How Much Power Is Your Bike Costing You? | Ask GCN Anything

How Much Power Is Your Bike Costing You? | Ask GCN Anything


– Coming up on this
week’s Ask GCN Anything. How much power are you losing
through your drivetrain? Is it more aero to be on
the hoods or on the drops? We’ve got some team time
trial technique tips, which is a little bit of a mouthful. And why is the final day of a Grand Tour a bit of a procession? And is it normal to be constantly hungry when you’re doing a lot of riding? You know the drill by now, if you want to ask a question
ready for next week’s show just leave it in the comments
section just down below or on social media using
the hashtag #TORQUEBACK. Or, to put yourself in
with the chance of winning a three-month subscription to Zwift use the hashtag #ASKGCNTRAINING. Straight on now then
with the first question which comes in from Steven Reeves. “Are hub-based power meters more accurate “to our actual wheel power? “In motorcycles for example, “there’s generally a 12-15% loss in power “when measured from the
crank vs. the rear wheel. “So a motorbike when
advertised 200 horse power “is only giving about 178 horse power “propelling you forward. “So if someone is pulling out 300 watts “as measured by a crank-based power meter, “is the wheel only feeling 260 watts?” Well, it’s not quite that bad, but yes, you’re on the right lines there because there is a loss through drivetrain friction
and inefficiencies. So modern bicycles apparently have a variation in efficiency between 93% and 98%, which is a wide variation. So to use your example of 300 watts at a crank or
pedal-based power meter, at the rear wheel, and
actually driving you forward, is only going to be 279 to 294 watts. No wonder then that pro teams are putting so much effort into making their bikes
as efficient as possible in the modern era. Because for someone like Marcel Kittel, for example, is putting out close to 2,000 watts in a sprint, if his bike is 97% efficient, he’s losing about 60 watts, which is roughly my sprint
power at the moment, so that is a hell of a lot. Now there is a lot you can do to improve the efficiency
of your drivetrain. A big one is using a brand new chain versus an old worn out and
slightly stretched one. However, apparently the grease that comes with new chains isn’t the most efficient. So you need to degrease it and but some better lubrication on. And that’s another one, the type of lubrication you use can also make a big difference. Friction Facts have done a
lot of research into this, and you’d be surprised at how much difference there is between the best and
the worst lubrications. Chainline is another big one. Now you often see pros these days using a 58-tooth chainring or even bigger for some of the individual time trials. That’s not because they’re
cruising around on 58 by 11, but rather, it means
they’re spending more time in the middle of the cassette with their chain at the rear wheel which means that the
chainline is straighter and therefore their
bike is more efficient. Then there’s other things such as the jockey wheels, and also the bearings in
the bottom bracket, etc. Plenty you can do, then, but there are always
going to be limitations with the traditional bike design, with the chainrings, the chain, the jockey
wheels, the cassettes, etc. So Ceramic Speed, whose mission is to make bikes more efficient have completely redesigned the drivetrain. There was a prototype on show at the Eurobike show very recently, which Si caught a little glimpse of. You can take a look at that video now, but I’d like your opinion because I know this is a
slightly controversial subject which did split opinion widely. Is this the future of drivetrains? – This has completely blown me away. Their goal was to create a bike that’s 99% efficient. And they reckon that they’ve done it. – Nick Lylak, you are our winner this week of a three-month subscription to Zwift. This is the question that
Nick sent in last week. “When riding with my buddies, “I seem to blow up on long,
uphill stretches of road. “Not talking alpine climbs, “but the ones where you
really need to slug it out. “How can I use Zwift to
improve my performance “on this type of terrain? “Hashtag #AskGCNTraining” Well, this is, in fact,
a really good example of how you can use
indoor training on Zwift to improve your outdoor performance, and therefore enjoy your
outdoor riding a bit more. We’re going to assume here, Nick, you’re talking about hills climbs that are over duration of
upwards of three minutes. Most people can get over
one to two minute climbs by getting out of the saddle and going into the red and just about hanging on with the people they’re riding with. Once you go over three minutes, though, you’re into VO2 max
effort type of territory, which is when it gets a lot harder. So we’ve got two workouts for you focused on VO2 max types of efforts. The first one far more
structured than the second, and as such, you can use
