10 Marginal Marginal Gains That Will Make You Cycle (A Tiny Bit) Faster

10 Marginal Marginal Gains That Will Make You Cycle (A Tiny Bit) Faster


– The aggregation of marginal gains. Yep, the methodology made
famous by Sir Dave Brailsford, in his pursuit, to turn British cycling, and then later Team Sky
into winning organizations. The thinking being that if
you can improve everything you do by just one percent,
then these small improvements, added up over a long period
of time, become significant. (intro music) In this video, we’re going to talk about the most marginal, marginal
gains, that you can make to your bikes or equipment. Things that may only save
you one or two watts. Things that, in some cases, might be a little bit ridiculous, but they can still be effective. And whether or not you
choose to embrace them, well, that’s up to you. Now, before we do, be sure to subscribe, and also click the bell icon, if you want to get notifications, and support the channel,
’cause it really helps. (smooth music) First up is inner tubes. Now inner tubes have big implications, for the rolling resistance of you, with marginal implications,
for the rolling resistance, of your wheels and tires. And our friends, at Aero
Coach, recently performed a comprehensive study
looking at the effects of different kinds of inner tubes. Now if you switch from, a standard butyl black
rubber inner tube, like this, to a lighter, well super
light, butyl inner tube then, well you can expect to save four watts, at 45 kilometers an hour. Yes, a whopping four watts and they’re 50 grams lighter too. A word of caution
though, the instructions, that come with these
super light inner tubes, does say that they’re not
ideal for riding down mountains and braking heavily at the same time. But, still again, you can get even more of a early resistance gain too, if you switch to latex tubes,
according to Aero Coach. With those, you’re looking
at, seven to eight watts, over a standard butyl tube. I mean, that’s not a marginal gain, that’s just a, that’s just a gain. Anyhow, you’re probably wondering
what seven or eight watts actually means, in the real world. Well, again according to Aero Coach, that’s 12 seconds saved over
16 kilometers or 10 miles. I mean that’s either going to
sound like loads or not much, depending on your point of view. (smooth music) Wrapping your number, in a fancy way. Now, if you do a big event or a sportive, Gran Fondo, something like that, you’re often presented with a race number that you have to stick to
the front of your bike. Now, doing this, in the normal way, can result in a big drag penalty. We tested it at the Wind
Tunnel, earlier in the year, and found it was, as much as, eight watts at 30 kilometers an hour, which is loads. However, we found that
by wrapping the number around your head tube in
a crafty way, like this, resulted in little or
no aero drag penalty. (smooth music) Skewers, now what
self-respecting aero nerd isn’t going to do this? Orientate your skewers, in a way that optimizes them, aerodynamically. Traditionalists will tell
you to point the lever, of the front skewer, in line with the front fork and to point the rear one
in line with the chain stay. Well, you’re probably
chucking away almost one watt, by doing that. (smooth music) But, if you want to take
skewers to the next level then you need Aero Skewers. Yep, Aero Skewers. John Archibald actually had these, on his Ribble TT bike, at the World Championships in Harrogate, you can see it on his front wheel. And instead of the normal
quick-release skewer with a lever, it’s been replaced by one
that isn’t quick-release, that doesn’t have a lever. How do you open and close it? Well, you use a Allen Key or a Pex wrench, if you’re American. And by removing the lever,
you’ve actually managed to remove a little bit of frontal area off the front of the bike. How much does this save? Well, typically, sort of a
solitary watt at 40 km/h. it’s not much but, I
mean, well I’d take it. (smooth music) Modern aerodynamic fabrics
and textiles exhibit lower drag than skin. And this has resulted in
all manner of aerodynamic clothing items being
developed, including socks. Now during this season and in particular, at the World Championships in Harrogate, it was hard to spot a pro-rider
not wearing aero socks. And this has resulted in the UCI enforcing a strict sock height rule. The UCI even has, an extremely high tech, sock measuring device,
which they salvaged off the windscreen of a 1987 Austin Montego. I mean, people love to
joke about this device, but without it then the
pro peloton would probably start to look like extras from the video for Britney Spears “Hit
Me Baby One More Time”. ( lively music) Bar tape, I mean, who actually
needs bar tape anyway? Removing it will save weight, I mean, you’re looking at about 150 grams and it will reduce your
frontal area too, marginally. I mean yes, your handle bars
will be less comfortable. And yes, they’ll be a bit
more slippery when wet. But, I mean, just think of the savings, if you have an aero bike, well, with an aero bar
then it’ll save even more. I mean, there’s a compromise,
you could just wrap just past the shifter
and leave the tops bare and doing so will probably
save you one to two watts. I’ve done both these things. (lively music) Exposed nipples, stop
sniggering at the back,. Look, a few years ago, I
visited the Wind Tunnel, with Swiss Side, and there the head engineer, JP Ballard, spoke a lot about nipples – spoke nipples. He reckoned that the
nipples, inside a wheel, account for about half a watt
to one watt of rotational drag when the wheel is spinning. And this is the reason why some
brands now hide the nipples inside the wheel rim, on their designs. It’s a very marginal gain,
but intriguing nonetheless. (light percussive music) Buying a brand new bling set
of wheels, with hidden nipples, is likely to be expensive. So a, much more cost
effective, marginal gain would be to wrap your
helmet in cling film. I’m just going to reach
down and grab my helmet. Now yes, it’s covered in
vents that help cool you down, but these create drag, the
cyclists’ number one enemy. Now wrapping it is likely
to reduce that drag. Yes, it’s not going to
cool you down effectively and it’s going to kind
of turn your helmet into a mini poly tunnel greenhouse, but just think of the aero gains. And, think of the glory when you win your local time trial. (jazzy music) Chopping your drops off. Now this marginal,
marginal modification gain, can be traced back to the
British hill climb scene, in the 1950s and 60s, and was done to try and
save weight on your bike. It also ‘tentially saves a
little bit of aero drag as well by reducing some frontal
area, from the handlebars, although it’s covered
up by the brake levers. Now I actually did this myself,
a few years ago, on a rather expensive pair of carbon
fiber Fizik handlebars. It saved save all of about 25 grams. Would I do it again? Probably not, especially
when you instinctively grab for the drops, while
descending at 60km an hour, and they’re not there. (lively music) What about you shoes then? Well, if they’re like this
beautiful pair, the Fiziks, then they’ve got some Boa dials on them. Now ratchets and dials they’re
good, they’re functional, but they also create drag. Now friend of the channel,
Rob Hales, he told us about a hack that he did, when he was competing, and that was actually
to take off the dials. How do you tighten your shoe once you’ve taken off the dials? Well, you put the shoe on and
you tie it and wrap it tight, with some tape, and then you put your
overshoe over the top, all in a bid to reduce drag. Apparently, it works. You can try that one yourselves, I’m going to keep the dials on my shoes. (rock music) Marginal, marginal gains, you
can take them or leave them, it’s up to you. But it’s important to pay attention to the maximal gains
first, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say that. So ask yourself, are you
getting enough sleep? Are you eating healthily? And, are you doing good quality training? Now, while faster, some of
these gains are a bit ridiculous and can open you up to
ridicule, from your friends. I mean, I should know,
I’ve tried eight of them. So, just make sure if you
do, do them, that you win and then your friends can’t laugh at you. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video, then please give it a thumbs up and share it with your friends. And please suggest, any that we’ve missed, in the comments section down below. And if you’d like to watch
a video on aero hacks in the Wind Tunnel, I did
with Opie, click down here.