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-   -   Bike weight impact on speed and commute time (http://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/920030-bike-weight-impact-speed-commute-time.html)

cat 10-29-13 09:19 PM

I recently went from a ~19 lb aluminum frame road bike to a ~24 lb steel framed road bike for my 13 mile commute. I found the time difference negligible, but more comfortable. I say go for it.

Rob22315 10-30-13 02:55 AM

A said earlier, just carry an extra 10 lbs of weight next time you ride and see what kind of imact it will have on your time and ride quality.

cplager 10-30-13 05:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FBinNY (Post 16203361)
(other good points removed)

I wasn't being facetious earlier when I suggested hauling potatoes. The easiest and most reliable way to know how weight will affect your time is to add the weight and see what happens.

When most people talk about the effect weight has, they are comparing two bikes that have (obviously) different weights, but also have different tires, different aerodynamic profiles, and different ergonomics. And what they very often take away from the comparison is "Wow, weight makes a big difference" and ignores the other factors. An interesting (to me, at least) point: I changed from 100 PSI Maxxis Detonators with tire liners to 95 PSI Schwalbe Kojaks without the liners, and my average speed went up 1.5 mph on my commute. Non weight factors are usually much more important than weight factors.

As FB says, if you want to see what weight does, just add weight and leave everything else alone.

And to the OP, if switching bikes means being able to use panniers instead of a backpack, well, I'll be very surprised if you switch and think you aren't better off.

tarwheel 10-30-13 06:17 AM

If your route is hilly and/or has lots of stop lights, the extra weight will affect you more. I commute on several different bikes, and generally speaking my times are faster when riding my lighter bikes. I track all of my rides in a database. My touring bike, which probably weighs about 5 lbs more than the sport touring bikes I usually commute on, is about 1 mph slower in average speeds over hundreds of rides. That amounts to about 5 minutes extra riding time on my 31-mile roundtrip commute. However, my speed on a given day is more affected by how tired or rested my legs are, and whether I am riding with a tailwind or headwind. If my legs are fresh and I'm not fighting the wind, I can ride to work just as fast on my touring bike. However, if my legs are tired and I'm fighting the wind, my speeds are much slower.

irwin7638 10-30-13 07:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cplager (Post 16202741)
There's something terribly wrong with this thread. A reasonable question was asked about weight, and the OP got nothing but reasonable answers.

What's this world coming to? :D

Stick around, this is good for a few pages. I doubt you will notice a difference in time that matters. I use my heaviest bike for touring because the stability makes the ride less tiring at the end of the trip. All the road chatter and corrections you make on a road bike to compensate for conditions expend a lot of energy during a ride. Even though I definitely climb slower, it's a much better choice for a long ride, I have more energy and few sore muscles at the end of the ride.

Marc

dbikingman 10-30-13 07:32 AM

I for one don't push it on my commute. When I switched from a MTB to a road bike (steel frame) I was faster but some of that has to do with the gearing. If I was pushing for the fastest time I'd look for the lightest bike and not carry anything. There are days were I'm sure the weight I'm carrying is five pounds more than other days and I don't notice that. As mentioned in other posts weather, sleep, and traffic lights make a bigger difference. If I hit the wrong traffic light "it seems like" two minutes waiting that seems to be similar to what some of the other posters have mentioned as gained or lost.

cplager 10-30-13 07:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by irwin7638 (Post 16204041)
Stick around, this is good for a few pages. I doubt you will notice a difference in time that matters. I use my heaviest bike for touring because the stability makes the ride less tiring at the end of the trip. All the road chatter and corrections you make on a road bike to compensate for conditions expend a lot of energy during a ride. Even though I definitely climb slower, it's a much better choice for a long ride, I have more energy and few sore muscles at the end of the ride.

Marc

I ride funny bikes. I mean very funny bikes.

