How Much Faster Are Modern Bikes? | Retro Vs Modern

– [Simon] Bike technology moves really
quickly. Every year new products come out that are lighter, stiffer, more
aerodynamic. All supposedly making us faster. But, how much difference does it
actually make? How much faster are modern bikes? I really want to find out. – [retro-Simon] So do I. – Nice bike. – Oh, thank you very much.
Do you fancy a race? – Yeah, okay. To the top and back? – All right. – Sounds good. – All right. You’re on, retro-me. ♪ [music] ♪ – This bike is a genuine piece of history.
It’s an Orbea, ridden to victory in the 1985 Vuelta a Espana by Pedro Delgado.
This is his actual bike, and it is a beauty. Steel frame,
Vitus 788 tubes, got just 12 gears, provided by Simplex, Weinmann rims,
Weinmann brakes, Michelin tires, actually quite wide at 25C. The only thing
missing, in fact, are the toe clips and straps. So what am I going to be racing
against, then? What is the modern bike? – I guess you could say that this is the
great-granddaughter of Pedro Delgado’s Vuelta a Espana-winning bike. It’s the
Orbea Orca M-LTD, and over the last 31 years, she’s gone on something of a diet
and lost some serious kilos. Now, no one has been near this with a
welding torch. Instead of nine steel tubes we’ve got 130 laser-cut pieces
of carbon fiber that are laid up, glued, and then baked together.
We’ve also got carbon fiber wheels, seat post, bars and stem, 22 gears this
time, Shimano’s Di2, so they’re also controlled electronically, and I’m very
pleased to say that I’ve also got clipless pedals on this one. So what is our
racetrack? Well, the summit of that hill up there is 280 meters high. We’ve got
four kilometers of beautiful twisting roads between here and there, and I’m
going to race up and then back. Simply time the difference. No power
meters, no heart rate monitors, we’re going old school, purely on feel.
How much faster is this bike? – Run number one. Let’s see if I can do a
Grand Tour-winning bike justice. Now, this being 2016, obviously,
safety first. I’m not entirely sure, as well, what Mr. Delgado’s going to make
of my choice of footwear and lack of toe clips, but anyway, let’s give it a whirl. Downtube shifters, I got
to get used to that. ♪ [music] ♪ Now the eagle-eyed amongst you will no
doubt have realized I’m no longer using Pedro Delgado’s back wheel. We might have a problem, Mike.
No, I think we’ve got a real problem. And I don’t know whether it’s because
I’ve got more power than him, I suspect not, but unfortunately I broke
his freewheel, so I’ve got an entirely retro bike except for the back wheel. Tell you what, though, 6V chain shifted
very well on an 11-speed block. ♪ [music] ♪ – Run number two coming up. Strava is on,
modern bike ready to go, let’s do it. ♪ [music] ♪ First thing you notice is how much
stiffer modern bikes are. Now, whether stiffer is faster,
I don’t know. It feels quicker. Also changing gear
that’s got to save time. ♪ [music] ♪ – I’ve never ridden a bike with friction
shifters before. So it has to be said, you not only lose so much time
faffing around on your downtube, but finding the right gear is an art form.
Even when I was actually able to use the right back wheel. I can see a steep bit coming up, so I’m
going to have to change gear. I’ve nearly run out despite having 11
sprockets at the back. ♪ [music] ♪ Close to the top. I’m getting
nervous about the descent. There’s the line. I’m getting
nervous about shifting into the big ring. Ready… I’m in! Oh, man, that
was easier than I thought. ♪ [music] ♪ – Has to be said, I don’t know whether
it’s because Pedro’s bike just didn’t fit me properly, whereas this one fits me like
a glove, but I’ve got a lot more room here. Modern geometry has us a
bit lower, so I find the harder I try, the lower I get. It’s like aero-groveling,
or something. Here’s the top. There’s the finish line.
The half-way point. Right. The descent. Venga, venga! ♪ [music] ♪ Right. We’ll stop the clock.
That was bloody good. Here we are, then. Now, firstly, I would
just like to say that this has been an excellent day. Secondly, I suppose we
can’t escape the cold hard results. So here we go. Now, on the modern bike, I
did my little 5.7K loop in 12 minutes and 52 seconds. And then, on Pedro Delgado’s
bike, I did it in a little over 14 minutes. Now, as someone has
just kindly pointed out on Strava, that’s probably the slowest that bike has
ever been. But, I would just like to say, that I think for the first time in GCN’s
history, I’m going to declare this an unfair test. That’s right, GCN has not
done science, because not only did I not have toe clips and straps, I also have
just stolen that bike from Orbea’s museum this morning, so it’s perhaps not in
exactly the same condition that Pedro Delgado rode it in the Vuelta. But,
nevertheless, it was an absolute joy to ride, and it’s been a fascinating day,
because those bikes are like night and day. Yeah, that one’s heavier, that one’s
not quite stiff, and it’s also only got 12 gears. But the simple fact is the geometry
of retro bikes is completely different to modern bikes, so it feels totally and
utterly different. The way it descends, the way it climbs, the way you get out of
the saddle. Now, I suppose we probably should make a stab at answering our
original question. How much faster are modern bikes? Well, let’s say we’ve
saved four kilos on an 8% gradient, 3-kilometer climb, that’s probably
worth a good 15 to 20 seconds. Add in the fact that it is more
aerodynamic, even going uphill, that’s probably worth about five to 10
seconds. And then descending, the brakes are significantly better, so
that allowed me to go much, much quicker. So the fact is technology
has moved on, and modern bikes are much faster. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like
to spend a bit more time on this one. Oh, sorry, sorry, I appreciate… Yeah.
I’m not going to leave you hanging. Now, if you want to see some more GCN
videos, and if you click just up there, we’ve got a GCN Does Science playlist
where we tackle some of the burning questions about cycling and cycling
dynamics. Or, if you click just down there, then we’ve got our previous retro
versus modern video, where Matt takes Stephen Roche’s bike out for a spin.
Finally, make sure you subscribe to GCN, you can do that just by clicking up there. Can I just say that I was taken out last
night, made to drink copious amounts of red wine, and it’s just hampered my
clipping-in ability, just temporarily.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Post navigation

