Getting Some Serious "BANG FOR THE BUCK"
How to spend your money wisely when trying to Buy Speed on a bike:
At Speed Merchant Aero, we are all for sifting thru the nonsense and filtering out the noise, and getting to the heart of the matter. So... If you are not into or have the time for philosophical discussions and want only to learn how to best spend your money to buy some speed as either a competitive cyclist or triathlete, then skip the background info paragraphs below and proceed straight to the section below labeled
"Get SMART and Get Faster.."
A very well-known cycling equipment manufacturer and inventor, when describing cycling components and bikes once said something to the effect of "Light, Strong, Cheap - Pick Any Two." And that is still so true today and even more so in the marketing hype-driven world of Cycling and Triathlon.
Speed Merchant Aero was founded and operates to create a new paradigm, related to what some others will have you believe for their products and services in cycling. Some of them will tell you that you HAVE TO BUY OUR PRODUCT or you HAVE TO BUY OUR SERVICES to get faster - and we are talking bikes and all their components and accessories, expert bike fittings or fitting systems and philosophies, and coaching services. Without this they say, you will be slower - as their usefulness is predicated on you believing that the "other" products and services are less important than theirs - but they never back up their claims w/ hard science, sound engineering tests and evaluations, and the truly unobfuscated numbers to back up their claims. Many who know damn well that they can't actually provide evidence of any sort to show their impact to your performance even coin phrases or use cute, warm and cuddly sounding terms to describe what they bring to the table - but terms that are completely immeasurable and unquantifiable - so that they can never be pinned to the mat to say "Show Me" that you helped me out - and if you dare to say "I Don't Buy It!" then they simply say "You Don't Get It - You Don't Understand" - you poor soul.
Pretty much all people in the cycling industry will admit, even if they are selling you hardware, that the most important thing in cycling is to properly fit body to bike - if the rider does not fit on the bike AND the bike does not fit the rider - all the rest of the "help" their product of services are still won't allow max performance of or a fully pleasant experience to that person riding that bike. And specifically related to maximizing performance and speed of the rider/bike combo, they essentially say "Aerodynamic, Powerful, Comfortable - Pick Any Two." Speed Merchant Aero is here to inform you that is TOTAL BS - and that you can Get SMART and Get Faster. For free, we will tell you how to do that below and WE WILL GIVE YOU HARD NUMBERS TO SHOW YOU WHY:
When it comes to maximizing human performance on a bike at any time, some to most all in the industry, much like our "Pick Any Two." guy from before, will have you believe when it comes to sitting on a bike that any position which is Aerodynamically Efficient will be either Uncomfortable, Less Powerful, or both. They really want you to buy that myth and widely held misperception since it entices you back to their products or services. SMART has a long list of clients, w/ the test data and rider physiological feedback and race results to back up the SMART Paradigm that almost universally, we can optimize your position on a bike to get you faster w/ good to greater comfort and power. This Composite Efficiency - taking ALL these concerns into account - when done Intelligently and Wisely - will and has almost always translated to Natural Performance Improvements in our clients to date and likely will for you as well.
OK, enough w/ the Philosophy lecture - let's get to the heart of the matter and let's put some hard numbers on realistic performance improvements that you can buy to make you faster and at what cost - and then prioritize how to spend your hard-earned money wisely to get some serious "Bang for the Buck" when trying to buy some speed on the bike:
Get SMART and Get Faster.
Step 1.) - Start out with a bike that truly fits you, w/ enough adjustability to allow for "body on bike" position changes where needed - if you are not on a bike that truly fits you, it doesn't matter what material the frame is made from or the shape of the tubes, nor the sleekness of the fork and wheels - you will NEVER reach your true potential for speed on a bike. This goes eqally for Road Bikes and Time Trial/Triathlon bikes - if it doesn't fit, you are doomed to suboptimum performance and likely injury or just chronic, nagging pain.
The above advice is the Golden Rule, no matter what cycling discipline you are involved in - Road Races, Time Trials, or Triathlons. Consider it a Prerequisite To Riding - much less Racing - on a bicycle. It is SO IMPORTANT that we won't even put a price on this - without this you are simply not in the race and even if not a competitive cyclist, you shouldn't even ride the bike as you will never truly enjoy cycling.
Step 2.) - If you only have $100 to spend - add Clip-On Aero Bars to your road bike - leaving the stem height and reach alone. There is nothing more you can do to get faster on a bike than to add aero bars and ride in them.
Step 3.) - If you only have $200 total to spend - add the Clip-On Aero Bars per Step 2 above then buy a decent Aero Helmet - nothing more you can do to get faster on a bike than to add aero bars and a good fitting aero helmet (or a road helmet that does not have "fashionable' or "cool looking" shapes w/ protrusions/bulges/scoops for vents that create drag and slow you down in all realistic riding positions). If you do this wisely, on a bike that truly fits you, you will be faster right out of the gate and will reach your max achievable speed potential based on whatever your trained physiological limit is at any time.
Step 4.) If you only have $600 total to spend - Get the aero bars for $100, the aero helmet for the next $100 from Steps 2 & 3 above, then for only $400 get yourself an hour Test Session in the Speed Merchant Aero Research &Testing Low Speed Wind Tunnel (SMART LSWT). There the knowledgeable, experienced and trained staff of SMART Cycling Engineers and Scientists will Optimize your Position on the bike, WHERE THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE DRAG IS EITHER CREATED OR DESTROYED. Drag Kills - Speed, that is.