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  1. #1
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    Bike Weight - how much and does it matter?

    I was curious how much your bikes weigh. I ride a 57.5 cm Cyclocross bike (Van Dessel Hole Shot) with an aluminum frame, carbon fork and Shimano 105 components. All-in, including pedals, it's about 22 lbs.

    Also - for those of you who switched from a "heavier" bike to a "lighter" one - did you notice a difference, or is it really the engine that counts?

    Thanks in advance for any replies.

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    I find it only matters when you cross some significant weight boundaries. Like, if you go from a 45 lb beach cruiser to a 30 lb 1970's 10-speed, you notice it. If you go from the 30 lb 10-speed to a 23-25 lb steel road bike, you notice the difference. If you manage to go down another 10 lbs from that, you notice (but it still doesn't make that much difference in actual riding). But I'm a lightweight. Since you're posting in Clydesdales, you weigh so much more than the bike that it's guaranteed not to make much difference at all.

  3. #3
    Star of the Nursing Home seagullplayer's Avatar
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    It really only makes a difference if you have to carry it somewhere or push it very far...

    Also the lighter the bike the lighter the pocketbook.
    Working to dispel the common myth that all grown men that ride a bicycle are just drunks that can’t afford a moped…

  4. #4
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    IN our weight group, the weight of the bikes doesn't matter that much.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member knzn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ambro View Post
    I was curious how much your bikes weigh.
    Funny you should ask. Curiosity got the better of me the other day and I weighed both my Trek 1000 (alpha) and my 20 yr old ridged frame Rock Hopper. The Trek came in at 24 lb with seat bag and water bottle, and the RockHopper came in at 32 lb with lights, seat bag and water bottle.

    As far as feeling a difference sprints and loading into the pickup are the two main places I feel it.

  6. #6
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    I suspect that a lot of the difference people notice is less a function of weight than of design. Lighter bikes tend to also have a more agressive frame geometry. This leads to a more efficient pedal stroke (more power goes to the rear wheel) and often quicker handling. So a light bike may "feel" faster, and even be faster, but it's less a functino of weight than of design.
    Riding the Ohio MS Central Ohio Challenge tour, July 12th.

  7. #7
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    I try not to let the weight weenie hype get to me. The way I see it, I'm better off taking the weight of my frame before taking it off my bicycle's frame. That's where I'll most likely see significant performance improvements.

    Besides I can't really see my 230 lbs. frame on a bike that weighs in at the same weight as a pair of ladies thong underwear.
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  8. #8
    Triathlon in my future??? flip18436572's Avatar
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    I think KOTTS has it pretty close. We may feel faster on a lighter bike. I know I am faster on my road bike compared to my mountain or comfort bike, but they are different bikes for different types of riding. I could probably ride a carbon fibre Jamis and not notice any difference other than I might feel faster. I weigh too much to make a noticable difference. When I am at 5% body fat, then maybe worry about the weight of the bike and components. So, in other words I am not planning on worrying about the weight of the bike or the weight of the components.
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  9. #9
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    Going from 22lbs to a sub 20 bike will not make much of a difference for you. If you want some more speed out of your cross bike toss the knobs and change the tires to 700 x 23's. Asides from the road bike being lighter and in a more aggressive riding possition, the gearing and crank size has a lot to do with it.

    Still, it's much cheaper for the rider to loose a pound than it is for the bicycle to do the same. Spit a few times before you jump on, that's good for a couple grams.

  10. #10
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    It is fairly cheap to get a bike in the 22 to 23 pound range. I've got a 1985 Trek 460 that is in that range which I purchased for $45. I've also got a couple of touring bikes that are about 5 pounds heavier than the Trek 460, and I don't really notice that much difference in terms of the weight. Going from 22 pounds to 15 pounds on the bike would cost me a few thousand dollars. In comparison, I lost about 25 pounds in the last 8 months just watching my diet and exercising. Way more bang for the buck getting a lighter engine, and in any case if I took 25 pounds off my bike weight, I'd be riding a bike that weighed in at negative 3 pounds.

