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How much difference does weight make?

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How much difference does weight make?

Old 10-13-08, 04:25 PM
  #1  
elkootcho
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How much difference does weight make?

Hi folks - long time lurker, first time poster.

I'm currently commuting on a 2004 Specialized HardRock. Bike with rear rack tips the scales somewhere near 35 lbs. Add a Topeak trunk bag with work clothes, lunch, tube, tools etc. and it hits somewhere around 45 lbs.

I've been commuting around 6 months with a shortish ride. About 6 miles to the subway, then an additional 2 miles to work. So approx 15-16 miles round trip, 4 days per week.

I've been considering the purchase of a road bike to replace the HardRock. Would knocking 10-15 lbs off of the overall bike weight be a noticeable difference (no computer on my bike so I have no idea of my average speed)? Worth spending the dough to buy something in the $1200 range??
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Old 10-13-08, 04:30 PM
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Not sure, but I went from my hybrid to my MTB for the up coming winter season and I make commute in exactly the same amount of time even though the hybrid has more gears and I'm carrying more weight on the MTB. But I ride the MTB a little stonger...so I think it's rider first, bike second.
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Old 10-13-08, 04:32 PM
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If you have hills to deal with, it makes a big difference. If not, then while you can change speed more quickly it is less of an issue.

And overall, the closer you are to the envelope of your performance limits, the bigger the impact that weight makes.

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Old 10-13-08, 05:26 PM
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My commuter weighs about 10-15 pounds more than my road bike (depending how much stuff I have in the panniers). I can go a lot faster, and climb a lot better on the lighter road bike, but speed isn't what I want from a commuter. I'm not trying to break any records on my way to work in the morning.

I ride about the same distance you do, and over a short distance like that, the added speed won't really give you that much added time.
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Old 10-13-08, 05:39 PM
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Not worth spending that much if you already have a bike, unless you're climbing big hills. You'll probably get more speed with slicker and thinner (within reason) tires and a lighter wheel set.
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Old 10-13-08, 05:39 PM
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Yes, there will be a noticeable difference between a HardRock and a road bike. Will it be an effective difference for the purpose of commuting? I don't think so, but that may depend on your circumstances and personal preference.
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Old 10-13-08, 05:41 PM
  #7  
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What are you planning on doing with your 10lbs of gear on the road bike? I'd rather have a heavier bike than a 10lb backpack.
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Old 10-13-08, 05:47 PM
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I went from my mt bike to a road bike a couple years ago, there was a noticeable difference, but there was a lack of easy ways to carry everything. I was fast, and lucky to have a locked storage area at work to keep all my stuff in, and I had a washer and dryer at work. Now I have a cyclocross bike, with a rack and a bag. Faster than the mt. bike, not as fast as the roadie. My advice is to find what works for you. I hate having stuff on my back.
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Old 10-13-08, 05:55 PM
  #9  
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I agree with I_bRAD and BDP that you need to take the storage into consideration and I too prefer my pannier to my backpack. There are also people who will tell you that once you get rolling, weight doesn't matter if you're riding flats (of course that changes on a hill).

Setting all that aside for the sake of just comparing bikes, let's say you gain 5mph. If you are going 10mph for 12 miles, this takes you 72 minutes.

If you up that to 15mph for 12 miles, that would take you 48 minutes.

So, the question is, over time, are you willing to amortize $1,200 to save 24 minutes per commute? I would consider this a good investment, but again, what about the 10lbs of stuff?
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Old 10-13-08, 05:57 PM
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I have your Hardrock and I also have a lightweight speedy road bike. I commute on both, depending on weather and other conditions. I got the Hardrock outfitted with 26X1.75 road slicks, a rack and trunk bag, and optional paniers. I have lights permanently mounted. I LOVE THE HARDROCK! It's not as fast, but that is one great frame, and it feels good, even on hills. And, it is bombproof, I know because I've trashed it around on trails and it can really take abuse.
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Old 10-13-08, 05:57 PM
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Even on a flat commute, the more aero position of the roadbike will help a lot in a headwind and/or are going 18+ mph.

However, $1200 is IMHO way too much to spend on a roadbike commuter. You'll also want something more like a cyclocross or touring bike than a pure roadbike. Although touring bikes can get heavy. Don't get anything that can't take a rear rack.

On a strictly practical level, with a split commute like yours, the type of bike will make little difference. Your luck with the subway probably has a biggest effect on your time.
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Old 10-13-08, 07:06 PM
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I commute on a Hard Rock and a Sirrus, both from the early 90s (when the HR had a rigid fork and the Sirrus was a regular road bike). Unladen, the Hard Rock weighs about 35 pounds and the Sirrus about 27, and I carry the same stuff in the same way (pannier) on each.

