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Is it about the bike after all?

Is it about the bike? At the very top level, as Chris Froome demonstrated yesterday, it's even worth swapping bikes to gain that crucial advantage. But surely  a top rider will beat any of us run-of-the-mill cyclists however much he is handicapped by being made to ride a heavy, slow tank of a bike? 

That's what The Guardian's bike columnist Peter Walker and elite racer Iain Cook set out to find out in this video. Walker scored a rather luscious BMC TMR1 aero rocketship and lumbered Cook with a succession of, ahem, more practical bikes: a £250 Pinnacle, Walker's own Dutch commuter complete with child seat and basket full of newspapers and, of course, a Boris Bike.

Starting at opposite sides of the Herne Hill Velodrome, they duked it out in a series of two-lap individual pursuit sessions to determine whether man or machine reigns supreme. The results might surprise you.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

13 comments

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jazzykoenig [16 posts] 3 years ago
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Wow this is lame...

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The Reluctant C... [1 post] 3 years ago
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I knew it, it's not me it's my bike. #vindicated

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Ghedebrav [1099 posts] 3 years ago
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Would've made more sense to do a hill climb, really. But then I'm taking it a bit too seriously.

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bendertherobot [1375 posts] 3 years ago
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It's vaguely interesting. Vaguely.

But ultimately pointless. There is absolutely no effort from the journo on the first test.

The relevance to being about the bike/rider is what a given rider can do with a given bike. The pro would be many seconds ahead of himself on even the Pinnacle.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 3 years ago
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I agree the test was pretty much pointless - but they seemed to mention that themselves several times

A more sensible test would have had two comparable riders - or even the same rider clocked on different bikes

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Beaufort [270 posts] 3 years ago
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On a slightly related point, I've often wondered what difference changing teams, and usually bikes, makes to a pro. In the motorcycle racing world it's increasingly important to be on the 'right' bike o be successful. In pro cycling, is there a 'best bike' ?

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matthewn5 [920 posts] 3 years ago
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You can get an aero crouch on a Boris Bike: Grasp the front of the carrier, rest your elbows on the bars and go for it!

But yes, very lame.

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doc [167 posts] 3 years ago
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Amusing but, as the senior surgeon said to the junior doctor in one of the old "Doctor in the ...." films, "What's the bleeding point".
Amazing what you can get paid for nowadays!

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John Stevenson [274 posts] 3 years ago
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Beaufort wrote:

is there a 'best bike' ?

At the top level, the short answer is no. The bikes all have to weigh no less than 6.8kg, and the rules about riding position and aerodynamics pretty much stifle any attempt to gain significant advantage there.

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Hector Ch [55 posts] 3 years ago
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They actually wasted money to make this video ?

Talk about pissing it out the window...

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moonbucket [63 posts] 3 years ago
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A fourth test - the journo on the BMC v the national level rider on his own bike or even another BMC.

Would have shown just how good the guy was.

I don't mind fluff like this. But you don't learn anything you didn't already know...

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jaylamont [17 posts] 3 years ago
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So I guess this experiment means that buying a £6000 BMC will make me competitive in a national race?

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viveLaPants [94 posts] 3 years ago
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9 minutes long  26

Can some one sum it up, in like, one word - who won  4