  11. #11
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    I went from a Trek FX hybrid to my Long Haul Trucker, and the LHT definitely feels (and is) faster. The LHT also probably is in the 30 pound range with empty panniers, daily load is probably more like 35. It's heavy, but efficent, and oh so smooth.

    My Hardrock is light like whoa when I put the "summer" slicks on it, I notice that it's faster to get moving and to lift, but beyond that it's negligible.

  12. #12
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    I went from a 23lb 1993 Trek race bike to a 16lb 2008 Cervelo RS. I bought the Cervelo primarily because it was a lot more comfortable than my old bike, but was curious as to whether the reduced weight would make any difference in my riding. To me, the Cervelo just feels faster, especially when climbing hills. My bike computer would seem to confirm this: my average speed has gone up by 2.5-3mph. Obviously, that's not a huge change, but it is noticeable...

  13. #13
    Senior Member racethenation's Avatar
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    In my opinion a 2.5 to 3 mph speed increase is huge. The last time I saw that type of jump was my first month of riding last year, when I went from a 9 mph average to a 12. All that was on my mountain bike (which is about 35 pounds). I gradually built up to 14 over the next several months until I got my road bike (which is about 23 pounds). With the road bike I jumped about 1 mph average. In the last 9 months since then, I have increased about 2.5 more. Most of this speed increase was due to the fact that I lost 75 pounds during that time frame.

    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I went from a 23lb 1993 Trek race bike to a 16lb 2008 Cervelo RS. I bought the Cervelo primarily because it was a lot more comfortable than my old bike, but was curious as to whether the reduced weight would make any difference in my riding. To me, the Cervelo just feels faster, especially when climbing hills. My bike computer would seem to confirm this: my average speed has gone up by 2.5-3mph. Obviously, that's not a huge change, but it is noticeable...

  14. #14
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Of course it matters.

    The question really is:
    "How much does it matter to you?" or even, "How much is it worth to you?"

    Let me illustrate. Would a bike weight of 75 lbs. be a lot? Could we tell the difference between that and a 17 lb. bike? Of course we could. Weight does matter. Can we feel the weight differences? In this extreme example, yes. But if the difference is only 1 or 2 lbs, this might be too small to actually feel. That doesn't mean it's not there. It is there and it does actually require us to put out more effort--even if we can't tell. It all comes down to degrees... er... pounds.

    That being said, there is another factor to consider:
    How much weight-reduction is too much? At which point is the lighter material/bike too fragile?
    The best example for us clydes is wheels. But there are others. When the LBS sold me my bike, they asked if I wanted a carbon handlebar & stem. I said, "No." I felt that the reduction in durability/reliability of the bar was not worth the extra expense ($$$). Plus, I figured, if I wanted to reduce the bike system's weight--rider, machine, and everything we carry with it--by another 4 ozs., I could just go to the bathroom before riding.

    And perhaps the final follow-up question is:
    "Is the $2,000 you'd pay for a minor weight reduction worth it to you?"
    Well, if you have the money, and it makes no difference to you, go ahead. Have fun. It's your money.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ambro View Post
    I was curious how much your bikes weigh. I ride a 57.5 cm Cyclocross bike (Van Dessel Hole Shot) with an aluminum frame, carbon fork and Shimano 105 components. All-in, including pedals, it's about 22 lbs.

    Also - for those of you who switched from a "heavier" bike to a "lighter" one - did you notice a difference, or is it really the engine that counts?

    Thanks in advance for any replies.
    Both weight and tires can effect performance. In my case I have two bikes.
    1. Commuter: Gary Fisher Nirvanna (about 33 Lbs naked). Add to that fenders, rack, pannier bags, generator hub up front. Two sets of lights up front, two light in the back. Now add my daily commute load of clothing, lunch (including food, drinks [2 water bottles, 1 thermos with milk], fuit), etc. I also use a handlebar bag to carry personal items such as wallet, and it has tools to fix just about any problem, spare tire, some maps of the area, etc. Total weight when I leave the house is close to 65 Lbs including the Nokia W016 winter tires. The ride home is noticably easier as I've eaten the food, and consumed all the liquids. Its amazing how quickly those things add up.

