Re: [CR]Yesterday's equipment in modern races

(Example: Framebuilders:Jack Taylor)

From: <>
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 21:26:10 EDT
Subject: Re: [CR]Yesterday's equipment in modern races

In a message dated 5/10/04 11:20:46 PM, writes:

<< Jan Heine wrote:
> (cut)
> Or consider this: Rominger's hour record was faster than Indurain's,
> Rominger used the modern Shimano, yet it was Indurain who won 5 Tours
> (and only one or two on Ergo, if I remember correctly), Rominger
> none. In the very least, it shows that race results aren't too
> instructive.

I think you misunderstood me: Race results as in the elapsed times for the same races and stages year after year is a downward trend in times, not who won what.

Chuck Schmidt South Pasadena, Southern California >>


I think I can quote Mr. Armstrong's book title and state for the record, "It's not about the Bike!"

Shifting, braking, have certainly improved a bit over say the last 30-35 years but they have only added user friendliness, ease of adjustment, etc., not true performance. To say the tour was won on Shimano or Campagnolo or Stronglight (has happened) and to say the components are the reason is just silly. It is the rider, the team, the team budget, luck, rider suitability to the course at hand more than components.

My 19.0 LB sewup and friction equipped racing bike from the mid seventies was much lighter than the 23.5 LB campy equipped bike MR. Indurain won 5 TDF's with much later in the game. Greg Lemond once said the Sean Kelly's Vitus alloy road bike was 3-5 lb. lighter than his own Time Trial bike. Weight, while a performance enhancer and the holy grail of tangible comparison for some is not the deciding factor very often in competition. It takes legs to win.

The speeds have increased on slightly between generations of cyclists. Was Merckx faster than Coppi? Certainly. Were Merckx's roads and equipment and better? Absolutely.

Have times in races improved on certain courses over time? Yes, but not in a spectacular fashion. Records are made to be broken and they almost always will be; in time. It is hard to compare generations. The biggest improvement in equipment used today (very noticeable on the track if you remember the Moser hour record) is in the application of aerodynamics. In races against the clock times have been falling and equipment used today certainly plays a part in this improvement. Aero equipment certainly helps in high speed descents as noted earlier.

Training and nutrition (and perhaps drugs) have improved for most modern athletes and while the best riders may hold similar fitness to the best of yore the rank and file racers are better overall I suspect. Racing today is largely over shorter courses and faster and more exciting to most folks compared to the grinding 300 and 400 km endurance tests used in stages of tours long since past. Cobbled sections of Paris Roubaix and the paving of most high altitude mountain passes have speeded up things considerably. High quality tubular tires that the stars use seem only marginally improved over the fine Clement products I used a few decades ago though clincher tires have made tremendous strides in performance, their cornering performance is still short of the old standards though this is changing. The reliability and low maintenance of the modern clincher tire seems noticeably better.

The Aero thing seems to objectively be the big measurable difference along with road surface improvement to be big factors in incremental speed improvement. Also the training and nutrition thing with second tier riders would seem to push speeds of the peleton up more than and small component or frame change over time.

It will be interesting to see if Chris Kostman's Cyclo Tourist Technical Trials (Fall 2005 Slovang, CA ) what does what in this haunted blend of old and new technologies that will be tested in unique ways to bring out measurable equipment differences in honest tests of machine and man as opposed to man and machine. Y'all come, ya here.

Thank you for you time.

Gilbert Anderson

North Road Bicycle Company
519 W. North St.
Raleigh, NC 27603
Toll Free Ph: 800\u2022321\u20225511
Local Ph: 919\u2022828\u20228999