In the quest for doing the best of everything in cycling, I read a lot of stuff on the Internet, talk to a lot of people and get advice from people I trust. I’ve formed my own opinions on what’s best for me and probably others who haven’t yet reached the same conclusions as me. Of course I may be completely wrong; you may already do the opposite of what I suggest and find it works for you, which is great. I simply write these down in the hope they may give some food for thought for experienced cyclists, or some good pointers for beginners.
As always, caveat emptor. I can’t guarantee that any of these will not make your bike melt or ruin your power output.
- Drop the stem
If you can, get the stem a little bit lower. It will encourage you to get into lower positions and get more aero, which is by far the best way to get more speed. Just a spacer or 2 will make a decent difference.
2. Move the seat back
The further back you move the seat, the more you need to drop to reach the bars, again getting a bit more aero. Also, you have a bit more leverage against the crank and pedals when turning a big gear or climbing.
The Garmin Edge 25 can be bought for as little as £79.99 at the time of writing and like any Garmin cycling computer, is excellent. Having it a bit further ahead in front of you, rather than the standard place on the stem, will make it easier to see while riding and make it much more useful. Out fronts are about £10+ on Amazon and are mostly all decent. The plastic ones seem better than the aluminium.
There are quite a few people who cycle with specially made shoes with cleats stuck right in the middle of the foot with the sole purpose of eliminating the ankle as a weak point in the pedalling stroke. When you think about pressing your feet down on the pedals, the further forward you have the cleats, the more the ankle needs to use the calf muscles to push. Moving the cleats further back uses the stronger quads more and potentially stops calf cramp.
5. Get the jockey wheel and the cassette sprockets almost touching.
By tweaking the B tension screw shown in the photo on the right, you can move the derailleur closer to the cassette and make shifting more accurate, positive and quicker. Get it as close as you can without actually touching and watch your shifts happen in the blink of an eye.
6. Get shorter cranks.
Most cranks are between 170-180mm long as this has been the accepted range for years. Tests have shown that you don’t lose power until you go down to about 140mm so you can shorten your cranks without losing power but get the advantages such as easier spinning and less of the knees in the chest when getting low. I’ve personally gone from 170mm to 165mm with only positive results.
* Not an actual Doctor