    2. Road bike: '06 LeMond Buenos Aires (part carbon fiber, part high strength steel). This bike weighs about 20 Lbs naked. All I usually take with me are two water bottles and the handlebar bag. Fully loaded it is under 30 Lbs.

    I've been riding on my Nokia Winter tires since October. I had my rear wheel blow a spoke last week so I "had" to ride my road bike instead. Luckily the weather was fantastic and the road salt was pretty much gone from the road. I felt like I was flying. Acceleration was stunning, and I could cruise at speeds I haven't experienced on over half a year. In this case the engine is the same on either bike, but the weight or the bike, the MUCH more efficient tires, and the higher spec components on the road bike.

    My average speed on the commuter with the Winter tires is in the 13 to 14 MPH for my 10 mile RT commute.

    My average speed on the commuter with the Summer tires (Bontrager Hard Case 32mm) is around 15 to 16 MPH for the same commute

    My average speed on the Road bike on the same commute using the same Bontrager Hard Case tires, but in a narrower 25mm version. I do travel much lighter on the road bike. My average speed on my commute is around 18 to 19 MPH.

    Some days I have traveled lighter in this hybrid commuter bike, and I don't recall being much faster. I will accelerate a little faster, but over all top average speed won't be affected very much. I have the handlebars pretty much level with the seat on both bikes. With the road bike using the brake hoods as my normal riding position I will be slightly more aerodynamic, but exactly how much better I do not know. I rarely ues the drops during my commute so that position does not come into play.

    The engine matters a great deal (if you compare one rider to an other), but in this case I am the same engine in each of the three instances. The road bike is clearly much faster, but I can't tell exactly how much of that difference is due to narrower tires (25mm), higher quality bearing (also no generator hub), higher quality drive train components, or lower weight. All that being said, I doubt the average speed would increase much from going from a Cyclocross bike that weighs 22 Lbs to a higher end road bike that weighs 17 Lbs.

    Happy riding,
    André

  16. #16
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ambro View Post
    I was curious how much your bikes weigh. I ride a 57.5 cm Cyclocross bike (Van Dessel Hole Shot) with an aluminum frame, carbon fork and Shimano 105 components. All-in, including pedals, it's about 22 lbs.

    Also - for those of you who switched from a "heavier" bike to a "lighter" one - did you notice a difference, or is it really the engine that counts?

    Thanks in advance for any replies.
    When you look at bike weight, there is a sweet spot, around 22lbs (10kg), the cost goes up very quickly when you get below this level, for example a 19lb bike is roughly 3 times the cost of a 22lb bike, and a 16lb bike is three times that. Also realise that as the weight goes down so does the durability, when you get below this point. Yeah a 16lb bike would be nice, but the cost is very high and not everyone can afford to employ a full time mechanic. This is why most bikes in that range are owned by racing teams who do employ mechanics.

    Now here is some other math, we get 3 times the cost for 3 lbs, now you need to figure out that with a 210lb rider and 22lb bike, reducing the total by 3lbs is going to be 1.3% of the total weight. If you can reduce by 10% of the weight of the "engine" then, you gain almost the entire weight of the bicycle. Now the condition of the engine is also a huge factor, if the legs are in poor condition, then you can't push high gears, and when you don't push high gears, speed suffers.

    Now it all comes down to riding style, there are guys here who go on tour, 225lb rider, 40lbs of gear, 35lb bicycle, total weight 300lbs, they use lower gears, never go very fast, but do manage to cover a lot of ground, setting up camp each night in a different place. Something I would like to explore....

  17. #17
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    I took two bikes to a race one day. One for a cat5 race and one for a masters 30+ 4/5 race.
    One bike was a 1993 italian steel race bike with 700x23c tires weighing in at about 25lbs, the other one a Trek Madone 5.2 also with 700x23c tires weighing in a little over 18lbs.
    Didn't make a lick of a difference, got dropped during both races and averaged about 20mph on the same track at the same day.
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  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ambro View Post
    I was curious how much your bikes weigh. I ride a 57.5 cm Cyclocross bike (Van Dessel Hole Shot) with an aluminum frame, carbon fork and Shimano 105 components. All-in, including pedals, it's about 22 lbs.