The brand of bikes that I ride has a very high end road bike, the Vendetta:
http://www.bentrideronline.com/wordp...1/vendetta.jpg

And a little lower high end road bike that is fully suspended, the Silvio:


http://cruzbike.com/sites/default/fi...0/Side-400.jpg

The Vendetta is lighter and more aerodynamic, so if you're racing that's what you're going to want to use. But having suspension* makes the ride so much nicer that for almost everything else the Silvio would my choice every time.

Cheers,
Charles

* Unlike hybrid bicycle suspension, there is almost no loss caused by the suspension on the Silvio because the pedaling motion is orthogonal to the direction of suspension travel. The biggest cost of suspension is that it adds weight.

mstraus 10-30-13 11:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty (Post 16203241)
I am certain I read somewhere about an old study that implied -1 mph per +10 lb (total, obviously) but if that were true I'd be going 0 mph

So i guess if you start with a really light bike and then get a really heavy one you will actually start going backwards when trying to climb hills.

mstraus 10-30-13 11:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WestPablo (Post 16203345)
+1

There's usually only a couple pounds difference between Al and steel bikes. Some types of steel actually weigh less than Al bikes.

Unless you're racing, bike weight shouldn't be a major factor. That especially goes for urban commutes.

A better question would be, "How much does gaining a few pounds affect my commute time?" :D

I wouldn't say I have an entirely urban commute (half is urban), as I go from the suburbs of Marin county over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco.

Your weight comment made me laugh, as for years I wouldn't go crazy over weight for the bike and when someone talked about how light something was I always commented that it would be a lot easier for me to loose 10 lbs then for me to get a bike that weights 10 lbs less.

One of the best parts about bike commuting is that not only does it keep me from gaining weight but its actually helping me loose weight. I guess over time I can loose the difference in weight between the two bikes!

mstraus 10-30-13 11:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FBinNY (Post 16203361)
IME, weight differences are almost all about hills. I do some (lightly) loaded touring, and utility riding besides commuting and sport riding. I've come to the conclusion that every 15 pounds or so is one gear step down on the same hills, so a loss of about 10% or so climbing speed. Otherwise on level ground, once the bike is rolling I couldn't care even if I was hauling 60 pounds.

One added caveat, if you commute in a built up area, with lots of stop and go, or speed changes, then the weight penalty is that much higher because you're working harder to come back to speed after every stop.

I wasn't being facetious earlier when I suggested hauling potatoes. The easiest and most reliable way to know how weight will affect your time is to add the weight and see what happens.

The 1 gear lower rule is a good one for me to get an idea.

Potato idea is actually a good one, but without a rack on my bike I would have to put it in my backpack, which would not be that comfortable and possibly impact my riding in other weight having that much extra weight on me.

alan s 10-30-13 11:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mstraus (Post 16204834)
I wouldn't say I have an entirely urban commute (half is urban), as I go from the suburbs of Marin county over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco.

Your weight comment made me laugh, as for years I wouldn't go crazy over weight for the bike and when someone talked about how light something was I always commented that it would be a lot easier for me to loose 10 lbs then for me to get a bike that weights 10 lbs less.

One of the best parts about bike commuting is that not only does it keep me from gaining weight but its actually helping me loose weight. I guess over time I can loose the difference in weight between the two bikes!

Booze and lose rhyme, whereas moose and loose rhyme.:)

caloso 10-30-13 11:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mstraus (Post 16204834)
I wouldn't say I have an entirely urban commute (half is urban), as I go from the suburbs of Marin county over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco.

Your weight comment made me laugh, as for years I wouldn't go crazy over weight for the bike and when someone talked about how light something was I always commented that it would be a lot easier for me to loose 10 lbs then for me to get a bike that weights 10 lbs less.

One of the best parts about bike commuting is that not only does it keep me from gaining weight but its actually helping me loose weight. I guess over time I can loose the difference in weight between the two bikes!

