What sort of speed improvement can I expect going from a $1000 hybrid bike (Merida Crossway Striker) to a $2000 road bike (Cannondale CAAD 10 - 105), all other things being equal?

Presently I can commute to work (9km) in 17-18 minutes. It's mostly flat on a dedicated cycle path.

I am hoping to shave maybe 30 seconds off my time. Is this a reasonable expectation?

  • I think you could trim 30 seconds. Drop bars alone are going to help a lot.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 12 '14 at 12:19
  • Why should "all other things be equal"? If you just like the Cannondale road bike, that is reason enough but if you're strictly trying to quantify a meager ROI ($1000 for 30 seconds on a 10Km trip), that will be a disappointment. Just pedal faster. 30Kmh is not hard to achieve on a flat dedicated bike path with almost any bike.
    – Angelo
    Aug 12 '14 at 12:39
  • 30 seconds is equivalent to a red light. With commuting, there are so many external factors that I suspect the type of bike would be pretty much irrelevant to your travel time. If you were planning on riding a sportive, the answer would likely be different.
    – PeteH
    Aug 12 '14 at 12:49
  • @Angelo By "all other things equal", I mean similar wind conditions, low traffic and so on. I am not specifically looking for a ROI, I'm just mentioning the dollar value so you can get an idea of the quality of the bike (it's fairly entry level bike, aluminium, not carbon fibre or anything like that) Aug 12 '14 at 13:32
  • @PeteH there are no red lights on my route. And yes, the type of bike is relevant to my travel time. I ride with strava, so if I can shave 5 seconds off a segment or 30 seconds off my total ride, I'll be satisfied. I'm really looking for real measurements from other people who have made the switch at similar distances and ability levels. If I ride 30 kmph now, can I ride 33 on the racer? I've decided to buy the bike anyway but I'm keen to know if my expectation is realistic. Aug 12 '14 at 13:34

Other answer is good - I got pulled away before I could finish this post

I have nice day bike and a rainy day bike and they have less difference than those two bikes and pick up more than 30 seconds on the about the same commute even rainy bike on a nice day


  • Overall bike weight
  • Aerodynamics
    The drop bars reduce wind resistance
  • More efficient riding positions
    You can be up on the hoods or down in the drops. The hybrid was designed for comfort and the road for efficiency. No just talking aerodynamics. The road bike will let you get more of your body involved. As noted in some comments if the bike is a bad fit you lose all of this.
  • Gearing
    You say flat and you are doing a decent speed. The road bike will give you a few gears to use. On the wide gear range on the hybrid you probably did not have much to work with.
  • Smaller tire diameter with less rolling resistance
  • No shock
    That shock absorbs pedal energy

You were getting petty good time on the hybrid. SPD shoes will also help. Adapt your riding technique to the road bike.

The 23mm tires on the road bike are more efficient but less rubber contact and susceptible to pinch flats. For commute I would go up to 25 and even 28 if the frame will take it. My rainy day bike has bigger tires and is more comfortable and more stable. I even ride the rainy bike on nice days when I want to relax.

  • Thanks Blam, I appreciate you telling me the time difference you get between your two bikes, and the factors involved. I won't be gaining so much in weight, but the aerodynamics, gears and tires should be vastly improved. I'll follow up and let you know how it goes once I'm on the new bike some time in September... Aug 12 '14 at 13:36

I'm not sure that anyone is going to be able to give you a definitive answer... especially since you are asking if your commute will improve by 30 seconds when the commute time you give has a range of 60 seconds. But 30 seconds out of 17.5 minutes is about a 2-3% improvement, which seems reasonable...

The more interesting question would be "what can this speed up be attributed to?" There are 3 factors I can think of: rolling resistance, weight, and wind resistance.

  • Rolling Resistance: How much friction is produced by the wheels? Moving to skinnier tires, and inflating them correctly, will reduce your rolling resistance dramatically (not always a great thing when it comes to stopping time / cornering). The Merida Crossway Striker looks like it has fairly skinny tires, so this won't be as noticeable as moving from say a mountain bike.

  • Weight: I include this because it is one of the properties often touted by expensive bikes. But mass is only a factor when you are trying to change velocity. So, especially on a flat course with few stops (and thus little acceleration), reducing the weight of the bicycle will have little effect. Not to mention that the rider's mass dominates the total weight... and it is much cheaper to shave off ounces on the rider than the bike!

  • Wind resistance: this is likely the biggest factor, especially since wind resistance increases exponentially with respect to speed. The smaller profile of an expensive bike will play a small role... but like weight factor is again dominated by the rider. However, the rider's position when "in the drops" is far more aerodynamic, so switching away from straight handle bars will likely have a noticeable effect at high speeds. That is assuming that you are not wearing parachute pants.

Surely there are other factors, such as the damping effect of the Striker's shocks, or maybe the efficiency of the components in transferring power from pedals to the wheels, but I think rolling and wind resistance are going to be the only noticeable factors.

  • 4
    The additional effect is the $2000 bike effect: he has to be faster, because he spent $2000!
    – andy256
    Aug 12 '14 at 12:39
  • Well... maybe it's worth it if they end up riding twice as much.
    – superdesk
    Aug 12 '14 at 13:05
  • Thanks superdesk. I'm aware of all the factors, but thank you for articulating them so well - I'm sure this will help others too. I am really looking for evidence from other people who have switched to racer bikes over similar distances and at similar abilities. If anyone can say "I made the switch and I saved xx seconds over yy km", I'd appreciate that. Aug 12 '14 at 13:36
  • Ah, I see now. In another comment you mention that you use strava... does stava allow you to download and analyse data from other riders? It would be tricky, but you may be able to figure out from the the impact of an upgrade.
    – superdesk
    Aug 12 '14 at 13:43
  • @viking make sure your new bike is properly fitted to you. 1 cm wrong size here and there can rob you of all the gains the new bike is supposed to give you. Enjoy.
    – andy256
    Aug 12 '14 at 14:03

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