    Also - for those of you who switched from a "heavier" bike to a "lighter" one - did you notice a difference, or is it really the engine that counts?

    Thanks in advance for any replies.
    I just love comments in magazines about how piggish a bike is when it weighs 20 lbs. Not too many years ago, 20 lbs was a world class racing bicycle weight A really good road bike weighed in at around 25 lbs.
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  19. #19
    gbg
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrelam View Post
    The ride home is noticably easier as I've eaten the food, and consumed all the liquids. Its amazing how quickly those things add up.
    André
    Unless you take a 5lb dump at the turn around, the easier ride home is probably from the nutritioanl benefits of the food

    I don't think a weight difference is noticable just riding a long, but if you were in a group sprint I think you would definitely notice it.
    Even a modest hill that you are struggling up, if you jumped on a 5-10 lb lighter bike I think you would be surprised how much easier the climb becomes.
    If you were grinding on a long flat straight the heavier bike would probably be better because the weight helps to maintain momentum (especially heavier wheels once you get them up to speed).

    However 95% of most riding it probably wouldn't make much difference.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    When you look at bike weight, there is a sweet spot, around 22lbs (10kg), the cost goes up very quickly when you get below this level, for example a 19lb bike is roughly 3 times the cost of a 22lb bike, and a 16lb bike is three times that. Also realise that as the weight goes down so does the durability, when you get below this point. Yeah a 16lb bike would be nice, but the cost is very high and not everyone can afford to employ a full time mechanic. This is why most bikes in that range are owned by racing teams who do employ mechanics.
    This is a lot of baloney. A 16lb bike costs 9X more than a 22lb bike? And requires a full-time mechanic? Can you quote any credible source to back-up any of the claims you've made here? I'd be particularly interested if you could show that light-weight bikes are less reliable than heavier bikes. My experience tends to suggest that heavy bikes with low-end components tend to require much more maintenance than light bikes with top-end components.

  21. #21
    NadaKid wayne pattee's Avatar
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    I'm about 220 pounds and I think that stronger parts weigh a little more so I can live with that.
    My 1990 steel Schwinn weighs about 25 pounds empty.

  22. #22
    The cat says Merry Xmas Pamestique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan View Post
    IN our weight group, the weight of the bikes doesn't matter that much.
    Yeah this is the clyde forum... doesn't really matter if your bike weighs 3 ounces less than mine if you weigh 100 lbs more than me. Weight matters to those little skinny guys. To us, lose 5 pounds off your body then really note a difference!

    BTW a 22 # bike is pretty light. I would think anything else would be way too light for you.

    My friends and I always laugh - I have fairly light road and mountain bikes... of course I need to lose 50#, and I tend to ride with an overpacked hydration pack, half the time which weighs 20 #'s is what is the point of having a light bike?
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  23. #23
    Senior Member lutz's Avatar
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    Bike weight is only a psychological factor - at least for us, I guess.

  24. #24
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    This is a lot of baloney.

    Amen Brother!
    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 03-20-09 at 09:25 PM.

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    Back to point.

    I've been thinking about this a lot since I saw the question posted. Weight on the bike both does and does not matter. It depends on where the weight is. Heavy wheels slow you down. No doubt about it. But if you trade too much on the weight vs. strength, you lose out. So there is a fine line there.

    Bearings matter. So quality hubs and BB will help a lot. Incidentally, quality hubs are usually light. Go figure? Those 3 things can make a big difference.

    Stiffness of the frame matters. A frame that is soft (like my Bianchi) will climb and ride like a slug, while a stiff, responsive frame will be much easier to get going and keep going. But if you go too stiff, your fillings will rattle out.

    Stiff cranks matter. The softer they are, the more energy goes into bending of the crank arms rather than into the drivetrain.

    All of it is on a fine line between not enough and too much.

    With these things in mind, you can do very well for not too much money if you shop around and buy used. If you buy new, it can get expensive quick.

    Bottom line is to buy the best tool for the job. And enjoy the heck out of it. If you're happy with your equipment, then the rest is gravy.
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    Some sort of pithy irrelevant one-liner should go here.

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