"A good friend of mine was a writer for a Spanish Cycling magazine in which he would do frame reviews. While he would offer useful insights into issues like geometry, weight, etc., the question would always come back to him, “but will I be faster on this bike.” I always liked his answer, which was if you want to believe that a bike will make you faster, then this is probably the best reason that it will."
Lessons & Myths on Bike Fit, Frame Materials, Aero-positions, et al., Michael McCormack, M2 Coaching
How interesting to see a comment like that from my Ironman coach.
Before I bought my Cervelo P2K, I rode a Aegis, Cannondale, Guru, Kestrel, and Trek. I drove all over the Bay Area to various bike shops to find out what the difference was between all these bikes. Dura-Ace vs. Ultegra vs. Campy, steel vs. carbon vs. aluminum vs. titanium, triathlon angle vs. cycling angle - I think it all really serves to confuse the average bike buyer and probably makes us spend more money than we should.
How much does a pound here or there really affect your riding? I met one of my coach's athletes in NYC and we were shooting the breeze about bikes and we both had come to the same conclusion that the parts and pounds and materials really don't make much difference to people under Lance Armstrong. We've both seen riders on what seem to be heavier bikes blow past us on the race course. It obviously couldn't have been the high tech advanced materials on our own bikes slowing us down - more obviously it was the fact that we just aren't that strong riders yet and that we needed to spend more quality training on the bike improving our basic technique and strength.
Another friend of mine asked me how she should choose her bike. She and I talked about the pros and cons of the parts, materials, and pounds but I told her in the end what was really important was that she felt SUPER FAST on the bike. Because if you don't, you'll always have that nagging at you during a ride or a race, and it will be a constant discomfort that you really don't need.
That's how I chose my Cervelo P2K. It wasn't the lightest bike and had a component set one down from the very top. It wasn't the most cushiest of rides with carbon fiber throughout, but actually stiff aluminum. But, I FELT LIKE A ROCKET on that bike. Now I don't ride all that fast compared to some really strong guys out there, but I don't care. When I'm on that bike, I feel like I have a jet engine strapped to my bike and I am flying down the road.
Once again, how important is the psychological aspect of racing? Super important. Whether it's your equipment or your technique, you need to have confidence in yourself and your abilities. If you don't you'll have yet another barrier to conquer come race day.