Zwift builder for this. It allows you to input the exact structured workout into Zwift and then you can follow along to it. This is another one, in fact, where using erg mode is going to be a real advantage to you. Now we touched on this briefly last week, but erg mode means that your smart trainer ensures that you’re at the right power, the right cadence, for the right duration. Takes all of the guess work and thinking out of it so you can just concentrate on pedaling the bike. So with this first workout, what you want to do is
get a really warmup in, at least 20 minutes. Then, you’re going to do
five VO2 max intervals. Now the key to this one, though, is that the duration of those intervals lengthens as you go through them. So for the first one, you do four minutes at your VO2 max, take four to five minutes
recovery between each, and then add on 30 seconds in duration into each of the intervals so that the fifth and final one is a total of six minutes. It’s a really tough workout, but if you judge things right and pace things right, you should be able to get through it. The second one, is far less structured. It’s like riding outdoors, but indoors doing repeated hill climbs, in fact. So on the various Zwift worlds there are plenty of climbs to choose from. There’s short ones, very punchy ones, right the way up to Alps du Zwift, which me personally would take me about an hour at the moment. What you want to do here, in the initial phase of your training, is find a climb that takes three to five minutes to get up, and then just do it on five occasions. Now what you can do is use the u-turn function on Zwift, either using the icon that’s on your app or by using the downward
arrow on your keyboard. Go up the ascent at a cadence of 85 rpms, get to the top, do the u-turn, ride back down the other side very easily and then turn back up again and do that four to five times. As I said initially choose
a three to five minute climb focusing mainly on your cadence rather than you power. Ideally, you want to be doing more power on each of the ascent, which means you need to
start relatively steady, but this one is all about
focusing on the cadence and staying in the saddle, and that should help you in the scenario that
you described outdoors. What you can do then, as I was about to say, is increase the duration
of the climb in Zwift as the weeks and months progress. So start with three to five minutes. Eventually, after what 12
weeks of training, or so, you should be able to
do four to five efforts on a climb that’s eight
to 10 minutes in duration. And once you get to that point, I’ve got a feeling that when you go out
riding with your buddies your performance is going
to be vastly improved and you’re going to enjoy it a lot more. Let us know how you get on, Nick, in the coming weeks with that and whether it improves
your performance or not. I’d be very interested to find out. It is now time for the slow fire round, which is what I’ve renamed it to when I’m presenting Ask GCN Anything. First up this week from Andrew Chalk, who sounds a little bit angry, “When did all this last day procession “on a Grand Tour malarkey start? “I don’t remember it back in Big Mig’s day “or am I wearing rose-tinted Rudy’s?” Possibly, yes, because it has been around for quite some time. I’m not sure when all
this champagne drinking and celebrations in front
of cameras started exactly, but what I do know, is that they’ve used the Champs-Élysées for the final day of the Tour de France every year since 1975. However, there have been
a couple of notable years where the leaders changed
hand on the final day, and it’s no coincidence that those years finished
with a time trial. The most famous, of course, was 1989 where Greg LeMond overcame
a deficit to Laurent Fignon to take the most famous finish ever. Eight seconds was his advantage in the end over the Frenchman after
that final day’s time trial. But is also happened in 1968, there was a 55 kilometer
time trial that year when Jan Janssen managed to overcome the Belgian Herman Van Springel on the very last day of racing. Breakaway successes on the Champs-Élysées are few and far between. In fact the last time it happened was Alexander Vinokourov
13 years ago already where he upset the sprinters. Does this tradition need to change? Quite possibly, yes. At the end of the Vuelta
that finished on Sunday, Spanish television released some figures and the last day’s processional
stage around Madrid I think got less than half the viewers of the next lowest stage viewings, if that makes any sense to you. So it might be time for a rethink. The Giro d’Italia does
change things up a bit and you might remember that last year Tom Dumoulin overcame his
deficit to Nairo Quintana on the very last day, and I’d imagine the
viewing figures for that was somewhat better. That said, I know that
riders love sipping champagne and having an easy day, so you might get a struggle from them. Next up from Mark Hagen. “I’m curious, has a country ever swept “all three Grand Tours in the same year “with different riders?” No, is the very short answer. That’s a new record this year. Two countries have previously won all three Grand Tours in the same year, but with the same two riders. So it happened in 1964
