Getting our science on with bike testing and a sprinkling of Zwift

All the outdoor testing and a little indoor training for the team

This week there's been even more bike testing than usual going on as Bike of the Year testing is in full swing. No sooner has one team got back from testing trail bikes in Spain than another heads off to Italy to put enduro bikes through their paces. 

Meanwhile, stormy weather in the UK isn't enough to stop our intrepid team testing road bikes up hill, down dale and along abandoned airfields on everything from endurance to full-on triathlon bikes

Jamie Wilkins, deputy editor, Pro Cycling

To make a test as fair as possible, you need to remove as many variables as you can
To make a test as fair as possible, you need to remove as many variables as you can

My testing this week was all given over to our sister title 220 Triathlon and a spectacular exclusive group test for its April issue of the Cervelo P5x, Diamondback Andean and Dimond Brilliant, the hottest new tri bikes and three of the most radical bikes ever made.

My plan for the test was to take each bike on a really long ride, some shorter rides and then get my science on with some aero testing. 

On Wednesday I took the Cervélo P5x out for 82 miles on a windy day. Riding hard (265W av) I was home in 3h31m. Then on Saturday I took the even more radical Diamondback Andean on the same route, averaged the same power and was home in… 3h31m. Uncanny. Of course, the two rides aren't directly comparable for bike speed because of weather changes, traffic and so on.

This was a test of how the bikes look after you on long rides. Next weekend I'll take the Dimond on the same route.

To really understand the speed of the bikes you need to control the variables. To do this, I go to a disused airfield and ride a loop of the traffic-free two-mile perimeter road and runway at a set power, a little lower at 290W for this one as it involved more riding. Each bike is set up with the same position and I wear the same gear and use the same posture. 

I monitor live and average power through each run to ensure the average is always the same. I took each bike for four runs to get a really clear picture and included my long-term test Orbea Ordu Ltd in its usual benchmark role for context. This method gives excellent repeatability — each bike delivered a set of closely grouped runs, often to within a second, meaning it's an accurate reflection of their performance.

The results are very interesting… but you will have to wait for those. 

Russell Eich, tech writer

A trip into town for Russell and the chance to test the dropper seat post
A trip into town for Russell and the chance to test the dropper seat post

An large for amount of errands forced me to leave the sanctuary of the mountains and venture into town. I decided to do the commute and busy work on the most obvious bike, a Trek Farley EX fat bike.

In addition to the bike, I'm also intrigued to see how Bontrager's first effort at a dropper post fares. So far, the 125mm Drop Line has been perfect, I'll see if it can continue its impressive record.

Ben Delaney, US editor in chief

Zwift workouts
Zwift workouts

For riding indoors with a smart trainer, TrainerRoad has held the upper hand for specific workout control for a few reasons, one of them being the simple up/down control on intensity. As of mid-February, Zwift now has that +/- feature for fine-tuning prescribed power. 

By clicking up or down, you can add or subtract up to 10 percent of the required power. At the end of a hard interval session, this can be the difference between finishing and quitting.

Also — and again, indoor nerdy — TrainingPeaks and Today's Plan now let you export workouts that can easily be uploaded into Zwift and TrainerRoad. So if you are following a plan on either one of the TPs, it is easy to execute a workout in either of the popular indoor workout environments.

Aoife Glass, women's cycling editor

Aoife is crossing fingers and toes for dry weather for the women's road bike test this weekend
Aoife is crossing fingers and toes for dry weather for the women's road bike test this weekend

This week for me has been mostly about weighing and measuring the last few bikes that have come in for our women's road bike of the year test.

This weekend, a group of BikeRadar readers will help us put them through their paces on the roads of Somerset. There are six testers and over 15 bikes to get through, so we're going to be busy!

Sadly, I don't have a picture to go with this but instead I can give you a photo from the test last year, though the weather forecast suggests that it might be a little wetter and greyer than this! 

Bike of the Year testing — nearly everyone!

Meanwhile in Italy...
Meanwhile in Italy...

Testing the dozens of bikes for the epic Bike of the Year continues. This week, there's a team out ripping up the trails of Punta Ala in Italy putting the longer travel enduro bikes to the test.

Pop over the the MBUK Instagram account for a sneaky peek at what's going down (and what's being tested). Everyone left in the office is ever so slightly jealous. 

Aoife Glass

BikeRadar Women Contributor, UK
A mountain biker at heart, also drawn to the open road. Likes big long adventures in the mountains. Usually to be found in the Mendip Hills or the Somerset Levels in the UK. Passionate about women's cycling at all levels.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Rocky, rough and a long way from anywhere.
  • Current Bikes: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2015, Juliana Furtado 2013, Canyon Roadlite AL
  • Dream Bike: Juliana Roubion, Liv Avail Advanced SL
  • Beer of Choice: Red wine for the win!
  • Location: Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK

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