Newsroom

Your brew delivers watt bombs

New research has shown that coffee can do more than get you up for a pre-dawn ride – the caffeine inside your cuppa can also increase your power.

A study by academics from Queensland University of Technology and University of Sao Paulo in Brazil looked at how caffeine affected the performance of cyclists riding a 4km time trial.

It was found that caffeine resulted in an 8 per cent increase in power and faster finishing times in the 4km time trials.

Nine cyclists participated in the study and started off with VO2 max tests before doing a control time trial.

After the initial time trial, riders did two more time trials one week after each other. In the follow up rides they were given either a caffeine pill or placebo pill, but were told that they had caffeine both times. The pills were ingested 60 minutes before rides started.

Between trials, riders were asked to maintain the same level of training and riding and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

While caffeine resulted in higher power output throughout the time trials, the watt bomb differential (our term, not the scientists) was higher at the start of the ride than during the second half.

Difference in power between caffeinated and placebo rides.

The study might prick the ears of riders gearing up for crit season, if it isn't scuppered by COVID-19, however you might need to load up on coffee more than you usually would.

Each rider in the study had 6mg of caffeine per kilogram, which for someone weighing in at 75kg equals 450mg of caffeine.

This is more than your usual caffeine source. A single espresso usually contains between 150mg and 200mg of caffeine, so you'd need a triple shot if you wanted to start your race with a bang.

If your preference is for Red Bull you'll need to have almost six cans*, well over a litre of the stuff, to reach the magic 450mg mark. If Earl Grey is more your cup of tea you'll need to drink so much that you might miss the race from too many toilet breaks.

Click here to download the research paper

*Advice from the working from home author's partner is that you should not drink six cans of Red Bull as it is bad for your teeth.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.

Score a free Bicycle Network classic jersey when you become a member!

Learn more