with the French riders Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor. And again 10 years ago in 2008, but it was Carlos Sastre who took the Tour de France and Alberto Contador who took the other two Grand Tours that year. So never by three separate riders. This one from bugboy. “I’m a new road rider “and recently upgraded to
a beautiful Canyon Aeroad. “I live in Vermont, USA “and can only pedal indoors
during the winter months. “I only ride for fitness. “And having trouble
deciding if it’d be okay “to get a decent set of rollers “or should I drop the extra dollars “on a turbo trainer?” Well with most rollers, there’s not much in the way of resistance. So when I was a pro, for example, when I was on rollers, pedaling a 53 by 11 about 100 cadence, I think yielded a power output of around about 300 watts. At the time, that didn’t return much in the way of training gains because my FTP was 370 or so. As things are now, that probably would be a VO2 max session, so it kind of depends on your own fitness, but if you really want to
do structured workouts, I’d personally say an indoor
trainer the whole way. It’s going to allow you to
get far more output out. Next up from TASH. “I ride to school everyday “and I only stop aching at the weekend. “I started riding about six months ago. “I always push hard on my ride. “When will I stop hurting?” Well if you’re always pushing hard, you’re probably never
going to stop hurting. I think Greg LeMond was the man that said, “it doesn’t get any easier,
you just get faster.” So you’re time to school
is going to reduce, but if you’re riding at 100 percent, you’re riding at 100 percent. If, however, you choose to go at the same speed to
school each and every day, you’ll probably get fitter, and therefore you will
find it slightly easier. What I might suggest to you is that if you go easy on the Wednesdays, you’ve got like a mini recovery ride midway through the week. Two hard sessions on Monday, Tuesday; Thursday and Friday, another two hard sessions; a recovery on a Wednesday and at the weekend. Jobs a good’un. Next up, this from The Inquisitor. “Polarized or threshold training model? “I heard base training is more beneficial “towards pro cyclists in order to cause “a physiological change
(increased mitochondrial density) “which would be less
effective for amateur cyclists “as we don’t spend
enough time on the bike. “Does that mean for an amateur “to be more efficient in training, “we should focus more on threshold models? “High intensity training, FTP, etc.” I personally say, yes. There’s definitely a benefit to doing the big volume, but most people, quite frankly, don’t have the time to do that volume unless they are a full-time cyclist. So if you’re fitting your cycling in around a full-time job, or education, family, etc, etc, you’re going to reap more rewards from doing high intensity,
focused training program. And if you’re endurance, you
can do two hours straight, in like sweet spot or tempo, which really helps. In fact, I’ve used that
myself a couple of winters when I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to put the volume in. Euan Munro asks, “In a couple of weeks I’m
taking part in my first TTT “with my clubmates at the
Scottish Championships. “I’m not the fastest of the four, “but hopefully not the slowest. “Do you have any tips “for how to gauge my
efforts on the front?” Well, my tip is the same however good you are compared to your other teammates. When you’re on the front, you want to swing off
before you’ve gone too deep because it’s another
effort to come after that because when they come through, you’ve slowed down and therefore, you have to accelerate to get back up to the same speed to get onto the back of the train and start your recovery process before you hit the front again. So don’t go really deep, otherwise you might struggle to get back onto the slipstream in the first place. Now the key to a team time trial is to make sure that the speed is relatively constant. So the strongest riders shouldn’t be coming through and increasing the pace by 5 k’s per hour, they should be doing longer turns, and the weaker riders, the same speed, but shorter turns. What you will generally
find in team time trials is that the ones that
seem nice and smooth, but a bit easier, are actually faster than the ones where it’s really ragged, and you’ve gone straight into the red at the beginning of the event. Next up, this from Brian A, “Dan, what’s the etiquette
during a pro tour, “can a rider accept nutrition or water “from an opposing team?” Yes, and it happens quite
regularly, actually. The teams do tend to help each other out. Quite a lot of sportsmanship there from that point of view. Especially if the soigneur standing on the side of the road has been with that rider
at a previous team, they might choose to hand him off a bidon if they’re desperate for one. It’d also happen from
the team cars, as well. In terms of outside
nutrition and drinks, etc, you won’t normally find
any of the pro riders accept a drink from a member of the public to actually drink just in case it’s contaminated. So generally when you’re watching, what you’ll find is that
