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  1. #1
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    reducing bike weight

    OK so I just measured my bike and it was 39.5 lbs.
    I am wondering what can cause that. I mean large sources of weight.
    I assume heavy wheels and the frame are the biggest contributers.

    My handlebars (aluminum), fenders (chromoplastic) and rear rack (aluminum) cant amount to much...right?

    I haven;t wieghed my wheels and frame so could that be the source of my bike being overweight by 15 lbs? It just seems excessive.

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Once you take everything off, most bike frames are quite light..
    But you cannot ride just the frame.


    Throw lots of money into a bunch of high tech parts is how you make a bike light.

    and leave the one you have as is.. Get a light Race Bike.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-28-11 at 12:50 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    What brand and model of bike is it?
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  4. #4
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    It amuses me that some riders obsess over mere grams when buying rims or seat posts but then carry huge tool kits, huge water bottles,ipods,cell phones,etc. I dont think a few reflectors will slow you down much either. just as a lark,turn yer bike upside down. We once had a rider that was convinced his bike was heavier than his buddies exact bike. and it was! the frame was full of water from a sunday jaunt in the rain! It all comes together in the end. steal is heavier than alum. alum heavier{in most cases** than CF. lightin up where you can ,but dont obsess over a few onces.
    To ride or not to ride...is there really an option? Dang my butt hurts...

  5. #5
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phydiox View Post
    It amuses me that some riders obsess over mere grams when buying rims or seat posts but then carry huge tool kits, huge water bottles,ipods,cell phones,etc. I dont think a few reflectors will slow you down much either. just as a lark,turn yer bike upside down. We once had a rider that was convinced his bike was heavier than his buddies exact bike. and it was! the frame was full of water from a sunday jaunt in the rain! It all comes together in the end. steal is heavier than alum. alum heavier{in most cases** than CF. lightin up where you can ,but dont obsess over a few onces.
    I know what you mean but the OP's bike weighs 40 lbs. Thats pretty heavy, but if he is riding a cruiser or a full suspension mountain bike with a bunch of accessories, then that's not too bad but if it is like my road bike then there is something wrong.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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  6. #6
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
    What brand and model of bike is it?
    It doesn't matter what it is.

    At 40 lbs stock as it is, probably a heavy steel bike with steel wheels. There's no economical process of upgrading that into modern road bike weight which is 14-17lbs, complete. It'll just be a gigantic waste of money.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

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    Unless that it a FS Downhill bike or Tandem, thats way too heavy for any sort of bike that's worth speding money on, buy a complete new bike that weights nearer to what you want, it will be cheaper than upgrading.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    It doesn't matter what it is.

    At 40 lbs stock as it is, probably a heavy steel bike with steel wheels. There's no economical process of upgrading that into modern road bike weight which is 14-17lbs, complete. It'll just be a gigantic waste of money.
    You sort of skipped over the huge number of nice to ride bikes that end up coming in at around 25 to 30 lbs when set up with fenders, realistic street tires and a rack for carrying life's baggage around.

    Chico1st, as I recall your ongoing battle with your bike this is an old Sturmey 3 speed bike. Typically many of those oldies from Raleigh and others used only the finest thick wall water pipe that money could buy for their frames. And supported them on shiney chrome plated steel rims that you could comb your hair in. Such bikes look a lot better in a showroom window then they do sitting under you with your feet on the pedals. If your bike matches this description then yeah, the guys are right and trying to significantly lower the bike's weight would be like putting racing wheels on a hippopotamus. At some point you need to realize that you will need to upgrade to get a sporty feeling bike with a lighter weight.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  9. #9
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
    Unless that it a FS Downhill bike or Tandem, thats way too heavy for any sort of bike that's worth speding money on, buy a complete new bike that weights nearer to what you want, it will be cheaper than upgrading.
    That is indeed the cheapest and fastest way to meaningful weight reduction.

