Cheap Bike Vs. Super Bike | What’s The Difference?

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How much difference is there between a Canyon superbike with the latest Shimano Dura Ace R9170 Hydraulic groupset, and a bike bought from Ebay for £90?

Matt and Si compete in four challenges: climbing, descending, braking, and time trialling, to see how big the difference is between the two bikes.

Although the differences are pretty big between the two bikes, its not to say that you can't have a great time on a cheaper bike.

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81 thoughts on “Cheap Bike Vs. Super Bike | What’s The Difference?

  1. I have a cheapo bike. I took the paint off and put a cervelo sticker on it. It just got a lot faster.

  2. DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY! In 1970 – 1973. I won road-races with a heavy tank – a Schwinn Supersport 10-speed. I beat lots of guys with fancy, expensive bikes who drove to races with their bikes in and on their cars. I often rode 10 – 20 miles to my races on my Schwinn, and then raced, won, and rode back home. I won, not because of my “fancy” bike, but because I rode for fun, almost every day. I was always in shape for a race, I didn’t train for them.

    I regularly see light-weight road-racing bikes made in 1980 – 2000+, for real cheap at garage sales. I recently bought a top-quality Raleigh road bike from the 80’s or 90’s for only $10. I’m now in my 60’s and don’t ride much, but I know I could win races with it if I were in shape. In my opinion, don’t waste BIG money on a bike unless you are Olympic quality and do lots and lots of riding, and have lots of free-time to spend alone on a bike. A high-tech, feather-light bike hanging from your garage rafters does not win races. Just ride every day, lose 10 pounds, then you’ll have a faster bike!!!

    1. They’re “fudge packers” for wearing aerodynamic spandex? You’re the one sitting around on the internet obsessing about their genitals and flinging around homophobic nonsense. Might want to think about all those repressed skeletons in your closet, you toxic fucktoaster.

    1. It’s a minute less over 2km in the climb. That’s a hell of a lot faster. “10% efficiency” isn’t the full story. Riding a 100km climb (Yes this is unrealistic, but it’s for explanation purposes) would mean you’d be 50 minutes faster.

    2. So you bought a bike from someone that was not the best bike for you. It was most likely the best of what needed to be sold.

      A real fitted and designed for you bike is like riding quicksilver. I ride 100km’s before I even sit up to stretch my back and I have back problems.

      Lastly, there’s nothing that says your old bike wasn’t THE BIKE for you. Every bike, even side by side looking the same isn’t the same. Weight is distributed to different places depending on construction. Types of materials and contruction processes can change it too.

      It’s just not that easy anymore.

    3. +Chris Harris I rode 50 miles on my entry carrera road bike and was fine. My new Pendleton sit up and beg – 4 miles is a chore.

    1. you’re comparing a cheap used bike, to a brand new super bike. Get a super bike that’s in as shitty of condition, and the price difference wouldn’t be as dramatic.

    2. But did the Raleigh had any cleaning and tuning? Also replacing worn out components like brakes, cassettes and chainrings ? That and a low rider position should bridge the gap a lot!

    1. That plan hinges on the fact that GCN would give you a bike for free, and we know that won’t happen…

    1. I ride my sportchek arashi lol.

      Very smooth ride can get pretty fast. Climbing hills on lowest gear is smooth sailing haha. Roadies give me funny faces sometimes since I’m not going as fast as them. Well jokes on them I won’t be as tired as them.


  3. I find it unbelievable that most people ride to stay fit, yet some spend a lot of money trying to get a bike that’s lighter. Hmm, does anybody else see something about a 160-200 pound guy spending thousands on a bicycle that’s a few pounds lighter, when he has to haul around all that body weight regardless of the bike’s weight, AND the whole point of riding for most people is to work against resistance and get exercise?! Very few people are in need of the extra distance or reduced time you might achieve with a lighter frame.

  4. Everything you said about aerodynamics playing a whole lot on bikes is wrong, it’s actually cosmetic hahahahaha, aerodynamics do come into it with the size of the rider, how high they are on the bike if their back is not horizontal. There is not enough surfaces on a bicycle to change the calculations of speed & time. Everything really comes down to a riders fitness, determination to win & how far you are willing to push yourself. Basically when you are racing most people are wimps, they back off at the first feeling of pain, if you think of pain being a build up of doubt coming over you as it becomes heavier & heavier until you give up. What separates a true cyclist & the weekend warriors who like to dress up as cyclists is that a true cyclist will ride on a specially built heavy steel frame or a cheap bike with the exact setup in distances as his racing bike. He will train 6 days a week on that heavy beast only to take out the lightweight bike on raceday. He fools his mind into both bikes being no different & therefore will push himself past the same limits he did on the heavy beast when he is racing on the lightweight bike but those limits will not be found until he has given 200% effort because of the weight differences. Weight affects everything from jumping, sprinting, driving up the mountain & breaking. With the heavy bike a racer will learn better control, stronger abilities, controlled fatigue & endurance which he will unleash on race day.