100 thoughts on “How Much Faster Are Modern Bikes? | Retro Vs Modern

  1. If you want to know more details about the climb:
    It's an amazing place!!

  2. Personal preference and satisfaction. Splitting hair really. Same thing goes for any other hobby. Difference between and pro and amateur is whether they are making a living with it or not. For example a person with limited edition leica might enjoy photographing, but a pro might be using cheaper mid or pro grade canon which is considerably cheaper. Does it make the hobby guy a douche? No, just he has money to burn and loves same hobby. So whatever floats his/her boat. Everyone is different and has different views and pocket depths.

  3. I grew up with this style and have both old and new now. To be honest, on the flat there isnt much in it….the hills are a bit tougher, modern brakes and gears are better. Would love to see GCN get a really old retro from a museum from the early 1900s…. Lets see what the original TDF riders had to cope with… Bearing in mind the longest stages back then were up to 300 miles!

  4. You didn't give your Retro bike the advantages as it should of had. This was rigged as I should know I was an A grade amature cyclist back then. I know that Reynolds 531 molly frame with 32 hole spokes & 6 speed Durrace cassette with toeclips that had Alfredo Binda straps could have easily kept up with any new bike today. We were using Singles which a tubular tires that you glue on by Clemont, I think i had Clemont 6's for racing with the cotton sidewalls. Even though the Reynolds frame was partial steel it was triple butted meaning that sections of the tubes were thicker at the ends & paper thin in the center. My bike was a criterium frame which mean that the forks were halfway between straight & that of a normal road fork. This would pull the front wheel within 8mm between tire & frame. It was very dangerous turning because if your feet were in the wrong place while the wheel was turning then you could hit the wheel with your toes but the bike was extremely responsive in turning on the hills. You can't compare an old bike to a new bike now because you wouldn't be able to find an old bike that is as pristine as it was back in the 80's. After 35 years you would not be able to find the same toe straps, replacement tires, the metal of the bike would have degraded after time, that's probably why he broke the rear wheel. So this kind of video is always going to be deceptive.

