Today I finally got a couple of Urban Cruisers I ordered a while ago.

For the last 7 months I have been commuting on a very heavy cheap 29er mountain bike. These new ones feel incredibly light by comparison, comfortable, rolled beautifully, brakes that actually work, and on my test drive I was flying around, but all in all it was a bit unsatisfying, it was just too easy and it felt 'twitchy'. Skinnier road tyres, lighter frame.

Should I switch bikes every so often to build up my leg strength faster, or will these new bikes do the same thing anyway? I only ride on the road.

More importantly, could I actually lose some leg strength going with the lighter bikes (I didn't feel I got anywhere near the workout I usually do)? Or am I just nitpicking because I'm not used to them?

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    if it feels like you get less of a workout and it feels too easy, try to go faster (bigger gear or higher cadence) or go further in the same time it would have taken you on your old bike, or hit bigger hills. – Cearon O'Flynn Jul 13 '16 at 11:28
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    Variety is good, nothing like a bad bike to make you appreciate a good bike. A lighter bike helps more on climbs, and less on descents. I ride a folder with bad gearing sometimes, and do over 100 RPM compared to my normal 90 on a road bike. So the next few road bike rides I try and spin more, changing gear later. You should be riding several km/h faster on the better bike - take it for a long ride and compare with your previous strava results. Do note this question is vulnerable to closure for being "too broad" or "opinion based" – Criggie Jul 13 '16 at 11:37
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    ^this. The problem is that you got urban cruzers so I guess they have low gears , comfortable seat , comfortable position....They are made for a comfortable slow ride. Try a road bike on high gears and you will feel how easy is to ride your 29 in comparison. I switched from a mountain bike (42/14) to a old road bike which can get up to 52/11 and that is another story totally. – kifli Jul 13 '16 at 11:39
  • @CearonO'Flynn I have a set commute, a couple of different ways I can go, half of the return journey is all uphill. I'll try different gears, but have a suspicion that this bike will make me lazy. The mountain bike only gets the two large front cogs because the front derailleur is dodgy. now I've got other choices than 'grit my teeth and slog' when my legs are on fire. – Kilisi Jul 13 '16 at 20:32

Bike weight and performance is only one factor. Your average speed and whether or not you have inclines would also factor in, of course. You can have a light bike with skinny wheels and burn as many calories by averaging 18mph, or a heavy bike and burn the same calories at a lower speed, etc... Coincidentally, this month's Bicycling Magazine has a brief illustration on how much power is saved by tweaking tires, helmet, clothing, etc...

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    This makes sense, but burning calories isn't really what I'm trying to achieve, I can do that anyway. I want to build leg strength. – Kilisi Jul 13 '16 at 20:22
  • @Kilisi Then you want to do interval training, sprints, and hill climbs to develop fast twitch leg muscles (peak power) and do long rides at a medium-high average speed to build endurance or slow twitch muscle fibres. Also mix it up with leg work at the gym, to target muscles not worked by pedaling. – Criggie Jul 14 '16 at 0:53
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    @Criggie I'm an old working man with 4 kids, no time or budget for training and gyms, I want all my training on the commute. – Kilisi Jul 14 '16 at 6:26
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    @Kilisi OK go for a nice steady cruise to work in the morning, and aim for medium-high average speed. On the way home, do intervals which is 30 seconds to 2 minutes of full maximum effort, then a rest of 2 minutes at average speed (slower than morning average) and repeat. See if you can work the intervals in with traffic lights or something. As for the non-cycling muscles, take the stairs not the lift. Walk to nearer places, don't drive. Fit non-riding exercise in where you can. – Criggie Jul 14 '16 at 6:36
  • Yep, I get lots of other exercise. I'll give intervals a try, normally I just go hard out all the way home which is mostly uphill. Morning ride is half downhill so I coast a lot. I rarely stop for lights. – Kilisi Jul 14 '16 at 6:52

In the end, you generally get a better workout when you have a faster bike. This is because you usually end up riding more often/longer distances than you would otherwise.

Also, riding fast is fun. And when you're having fun you don't notice the pain nearly as much.

Just enjoy it and feed your speed addiction. You won't lose fitness. More likely you'll be extra motivated to get out and ride at 5 on a Sunday morning.

The 'twitchy handling' is a geometry thing, your brain will wire up and you'll get used to it.

  • I just commute, about two hours a day, and around clients during the day, apart from that I I don't have time for riding. Pretty much a set route as well. I don't have time for longer distance just for fun. Sundays I take my kids for a ride, but I'm stuck at my 5 year olds speed for that. But I am enjoying the speed increase. – Kilisi Jul 14 '16 at 6:24

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