Bikes are faster now, we all know that intuitively. The result of the constant arms race to squeeze every last watt out of the UCI regulations means we’re constantly treated to “The fastest Roubaix ever” year on year.
Yes, the riders also have better coaching, better strength and conditioning, and better diets too, but there’s no denying that the hyperfixation on wattage at an industrial scale has left us with bikes nowadays that are markedly more speedy than what you’d see in the Colnago archives from decades past.
How much faster, though? Well, Bahrain Victorious took Paris-Roubaix winner, and sadly recent retiree thanks to a heart condition, Sonny Colbrelli out onto the road armed with four bikes from different decades to see how much faster the best road bikes have become. On test were a thoroughly modern 2023 Merida Scultura, a 2013 Pinarello Dogma 65.1, a 2003 Cannondale Six13, and a Carrera Podium from 1989, all pitted against one another multiple times in controlled conditions both on the flat and uphill.
The bikes and the tests
Starting at the top we’ve got a 2023 Merida Scultura, as currently raced by Bahrain Victorious and one that we’ve also had time to test. A full Dura-Ace setup, with Vision finishing kit and modern, form-fitting kit from Alé and a modern Rudy Project helmet.
Back to 2013, we have a Dogma 65.1 from Pinarello, back when they were sponsoring Movistar, running a Campagnolo Super Record groupset with rim brakes, and deep Bora Ultra Two wheels and FSA finishing kit; note the round bars. Slightly scuppering the continuity, the kit is a more modern Adidas arrangement from the very early days of Team Sky, but we’ll gloss over that.
From the early 2000’s we’ve got a Cannondale Six13, a meld of carbon tubes and aluminium tube junction areas formerly ridden by Damiano Cunego during his time at Saeco. Mavic Ksyrium wheels and a Campagnolo Record groupset round out the build, save for Cannondale Hollowgram cranks. Kit of the era was from Kappa.
Lastly, the Lugged Carerra Podium Team Edition from the late ‘80s, running Dura-Ace like the most modern bike in the test but this time with downtube shifters. The most notable part of the kit has to be the helmet cover; perhaps an accidental aero wattage gain?
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