|This is not the Regent's Canal! Source|
A new feeling on the bike
It's interesting doing it because as soon as I lean forwards, I realise that I have to loosen up my shoulders, which I'd been holding very tight. I lean so my head is nearly on the handlebars, and all of a sudden it's a completely new feeling with my legs pushing in a different way. I look at the speedometer thingie, and see that I've suddenly increased my speed by about 4kph, and I still feel I've got more in me.
Position or wind resistance?
Clearly my bike's not designed for me to bike like that and I'm sure that if I kept it up for a long time it would get mighty uncomfortable. But then I start doing a bit research about speed. These seem to be the key ingredients for going faster:
What are the factors that make you faster or slower?
- Fitness and practice. Clearly you need these just to get started on faster biking
- Drag or resistance from tyres. This seems to be why some people swear by thinner tyres, pumped up to astonishing levels of pressure. It reduces the resistance on the road. But there seems to be some dispute about whether the actual width of the tyre really makes that much difference. The consensus from what I can tell is that pumping up your tyres high every day will make quite a difference
- Resistance created by rider. This is where my experiment seems to come in - if you're bent down, there's less body for the wind to push against. This is apparently called a "racing tuck".
|Just like me, he's got his head right down. Similarity ends there. Source|
- Weight of bike/rider. Again there's disputing how much of a factor this is, but clearly you're going to have to work harder to go faster if you're carrying around half a tonne of bricks in your panniers
- Gears, pedals, "rotor rings" and suchlike. There's quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that upgrading your pedals, getting a more efficient set of gears and changing to "rotor rings" (don't worry, I'd never heard of them before either) might improve your speed
- Wind drag on the bike itself. From what I can tell, the effect of this is pretty negligable
- The type of bike you have. Mountain, Road, Hybrid, reclining, other. Some cyclists claim that there's about a 15MPH difference between when they ride their MTB and when they ride their road bike!
I guess it should also be said that you're not going to be going very fast in the city if:
1) you're battling against a headwind
2) you're in a monsoon-like downpour
3) you're weaving between several bendy buses on Oxford Street
But these seem like an interesting start in terms of speed, and I'd be interested to hear whether others have views ... when you do want to go fast, how should you do it?
Further reading and links:
- Good archive thread with quite a lot detail in bikeforums
- Good review of what rotor rings look like and are on Bike Radar
- Long but reasonably interesting video about aerodynamics etc on Wonderhowto site