And I think I’m going a little bit
quicker, only time will tell. ♪ [music] ♪ Sorry, I can’t speak. – All right. Now the results are in,
but before we give you them, we must stress this is not a controlled
test. So this is purely for discussion only. We can’t account for things
like wind or anything like that, but it is nevertheless very interesting.
On my bike, so I was riding to an average power of 320 watts on both runs. I was 35
seconds slower with the heavier bike. So it doesn’t actually sound like all that
much. It’s only about 2% of my overall time. But Matt on the other hand,
Matt was really interesting. – It was. Well, I went on the light bike.
I went one minute and three quarters quicker. Now that was for exactly the same
perceived effort so in relation to that, it was the pain in my legs and also
my breathing, and that remained the same for the whole of the each ride. And where
I noticed the difference was when the road pitched up above 7%, 8% gradient and the
bike felt far more responsive and I could use a bigger gear on the steeper parts.
I think that’s where I made up the time. – Well, and even more interesting was that
it was your second run when you were on the lighter bike so one would have
thought that you had a bit of fatigue in your legs there. So, conclusions then.
Well, perhaps if we’re after pure performance, clearly we can see that a
lighter bike is going to be faster on a climb but the difference isn’t necessarily
as big as you’d think. But when it’s out of pure enjoyment and perceived
effort, it made a huge difference. – It certainly did. – So, maybe there it is. A lighter bike
will make you go faster but it will feel even faster than that. So that’s our
experience, but we’d be really interested to know what you guys think.
Have, for example, you recently got yourself a lighter bike
and did you notice a difference? Let us know in the comment
section down below. – Yeah, and for other GCN
Does Science videos, click up here. What makes the bigger difference,
a lighter bike or a lighter body? – We know really though that your legs
make probably the biggest difference of all, so don’t abate your training. Check out the GCN training
playlist just down there. – And remember to subscribe to GCN, it’s
absolutely free. How about clicking on our rather fatigued legs? All that
love, rather beautiful mountain, too. I’m absolutely fodder, are you? – Yeah, pizza? – Definitely, and a cappuccino. Here we go, round two. Let’s just hope
the legs hold up. See you. Awesome. Here, that actually just keeps
my hair in place. Can we do a dry run? – Did you get that? – [Cameraman] Yeah.