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Old 03-28-12, 07:42 PM   #1
BikeArkansas
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Can a lighter bike help a heavier cyclist?

Each time I see or participate in a thread concerning cutting the weight of a bike there are always a number of comments about losing weight before cutting the weight of the bike.

Therefore, I am beginning to wonder if a heavier cyclists should bother with riding a lightweight bike. Are riders that carry any weight at all regulated to 20 plus pound cruisers?
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Old 03-28-12, 09:28 PM   #2
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Weight is weight and taking a couple pounds off of your bike will make climbing a little easier, at least in theory. Whether this small difference will be worth it to you is another story.
Wouldn't it be cool to lose weight off the bike and the body?
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Old 03-29-12, 01:00 AM   #3
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I think so. After years of riding a touring bike, a mtn bike and a recent fat tire bike, I finally got a carbon fiber road bike for my wife and I. Wow. Huge difference. It was one of those dramatic changes that you end up going, "Damn. I wish I'd done this years ago." We still have snow on the ground and ice on the roads so I'm still riding my mtn bike with studded tires and I am so very much looking forward to getting back on my road bike. I still need to drop another 30lb but regardless of who you are, there is a huge difference between a typical mtn bike and a lightweight full carbon bike. It's totally spoiled me. My wife and I both love the speed and feel. I recommend a lightweight road bike for everyone! .
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Old 03-29-12, 04:14 AM   #4
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Get the road bike!

I lost 30lbs from April to August last summer. It made a huge difference. The biggest change was when riding in the drops and my knees did scrub on my belly. I'm 5'9 and was 200 when starting. Each 10lbs loss could be felt in acceleration and hillclimbs.
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Old 03-29-12, 04:16 AM   #5
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Get specific.

If you are cutting the weight in half, you're going to see a big improvement.

Most of the time, when people ask this, they want to go from 20 pounds to 18.
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Old 03-29-12, 04:21 AM   #6
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All things being equal, the least expensive way to shed weight from the bike is to shed weight from you . All things are not equal, though, and lighter frames may provide a faster ride, along with thinner tires . Lightweight road bikes are more responsive and quicker, and CF frames may be even more comfy . Way lighter and faster than loaded touring . You might look around, and see if bike dealers are having demo days as they do in the Spring ,and give one a try.
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Old 03-29-12, 05:15 AM   #7
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What late said. Obviously, if you weigh 200lbs and the bike weighs 20lbs, buying a 16lb bike is going to take less than 2% off the overall weight. Barely noticeable. But equally obviously, the difference between my 18lb road bike and my 35 lb expedition tourer is very noticeable indeed.

More important, buy a bike that feels like fun to ride. The more you like it, the more you'll ride it, and then there's more chance of the weight coming off the rider.
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Old 03-29-12, 05:39 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
Get the road bike!

I lost 30lbs from April to August last summer. It made a huge difference. The biggest change was when riding in the drops and my knees did scrub on my belly. I'm 5'9 and was 200 when starting. Each 10lbs loss could be felt in acceleration and hillclimbs.
+1. I lost 50 LBS and it really improved my cycling... and everything else!

Spending $1500-2000 for a well-fitted and comfortable 18 LBS road bike with solid wheels is a good investment and can improve your cycling substantially. Buying a lighter bike might not provide much of an improvement for many cyclists.
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Old 03-29-12, 05:39 AM   #9
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You will notice the difference immediately if you get a better, lighter bike. You can always lose weight later, too!
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Old 03-29-12, 07:05 AM   #10
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I think to summarize the advice that has been given here and in other threads over the years, the answer is yes. I lighter bike can be an improvement for anyone. If you can shed body fat, however, you may notice a much bigger improvement. In terms of it being worth it, only the individual can decide that. We each have our own levels of income, sense of how much things are worth, etc. If it were me, I'd use losing weight as an incentive. Once I reached my goal, I'd treat myself to the new ride. Having done that, I can tell you that the first ride on the new, well-earned bike was spectacular.
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Old 03-29-12, 07:09 AM   #11
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not to mention that each pound of extra body weight has miles of blood vessels in it, and has to be supported by your heart too. do what I am doing: set a weight loss goal, then reward yourself with a new bike when you make the goal. it is motivating me.
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Old 03-29-12, 07:32 AM   #12
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Any weight loss is a plus. As a bicycle rep once told me: "How low do you want to go? It's only $$" . But it's a LOT easier to lose weight from you than the bike and you save money losing it on you. Eat less, it costs you less. Buy light-weight components and it costs you a LOT. For me it would only make sense to lose the weight from me until I reach the healthy minimum I should be, THEN cut weight on the bike. But if I had the $$ I'd certainly buy the lightest bike I could afford(which isn't the case).
When it comes down to it, the ultimate choice is your's.
But to answer your question, yes it would help.
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Old 03-29-12, 08:21 AM   #13
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Whats far more important than weight is geometry, bb stiffness, etc. And generally when you get a more aggressive design, lighter will be part of the equation. If you want to ride faster, get a bike designed for that purpose.
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Old 03-29-12, 08:46 AM   #14
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No mountains to climb in central Illinois so weight isn't the biggest factor. Lightweight wheels and tires will make a difference if you have to accelerate often because of the flywheel effect. For flat-land riders wind is the biggest enemy. Getting more aero pays huge dividends and the geometry to get there most often comes with a lightweight bike. I ride a Trek 4.5 Madone which is a compromise between comfort and lightweight. There's much more aero bikes out there but until the engine gets stronger it'd be a waste to move that direction.
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Old 03-29-12, 09:05 AM   #15
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When it comes to bikes, I'm all about the fun. Ask anyone. Because I personally find lighter bikes more fun to ride than heavier bikes, I say go for the lightest bike you can afford (assuming it meets all your other criteria). Then have fun while you work to shrink yourself.
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Old 03-29-12, 11:48 AM   #16
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Malcolm Forbes once said "Everyone should get to experience driving a 12 cylinder car." The cycling equivalent is that "Every cyclist should get to experience riding a 15 pound bike." For the full experience, you also need a set of wheels in the 1,200g range. While weight is weight when you're climbing, and you can reduce your body weight more, a lighter bike just feels better all around, and is more fun to ride. It is more instantly responsive. People talk a lot about how quickly a wheel spins up, and frankly there isn't much scientific support for that. But there is a clear difference in turning moment as wheel weight is reduced, and that dramatically affects responsiveness. Ride a set of light aero tubulars, and heavier wheels feel like they are wallowing.

In other words: "Try it, you'll like it."
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Old 03-29-12, 12:05 PM   #17
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I did the "superlight carbon" thing last summer and loved it. AND-- I discovered I was motivated to lose some weight and do extra training just to be "worthy" of it. The result was a hugely noticeable improvement in speed and climbing, and the bike was sooo smooth and nimble. Sure, you can just lose a little weight, but I'd say go for it all!
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Old 03-29-12, 12:31 PM   #18
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But it's a LOT easier to lose weight from you than the bike and you save money losing it on you. Eat less, it costs you less.
If losing body weight was "easier" there wouldn't be 500 products and plans on the market to help you do it. And cheap food is often much more fattening than expensive food. Go buy a pound of 25% fat hamburg and then see what you can buy in a tuna steak for the same amount.

I can type out a 500 word piece in a couple hours, get paid, then saunter down to my bike shop and knock a pound off my bike with the money I earned. Pretty easy. Knocking off an couple of kilos to get ready for the Tour of the Gila is flipping hard by comparison.
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Old 03-29-12, 01:25 PM   #19
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It's a LOT easier to lessen the weight of a bike as opposed to a body , just WAY more expensive , since the first of this year I've
shaved approx. 1.7 lbs of my ride @ a cost in the neighborhood of 1350.00 dollars , bike is still around 18lbs. my bodyweight has dropped 5lbs.
and not nearly the fun of spending money and bolting on shiny new parts
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Old 03-29-12, 07:40 PM   #20
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No mountains to climb in central Illinois so weight isn't the biggest factor. Lightweight wheels and tires will make a difference if you have to accelerate often because of the flywheel effect. For flat-land riders wind is the biggest enemy. Getting more aero pays huge dividends and the geometry to get there most often comes with a lightweight bike. I ride a Trek 4.5 Madone which is a compromise between comfort and lightweight. There's much more aero bikes out there but until the engine gets stronger it'd be a waste to move that direction.
I spent this winter riding where it was flat and now recently, quite windy. I rode with guys who I would say were about at my fitness level, though of course that is a guess. But we all felt evenly matched on the flats with minimal wind and we all felt comfortable doing about the same mileage. I weigh about half of what any of them weighed, just because I am a small woman. I could go faster then they could going up hill, rare and short as they were. Downhill they always could pass me by. Not a surprise. What was interesting is that they did better than I going into the wind. I almost always had to ride one of their wheels to keep up.
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Old 03-29-12, 08:14 PM   #21
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I did the "superlight carbon" thing last summer and loved it. AND-- I discovered I was motivated to lose some weight and do extra training just to be "worthy" of it.
I understand what you're saying, and you're right - a nice bike can motivate you to work harder on the engine. But I really HATE the idea that someone isn't worthy of the bike they're riding. The only ones who aren't worthy of the nicest bike they can afford are the ones who use it for a bit of extra bling on top of their SUVs instead of riding it.
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Old 03-29-12, 08:26 PM   #22
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Light bikes don't get all emotionally distraught and go on binges sneak-eating french fries and gain #5.
I bought a nice very light road bike to replace a vintage 27# steel schwinn road bike and have never regretted the decision.
In 30+ years the schwinn got less than 1,000 miles on it. The "new" bike has almost 12,000 miles in about 3.5 years. It's that much more fun to ride.
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Old 03-30-12, 09:46 AM   #23
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You will notice the difference immediately if you get a better, lighter bike.
Once you get up to speed bike weight doesn't make much difference. HOWEVER, every single ride starts at zero miles per hour. The more often you find yourself accelerating from 0 to 10 MPH, the more you'll notice and appreciate a lighter bike.
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Old 03-30-12, 10:14 AM   #24
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Once you get up to speed bike weight doesn't make much difference. HOWEVER, every single ride starts at zero miles per hour. The more often you find yourself accelerating from 0 to 10 MPH, the more you'll notice and appreciate a lighter bike.
...or when climbing hills.
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Old 03-30-12, 10:29 AM   #25
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If losing body weight was "easier" there wouldn't be 500 products and plans on the market to help you do it. And cheap food is often much more fattening than expensive food. Go buy a pound of 25% fat hamburg and then see what you can buy in a tuna steak for the same amount.

I can type out a 500 word piece in a couple hours, get paid, then saunter down to my bike shop and knock a pound off my bike with the money I earned. Pretty easy. Knocking off an couple of kilos to get ready for the Tour of the Gila is flipping hard by comparison.
To be fair, most people can't go out and work 2 extra hours and have the money needed to knock a pound off the bike.

Also, losing a pound of body weight really isn't that hard. You'll find that the product and plans on the market to help people lose weight don't say, "Lose 1 pound and keep it off!!" Really, not a big deal. For people who are able to maintain their weight (admittedly, not always the easiest thing itself), going down 1 pound and then maintaining it isn't a big deal, no products or plans or lifestyle changes needed. For most, I'm not sure losing 1 pound off the bike through money is easier than losing 1 pound of body weight.

The main thing, though, is that for most of us, it is "easier" to lose 20-25 pounds of body weight than it is to lose 20-25 pounds off the bike. It isn't easy, it is very difficult, but I know I can lose 20-25 pounds of body weight.

When we're not looking at 1 pound, but a lot higher numbers, it is easier to lose body weight than the same amount of bike weight, not because losing body weight is "easy," but because the "difficult" is always "easier" than the "impossible."
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