  10. #10
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    It is sometimes reasonable to reduce weight by putting on an aluminum wheelset in place of steel, or ditch a crappy suspension fork for a lighter rigid fork. But if your bike weighs 40 pounds there's really not much you can do.

    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Chico1st, as I recall your ongoing battle with your bike this is an old Sturmey 3 speed bike.
    I have a steel AW 3-speed hub and shifter sitting in a box at home. Eventually I'd like to build it into a wheel and use it for commuting, but I swear the hub weighs like 10 pounds. I need to put it on a scale sometime. Until then, I'll just ride single-speed and save the weight.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  11. #11
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    You sort of skipped over the huge number of nice to ride bikes that end up coming in at around 25 to 30 lbs when set up with fenders, realistic street tires and a rack for carrying life's baggage around.
    So where do you think the extra 10 pounds comes from? Even at your non conservative estimate? 10 pounds of luck charms taped to his frame?
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  12. #12
    SmallieBiggs
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    So where do you think the extra 10 pounds comes from? Even at your non conservative estimate? 10 pounds of luck charms taped to his frame?
    I'm glad you are trying to learn to read, but you obviously still have a lot of work to do.

    BCRider was not describing the OP's bike, he was responding to your post that suggested that anyone who does not want a 40 lb bike wants a 14 lb bike, and pointing out that there are plenty of 25 and 30 lb bikes that would be a great improvement over the OP's tank.

  13. #13
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    I know new bikes are light and sporty but 40 lbs seemed excessive.

    Typically many of those oldies from Raleigh and others used only the finest thick wall water pipe that money could buy for their frames. And supported them on shiney chrome plated steel rims that you could comb your hair in.
    really i always figured old 3 speed frames were nice and light, being some sort of premium frame... i guess weight wasn't a big issue back in the 50s.
    when we are talking an 3-sp frame being heavy would that be like 10 lbs heavier than a modern frame? or less than that?

    I do have 1 steel wheel but i picked it up one day and it didnt seem that heavy (way heavier than my aluminum wheels though). Maybe ill just replace that wheel and be done with it.


    I have a steel AW 3-speed hub and shifter sitting in a box at home. Eventually I'd like to build it into a wheel and use it for commuting, but I swear the hub weighs like 10 pounds. I need to put it on a scale sometime. Until then, I'll just ride single-speed and save the weight.
    SA 3sp hubs weigh around 2.25 lbs.

  14. #14
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    OK so it is a 3 spd but what kind? a Raleigh Sport? Schwinn? steel wheels? that frame is likely a High Tensile steel of some type so yes it will be heavish

    tell us more about the bike. how about a pic or two?
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

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    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    If you can swap out the wheelset with a decent quality alloy set, you've pretty much covered all that is cost-effective. Did that with a overweight Schwinn of my own. It helped. but it wasn't a magic transformation

  16. #16
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    I have a new Surly Cross Check I built up last spring as my rain/snow/ rail-trail/errand bike and it weighs about 35 pounds all-up. However, it has Planet Bike full fenders, a heavy Nashbar rear rack, a sizable rack trunk containing tools, a mini-pump and spare tubes and 700-32 heavily treaded tires that weigh 460 grams each. The components are a mix of mid-level 8-speed stuff I had in my parts box and, while nothing is grotesquely heavy, they certainly aren't weight-weenie light either.

    I'm sure I could get it 10-15 pounds lighter just by removing the rack, fenders and rack trunk but then it's utility would be compromised and I have other much lighter bikes for sport and recreational riding.

  17. #17
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Light weight rims not only reduce the total weight of the bike, but greatly reduce the rotational enertia for faster acceleration.

    BTW remember the middle to late 80s when they tried to lighten everything. They made swiss cheeze out of everything. They even drilled the tiny little frames of derailers. They got everything light ok-------then it failed!! If your bike breaks you lose the race or you dont get home.

