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Climbing -- Does Bike Weight Really Matter?

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Climbing -- Does Bike Weight Really Matter?

Old 05-03-24, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Less weight just like more aero shows it's benefits better over the time of a long ride and not just comparing the results of one climb, or a short ride with several climbs.
And even a slight headwind or tailwind can have a much bigger effect than a reduction in weight (or an increase in power).

I climb Mt Hamilton Road twice a week, weather permitting. Speeds for the same segment are all over the place, even when I keep the power about the same. It's the wind.
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Old 05-03-24, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by 2muchroad
Wrong. Typical amateur mistake to only factor in the weight of the bike.
With your eating habits I'm surprised you still do climbs.
What are you talking about? Who only factors in bike weight alone?
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Old 05-03-24, 12:37 PM
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I regret clicking on this thread...
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Old 05-03-24, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Yep.
Someone new to mute...
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Old 05-03-24, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Lower gearing allows for lower maximum crank torque and lower minimum speed (before falling over), and thus lower power. Lower gearing isn't so much to make you climb faster, it's to allow you to climb slower. Like PeteHski, I can climb steeper hills on my 12kg MTB than my 8kg road bike.
Of course, but it's also more complicated than that. I had a group ride this past Sunday, my wife and I on our 40+ lb. tandem, us at 293 lbs. and 153 y.o. We had some ordinary aging roadies on singles and a newbie on a high bar MTB with big knobbies. The newbie was really slow on the flats - we had to wait for him every few miles, but not so much on the hills, which did surprise us a bit. Our tandem with its 26 X 40 bottom gear did OK because the terrain was rolling and our weight and aero made up for a good bit our considerably slower steady-state climbing.

On my single, purchased at 55 with a 30 X 25 bottom gear, gradually acquired a 26 X 30 gear over the decades, which really starts to matter on rides of over say 50 miles, converting more oxygen into speed and less sugars. From 55 y.o. to 76 y.o. and making those gear changes on the same bike, my time on a 154 mile 9000' course only increased by about an hour. Low gears are more about being able to continue to make power over the long hours. This is sorta PeteHski's point too, less exhaustion over time.

I'm giving the newbie some old SPD double sided pedals and taking him shopping for MTB shoes. Ooooh, another victim for the Dark Side, just waiting to be harvested.
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Old 05-03-24, 03:57 PM
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Sorry for the disruption OP, please carry on.
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Old 05-04-24, 01:26 AM
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Sadly, age is more important than weight or gears......
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Old 05-04-24, 04:35 AM
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yes. It matters less then your fitness, and I think matters as much as tire choice and drivetrain condition. If I had to classify on what is important for climbing it would be tier 2. Tier 1 would be body weight, fitness, and gearing. Tier 2 would be bike weight, tire type+inflation level, total bike condition, and brake rub/frame rub when standing.
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Old 05-04-24, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Sadly, age is more important than weight or gears......
true, but 'age' can have a pleasant side... you worry just a little less about 'time' and 'see' the climb more completely, everything that you're passing through...
... knowing that things are going way better than they might... and maybe even better than expected...
looking forward to hitting some hills this am
Time on the bike, is aging suspended
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Old 05-05-24, 06:44 PM
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At my weight of 180# and climbing power of 225w - an 8% 20 mile climb on a 22# bike(water bottles, bike bag) = 195 min.

Take 4#s off the bike, which = a whole bunch of money, I would save under three min.

Something I would never notice at all.
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Old 05-05-24, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
And even a slight headwind or tailwind can have a much bigger effect than a reduction in weight (or an increase in power).

I climb Mt Hamilton Road twice a week, weather permitting. Speeds for the same segment are all over the place, even when I keep the power about the same. It's the wind.
Boy is this ever true. On a 3 mile climb, last Friday with a good tailwind, I posted a 1 minute and 3 second reduction. What really drove the point home was being able to peddle down in an area where I am usually spun-out.

No data to support my claim other than the sprinters in the major tours always trying to beat the cut-off on the major climbs; but personal body weight probably plays more of a factor in climbing speed than the bike. Watts/Kg
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Old 05-06-24, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob

No data to support my claim other than the sprinters in the major tours always trying to beat the cut-off on the major climbs; but personal body weight probably plays more of a factor in climbing speed than the bike. Watts/Kg
This is certainly true because variation in rider weight is far greater than variation in bike weight. Those pro tour bikes are all well within 1 kg, while the rider weights might vary by 20 Kg from lightest to heaviest.
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Old 05-06-24, 06:07 AM
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The climbing challenge at the end is the truth. It shows it better than any explainations.


