5 Upgrades to Improve Cycling Performance

Whether you are a cycling enthusiast or a competitive racer, bike fits are a very important part of aerodynamics as 80 percent of your aerodynamic drag comes from your body! What we have found from testing many athletes at the FASTER Wind Tunnel is that a solid foundation from a good bike fit can make you more aero than new equipment. It's also the most economical way to reduce aerodynamic drag.

Metabolic Testing

Metabolic testing is important to any individual who is looking for a healthier lifestyle, trying to lose weight or become a more efficient cyclist. Metabolic testing provides a baseline for how your body burns fuel, so you can be strategic about how to reach your next goal. In cycling, many people become very dependent on glucose (gels, bars, or other simple carbohydrates) to keep their energy levels high throughout their workout. If you think of your body like an engine of a car, how would you rate your average gas mileage? Would you be an engine that can do 20 miles to the gallon or 50? Metabolic testing allows you to learn how efficient your body is at burning fat vs. glucose. When your body is a fat burning machine, you're like that 50 mpg vehicle.

More: 25 Bike Upgrades for $25 or Less

Being able to burn more fat means your body is utilizing its own fuel storage, which can help you to effectively lose weight, increase your metabolism, and become more equipped to handle longer rides or workouts. Even people who are athletic (even the pros!) can have inefficiencies when it comes to their metabolic efficiency. Once you know how your body works, you can then increase your metabolic threshold through proper training or nutrition.

Training with Power

If you are looking to dive in and get the most out of your training, consider investing in a power meter. Training with power is a great tool to measure your training in real time. It's also a device that can allow you to compare your performance and riding ability to other people. For instance, a heart rate monitor can be a great tool, but there are many variables that affect your heart rate, such as stress, sleep, medications and sickness. If you have a coach, having the power meter allows your coach to almost virtually be on the ride with you as they can see so much information from your data.

More: Threshold Workouts to Improve Your Bike Speed

There are many options for power meters out there, such as a wheel (hub) based from Saris CycleOps (PowerTap) or crank based options through Quarq, SRM, Rotor, or Stages. If you decide to train with power, be sure to buy the book "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" by Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan to understand the full aspects of the all the technology and options available to you. Lastly, while this topic is a broad one, consider hiring a qualified coach as they can exponentially help you find gains beyond than simply following your own training plan or one that you heard about.

High Quality Helmet vs. Cheaper Helmet

Finally, to get the most bang for your buck, we save the most important piece for last... protecting your brain! We hear it all too often when helping customers buy a helmet, "I'm just an average cyclist - I don't need a good helmet," or even worse: "I'll get my kid a helmet, but I'll go without." Money can be tight sometimes, but the one area you don't want to skimp out on is protecting your head.

Falling off the bike at low speeds can sometimes cause a worse injury than one at high speeds. A good helmet is designed to shatter, reflecting all of the force away from your head. A cheaper helmet may save you $50 to $100 initially, but if you are protected you will never regret your helmet sitting in the emergency room contemplating what could have been! A quality helmet will be lightweight, keeping your neck from getting sore and offer a lot of ventilation to help keep your head cool in the summer.

More: Get on Up: 5 Ways for Cyclists to Improve Their Climbing

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About the Author


Optimize your biomechanics, power, and aerodynamics in the FASTER fit lab and wind tunnel. For more information on the FASTER wind tunnel, visit: ride-faster.com.

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