The cost of going faster?

So, like all of us, you want to find some extra performance on your bike.  Whilst there might be no such thing as “free speed” we will look at a few things that could be guaranteed to make your cycling performance improve, and their associated costs

However, it is true; you really can buy a performance advantage.  Take a look at one of the many posts on the time trial forums, as to how much faster tweaking this or that can make you because of an aero advantage.  Other riders look to reduce weight of components to have an advantage in the hills.


Here are a few simple ideas:

Mavic Comete Ultimate aero helmet.  Mavic says that the new helmet will save you 3 watts and 14 seconds per hour at 40kph relative to its Cosmic Pro helmet.  RRP £225

….but remember a poorly fitting aero helmet can cost your more time than it saves!


What about a new chain?  It is claimed that a higher quality chain can save you 5W when compared to a lesser quality chain.  So better get out and buy that KMC Ceramic Speed chain  it’s also claimed to save you 2-5W at 40kph, so that’s possibly another 15 seconds saved.  RRP £125

….but remember the life on this chain is only 600km, and by that stage you will have lost the performance advantage.  Oh, and if you don’t look after your chain well, it’s claimed it could even cost you up to 30W.  This is a really interesting watch on where some of the losses come from:



Not really suited for road riding, but you could consider getting yourself a NoPinz 2019 TripSuit?  The new version of these skinsuits are claimed to save 3W over the previous best version when you are riding between 45 and 49 kph!  You could even get one in Sportstest colours and they will set you back £240

….but if you are an average slow joe (like me) aerodynamic advantages only START becoming a factor over 18 mph, so will it really help?


If you really want to save fractions, you can always fit the Ceramic Speed oversize pulley wheel for your rear mech.  With it claims that you reduce loses in power through the drive train by 30-60%, this is must for any serious rider!

….but as drivetrains are generally 96-97.5% efficient ( the saving is likely again to only be a further 2-3W over a standard drivetrain, and at a cost of £1,300 for the top of the range model!!!


It’s pretty, it’s also pretty expensive. But it will save you 1 or 2 watts. Photo from BikeRadar



Undoubtedly IF you are at the pinnacle of your performance these “marginal gains” could be vital, but the chances are you probably won’t even notice the impact of them on your aerodynamics or efficiency.

So perhaps you need to look at the big ticket items like a new set of wheels, or a whole new bike….but let’s not even go there as again the cost to aerodynamic advantages are generally minimal compared to major gains that most cyclists can achieve.



So, if you are not going fast enough for the aero advantages really to be of value, then perhaps you could look at what weight saving measures you can make on you bike.  Here’s a few simple ideas…


Changing your groupset from Shimano Ultegra R8000 to DuraAce R9100 could shave off just under 300g from your bike weight, but the RRP on the DuraAce groupset is £1834.92 compared to just £954.92 for the Ultegra.  That’s an additional cost of just under £3 per gram, assuming you weren’t taking the lesser groupset off your bike!


…or you could consider the view of the weight weenies.  Everything possible should be slimmed down.  Consider your regular Specialized rib bottle cage.  It will only set you back £15, but it weighs a massive(!!!!) 33g.  Replace this with a Carbon Works bottle cage, it will set you back the equivalent of £85, but weighs in at just in 5g!  This 28g saving will cost you £2.50 per gram!  I’m not sure about this, but when you consider the 500ml in a full bottle weighs 500g, plus the bottle weight.


Clearly just about everything can be reduced in weight on your bike.  Saddle, tyres, stem, seat post, pedals, bolts etc., etc., etc., but gains again are “marginal” and you have to consider the relative cost implications.


Will shaving a few grams off on an ultimate lightweight bottle cage really make a difference in your climbing ability?


Then again you could just buy a new bike to save some weight.  The Canyon Ultimate Carbon Fibre Evo is one of the lightest standard production bikes out there at a reported 5.8kg, but will cost you a sweet £11,799….without your bottle cage!


When you consider the “ideal” body fat percentage of the “typical” 80kg adult male is 15%, this relates to carrying 12kg of body fat.  Whilst impossible to lose all this fat, a large majority of cyclists are in excess of this body fat, and the super elite rider (4% body fat at 70kg) is carrying just 2.8kg of fat!  At bike upgrade prices this sort of weight loss is going to cost in excess of £22,500!!!!!!!


But of course we can help at Sportstest for far less.

It is really not uncommon for us to measure improvements in threshold power of 20-40W in a 12 week training block, and in some extreme circumstances we have seen in excess of 60W in the same period.  Couple this with enhanced aerobic efficiency and fat metabolism, and the gains on the road are substantial in terms of both enhanced endurance and sustained speed.


Use our training guidance combined with a sensible nutrition strategy, the improvements can also be substantial, with many athletes seeing losses in fat mass of over 3kg in 10-12 weeks.

These performance benefits cost the price of a test, and in some cases a coaching or training plan, and the gains will continue to come, rather than being a one hit.


Matt P, was really happy with the progress made as a result of the Sportstest process.


As a specific example Matt has come to us to aid his training towards the Haute Route Pyrenees, already an accomplished cyclist (with a VO2max in excess of 70 ml/kg/min) some might believe the gains we could assist with would be inconsequential.  We if we look at the differences in his test results between April and July the following key observations were noted:


Change Percentage improvement since April
Body Fat (percentage) Down 0.8% 9.5%
Peak aerobic power output Up 15 Watts 4.2%
Power to weight ratio at max Up 0.33 Watts per kilo 6.6%
Threshold (FTP) power Up 14 Watts 5.2%
Power to weight ratio at threshold Up 0.34 Watts per kilo 9.3%


Couple these pure performance indicators with an substantial change in his metabolism (he increased the amount of fat burning at submaximal intensities) and observed improvements in efficiency (with less energy being wasted in the riding process), he has noted substantially better performance in both training rides and when racing and riding sportives.

At just £175 for a full assessment of your cycling fitness, accurate determination of your training zones, identification of your strengths and weaknesses, AND provision of an overview training plan, can you afford not to be using Sportstest to help you go faster?


At Sportstest we believe the bottom line is unless you are in the 0.1% of athletes in the world who are at the pinnacle of your physiological potential, although by no means negligible, the gains you can achieve by spending £££ on bikes and components are nearly insignificant when you look at the gains that can be achieved from the optimal training, improved nutrition, and reduced body fat.

So get in touch now to find out more, or to book…..and don’t let your competition steal a jump on you!