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Old 05-06-24, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat
The climbing challenge at the end is the truth. It shows it better than any explainations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCLvqN9kwuo
Yep, it shows that bike weight doesn’t really matter in comparison to the riders.
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Old 05-06-24, 06:59 AM
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https://www.omnicalculator.com/sports/cycling-wattage

The calculator above can compare changes in weight and wind conditions. I did a comparison with 10 pounds of extra weight for an ebike and it only takes 15-20 watts more to go up a 13% climb. Wind is big factor. I've ridden a 12 mile climb up to 2 mph faster with a tail wind and hardly noticed the help going up. If the weather ever gets better, I'll be experimenting with customized power curves to provide minimal assistance, only on the steepest climbs. A Fazua Ride60 can provide ridiculous amounts of power, but it can also be programmed for much lower amounts.
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Old 05-06-24, 07:21 AM
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It's subjective. It depends on your definition of ''really''. For a world elite athlete climber that wants to shave 1 second off a 5km climb, yes. For us mere mortals who spend money on bikes we don't really need, no.
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Old 05-06-24, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
It's subjective. It depends on your definition of ''really''. For a world elite athlete climber that wants to shave 1 second off a 5km climb, yes. For us mere mortals who spend money on bikes we don't really need, no.
The effect of the weight on your climbing time is entirely objective. The importance of that time difference is the only subjective part.
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Old 05-06-24, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
It's subjective. It depends on your definition of ''really''. For a world elite athlete climber that wants to shave 1 second off a 5km climb, yes. For us mere mortals who spend money on bikes we don't really need, no.
When climbing, I think less about time savings and more about power savings.

If I can do a long climb at the same pace but with 10 fewer watts, that will make a huge difference in my fatigue. Even a 5 watts difference is noticeable.

Rough Rule of Thumb: When climbing at a spirited but not outrageous 1000 meters/hr, every kilogram requires about 3 watts. Add a kg, you have to put out another 3 watts. Dump a kg, reduce effort by 3 watts.
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Old 05-06-24, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
When climbing, I think less about time savings and more about power savings.
Damon Rinard, my friend now at Cannondale (but ex-Cervelo, ex-Trek, ex-Kestrel, and ex-rec.bicycles.tech) sometimes says we got it wrong when we started obsessing about how much *faster* a change makes us. He says it often makes sense for us to think in terms of how much *easier* a change makes it for us. There isn't much difference in speed between riding at 250 watts vs. 240 watts but if your threshold is 245 watts there's a big difference to you in which is easier.
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Old 05-06-24, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
When climbing, I think less about time savings and more about power savings.

If I can do a long climb at the same pace but with 10 fewer watts, that will make a huge difference in my fatigue. Even a 5 watts difference is noticeable.

Rough url of thumb: When climbing at a spirited but not outrageous 1000 meters/hr, every kilogram requires about 3 watts. Add a kg, you have to put out another 3 watts. Dump a kg, reduce effort by 3 watts.
Yeah I also use 3 W/kg as a rough benchmark as that would be my typical power to weight ratio for a long, steady climb. If I respect the UCI min weight then I’ve only got potential scope to save 3W, which is not worth the cost me. A 10W (3 kg) saving would be impossible at any cost and technically cheating in the UCI events I do enter.

As far as fatigue goes, it makes no real difference to me if I’m riding solo. I just climb fractionally slower at the same power. If I’m riding in a group I have to suck up the extra 3W. It’s not enough to use as an excuse if I get dropped and it’s not as if everyone else has a lighter bike anyway.
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Old 05-06-24, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
He says it often makes sense for us to think in terms of how much *easier* a change makes it for us. There isn't much difference in speed between riding at 250 watts vs. 240 watts but if your threshold is 245 watts there's a big difference to you in which is easier.
Crucially, it's also not a cop-out: there are many situations in cycling where ease-of-speed is the framing device you're thrust into. When you're desperately clinging onto a pack, your speed is whatever speed the wheel in front of you is doing.
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Old 05-06-24, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
Crucially, it's also not a cop-out: there are many situations in cycling where ease-of-speed is the framing device you're thrust into. When you're desperately clinging onto a pack, your speed is whatever speed the wheel in front of you is doing.
"Every once in a while someone along the road lets us know how far behind we are. A man shouts: ‘Faster!’ He probably thinks bicycle racing is about going fast." -- Tim Krabbe, The Rider
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Old 05-07-24, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat
The climbing challenge at the end is the truth. It shows it better than any explainations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCLvqN9kwuo
That was enjoyable. Thanks. I wonder what the effect of body profile and wind resistance is in the "real world" tests. I have that sprinter/track body and in a headwind that works against me for sure.
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Old 05-07-24, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
That was enjoyable. