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My first thought would be narrower profile tyres, less nobbles and higher tyre (this is the correct way to spell tyre ;-)) pressure.

Next would be lighter rims and firmer suspension. Next would be loose 20lbs from the belly!! ;-)

Any thoughts or findings?

No perverts mentioning Lycra, please!! ;-)
 

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i'm with you on the loosing 20lbs(more like 30-40 myself, Currently at 200 but should be at 150)... i guess hitting the gym goes hand and hand with that. for training you can also add more weight to the bike and clipless pedals so you get power on both the upstroke and down stroke.
 

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So, you're talking mostly about rolling resistance. And, I think you may be somewhat surprised on things.

Specifically, weight doesn't make a huge difference to speed when its literally flat, as weight really only has a large impact when you have to get it moving. So weight is much more noticeable when you accelerate, or are going up a hill. That said, truly flat biking trails are pretty uncommon. So common wisdom is that lighter weight wheels, and tires are your best place to start to make the bike feel faster in general riding. That... and I think most people will be right there with you on the "maybe the rider could lose a few lbs", because I know I am :).

And research has found that skinny, high pressure tires generally have more rolling resistance in the real world than wider, lower pressure tires (up to a point). Back in the day, cross country racing used narrow tires (~1.8-2in) tires, at pretty high pressure. Nowadays, almost all cross country racers use ~2.3-2.4in wide tires. The reason is that lower pressures conform to a non-smooth ground surface better/deflect less, and less energy overall is lost. So, to put that another way, skinny tires and high pressures ARE better, if you're cycling on a smooth hardwood surface track cycling, but for offroad riding, a bit wider tires with less pressure are becoming more common.

In fact, the same thing is happening in road racing. Most road bikes now run tires ~5-10mm wider than they used to, as even the surface of asphalt has shown to be more efficient with wider tires.

Firmer suspension is true, to a point. Most bikes these days are pretty good at pedaling, but you can firm up the suspension either with more air pressure, or using a climb switch, and that will help a little bit.
 

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Loosing weight is HUGE! Over the last year I dropped about 25lbs. This has made a tremendous difference with my overall performance.. mainly speed on the flats and climbing. Even 5-10 lbs would make a noticeable difference. You can spend major $$$ to loose 500-800g with a new wheelset, but wont make as much of a difference. Also some simple squats holding a 25lb weight, or lunges.
 

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What's the average speed? If <12 mph, you want to focus on rolling resistance (tire choice, lowering pressure, etc). If >12mph, aerodynamics will be the main drag (lower your cockpit, don't have to wear lycra but also don't wear loose flappy jerseys, wear a road helmet, lower your body position to reduce frontal area). Weight doesn't matter on flat except for the initial acceleration.

Other thing is training to improve power but that's a different topic.
 

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Loosing weight is HUGE!
It sure does. I made a VERY simple change to my diet a couple years ago: eat more veggies. An unintended consequence of that was that I start eating much less bread. Without ANY other changes to my diet or fitness regime I lost 20 pounds in a little over a year. I didn't own a scale at the time so didn't realize that I was shedding weight throughout the winter (ski season). Once spring rolled around and bike season started I felt superhuman on climbs.

But for flats I agree with what ocnLogan and chazpat said.
 

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My first thought would be narrower profile tyres, less nobbles and higher tyre (this is the correct way to spell tyre ;-)) pressure.
What width are you running now?

Don't get hung up on theory. The fastest tires are going to be XC race tires. 2.3-2.4" are more popular now. Deviate from that as needed to address durability, traction, and skill.
 

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Loosing weight is HUGE!
Not really such a big deal on flat ground, as a matter of fact big dudes are usually the fastest on flats and downhills because they carry more muscle. To a certain extent of course, often really big guys are getting fitter as they lose weight so it's mostly the gained fitness that's making them faster, not necessarily the lost weight.

Climbs are an entirely different deal of course, lightweights rule the roost in that arena This calculator is surprisingly accurate, plug in different weights at zero percent grade and see what happens. Bike Calculator

If you want to get faster on the flats you need more power so hard training is the best prescription.
 

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Tread pattern is easily the most noticeable variable to change, especially the rear tire. Still have to match your trail conditions to the tire though But, going from an all-rounder tread pattern, to one designed for fast, hard pack makes a huge difference. I wouldn't go any smaller than a 2.3 though.
 

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The other thing to keep in mind is that if you run faster tires that are less grippy, especially in the front, you may have to lower your front end so you have more weight over the front. This will allow you to maintain grip even with those less grippy tires. This means you might be slower on the descends. Basically, everything is a tradeoff.
 

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So, you're talking mostly about rolling resistance. And, I think you may be somewhat surprised on things.

Specifically, weight doesn't make a huge difference to speed when its literally flat, as weight really only has a large impact when you have to get it moving. So weight is much more noticeable when you accelerate, or are going up a hill. That said, truly flat biking trails are pretty uncommon. So common wisdom is that lighter weight wheels, and tires are your best place to start to make the bike feel faster in general riding. That... and I think most people will be right there with you on the "maybe the rider could lose a few lbs", because I know I am :).

And research has found that skinny, high pressure tires generally have more rolling resistance in the real world than wider, lower pressure tires (up to a point). Back in the day, cross country racing used narrow tires (~1.8-2in) tires, at pretty high pressure. Nowadays, almost all cross country racers use ~2.3-2.4in wide tires. The reason is that lower pressures conform to a non-smooth ground surface better/deflect less, and less energy overall is lost. So, to put that another way, skinny tires and high pressures ARE better, if you're cycling on a smooth hardwood surface track cycling, but for offroad riding, a bit wider tires with less pressure are becoming more common.

In fact, the same thing is happening in road racing. Most road bikes now run tires ~5-10mm wider than they used to, as even the surface of asphalt has shown to be more efficient with wider tires.

Firmer suspension is true, to a point. Most bikes these days are pretty good at pedaling, but you can firm up the suspension either with more air pressure, or using a climb switch, and that will help a little bit.
Spot on here. Only thing I will add is accounting for wind resistance, which unfortunately for the OP includes better (tighter, AKA Lycra) fitting kit, and position on the bike. Since we are talking flat bars I assume, moving your hands to the middle of the bars. Not the safest thing, but hey going fast comes with its own risks!!! 😆
 

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The two main ways to go faster are get stronger so you can push a bigger gear or get fitter so you can spin a bigger gear at a higher rpm. You might think that stronger and fitter are the same , not quite. Depending on the distance A stronger rider will go faster but fitter will go faster longer . If you look at riders doing the pursuit races those guys are mostly bigger ,look at distance racers and they are smaller overall. So some of it depends on body type.
 

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Not really such a big deal on flat ground, as a matter of fact big dudes are usually the fastest on flats and downhills because they carry more muscle. To a certain extent of course, often really big guys are getting fitter as they lose weight so it's mostly the gained fitness that's making them faster, not necessarily the lost weight.

Climbs are an entirely different deal of course, lightweights rule the roost in that arena This calculator is surprisingly accurate, plug in different weights at zero percent grade and see what happens. Bike Calculator

If you want to get faster on the flats you need more power so hard training is the best prescription.
I totally agree with this, and he did specify "flats", however I would argue that most people who "need to loose 20lb from the belly" aren't carrying around an additional 20lb of muscle. Part of the idea in loosing 5-10 lbs, is that the majority of that would be fat, not muscle. This would also adjust your muscle/fat ratio and in-turn make you faster (flats, hills or otherwise).
 
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