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Old 08-28-07, 10:38 PM   #1
Aldo
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Advice, do 4 fewer lbs make a difference?

I rode an 18.5 lbs Kestrel Talon this past weekend and fell in love with it. I like the double chain-ring set-up, the Ultegra shifter, and the carbon frame of the Kestrel. Unfortunately the 10 minute test ride only whetted my appetite without bringing up any less-than-obvious flaws. The question is whether this bike is sufficiently better than my Bianchi triple chain ring, 22.5 lbs, steel bike to drop $1,800 for it (discounted from $2,200). I ride 70 to 80 miles on weekends, mostly to a breakfast cafť and back. I enjoy fast riding and hill climbing but Iím not a racer.

My question is one about feel rather than speed. I donít care so much about going faster as I want a bike that feels significantly lighter than my 22.5 lbs steel frame bike, more agile, more responsive, quicker, and a better climber. Essentially, Iím asking if 4 lbs less weight and a carbon fiber frame make a significant difference in the way a bike feels over a 30, 40, and likely even more miles ridden each Saturday and Sunday.

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Old 08-28-07, 10:44 PM   #2
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You rode it. You tell us how it feels.
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Old 08-28-07, 10:53 PM   #3
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Feel is different for everyone. No one knows how you will feel it. Do you notice small changes in tire pressure or how much you carry on the bike?

I can feel the difference between a pair of 280 gram tires and a pair of 260 gram tires. One of my friends could not feel anything when his old bike went from steel to aluminum wheels. No way for us to know about you.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:01 PM   #4
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Personally, I think I would feel 4lbs weight difference...but whether it would matter in the long run (ride?) is a matter of whether I was cruising or trying to hang with faster riders. More importantly in some ways, I would feel geometry changes-- wheel base, head and seat tube angles, fork, bar width and extension. I find a dramatic difference between my trusty sport touring Romulus and Specialized criterium style bike.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:33 PM   #5
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You rode it. You tell us how it feels.
It felt great for ten minutes.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:46 PM   #6
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My experience is that how you feel about a bike, and how the bike feels to you, evolves as your ride length increases, and your overall milage on that bike builds up. This is not to say you wouldn't like the Kestral on an 80 mile ride, or after 5000 miles. Just pointing out that a "10 mile honeymoon" could end there, or continue for 10 years.
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Old 08-28-07, 11:49 PM   #7
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One liter of water weighs one kilogram (2.2 lbs). Two large waterbottles (about 20 oz each) hold about 1.5 liters, around 3 lbs. Does your bike handle any differently with full bottles? I've never noticed a difference.

Don't buy a bike based on weight. I switched from riding fancy Italian criterium bikes to US-built Treks because I noticed a significant difference in handling. The carbon fiber Treks take fast corners like they are on rails. The older Italian frames handle like sh*t in turns (haven't tried any recent Italian frames, though). Anyway, keep trying out bikes until you find one that makes a difference.

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Old 08-29-07, 02:36 AM   #8
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Shoot, I am fat enough that 4 pound is pretty insignificant. Figure I am 215, plus 20 or so for bike and 5 for cloths, and the 5 pounds of crap in my seat bag, that's about 245 pounds. I don't think 241 or 245 makes any difference.
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Old 08-29-07, 04:20 AM   #9
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It felt great for ten minutes.
I just got here. What are we talking about?
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Old 08-29-07, 04:43 AM   #10
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If you want a lighter feel on a tight budget you might want to try a set of custom wheels. Lighter wheels make up most of that great feel anyway.
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Old 08-29-07, 05:06 AM   #11
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My experience parallels maddmaxx's advice.

When I got new 1600g handbuilts for my bike, the whole thing felt completely different. Handling and acceleration both felt lighter and the ride feels about as silky as you can get on an aluminum bike. Shopping for bikes earlier this month, I had it weighed at the LBS. 26.5 pounds with rack and lights, but without fenders, waterbottles and seatbag. I'd have guessed 21 or 22.

The new bike (still on layaway) tips the scales at 23.1 pounds (with fenders but without rack, lights, bottles or cages), but felt heavier, probably due to hefty hoops to support the trendy-looking low-spoke count and certainly because of the disk brake rotors. It also handles slower due to longer wheelbase and chainstays.

It's amazing to me that (until I shoulder it) the heavier bike feels lighter. It made the case for me that overall weight isn't everything. Wheel weight makes a world of difference, as does geometry.

Oh, and back on topic...

Arrange for the Kestrel to be fitted, then take a long test ride over familiar terrain--at least an hour, but two are better. If the LBS isn't cool with that, find one that is. Only then you can really tell how you'll like it. If you like it, buy it and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. If you don't care for it, you'll have saved nearly two grand.

Of course when I followed this advice myself recently, the bike I bought was $500 more than the one I originally looked at...

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Old 08-29-07, 06:37 AM   #12
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I moved from a Trek 1200c (about 22lbs) to a BMC Streetfire this year (about 18lbs) and can definately tell the difference in both acceleration and climbing. The bike is also much better in turns than the Trek. Although at times I find it a little too responsive. If I'm chatting with a riding partner and not really paying attention I can drift sideways pretty quickly just because I shifted my weight a bit.
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Old 08-29-07, 06:57 AM   #13
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You've got more than just weight to factor in here, as others have suggested. I can share my own personal experience by describing three road bikes I own and ride all 3 each week. The first is a vintage steel frame with classic European road geometry, weighing in at about the same as your Bianchi. I like the feel of the steel with this bike; it soaks up road bumps and vibration very nicely. However, it does not climb or accelerate as well as the other two I'll describe.

The second is a 16 lb. full carbon Specialized S-Works Roubaix. This bike is heralded as light, fast, and comfortable. Indeed, it is faster (much faster than I have a right to ride), climbs extremely well, and the geometry is stable and comfortable. However, I prefer the road feel of the steel when it comes to comfort. While the carbon does suck up the vibration, the larger bumps get transmitted pretty directly to the rider.

The third bike is a slightly heavier 18 lbs. combination of Reynolds 853 steel and carbon fiber. It is also built around classic European road geometry. While not the lightest, it climbs better than average and accelerates just a bit less quickly than the full carbon bike. However, this is the bike that gets the most miles because all around it is the best mix of comfort, speed, acceleration, stiffness, and climbing ability. Frankly, in many ways it is more bike than I thought it would be when I built it (I ordered the frame and built it up with Ultegra).

I guess the point of all of this is that just frame material or bike weight shouldn't be the determining factor, based on your stated goals. I've made the decision that a 10 minute test ride is not sufficient to judge the bike's characteristics. And, if I'm laying out more than a grand for a bike, I want to be able to put at least 20 miles on it riding in areas that are similar to the ones on which it will be used. There are subtle ride characteristics that you just won't uncover in a ten minute test ride. Several weeks ago I was checking out a Lynsky Ti bike, and took it for a short ten minute ride. I was smitten. So, I asked if I could come back and take a longer ride. The dealer was happy to oblige. After 22 miles I realized that this is a great bike, however, it would probably still play second fiddle to my current favorite. If I had made the judgement on the 10 minute ride, I would have sworn that this was the ideal bike for me. I may still purchase a Lynsky in the future (there are other things I like about Ti and the company), but not because I'm looking for a better ride.
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Old 08-29-07, 02:08 PM   #14
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Excellent suggestions, exactly what I was hoping to get, especially from the last 4 posts (starting with Maddmaxx). I had not considered the effect of lighter wheels and frame geometry. I’ll weigh my Bianchi’s wheels and see how much it would cost to upgrade to lighter wheels. I’ll visit my lbs for a second, longer test ride to evaluate the effect of frame geometry and road feel over at least 20-30 miles.

Not to add confusion to the original goal of getting a lighter, more responsive bike, I’m entertaining the idea of changing my Bianchi into a touring bike with panniers. This would allow for a more balanced stable: a touring bike and a light, quick road bike.
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Old 08-29-07, 02:28 PM   #15
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Excellent suggestions, exactly what I was hoping to get, especially from the last 4 posts (starting with Maddmaxx). I had not considered the effect of lighter wheels and frame geometry. Iíll weigh my Bianchiís wheels and see how much it would cost to upgrade to lighter wheels. Iíll visit my lbs for a second, longer test ride to evaluate the effect of frame geometry and road feel over at least 20-30 miles.

Not to add confusion to the original goal of getting a lighter, more responsive bike, Iím entertaining the idea of changing my Bianchi into a touring bike with panniers. This would allow for a more balanced stable: a touring bike and a light, quick road bike.
I started last year with a Giant OCR3 and as a starter bike weighing in at 19.5 lbs was not bad. Then It started to not be good enough and at the suggestion of my LBS- I got new hand built "Trainer" wheels. What a difference. It transformed the bike. These wheels were not much lighter but they were miles better. Then a couple of months ago I got a lightweight. 15lbs of Aluminium framed Lightness. Does 4lbs make a difference- You bet. Hills- still hard work but they take less time to get up- Tiredness on a ride- No way- that 4lbs may not have increased my speed but it has the distance I can ride. And the Main thing I like about it- It is the one colour that is superior to white- and Even DG has to agree about that.

I seem to be a similar rider to you doing about 100 miles a week and the odd "Event" that I get dragged into. Speed is not my priority- but regular pacing and getting up the hills with ease is. And as to those cafe stops- Definitely on my list as a necessity. Currently I am riding the New Boreas at weekends and the Evening rides are on the giant. Both bikes are good for their purpose but For pure enjoyment- It has to be the Boreas.
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Old 08-29-07, 02:52 PM   #16
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If you are thinking about getting a new bike, you know the drill.
Get out there, try a bunch of bikes. Give them a good workout on the test ride.
If you can find one, try a Gunnar Roadie.
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Old 08-29-07, 03:45 PM   #17
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Whether you notice the weight difference will depend on the type of riding you do and the weight of the heavier bike. If you're doing a lot of hills and trying to scale up them as quickly as you can you will notice the difference on the climbs. If you're riding in groups and lose a wheel and need to accelerate to get back on you will notice the difference. If you're doing long rides with lots of hills you will notice the difference-- even more later in a ride. Four pounds is a heck of a lot of weight to me..........especially when you start thinking about the difference between a 16 lb bike and a 20 lb bike........
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Old 08-29-07, 04:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Iíll weigh my Bianchiís wheels and see how much it would cost to upgrade to lighter wheels. Iíll visit my lbs for a second, longer test ride to evaluate the effect of frame geometry and road feel over at least 20-30 miles.
I haven't actually done this, so it's speculation not experience speaking here, but...

Swapping the Bianchi's wheels to the Kestrel would eliminate the wheels' effect from the test ride. Riding familiar wheels and tires, all you'd be testing is the Kestral's frame and geometry. I know I'd certainly cave-in and test ride with the Kestral's wheels too, which I guess, would confirm how much of the nicer feel is due exclusively to the wheels, and how much is the frame and geometry.
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Old 08-29-07, 07:02 PM   #19
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I for one am surprised to see a Kestral at $2200 (I don't follow the market like I used too), as I remember from 15 years ago when a DA equipped Kestral was $2000. So obviously it's not a hand made CF anymore, but another Chinese CF knockoff ?. Which begs the question, Is Kestral still going to be around if the frame has issues ?. They HAVE been thru some different owners over the years.

I also think that 4 lbs makes a big difference, though would not currently bother moving from a 22 lbs bike to 18. I'd spring for the bucks and go down to 16/16.5, maybe 17, but no heavier. Why ?, not good value. 8 years ago, an 18 lbs bike was light. Now 15-16 is the benchmark. Is something that light, too light ? - as in not as durable ?, can't say, maybe too light for me at +200, but fine for a lighter rider, especially as the weight savings from 17 to 15 is mostly in the wheels, with boutique wheels wanting to fail under heavy riders like me.

Maybe simply lightening up the Bianchi (wheels, crank/b-bracket, bar/stem) is in order - but that too depends on the age. If old 9 spd, maybe not.

My $.02

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Old 08-29-07, 07:59 PM   #20
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Maybe simply lightening up the Bianchi (wheels, crank/b-bracket, bar/stem) is in order - but that too depends on the age. If old 9 spd, maybe not.

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Old 08-29-07, 08:01 PM   #21
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I made a weight change of less than that before. I had a Lemond Zurich for a couple of years. Steel bike just over 20 pounds. When I put the pressure to the pedals, especially on hills, the frame would flex. Sold that and got a Giant OCR C2. The seat stays were wider across horizontally than vertically, which is supposed to soak up more road buzz, but on hills that rear triangle didn't move much, and I could feel it on the hills. The difference in bike weight was just under two pounds, but the frame made the difference. The wheels were similar stock wheels.
Put your Bianchi wheels on the Kestrel and give it a ride.
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Old 08-29-07, 09:46 PM   #22
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I started last year with a Giant OCR3 and as a starter bike weighing in at 19.5 lbs was not bad. Then It started to not be good enough and at the suggestion of my LBS- I got new hand built "Trainer" wheels. What a difference. It transformed the bike. These wheels were not much lighter but they were miles better. Then a couple of months ago I got a lightweight. 15lbs of Aluminium framed Lightness. Does 4lbs make a difference- You bet. Hills- still hard work but they take less time to get up- Tiredness on a ride- No way- that 4lbs may not have increased my speed but it has the distance I can ride. And the Main thing I like about it- It is the one colour that is superior to white- and Even DG has to agree about that.

I seem to be a similar rider to you doing about 100 miles a week and the odd "Event" that I get dragged into. Speed is not my priority- but regular pacing and getting up the hills with ease is. And as to those cafe stops- Definitely on my list as a necessity. Currently I am riding the New Boreas at weekends and the Evening rides are on the giant. Both bikes are good for their purpose but For pure enjoyment- It has to be the Boreas.
Stepfam,

Thanks for the post, it supports the idea that a lighter bike does make a difference in a lot of ways. Is there a comfort/buzziness issue with the aluminum frame of your New Boreas? I did a Google search on New Boreas and came up with nothing...who makes it?
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Old 08-29-07, 09:58 PM   #23
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Whether you notice the weight difference will depend on the type of riding you do and the weight of the heavier bike. If you're doing a lot of hills and trying to scale up them as quickly as you can you will notice the difference on the climbs. If you're riding in groups and lose a wheel and need to accelerate to get back on you will notice the difference. If you're doing long rides with lots of hills you will notice the difference-- even more later in a ride. Four pounds is a heck of a lot of weight to me..........especially when you start thinking about the difference between a 16 lb bike and a 20 lb bike........
Yup, lots of hills, some group rides...I liked the feeling I got when I was test riding the Kestrel up a steep hill and it felt almost effortles compared to my 22.5 lbs Bianchi.
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Old 08-29-07, 11:53 PM   #24
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215 + 23 = 238 lbs. 4lbs difference is a mere 1.6% difference. Lose the weight off your body and you will be ahead. Also, if your bike has been around for a while and you haven't gotten a major overhaul from a good LBS then I would do that first. You might be surprised what a difference it could make in rolling resistance.
I have a Mondonico Diamond Extra that is 17.9 lbs, a Greg Lemond SLX steel frame that is 22 lbs, and an old Torelli Cyclocross bike with road tires and I find once I am rolling on the flalt ground all 3 bikes perform very well (rolling resistance). In the hills I notice some difference but not enough to convience my self that $1800 would be worth it. I lost 30 lbs and dropped from 238 down to about 205lbs...now that made an amazing difference (12.6%). Give the steel bike a chance. Look at upgrading the wheels and the group as an alternative. And remember a decision made on the purchase of a bike without riding at least 50 miles can be a bad decision.
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Old 08-30-07, 08:23 AM   #25
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4 pounds weight loss! One good trip to the John might let you download that much! Heh!
But that's a good question! I see a lot of nice carbon fiber bikes on rides these days and their owners sure swear by them and think they do better with them. Like Stepfam says, not necessarily more speed, but fresher at the end of the day and better climbing ability. And I've never met a carbon fiber driver that wanted to go back to their previous steel frames with their weights.
I'm looking at dropping about 15 - 17 pounds from my steel LWB bent as soon as I'm convinced it's worth 3 or 4 thousand bucks! Again, not so much for speed, (I do fine on the flats and overall) but for climbing and end of century freshness. But bents are different and weight is less important, and 15 pounds in them might equate to about 4 on an upright in terms of 'lightness.'
So this discussion, while centered on uprights, is very interesting and informative for a crippled-up bent up old benter like me!.
Also losing 4 pounds might make a bike feel more nimble and make the ride itself more appealing and more fun.
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