  18. #18
    Pleasurable Pain greyghost_6's Avatar
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    The best way to find out the true answer is to ask your bike what it thinks should weigh less. They almost always reply "The rider", the bike is only 20% of the weight it needs to go. But seriously, wheels are a great upgrade opportunity, they probably wont lighten up the bike much but it sure will FEEL lighter when accelerating. Ask yourself if this is the bike you want to be riding for a while, otherwise you might just want to invest in a new bike. Hey my rule is as long as the bike is under 20 pounds "naked" (no racks, fenders, etc) you are going to be fine.
    I had to re-learn how to walk once, but never needed to re-learn how to ride a bike. Cyclist for life.

  19. #19
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I have a new Surly Cross Check I built up last spring as my rain/snow/ rail-trail/errand bike and it weighs about 35 pounds all-up. However, it has Planet Bike full fenders, a heavy Nashbar rear rack, a sizable rack trunk containing tools, a mini-pump and spare tubes and 700-32 heavily treaded tires that weigh 460 grams each. The components are a mix of mid-level 8-speed stuff I had in my parts box and, while nothing is grotesquely heavy, they certainly aren't weight-weenie light either.....
    I did pretty much the same with my Soma Double Cross I built up a couple of years back. 29'er wheels of slightly wider rim width than pure road bike wheels shod with 28mm tires, fenders, rear rack and a very nice and comfy Brooks saddle. If I were to lose the rack, fenders, go to 25mm tires and switch the saddle over to something lighter I don't doubt I could get down to the low twenties for weight. But as it is now it serves me well at it's present weight of around 30 to 32 lbs as I recall from a couple of years back when I measured it. I tend not to include the weight of the pump and seat pack of tool set, levers and spare tube since I would not go more than two blocks without them and all my bikes have their own set or share the easy to switch ones.

    Chico1st, Hillrider's and my own bikes may not seem like that much lighter to you compare to your 40 lb tank but trust me. With good components and a frame that is a better quality spring that gives back all or most of what it takes away plus wheels that are less heavy than steel rims the sum of the parts adds up to more than what the mere list of parts appears at first. I've ridden a few high tensile steel frames and they are darn near like riding a black hole that sucks away your energy..... OK, I'm exagerating. But they DO manage to lose some of the rider's input due to how they flex and perhaps the poor quality of a spring that they make.

    You don't need to buy a brand new bike if you can't manage it. But you should begin looking for an older Chrome Molybdenum steel or a more recent aluminium framed bike as an upgrade over what you have now. I think you'll agree in the end that it's about more than just 10 or more pounds of weight. It's about where the weight is located and what materials are used in the making of the bike's components.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  20. #20
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    A stock Raleigh Sports weighs about 39 pounds, the top of the line Superbe curbed out at 42 pounds with the addition of a Dynahub and rear rack.

    These are English 3 speeds and were designed to run for 100 years... they are solid comfortable bicycles and totally utilitarian.

    A really nice upgrade is to rebuild the wheels with alloy rims and the Sun Cr18 does come in the 650A size... this will lighten the bike and increase the braking immensely and will not detract from the classic look if you remove the decals on the wheels.

    I would do nothing else to an old Sports as after that it will need nothing else.

  21. #21
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    hmm i never knew frame flex was a big deal. I think this moment I will get a new wheel and live with what i have for now. I have always wanted a dynamo hub.

    Also you mention that the Raleigh sports was 40 lbs I was really suprised by that. My main concern is bike longevity so I guess Ill stick with what I have. Although I suppose metalurgy has moved forward in teh past 50 years and you can get long lasting, light frames (surly).

    Maybe Ill get a new frame next year or so, I try to spread out my bike purchases, to lessen the impact of bike theft.