I average about 1 mph faster on the Sirrus. I could be wrong, but I credit 80% of that to aerodynamics, 10% to the tires, and the remaining 10% to the weight difference.

kwrides's example seems like the right way to think about it--how many minutes would it shave off of the ride--but those numbers don't make sense. At most, I would expect the difference to be 20% of your current speed, more likely closer to 10%. My 1mph difference over my 11-mile commute means I make each trip 3 minutes faster on the Sirrus.
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Old 10-13-08, 07:21 PM
  #13  
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I use a mountain bike that's up around 30 or 32 lbs weight for local errands and the odd time commuting to work. It's fine but I found that there's a HUGE difference to be had by swapping over to road slicks. 1.5 inch Tioga City Slickers, the 1.4 inch Ritchey Tom Slicks, 1.4 inch Kenda Kwest or something similar will really make you feel like you left the anchor at home even with a heavy bike.
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Old 10-13-08, 07:22 PM
  #14  
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Seconds.

if you plus your bike and gear weigh 200lbs, then 10lbs is only 5%. That's not a lot. And you're not going around carrying a 10lb weight up in the air, lifting it up and down. The weight is rolling along on wheels. It's not that big of a deal.

As an extreme example you're building a new fence in yard. Home Depot is 5 miles away. You need two 50lb bags of concrete for the posts.

You have two choices.

1) You walk to the Home Depot. You hoist those two bags up on your shoulders and start staggering home. How tough is it going to be to make it home?

2) You ride your bike to the Home Depot pulling a trailer. You put the bags in the trailer and ride home. How tough is it going to be to make it home?

Plus I don't see you losing that much weight. A stripped down Hard Rock can't weigh over 28 lbs. At the most. If you take the same gear with you and a rack and everything. To save 10 - 15 lbs you're talking a 13-18lb racing bike. That's gonna be $$$$$$ and of course marginal rackability.

Going to say, a Surly Cross Check (seems like the standard by which others are judged!) will only save you 6lbs top. ~3% depending on how much you weigh.

OTOH skinny slick tires would make a world of difference.

edit: "Worth It" is an entirely different conversation. I'm budgeting $2500 for the touring/commuter project I'm building (saving for!) right now. It it worth it? I think so. Some folks would say 1/10th of that would NOT be worth it. That's completely subjective.

Chris

Last edited by GV27; 10-13-08 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 10-14-08, 08:51 AM
  #15  
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What's the hurry?
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Old 10-14-08, 09:21 AM
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I agree that the degree to which you climb hills will make a difference. I think you'll also notice a difference with increase efficiency by switching to a bike without a suspension fork and slicks (less so on this second point if you already switched to slicks on your Specialized.) The more aero position of a road bike will also help, but will be limited somewhat by panniers.

So, the answer is yes you'll be faster on a road bike for many different reasons. If you are happy with your current bike, stick with it. If not, looking at a road, or better yet touring or cyclocross bike, will give you overall better performance all things being equal.
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Old 10-14-08, 10:47 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
If you have hills to deal with, it makes a big difference.
The extra weight will actually help you to go faster on the hills. At least on the downside.
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Old 10-14-08, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by FredOak View Post
so I think it's rider first, bike second.
I think it's rider first, traffic second, bike third. If you've got a 'typical' amount of intersections (lights, stop signs, merges) I'd be surprised if a heavy vs light bike makes any difference at all in your door to door time.
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Old 10-14-08, 11:10 AM
  #19  
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I had a mtb that weighed exactly the same as the OP's and I carried the same or a little more weight. I bought a cyclocross bike which is about 10lbs lighter, carry the same stuff (rack). My average speed has gone up and I can definitely get to and cruise at a higher speed, but the stops for lights and traffic and such just mean that in the end I might save five minutes on a good day for the 7.5 miles each way, and sometimes don't save time at all.

However, I'm having a ton of fun on the new bike, so I ride it more, and that's what really counts! I bought it to keep me interested in commuting, after proving to myself on the old mtb that I would really do it.

Before the new bike, on the mtb I switched to semi-slick tires and that did help a lot. I also considered locking out the suspension as well but didn't actually try it before getting the new bike. At least I know I have two good commuters now and depending on how bad the neighborhood is, I sometimes ride the mtb because it isn't worth as much.
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Old 10-14-08, 11:31 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by I_bRAD View Post
What are you planning on doing with your 10lbs of gear on the road bike? I'd rather have a heavier bike than a 10lb backpack.
Probably the same thing everyone does who commutes with a road bike: carry it in a backpack, mess bag, or on panniers. A lot of road bikes will take a rear rack. My mess bag weighs 5 lbs empty, and I normally commute on my road bike with 15 - 30 lbs on my back.

To the OP:

The amount of difference weight makes is determined by how hard you push yourself and how difficult (hilly) your commute is.

My commute is pretty flat, but I push myself hard the whole way so I can tell the difference between when my coffee mug is empty or full, or if I have my lighter dress pants or heavier ones in my bag. The difference between a 35 lb mtb and a 20 lb road bike is going to be huge if you push yourself at all: it was what got me addicted to commuting by bicycle (I was on a hybrid before). If you don't push yourself that hard, or just cruise along, then the difference will be negligible.
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Old 10-14-08, 11:43 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by amjones View Post
The extra weight will actually help you to go faster on the hills. At least on the downside.
unless you're commuting in a vacuum
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