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Water on back v. water on bike

Old 02-24-06, 04:34 PM
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Bob Watts
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Water on back v. water on bike

undefined Curious as to whether anyone knows whether climbing on a mountain bike or a road bike is made more efficient by carrying your liquid refreshment on your back (camelback) or on your bike (bottles). I've heard for ages in the mountain biking world that it is much more efficient weight wise to carry that weight on your back rather than on your bike. Is that true or just an 'ol wivestale with no basis in fact?
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Old 02-24-06, 05:06 PM
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I don't know if it makes a difference when it comes to placement of weight. I use both ways and cannot really tell any difference in speed. What I do prefer about the camel back is it is easier and safer to use than bottle cages.
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Old 02-24-06, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Watts
undefined Curious as to whether anyone knows whether climbing on a mountain bike or a road bike is made more efficient by carrying your liquid refreshment on your back (camelback) or on your bike (bottles). I've heard for ages in the mountain biking world that it is much more efficient weight wise to carry that weight on your back rather than on your bike. Is that true or just an 'ol wivestale with no basis in fact?
It depends a lot on how you are looking at it. When it comes to the carrying bottles on the frame is probably more efficient. Less waste weight and also the pack on the back creates (minor) mechanical strain.

But if you are riding there are other considerations. Pop the nipple from a camelback in your mouth going over the top and you can drink all the way down a hill unless the hill is truely insane. I also remember scoring not one but two waterbattles on an offroad ride on a downhill section of dirst road. Bounced out of someone elses bottle holders. On that count water on the back blows waterbottles away. If the pack comes off you have other problems, but you could lose both bottles and be without water in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 02-24-06, 06:00 PM
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Since it is often impossible to replenish water when mountain biking, I use a camelbak which holds 70oz. Otherwise, it's always bottles.
For me, it's a capacity issue and not a handling issue when it comes to bottles vs camelbak....

Last edited by roadfix; 02-27-06 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 02-24-06, 07:50 PM
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Carrying on your back allows more pressure on the pedals before you have to start pulling on the handlebars. If you go up the hill seated the energy difference should be trivial between on the back and on the frame. Almost the same standing. I already have 3 bottle cages, and panniers to carry more. A backpack is an expensive redundant toy that I can not afford just now. Rather have an altimeter just now.
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Old 02-24-06, 08:26 PM
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I've got a camelback hanging in the garage. Used it exactly once and hated it. Very uncomfortable having 80 ounces of water on your back. I only use water bottles, and the camelback is just a garage ornament.
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Old 02-24-06, 09:02 PM
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It really doesn't matter if you carry your water on your bike or your back, it is more a matter of preference as opposed to an efficiency advantage.

The key is that your not adding any rotational weight, ie. wheels, pedals, cranks etc.

If your worried about it you can just lose body fat equal to the weight of water your carrying and you'll be all even
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Old 02-24-06, 10:04 PM
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Technically,, if you are standing up on a hill, it is more efficient (less energy loss) to have weight on the bike as opposed to on your person. All weight on your person has to be repeatedly lifted as you step up on each foot while climbing. Although the added weight does increase the downward force on the pedal, the inefficeincy of the body requires much more energy to lift the weight than the energy applied to the making the bike go foward/up.

However, this is a very minor difference and would hardly be noticed. You should make the decision of where to carry water based on how much water you need to carry, whether you need to carry, ease of accessing the water vs the technical nature of the trail and whether you want to drink while negotiating obstacles, and whether you need to carry other items in a backpack anyway.
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Old 02-25-06, 03:22 AM
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The message looks auto generated. I think someone is testing a new bot.
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Old 02-25-06, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by supcom
Technically,, if you are standing up on a hill, it is more efficient (less energy loss) to have weight on the bike as opposed to on your person. All weight on your person has to be repeatedly lifted as you step up on each foot while climbing. Although the added weight does increase the downward force on the pedal, the inefficeincy of the body requires much more energy to lift the weight than the energy applied to the making the bike go foward/up.

However, this is a very minor difference and would hardly be noticed. You should make the decision of where to carry water based on how much water you need to carry, whether you need to carry, ease of accessing the water vs the technical nature of the trail and whether you want to drink while negotiating obstacles, and whether you need to carry other items in a backpack anyway.
I mainly use a camelback, but got into using it because I am stoker on a Tandem. Each time I reached for a water bottle on the frame, it threw the Tandem off balance, or we had to slow down to get the bottle. Since using it- I drink more on a ride because it is so easy to reach the pipe and suck. Loss of water bottles was also another consideration, and I do one ride each year with a fast downhill offroad and the 1/2 mile is littered with bottles. Having used the camelback for a few years- I don't notice it on my back, and even feel naked without it. One point though and that is centre of gravity. On a frame to CoG is lower and this can benefit handling.
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Old 02-27-06, 10:59 AM
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Thanks all for the input! I'll stick with my camelback on the mtb bike and bottles on the road bike.
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Old 02-27-06, 01:47 PM
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wouldnt water on the bike be better because it lowers the center of gravity?
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Old 02-27-06, 03:24 PM
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BradC makes a good point about center of gravity. I never though of that. I don't know about efficiency pros/cons. But a big plus of the camelback is that I drink a lot more when I'm wearing it. However, in long rides when I have the camelback, I also take one bottle of h20 because with the camel you don't know you are running out of water until it's empty. With bottles you feel the weight of the bottle every time you use it, so it gives you some sense of how much h2o you have left. I got tired of running out of h20 in the camelback, and then having to go the next x many miles/minutes with a dry throat before getting a refill. Now after the camel runs out I have a fresh bottle to take me to the next watering hole.
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Old 02-27-06, 04:47 PM
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Most of the time two bottles is sufficient. I have a seat bag and of course pockets for other stuff. I still occasionally will wear the Camelbak if heading out of town on a cross country ride. Usually though, my 30-mile ride can be done with refill locations only minutes away.
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Old 02-27-06, 05:56 PM
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Ice in my Camlebak lasts a whole lot longer than ice in a waterbottle. Makes a big difference down here in Florida during the summer.
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Old 02-27-06, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by BradC
wouldnt water on the bike be better because it lowers the center of gravity?
I don't really think that the weight of two water bottles is going to change that at all. I think what is going on here is preference what do you prefer? When I am commuting and short distances I use water bottles. On long hauls the Camelbak is more convenient you do not have to stop and fill it all the time.
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Old 02-27-06, 06:21 PM
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I prefer the camelbak for one reason: ease of use.

Far easier to put a rubber bit into your mouth than it is to reach between your knees to get a bottle, sip, and then put it back down into the cage.

With the camelbak, I just put the bit into my mouth, sip, and just drop it and let it hang until I need it again.

Not to mention....100oz....never need to worry about hydration again...plus it allows me to only need one bottle cage (I use a headlight that has a bottle battery)...on a small frame, that matters since pant legs can get caught in that tiny space between my cages.
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Old 02-27-06, 09:49 PM
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A backpack with a water bladder will help absorb some pain in the event of some types of falls.
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