Equipment can Help WHEN Fitness in Place

By Peg Labiuk | 03/15/11


We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Voler E-mail list member Bill Howard is our 69th winner of a $20 VeloWear gift certificate! His training question that follows was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

Equipment Can Help WHEN Fitness in Place

Hi Coach,

As you can see by my email signature, I am preparing for the BP MS150 this year. I am curious as to whether or not different bikes' frame configuration increases ease of speed and speed maintenance. I have a 2004 Airborne Zeppelin - titanium - I chose this bike so I would "never" have to buy a new one. However, I am curious as to whether or not there is much I can do to increase my speed as for bike equipment.

I have Bontrager Race X Lite wheels with ceramic bearings - have had them for 7 years now. I have Vredestein Tricomps as tires. I am riding my bike on trainer at home at least twice a week (intervals and also high cadence workouts for 60 - 90 minutes) and on the weekends outdoors with my group. Do you have any equipment recommendations?

William "Bill" Howard

Hello Bill,

Since you have honed your physical preparation for the big rides, it's only natural to look at shaving off time via your equipment. You've chosen well with your Zeppelin titanium bike, for a comfortable, dependable ride. A carbon frame would come in lighter and I love the "dampening" effect for a less bone jarring ride. I would choose those that carry lifetime guarantees on their frames, though. Other weight shaving options would be carbon bars, fork, stem, seatpost, derailleur, or crankset. I love the feel of carbon bars, again for their vibration dampening effect. Carbon components are not as resilient in the case of crashes, but then you aren't racing and as likely to tangle up either.

You could upgrade your wheels – albeit at considerable cost. My main concern with yours is the reported failure of the rear hub. For your long rides, reliability is most important. Check your wheels regularly or set your mind at ease with a newer, lighter, more aerodynamic set. You could have this second set just for event days, and bring the others as spares. That would be smart insurance. Your long events actually make aerodynamics more important than weight. That would factor into your wheel choice. In your case, I don't think it's necessary to have skinny tires. In fact, some studies show wider tires are not slower, although they are heavier.

Even though it would add weight, you might consider trying out tri bars, for a more aerodynamic position. For long rides, it's nice to have the option of another arm position too. Bill, you have already tapped into my secret weapon - ceramic bearings. However, you are missing ceramic bearings in the pulleys in your rear derailleur. You wouldn't believe the difference they make and how crisp your shifting becomes with that upgrade. But shhh, don't share that with everyone.

Coach Peg

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