Video: Man vs bike - The Guardian finds out whether a journo-MAMIL on a superbike is faster than an elite rider on a Boris bike

Is it about the bike after all?

by John Stevenson   July 18, 2013  

Man v bike.png

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.

13 user comments

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Wow this is lame...

posted by jazzykoenig [16 posts]
18th July 2013 - 11:21


I knew it, it's not me it's my bike. #vindicated

posted by The Reluctant C... [1 posts]
18th July 2013 - 11:33


Would've made more sense to do a hill climb, really. But then I'm taking it a bit too seriously.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1126 posts]
18th July 2013 - 11:47


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.

posted by bendertherobot [487 posts]
18th July 2013 - 14:03


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

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [578 posts]
18th July 2013 - 14:29


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' ?

posted by Beaufort [193 posts]
18th July 2013 - 19:22


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.

drmatthewhardy's picture

posted by drmatthewhardy [531 posts]
18th July 2013 - 22:44


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!


posted by doc [167 posts]
19th July 2013 - 11:51


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.

John Stevenson's picture

posted by John Stevenson [1492 posts]
19th July 2013 - 16:01

1 Like

They actually wasted money to make this video ?

Talk about pissing it out the window...

posted by Hector Ch [54 posts]
19th July 2013 - 17:25


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...

posted by moonbucket [57 posts]
19th July 2013 - 17:32

1 Like

So I guess this experiment means that buying a £6000 BMC will make me competitive in a national race?

posted by jaylamont [16 posts]
19th July 2013 - 18:17


9 minutes long Nerd

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

posted by viveLaPants [96 posts]
19th July 2013 - 19:32