Does a new bike make you faster?

There’s one particular two-word combo that’s guaranteed to quicken the pulse, heighten excitement and generally make your world a shinier, happier place — ‘new’ and ‘bike’. But would a new bike actually make you faster?

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New bike versus old

My new bike

Emma Pulsford
“I thought it was the lightest, bestest thing in the world. I rode it all the way home with a smile on my face. I loved it.” It was ‘a’ new bike, but it wasn’t ‘the’ new bike, for Emma, a 27-year-old bar manager from Leeds. “It was a Halfords special, 500 quid, a Carrera with a Sora groupset, heavy own brand wheels and it weighed about 14 KG,” she said.

“After about a year riding it I started noticing people on nice bikes, and when all the summer bikes came out and I thought it might be time for an upgrade.” Pulsford agonised for months on what to get and finally her partner Andy solved it by buying her a frame for Christmas.

“It was a Giant TCR Composite. I dithered for a bit longer over Ultegra versus 105 and other bits and pieces. I went for Ultegra in the end and Ksyrium Elite wheels and a Fizik Arione Donna saddle. I was ready!

“The first ride was just awesome. I went on bumpy roads I know well and the carbon frame just soaked them up. I was dancing up the hills. I did a circuit I knew well and lopped about four minutes off my previous PB. “

The performance improvements continued in the weeks and months afterwards. ”I am getting PBs on every ride and I can’t wait to get the data into Strava and see all those lovely little cups and trophies come up, “ said Pulsford.

“It’s such a nice bike I feel I have to ride it harder. It makes me want to ride it”

Old bike by bins
Jon Pownall
“It has absolutely, without doubt made me ride more. I’ve gone from around 100 miles a week to 200,” Pownall said. And he thinks his increased mileage will be sustained. The 25-year-old cafe supervisor is loving his Scott Foil 20, with Ultegra group and Syncros wheelset.

“The first proper ride I had on it, everything instantly felt right. Every pedal stroke feels like it’s powering forward. Every gear change is slick and solid. It’s quicker in the flats and even though it’s lighter than my old bike, it’s quicker on descents, because I feel more confident.”

“I get PBs much more often now and my times have definitely improved on regular segments.” Pownall came off a Felt 95, with Sora nine speed groupset and Alex 500 rims — a workhorse of a bike that’s no lightweight. He bought it online without riding it first and before too long was looking around to replace it. “It dawned on me fairly quickly that it was quite hard to ride, and when I joined a club and saw some nicer bikes, I knew I had to get a new bike.”

Pownall took advice and bought from his local bike shop after test rides. He went for a previous model year and as a result got a bargain, paying £1,800, a discount of around £1,000 on full price.

“I am dreading the winter”, he says “because I’ll have to go back to the Felt. But people have said it will build fitness if I train through the winter on a heavier bike.”

One of the big differences Pownall has noticed might not be the first thing you think about: “It just sounds right,” he says. “Every time I change gear the sound is satisfying.” Pownall is now looking to step up to racing, something he had never considered aboard the old bike.

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