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Chrome moly tubing was around early enough for it to be adopted and used a lot in the early aircraft of WW1. And I'm pretty sure there were racing bikes using it either before or immediately after the Great War. So it's not like it's "unproven technology". The Raleigh and Surly frames will both easily last 100 years and more if protected from rust. But the Surly, or any other similar CrMo steel frame, will put a lot more smiles onto a riders face during that time if they like to ride hard. The phrase "they are solid comfortable bicycles and totally utilitarian." decribes the Raleigh bikes to a "T". But this assumes a casual riding style intended to give a pace not much faster than a jog while not upsetting the rider's clothing. For those of us that like to zip along at a bit more of a sporty pace or enjoy the response of a light and quick steering bike under us such a bike feels somewhat ponderous.

    It's not just one part or the other. The whole bike from stem to stern counts to the overall feel. But the foundation is the frame. If the frame is designed to feel lazy but comfy then the bike will never ride like a sports car regardless of what wheels or other bits you put on it.

    From all this you may think that I'd never want to own a Raleigh. You'd be wrong. But I would tart it up so it shined like a new penny and only ride it on special occasions where I wanted a cruiser for a sunny day very casual sort of ride along a flat park or river path with some like minded friends. The rest of the time give me a "puppy dog energetic" light CrMo frame with light wheels and a short snappy geometry to help make me feel young again. Yes, there IS that much difference in how the bikes feel. And it's not just the weight. I can have saddle bags full of stuff that makes my Double Cross weigh as much or more than your Raleigh. But I can guarantee you that the Double Cross would still feel more sporty for a number of the reasons listed already.

    And to ease Sixty-Fiver's undoubted indignant sputtering at this post all I can say is "different bikes for different desires of the moment". The Raleighs, and other similar cruisers, are nice for what they are good at. I just don't want to ride in a manner that they are good at very often.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    The sturdier 1010 tube sets lend themselves well to the automated building /brazing jigs
    that made older utility bikes so affordable.

    Newer light TIG Welded frames are dependent on the lower wages
    paid to thousands of tig welders, .. people,
    Many who , I understand, are quite proud of the quality of the bead they lay down
    all day, day after day.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-29-11 at 03:18 PM.

  24. #24
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    really i always figured old 3 speed frames were nice and light, being some sort of premium frame... i guess weight wasn't a big issue back in the 50s.
    when we are talking an 3-sp frame being heavy would that be like 10 lbs heavier than a modern frame? or less than that?

    I do have 1 steel wheel but i picked it up one day and it didnt seem that heavy (way heavier than my aluminum wheels though). Maybe ill just replace that wheel and be done with it.
    I have yet to see a light weight vintage 3 speed. I have one that weighs over 50 pounds! Everything about the bike is heavy: frame, forks, handlebars, wheels, hubs, cranks, etc. Nothing premium about a 3 speed frame. Every one I have seen was gas pipe/high ten steel (that's the bottom). Again, there are probably exceptions out there, but on the rare side. I have had several 3 speed bikes: from Raleigh to Gazelle to a lot of other brands. All of them were very heavy.

    Its not about the era when these bikes were built. At the same time Raleigh was making 40 pound 3 speed bikes, they made racing bikes that weighed in the low 20s. They knew how to do it, had the technology. Its just the 3 speed market was not focused on weight, and reducing weight cost $$.

    Nothing premium about 3 speed frames. "Premium" frames tended to be reserved for high end racing bikes. Totally different market.

    As far as weight, items that may seem to be relatively light weight are not light weight, particularly compared to the light weight stuff. Get a scale, and you will be surprised.

    Most bikes are very durable if stored properly (otherwise rust will get them eventually). The old heavy Schwinns and Raleighs could last centuries...

    If you want to shave some weight, the wheels are your best bet, along with any extras you are carrying around on the bike. But it still will be very heavy.
    Last edited by wrk101; 03-30-11 at 09:08 AM.

  25. #25
    30mi/day commuter
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    I've ridden a few high tensile steel frames and they are darn near like riding a black hole that sucks away your energy
    Is there anyways to know if im riding a "black hole"? Without being super subjective.

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