if they take a bottle from the side of the road, it’s literally to douse their head with and try to cool themselves down. That’s it for the questions in the slow fire round this week, but we’ve not got a poll. There was quite a different viewpoint in my answer last week whether you should wear socks over or under your leg warmers. So let’s get his settled once and for all. There’s a poll on the screen now, let us know what the
etiquette these days is. Because some of the younger generation didn’t appear to agree with what I said. I still think socks under leg warmers, but don’t let me sway your vote. The next question is
all about aerodynamics, and it came in from Clifford Romina. “I always watch GCN videos
about riding fast and/or aero, “and I noticed that you
guys often use the hoods “instead of the drops. “Why is that?” Well, for me personally, Clifford, it’s because I felt like I was more aero in that position. Not the most scientific, I know, but I did have some reasoning behind it, and that’s because I ride
quite a slant position, i.e. my bars are pretty
low at the front end, and therefore I can get my back flat with my hands on the hoods and my elbows at 90 degrees. And secondly, with my hands on the hoods and elbows at 90 degrees, it of course means that my forearms are out of the wind, too. Whereas even further down on the drops, what I would find was that
once I got my back flat, my arms were still reasonably extended, and so quite a lot of my forearms were exposed to the wind. That said, out of the saddle, I would always sprint on the drops because when you stood up and you’re a bit higher up it’s quite hard to get your back into a flat position when your arms are extended on the hoods. That said, if you haven’t
got a sound position, and your bars are quite a
lot higher at the front end, you’re pretty going to struggle to get your back flat with your hands on the hoods, and therefore, for you, it’s probably going to be more aerodynamic to have your hands on the drops. Cos the main thing is
always to get your back and your body out of the wind as much as possible. Does seem like I might have been getting things, though, if this advice from an
aerodynamics guru over at Zipp is anything to go by. Cos Si was picking his brains on this very subject
a couple of years ago. You’ll find that video here. – There is quite a big difference between the hoods and the drops. That’ll save you up to 20 watts if you get low enough. So in race scenarios,
drops are always better. – It’s time for our last question now, and it comes in from Robert Repka. “I wonder whether it’s normal being super “and insatiably hungry, even binge-hungry, “the day or two following
several days of riding. “However, those days of
riding were well-fueled “and not fasted. “Is it something that’s
experienced commonly, “for instance among the
professional riders?” Well, I would say, yes. It’s very normal to be very hungry for a couple days after a lot of riding because your metabolism
is revved right up. So to give you a personal example, there were plenty of times when I was riding full-time when my brain would never tell me that I was full up. I was constantly craving
a little bit more. To the point where you eventually
have to say to yourself, I’ve probably consumed enough calories to replace what I burned today. So it’s a difficult one. Personally, I’ve got quite a good internal hunger suppression when I’m not doing too much. So, for example, in the three weeks when I used to take off
at the end of the year, or at the moment when
I’m not doing too much in the way of bike riding, I’m not generally that hungry in between my three main meals of the day. Other people I know do struggle with that. So it’s a real fine balance between making sure that you replenish what you use and not over eating because even when you’re exercising a lot, there is the chance of putting on weight and sometimes even manage to do that during Grand Tours. What is really important, though, is that you do adequately
fuel your recovery because if you don’t your training and your racing is really going to suffer. We did do a video on this
a couple of years ago on how to use nutrition
to improve your recovery. So that might be something
that you’d want to watch now. – A normal, balanced diet
is gonna be sufficient to allow most of us to recover from the riding that we do in order to carry on
with our normal lives, but the harder you train, or the more stressful your life, the more you might want to consider certain aspects of nutrition to make sure that you
are recovering optimally. – That’s all for this week. So I should do a ceremonious
closing of my laptop. And don’t forget to leave
in the comments below your questions for next week’s show. And give this video a like if you have enjoyed it. We’ve got another video that you might think
is relevant to you now. If you’d like to know how to improve your drivetrain efficiency, we have got a video on that very subject, and you can find a link to that just down here.