    Riding an old bike meant that you not only had extreme energy but also that you had much more skill because shifting the old gears came down to your knowledge of the bike over time to know just how much to move the lever to get the right gear perfectly. All the new bikes now have taken away much of the skill of cycling but they have not changed the weight at all.

  5. You did NOT do that old girl justice… The drivetrain on that poor Orbea was in total disrepair. Whichever museum houses that beauty should be ashamed. I have a Trek 610 from 1984 with the classic Shimano 600 series drivetrain in practically mint condition and the thing is a dream to ride…

  6. A less efficient bike (maybe with more drag on rider and bike) vs an efficient bike over a ride of the same time. And over the same distance. What is a better workout? Exactly

  7. Having used friction / downtube on various vintage steel for ages, and all the modern stuff, I obviously prefer the new kit. But I suspect if he'd commuted/couriered in a city for a day or two he'd have the downtube shifting sorted in no time. Becomes second nature. One big plus to friction shifting is you get tactile feedback telling you if which way you're moving the derraileur arm…

  8. he started out on the retro bike saying "downtube shifters.. gotta get used to that" is in my opinion also part of the unfair test. He should have ridden it for a while before to get used to it like he was on the modern bike. it's not that hard once you've done it for a little while (:

  9. My parents bought a similar used bike for me in the late 80s. It was a white Crescent with full Dura-Ace. I can still remember my first ride on that bike. In a small downhill part the bike spun up so quick and fast that it was scary. To this day no bike has come close to giving me that feeling. I have several carbon fiber bikes with Zipp and Dura-Ace wheels and conti supersonic tyres but they just don't roll as well. I rode the exact same route back then as I do now. I was 14 years old and not training at all like I do now but still only 5 min slower on my 20k ride. 35 min vs 30 min. I think I would match my best time if I had that bike now. That bike was a beast. Unfortunately I left it at the subway over night like an idiot and it was gone the next day.

  10. Here is my question. I just bought an orbea alma 2004 carbon fibre bike, 2nd hand… I could've bought a new entry level bike with 29" and new components. What would be the difference from 2004 bike to a cheap entry level bike 2017/2018 model. How has that gap changed, from high 2004 to low 2017/2018.

  11. e-assist bikes are similar to wearing great basketball sneakers that allow you to jump a little higher. I highly recommend them!

  12. This is ridiculous – one bike with full 360* leg force apply with fastened feet to pedals, and another without feet fastened – how can you compare the two rides?

  13. I own rigid steel mountainbikes from the 90s and I regularly overtake people on modern roadbikes. It's all down to the rider. Yes, the bike matters a lot, but the rider's skill matters even more.

  14. All of you complaining about the music, don't you get what they did? Older music for the retro bike and modern electronic music for the modern bike. I could be wrong but I think that's the effect they were going for.

  15. Just about 2 minutes, i believe retro bike can be faster than modern bike or same both of it, i still choose the classic because i can explore myself technologies not my bike technologies

  16. I weigh 132 pure muscle very little fat level with A denali gnc bike i smoke new age bikes like nothing not the bike its the person?

  17. Why do they do unfair tests? Just for ratings, I assume. It bugs me, because, even though he made a quick comment about it being a bit unfair, some newbies will get the wrong idea that they have to spend a tonne of cash to be competitive. I'm mean, for fark's sake, he didn't even put cheap straps on the old bike. And climbing and descending as a comparison is also a joke, obviously because extra weight vs gravity is a no brainer (especially as much as 4kg), and the old brakes as so crap.
    Are they in cahoots with the bike companies?

  18. I vastly prefer friction shifters…! but, then again, I don't race, I just do long camping tours with lots of weight on the bike.

  19. i prefer the flexing of retro steel frames compared to stiff modern bikes ,old bikes have much more character and i regularly do 150 mile plus rides on my 1980 gitane no problem.

  20. "bike technology moves around really quickly" LMAO!!! The bicycle industry moves slow as hell. only recently have they've even tried to make strides. You should see the motorcycle industry and how fast it's evolved.

  21. plus Delgado was using roids, covered by the gaot drug probicid, which was not prohibited, that year, unlike the next. Delgado could not repeat without it, even with Indurain as his Lt.

