Opinion: Most Bike Claims are Bunk.
Cervelo debuted their new S5 after teasing it during the Tour de France, the company paid a wide variety of cycling publishers to create more interest around their product touting wild performance claims and using the results of hard training athletes as evidence to back these claims. And that is the trend within the cycling industry. Companies try everything possible to get big names below their belt, people with a strong team and an even stronger track record so that the same companies can use the achievements of these athletes as proof of their claims. For some companies, this is because their advantage is near impossible to see out in the real world, typically because the gains are very marginal.
Traditional wind tunnel testing of Olympic cyclists, this one taking place in Germany.
Why we are not giving Hambini any (more) attention.
And an article of this nature would be incomplete without mentioning Hambini. In virtually every single online performance-related argument, someone is bound to mention the Indian engineer that makes 3-hour-long YouTube videos about bicycling claims. And we here at Haftners wish people would quit giving this man attention. Why? Because before his 3-hour-long videos gained traction, he would go around bicycling forums spouting vulgar and racist comments to anyone with a difference in opinion.
In a now redacted post on his official website, Haminini says the most misogynistic response to negative cristisism possible. Just a fair warning, he wrote this in an attempt to make anyone reading it red with anger, "Michelle Arthurs Brennan is a 31 year old cycling journalist, she has had previous experiences with flouting the law here. Commentators on the post linked have claimed that Michelle is infertile and her feminist extremism is a cover up for her infertility. She herself has described her amenorrhea (failure to menstruate) as a result of her excessive training. However gynecological experts have suggested Arthurs-Brennan has a body fat percentage that is too high and an underlying condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome exists. Some users that claim to know Michelle and Maurice have stated she has had multiple failed IVF treatments. She also claims to be an expert in bed and deems the exploits of ham fisted amateurs at massaging her clitoris to be equivalent to those of poor fitting bicycle saddles."
Thankfully, nothing on the internet is truly ever gone and Hambini's extensive history of vulgar tirades across bicycling forums and his own website will remain forever. After his videos gained traction, he used his YouTube success as a means of income via sales on his website rather than contributing to the cycling community. There are plenty of qualified individuals that can talk about the performance qualities of products, without marginalizing anyone else with the most vulgar pointed insults possible. And that is why we are not giving Hambini and his 3-hour-long videos any attention.
Performance claims are mostly marketing.
Let us talk about marginal gains for a moment here. A typical 8-hour work day equates to 480 minutes, 2% of that is 9.6, rounded up to 10 minutes. How many people would really notice 10 minutes after working for 8 hours? Most of us spend more time than that in the bathroom. Translate that to something like a $700 rear derailleur, a $12,00 bike, $120 bicycle lubricant, and other overly priced products and most people feel better than noticing any real gains.
And that is where marketing magic comes in. Since most people wouldn't notice any difference, companies need to fill the gap and force perception. By touting the achievements of athletes that use their products, companies have the means to say something similar to, "Hey look at us, we are the reason they achieved that." Except they didn't. Athletes train day in and day out every year in a multitude of ways from team rides to training camps and even sleeping at high elevations.
Cervelo, for instance, used the number of points that Wout van Aert gained on the Tour de France as a means to back up their claims. Except, whether he was riding a Cervelo S5 or not wouldn't matter. Very few people, if anyone, were talking about his bike. His teammate, Tom Pidcock, famously spoke about how crazy Van Aert's attacks were at the tour. Some even wondered if he would have enough energy to finish the event. These are rider achievements, not equipment achievements.
And we're sorry to single out Cervelo, they make amazing products and the P5X was extremely innovative, but nearly every bicycling brand does this.
In the words of the great Eddy Merckx, "Don't buy upgrades, ride upgrades." Meaning that it is the rider that makes their equipment claims come to fruition. People don't just hop on a $20,000 bike (costs of high-end component upgrades included) and win championships. No, people train hard all year long and prove their hard work was worth it.