Does riding a heavier bike make you stronger? Myth or truth?
Riding a heavy bike in the winter is often deemed as the thing to do so that when you jump on the summer bike come spring, the bike feels lighter and you feel faster. Yes, you actually may be going faster, but that's not because you have got stronger from riding the winter bike. It is because the weight of the bike as a whole is lighter, therefore, making you faster overall in terms of average speed vs effort. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is that riding a heavier bike doesn't mean that you will get stronger. You, as a rider will push yourself as hard as you possibly can. This means putting out a certain amount of watts. When you get on the lighter bike you will put out the same amount of watts but just go faster, simply because of the power to weight ratio. So essentially what we are saying is a lighter bike will make you faster for the same amount of effort.
Riding your bike for the same amount of time on a lighter bike will be or feel easier, so you may feel less fatigue over the same distance.
In theory, you may as well ride a nice bike all year round. In fact, riding a race bike in the winter may actually help. You learn how the race bike moves, reacts to sprints, climbs, corners and descending. Coming off a very heavy bike and moving onto a lightweight carbon aerodynamic bike can be quite unbalancing and unnerving.
However, most people don't want to use their lovely clean, race bike through the winter as, water, dirt and grit get into the moving parts and can make the bike slower unless maintained exceptionally well throughout, replacing parts as and when needed.
Transferring to the summer/race bike does make you feel better about yourself briefly and makes you feel faster. The sharp, responsive, more aero feeling of the bike is great so there is no harm in weighing yourself down a bit through the winter or in training.
Having said all that, you could argue that if you are going out with a group of riders on lighter bikes than yours then you may find yourself pushing harder than you usually would just to try and keep up, therefore actually forcing you to become stronger as you are pushing your body's limits more than you would normally because you are on the heavy bike!
Why not even go out on a mountain bike on the Sunday club run! Make it extra hard and come summer you'll be flying past all your mates!