For that commute, I think I'd want as stable a bike as possible with low profile rims. Don't you get crazy crosswinds coming through the Golden Gate?

jrickards 10-30-13 11:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Greg M (Post 16202788)
My rig fully loaded comes in at 45 lbs. Commute is 24 miles roundtrip, though relatively flat, only 85 ft of climbing, there are at least 20 lights. On a good morning at 5:30 I can figure on hitting 7 red. The extra weight and windage took its toll
at first but after a while my average speed increased.
Remember the great lemond said it doesn't get easier you just get faster. And on the weekend when I get out on my klein I can dance like lance.
No lance comments please. He was a great inspiration when I got my cancer diagnosis.

My bike load and route are similar: 45lb, 29mi, 587ft elevation but many fewer lights, maybe only 7 in total.

When I switch to my Bianchi road bike with only water and tools as the load, I don't really notice a difference in time but it feels faster. My fastest time was done on my fully-loaded commuter (and my slowest), my road bike is in the faster end of the range and may average faster but it isn't the clear winner every time. This fall, especially, there has been a lot of wind, not particularly strong, just constant and rarely a tail wind and that could very well offset any weight differences.

jrickards 10-30-13 11:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WestPablo (Post 16203345)
A better question would be, "How much does gaining a few pounds affect my commute time?" :D

Forget the pounds, losing inches off the waist would reduce your frontal surface area and wind resistance, that's the way to go. :lol:

mstraus 10-30-13 12:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alan s (Post 16204868)
Booze and lose rhyme, whereas moose and loose rhyme.:)

Now I just need to remember, avoid booze if you want to lose weight

mstraus 10-30-13 12:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caloso (Post 16204900)
For that commute, I think I'd want as stable a bike as possible with low profile rims. Don't you get crazy crosswinds coming through the Golden Gate?

There can be crazy crosswinds through the golden gate, typically in summer months, and often worse on one small part of my decent into Sausalito. I never really considered that when I was thinking about this...I guess a heavier more stable bike will help with that. One more reason to justify buying my new bike!

mstraus 10-30-13 12:15 PM

Thanks for all the great responses so far and details on everyones observations of going between different weight bikes. This has helped ease my concern with the heavier steel bike option. It sounds like the commute will still be about the same time, just slightly slower, and I can hopefully make up for that as I get in better shape. I also think the comfort difference should more then make up for a couple minutes, as vibrations and bumps along my ride can be quite tiring on my aluminum bike (even with carbon fork and seat stay). Now to start obsessing over other parts of the bike :)

globie 10-30-13 12:40 PM

If you ride in traffic, with multiple stop signs and signals, you will see very little difference in time. My time over an 11-mile, moderately hilly commute, is approximately the same no matter which bike I take, so I have settled on my heaviest bike (Surly LHT) for the comfort, stability, and load capacity.

spivonious 10-30-13 12:49 PM

Bike weight matters most when climbing hills. 5-10 pounds might not sound like a lot, but it's definitely noticeable in the feel of the bike. If I have to carry my dress shoes home, I am definitely more tired when I reach home.

For reference purposes, my bike weighs ~50 pounds fully-loaded and I average 14-16mph on a moderately hilly 7 mile route.

Andy_K 10-30-13 12:56 PM

I just skimmed over most of the responses, so this might have been mentioned but if it was I didn't see it.

From a purely mechanical perspective additional weight on the scale you're talking about is fairly negligible as others have said. However, your body is not a simple system and so there are other considerations. At any given point on your commute, the weight will make approximately zero difference in your speed. Even on the hills, as was pointed out, your speed difference will be on the order of 1 percent. But you weren't asking about speed you were asking about time.

So here's where humans and machine differ. Humans get tired. Having ridden your 30+ pound bike over a steep hill at approximately the same speed that you would have ridden your 20 pound bike over the same hill, you will probably feel a bit more fatigue with the 30 pound bike. For a 15 mile commute, you can probably just push through the fatigue and maintain your pace if you choose to do so. On the other hand, if you aren't looking at your computer, there's every likelihood that you will slow down a bit to compensate for your fatigue.

This probably still won't amount to a lot of time difference, but it's something else to consider.