  22. suspension technology on bicycles was pure rubbish in 1997. I had a moderately expensive Rocky Mountain hammer mtb in 1997. The suapension fork only had elastomer/rubber rods inside. not even springs. I belive it was a 1000$ bike. Today you get way better suspension on a 150$ bike. In +5 celsius or colder it had zero suspension.

  23. The modern bike is complete. But the retro doesnt even have the toe clips. Compare this with at least a colnago steel bike. I'm sure there will be a difference.

  24. Aluminum over carbon anytime , aluminium can dent on impact carbon can crack. But this carbon is beautiful.

  25. In 1985 everyone used Campagnolo Super Record. There is something very wrong here…
    Oh, by the way – I know since I raced back then. Giuseppe Saronni and his wonderful Colnago was the hallmark of bikes back then.

  26. the main difference is in the wheels. I hate the new bikes. Old ones are just as fast other than the wheels basically. The whole charm of cycling is being killed by too much high tech shit. Bikes are cool when they were made by hand by someone who loved bikes instead of some factory in Taiwan.

  27. There was this old guy on the Washington DC bikepaths who rode a "super record" and I never saw an instance where he wasn't passing everybody. I ran into him hundreds of times over the years and always got passed.


  29. I highly doubt that he "broke" the freehub. The problem is probably caused by old thick grease preventing the pawl from engaging, or is stuck into position keeping the freehub engaged all the time. This can happen in the winter too, especially on very cold days.

    Anyone's who has serviced old style freehubs probably knows what I'm talking about. A good cleaning and some light grease to hold the bearings on the gear, a bit of oil on the pawl mechanism and it should be good to go.

    I personally prefer old style freehubs because they can be serviced unlike their modern sealed counterparts.

  30. There is a rider at my local Crit who rides on a twenty year old bike, and everyone gives him heaps over it, he dosnt care and still managers to finish in the bunch for his grade.

  31. to make it interesting, put Sagan on a retro however with new pedals, modern wheels, then you on his bike, and race on…
    or any other protour pro, would be so fun 🙂

  32. I ride '87 peugeot mont blanc and it feels great and I always love old bikes, motorcycles and cars.. for me it's about the feeling when you ride.. it's to be expected that it's slower than modern bikes but I'm not a pro, speed isn't everything

  33. I had an old school bike in my hands once, which was mindblowing. This thing was so increadable light. As I lift it, I was guessing it was between 1,8-2,4kg, it felt like nothing to lift with one finger. Setting this frame up with STI, fitting transmission and better brakes, maybe even carbon wheels, would make an high end old school racing mashine.

  34. no toe clips and straps? – totally unfair test for the 1985 bike which would be as fast as that modern thing. even without toe clips and straps which is a profoundly crippling handicap it wasnt that far off that modern one

  35. I was quicker on my older steel bike back in the 1980's than I am on my modern carbon LOOK, might be an age thing though…..:-(

  36. Of course, modern bikes give better performance but that vintage bike is a beauty. I spent many years racing on steel frames and it’s just a different world. Different style if riding more based on power than agility. You keep your bottom further back to push harder resulting in a less round pedalling motion.

  37. Stupid video. Steel frames have evolved also. My Casati with columbus tubing EL -OS TUBING and Campy Centaur gruppo, rides like a dream and climbs. I have heard some titanium bikes are even more amazing, by the way are carbon fiber bikes recyclable?

  38. I'd be amazed if that was really was the actual bike Pedro won the Vuelta on. Pictures from the event show Delgado on a Campagnolo Super Record equipped machine. As others mentioned, fitted with a rider familiar with downtube shifters, fresh rubber and brakes that worked properly, I'd imagine there's probably not a whole lot in it between them. Equipped with a modern drivetrain and wheels and properly fettled, less again. Cool story though and a beautiful old machine.

  39. The fact that he didn’t either swap the pedals on the old bike for a clipless set or put some trainers on pissed me right off

  40. Interesting, I upgraded from a 70s urban bike that had been converted into a 10 speed road trainer, to an 11 x 2 speed alloy sportive bike. The speed difference through hilly terrain was less than 10% which is similar to your results. It's nice to have that confirmation, thanks for sharing.

  41. The most interesting thing for me is how geometry of old bike is different for the new one and why? Or all this comparison is just to some unfitted bike that doesn't fit the rider?

