Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Re:Intangible Benefits/Risks of Carbon Fibre Bicycles

BMJ 2010; doi: (Published 16 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;:

Rapid Response:

Re:Intangible Benefits/Risks of Carbon Fibre Bicycles

Really there's nothing particularly novel or unexpected here. If you wish to read similar articles then go look in any cycling magazine or on many cycling discussion groups or blogs.

The more interesting physiological issues behind a fairly mundane observation are whether the change in imposed work was significant and was this reflected in physiological response. Commute time may be identical but was heart rate response the same; training effects during the study; total work performed; aerodynamic factors (as I believe one post points out the majority of resistance above even quite low cycling speeds comes from air resistance and has absolutely nothing to do with bike weight!)? If the course of the route contained more significant hills then the weight of the bike may become more relevant - super lightweight cycles are really only of major significant benefit energetically to the likes of Tour de France cyclists ascending major slopes when cycling as those who use robust heavy suspension-laden bikes for descending competitions can testify.

I agree entirely though with the sentiment that when considering power-to weight ratios they are for most situations entirely irrelevant and for the majority of people not striving like an elite athlete for a few seconds faster ascent of a peak the largest weight issue may lie with their percentage bodyfat rather than the weight of their bike frame!

Interestingly moving weight as in rotational loads is possibly more relevant so perhaps a significant difference is more likely to be achieved with steel vs carbon fibre wheels!

Competing interests: None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 December 2010