Bikes vs. Steroids

May 19, 2020
Reading Time: about 1 minute

Biking has been my primary hobby ever since quarantine started. I highly recommend it – it enables exploration, exercise, and meeting new & interesting people. My friends occupy a wide variety of cyclist “types”. On the hardcore end we have Angela who introduced herself with “I’m a casual biker” shortly before elaborating on her transamerican trek. On the other hand, we have Ping-ko with whom my mouth does more running than I do riding.

Whenever I bike with avid cyclists, I end up thanking them for waiting for me. They consistently respond “it’s okay, you’re doing great especially considering you’re riding a hybrid.”

Just how big of a difference could this possibly be? It turns out my hybrid is 26 lbs and a road bike is around 15 lbs. With this handy dandy website, I can easily figure out roughly how much faster I’d be with a lighter bike! Ignoring hills because I don’t have a good way to estimate grade, Strava says I ride with an average of 150 watts, so I move at 18.75 mph (with defaults for all other settings). Now suppose I get a new 15 lbs roadbike – this costs around 3,000 USD, but only gets me up to 18.87 mph!

3,000 though… that’s pretty steep. Do we have any alternatives? What if instead of reducing weight, I increased power?

According to this not at all random or sketchy site, a 10-week dosage of steroids costs around 677 USD and provides anywhere between a 5 to 20% increase in performance… but how good is this really? Let’s average this performance increase to 13%, so my 150 watts becomes 170. This gets me up to 19.69 mph – nearly a full mph increase!

That means for every dollar on steroids, I get 0.0014 mph faster but with every dollar on new equipment, I only get 0.00004 mph. CLEARLY steroids are the superior option; they’re 35 times more price efficient! \s