You'll probably also feel less motivated to go fast on a bike built for comfort. That is likely to be the biggest factor in your commute time. My 10-mile commute can take as little as 35 minutes if I'm riding it like a time trial, or it can take 45 minutes or more if I'm just cruising along. That's without any changes to the bike, the route or the weather. My experience is that if I'm trying to see how fast I can ride to work then my choice of bike makes little difference, but if I just grab a bike and ride then which bike I choose makes a significant impact on my commute time.

That said, I'm not arguing against the heavier bike. Instead, I'd suggest you evaluate your preferences and if you want a comfortable ride then you should choose to accept a slower pace as part of the package. You'll enjoy the ride more this way. Trying to ride a utility bike like a race bike is a sure recipe for hating the bike regardless of the numbers that show up on your bike computer.

ItsJustMe 10-30-13 01:03 PM

I think tires and riding position make a much bigger difference than bike weight.

On the same route my upright running 35s takes 44 minutes usually. The road bike running 23s, usually 37 minutes. I don't think for a minute that there's that much difference due to weight. I guess I could just strap on about 15 pounds of weight to the road bike to find out.

mstraus 10-30-13 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy_K (Post 16205149)
I just skimmed over most of the responses, so this might have been mentioned but if it was I didn't see it.

From a purely mechanical perspective additional weight on the scale you're talking about is fairly negligible as others have said. However, your body is not a simple system and so there are other considerations. At any given point on your commute, the weight will make approximately zero difference in your speed. Even on the hills, as was pointed out, your speed difference will be on the order of 1 percent. But you weren't asking about speed you were asking about time.

So here's where humans and machine differ. Humans get tired. Having ridden your 30+ pound bike over a steep hill at approximately the same speed that you would have ridden your 20 pound bike over the same hill, you will probably feel a bit more fatigue with the 30 pound bike. For a 15 mile commute, you can probably just push through the fatigue and maintain your pace if you choose to do so. On the other hand, if you aren't looking at your computer, there's every likelihood that you will slow down a bit to compensate for your fatigue.

This probably still won't amount to a lot of time difference, but it's something else to consider.

You'll probably also feel less motivated to go fast on a bike built for comfort. That is likely to be the biggest factor in your commute time. My 10-mile commute can take as little as 35 minutes if I'm riding it like a time trial, or it can take 45 minutes or more if I'm just cruising along. That's without any changes to the bike, the route or the weather. My experience is that if I'm trying to see how fast I can ride to work then my choice of bike makes little difference, but if I just grab a bike and ride then which bike I choose makes a significant impact on my commute time.

That said, I'm not arguing against the heavier bike. Instead, I'd suggest you evaluate your preferences and if you want a comfortable ride then you should choose to accept a slower pace as part of the package. You'll enjoy the ride more this way. Trying to ride a utility bike like a race bike is a sure recipe for hating the bike regardless of the numbers that show up on your bike computer.

Thanks for offering a different perspective. The Fatigue issue is an interesting one. Sometimes I will push myself on my ride, other times I take it easy. I realize going to a heavier, more comfortable bike will probably add some time on average, but was trying to get an idea of how much. The good news is I am keeping my road bike so always have the option of jumping on that on a nice day when I want to ride fast.

mstraus 11-20-13 12:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rob22315 (Post 16203761)
A said earlier, just carry an extra 10 lbs of weight next time you ride and see what kind of imact it will have on your time and ride quality.

I wanted to follow up as I sort of tried this out. I had to bring my laptop home the other day (usually I leave it at the office), adding an extra 5-6 lbs on my back (I carry in a backpack). Bottom line is it didn't seem to impact my speed/time at all. I actually had a faster then average commute time with the extra weight. I will say I noticed the extra weight on my back...my back and shoulders felt more fatigued from the weight they were carrying.

phillybill 11-20-13 05:05 PM

i used to think it made a difference..... but i hit so many lights anymore

agent pombero 11-20-13 08:34 PM

The heavier the bike is, the less you want to put into keeping it up at a highspeed as it requires more energy, its harder to maintain once you do, and then you just stop trying to keep a highspeed. My 40lb MTB avg speed is 12.4 mph. My road bike is 18.1mph avg. huge difference.


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