    I used to train on a heavy steel framed bike, the only different thing was gear ratio but cadence is what is important not gear ratio. On the racing bike it was Reynolds 531 professionally built frame to my specs which was a criterium frame which brought the front wheel within 1cm of the frame & as it had a very quick response for turning you didn’t need to worry about hitting the wheel with your toes. I had Clemont 12 singles & Dura race AX running gear & 32H hubs. This bike was extremely fast in competition. The track racing bike was Reynolds 750 professionally built frame, Clemont 9 slicks on Campag high wall 32H hubs. To win is not about having the most expensive gear, it’s about doing the hard miles, duplicating everything that can happen in a race, mentally preparing your mind, physically preparing your body & then before the race you quiet yourself down & go through all the race in your mind beforehand, imagining how you want it to go, imagine what you will do if certain things happen & know that you are going to win then go do it.

    1. Yeah. The human factor is undeniably the greatest difference. If it weren’t, then winners would put their bikes on the podium instead of standing there themselves. Ultimately, most of this comparison stuff comes down to the desire to nerd out on our gear and for it to look fraggin’ cool.

    2. While the bike may not make up more than 5-10 percent of the frontal area, if you can drop its aerodynamic drag by 25%, thats a 1.25-2.5% decrease in drag.

      It may not sound like much, but between 2 equally matched cyclists, you can guess who’d win.

    3. +43grog but… it does make a difference. It may be small, but it’s there. Saying it isn’t is counter-intuitive ignorance

    1. My bike (trekking, not race) didn’t even cost 500€. I still hlook after it as if it was expensive and have a real good lock. Gonna buy an expensive bike soon and well, one thing I know I will never do is leave it out to be stolen by some fucking prick. So no leaving it outside during the night and not even during the day at places that I do not trust and all that other stuff you can do to make sure your bike won’t be stolen. Only fucking idiots let their expensive bike get stolen.
      I mean, letting a cheap bike get stolen is one thing (happened to me too and sadly not just once (I learned from it though and got a great lock and I’m more careful) but an expensive bike? C’mon man.

    2. Why was the brakes on the cheap bike adjusted to hit the tire and not side of the rim, is that some new tire or something?… ( brakes are much better and more instant hitting the side of rim imo)

    1. +Ryan Otte It had spider webs on it… It could have at least been given a bit of TLC before the test.

    2. For a used bike, it looked fairly well maintained, so I considered it fair. A couple dings on it, but nothing to worry about. The only thing that seemed to need adjusting was the brake caliper, but Simon mentioned he had adjusted it to his liking before the braking tests.

    3. +Lee Schmitz Thought the same thing, plus notice how slack the brakes are set up, no contact until the lever is almost against the bar.

    4. +Brad McKnight true, but the brakes were the biggest difference, and that was mainly because they were worn out.

    1. i laugh at you mountain bikers as well! Almost all of you are fat and over weight! lol and you hating on spandex because you would probably look disgusting in one!

  5. What about the mental issue? I probably fight harder when I know I have a superbike, I know I have an advandage..

    1. I always ride a slower bike but race against a better bike.. I ride hard, cause at the end of the day, it’s super satisfying to beat those guys.. even if I lose, I still got an excuse and a nice hard ride..

    2. Funny I work different, I ease down if I have the advantage, and fight harder when I’m disadvantaged. When the going is though fight twice as hard, when the going is easy, chillax.

  6. if you buy the super bike to commute, you are a fool to waste that much money for nothing. if you buy the cheap bike to race, you are also a fool to have wasted your money. i wouldnt commute in a formula f1 car anymore than id race a yaris against that f1

    1. tom ster I couldn’t agree more. I have a fairly expensive carbon fibre road bike for fun. However, my work commute involves shortcuts through farm tracks and rutted country roads. For that, I have a £330 Carrera Axle hybrid, which was on sale at £180. It takes the ruts with ease, and, more to the point, is practical with panniers for my laptop, business suit, shirt, tie and dress shoes, spare inner tubes, pump, patches, tyre levers, tools and so on. When I get to work, I hit the factory gym shower, put on my business clothes and pack the bike clothes in the top bag, which conveniently doubles as a shoulder bag.

      When I am ready to go home, I just change back into my bike clothes. I am not a toter of the Spandex because I think it’ll make me look cool (I’m a balding, middle-aged guy), but because it’s the only practical garb on a bike.

    2. +Joe Blow I couldn’t agree more, especially with the last thing you said. I love touring and do it on my 20-year-old Specialized MTB, converted. I was touring in Belize 9 years ago and saw many people whose only transportation is an old bike. One of those guys rode up next to me on his beat-up, old one-speed cruiser, eyeing my then 11-year-old mtb with envy and said, “Change bike!” That’s what he called a bike with changeable gears. I’ve had bikes with derailleurs since around 1960, and here was this guy in a 3rd world country 49 years later longing to have a bike like that. It was one of those experiences that reminded me how lucky I am just because of where I was born.

    3. yeah but to be fair, most riders arent carrying around a f1 engine in their pants. they have the yaris.

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