  42. Downtube shifting isnt bad when you get used to it, i got an old ROG Maraton bicycle i think its bought in 1989. Vintage bikes are just satisfying to look at especially if they are in good condition, they look so simple but also so beautiful.

  43. I must say that the elder bike looks great in comparison with the modern contraption. I reckon all grand tours should be ridden on old bikes! That would sort them out. They would need better drugs as well!

  44. Clipless pedals were around in 1985. I remember Hinault and Lemond using the Look system back then. If Delgado wasn't using clipless pedals, he was certainly using toeclips, straps and cleated shoes.

  45. it might be the frame from the Delgado bike it is definitely not the bike, weinmann 500 brakes, touring clinchers , flat pedals ? give it a rest !! These comparison tests are so transparent ….. like the beay bike vs superbike. Change the wheels and tyres ! /Take a nice old lightweight steel/vitus 979/TVT/giant cadex. Stick a set of 50mm carbon wheels and fast tyres and then compare. I dare you GCN ! In fact you could go a step further and add weights to nullify that too.
    I've done it and now don't bother with modern frames.

  46. so… reading between the lines…..on a bike that doesn't fit you, with shifters you can't use, on touring clinchers , with awful brakes, with flat pedals you were 10 % slower….. But also, you admit that the descent was the biggest difference because of tyres and brakes…. so lets say the ascent was 3/4 the time then really the climb was maybe 8% slower. Put some modern pedals on a bike that fits you and some proper ( vintage) wheels and tyres ( 32 lightweight spokes on 350g tubular rims with vittoria corsa tubs) and then see….

  47. Besides all listed aspects (old tyres, clipless pedals, old brake rubber, false frame size, old bearings and chain, never used friction shifter): 6 speed chain on an 11 speed cassette.

    Please GCN, put on your science glasses.

  48. Someday, you'll have to perform the same test again, next time using your modern bike as your retro. And, your new modern self against your retro self 🙂

  49. Bullshit , need clipless otherwise not a true comparison , but I suppose no one really wants to know that they,'ve paid shitloads for seconds on the climbs and no benefit at all on the flats, such an unfair and blatant bullshit comparison , fuck off I'm done with you guys

  50. –>Please Help a Fellow Cyclist :

    Any Help will be appreciated =)

  51. The 'Mountain Bike' Geometry on Road Bikes doesn't appeal to me.
    …but it definitely appealed to the young upcoming cyclist use to mountain bike frames so that's why it was FORCED on the rest of us.

  52. That tiny town is Getaria.
    Among others, it's the birthplace of modist Balenciaga, opera singer Plácido Domingo, and the first man ever to circumnavigate the globe, Juan Sebastian Elcano, back in 1521.

  53. How silly. This isn't a serious comparison which you can tell by the degree to which the steel bike was handicapped: poor fit, not even using toe baskets, pedaling with shoes designed for clipless pedals. Yes, I climb faster on my plastic bike, but if the race were downhill I'd pick one of my vintage steel bikes, with new rubber and brake pads of course. I like them both.

  54. Wow… there’s 10 mins I won’t get back. What a pointless video. As most of the other comments point out, there are so many faults with this comparison. I didn’t care what bike came out on top, I just thought that it would be a fair and more scientific comparison. Shame, I like most of your other videos!

  55. give me both and l d sell the new one and ride the old one .also take money l made and take a vacation with the old bike !!

  56. You guys can never ride the retro bikes lol… I've always loved friction shifters 😂 I was scared to ride a new bike before I got a modern orbea a few years ago lol. I always ride my vintage Peugeot and ride faster than many on their modern bikes. I don't use any fancy shoes or toe clips lol just pure skill and talent. You should get me to do a test on an old bike. Old retro racers I love

  57. BUT , the steel framed bike looks SO much cooler. Just like white ankle socks are SO much cooler than those hideous long black compression socks. And … disc brakes are better but look just awful. I will stick with the beautiful things in my sport. If I was competitive I would go for all the the ugly modern cycling stuff.

  58. Unfair competition. No clips, rider not used to the gear, and it’s on an uphill only course, which magnifies the weight difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *