How to increase speed on a hybrid bike
One of the biggest benefits of hybrid bikes as compared to other bikes such as road bikes or mountain bikes is that they can be quite fast.
The average hybrid bike can attain speeds of between 11 to 18mph which can be even higher when the cyclist is a professional cyclist.
In this article, I am going to explore some tips and tricks to make your hybrid bike even faster. These tips work regardless of whether you are a beginner cyclist or a pro who has been doing it for years.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU MAKE A HYBRID BIKE FASTER?
Concentrating on removing any extra weight and the aerodynamics of the bike could make a hybrid bike faster by up to 7.5% on a 5% grade. Removing a kilo of weight from the hybrid bike may increase the speed of the bike by up to 1% without the cyclist having to exert any extra effort.
Other modifications such as cleaning, lubricating, and upgrading a chain may result in an increase in efficiency and a reduction in a power loss of up to 3% which can be huge in speed gained.
HOW TO MAKE A HYBRID BIKE FASTER
While a hybrid bike and even a performance hybrid bike cannot be as fast as a road bike, a few modifications can result in some significant increases in efficiency that would make a hybrid approximate the speeds of a road bike. Some of the best upgrades to a hybrid bike include:
- Narrow the Handlebars
Narrow handlebars will make for a smaller frame on the make which will enhance your aerodynamics. As it will decrease frontal surface area driving into the wind.
When the frontal area is reduced drag is significantly reduced at a higher speed making one significantly faster. This is one reason why most professional road bikers use very narrow bars on their racing bikes.
A good rule of thumb is to have handlebars ranging from 500 to 600mm which will allow a cyclist to reduce their frontal frame without reducing hand comfort.
- Adopt a More Aerodynamic Position
Hybrid bikes come with mountain bike-style handlebars and hence Narrowing the handlebars is an effective way to enhance your aerodynamic profile but you can also get more aerodynamic in other ways.
While there is no one recommended aerodynamic position, you should lower the handlebars and get the right height for your saddle so that you are leaning forward in the manner of a road bike.
Still, it is important to get the right bike fit to ensure pedaling efficiency, speed, and comfort.
- Upgrade the Tires
One of the biggest impediments to speed is rolling resistance and hence tire upgrades can be very critical just like aerodynamics and gravity.
At riding speeds, lower than 9.3 mph rolling resistance could reduce speed just as powerfully as poor aerodynamics.
According to bicycle rolling resistance, high-quality tires tend to have low rolling resistance, and hence upgrading your tires could make one faster.
- Switch to Compact Gears
Most hybrid bikes come fitted with standard gears with 30T or 28T on the back and bigger 42T – 53T on the chainring in the front.
Finding the right gear with such combinations to pace yourself can be harder as the selected gear may be easier or harder to pedal that what you really intended to choose resulting in reduced pedaling efficiency.
Upgrading to compact gears which typically have between 11T to 34t in the back and between 34T -50T in the front is perfect for pacing yourself on hilly and even flat terrain.
Even though upgrading both rear and front gears can be expensive you can start with the cassette before moving to the front chainring.
- Upgrade the Bike Chain
While the chain is a critical component on a bike, it typically reduces up to 5% of the pedaling effort. Some chains cause even higher losses particularly if they are older.
Upgrading to higher quality bike chains such as SRAM or Shimano will minimize power loss and increase pedaling efficiency.
If you cannot afford a bike chain immediately you can enhance the efficiency of the chain by lubricating it to make it more flexible. You can also get very loose chains tightened to reduce the loss of pedaling efficiency.
- Lock the Front Suspension
Some hybrid bikes are fitted with front suspension to provide comfort since some are used as commuter bikes.
For hybrid bikes, with a front suspension, the front suspension will often observe a lot of power on the road particularly when you are braking or going over uneven surfaces.
A bike with suspension experiences a significant loss of power and efficiency which will make one overall slower.
The best way to reduce such inefficiency is to lock the front suspension. Another solution is to tweak the setting so that you can have both comfort and speed especially if you are using the bike for your daily commute.
- Remove Unnecessary Accessories
One of the best ways to get some free speed is by shaving off some unnecessary weight. If you have any unnecessary water bottles, cages, or bike lights that you don’t use, you can take them off for reduced weight.
By reducing the weight of your hybrid bike, climbs will be easier and your speed on flat ground will be even better. Moreover, a lighter bike will also have better acceleration.
- Get Clipless Pedals
Get special cycling shoes combined with clipless pedals. The good attachment of the shoes and the clipless pedals increases pedaling efficiency while minimizing power loss from the foot coming off the pedal while riding.
- Service Your Bike
It is critical to service the ride-critical parts of the bike which can get glitchy over time. You should ensure that the pedals, brakes, and drivetrain is in good working order at all times to have optimum cycling speed.
Even if you do not have the money to upgrade your hybrid bike, you can still start working on your bike by making other improvements and bike servicing improvements.
Improvements can be expensive particularly if you do them at once and hence it is recommended to do them one at a time until you are done.
It is critical to remember that any improvement in rolling resistance, weight, and aerodynamics will help reduce resistance thus improving your speed.