As usual I've been talking to friends about bikes and it's funny how often you hear or read of such and such a bike being a "sprinters" bike. This has always seemed odd to me – but the more I've thought about it – the dumber it's seemed.
Here's a simple example based very loosely around the Tour de France (or any grand tour for that matter).
Say the distance of the route is 3,000km and there are 20 stages at an average of 150km per stage.
Now lets assume there are 3 sprints each stage including intermediate sprints and assume 1km per sprint.
In total that would mean 60km out of 3,000km where a sprinters bike is at its maximum efficiency – that's 2% of the time where you actually need whatever specific design/engineering/construction it is that makes a bike a sprinters bike.
To me that's commercial suicide if it's true – who in their right mind would want a bike designed to be at it's best for 2% of the time? No one I've met.
The truth is from my point of view is that there is no such thing as a sprinters bike. Most modern bikes have enough stiffness for good power transfer. Likewise a good bike needs comfort so that riders can comfortably ride that other 98% of the stage. Aerodynamics may or may not make a difference depending on who you ask and lightweight helps more on hills but everywhere really. A good bike has to be able to cope with all sections of a stage to help get a sprinter to the point where they can do their thing – a good all rounder with enough stiffness/power transfer to get the speed down at the sprint time.
Next time you read about someone referring to a bike as a sprinters bike – I would argue that it's a sign that they may not actually know or have thought through what they're talking about. Perhaps they really mean it's just a stiff bike with a harsh ride as I suspect that's what many people who use the term mean.
Thanks for reading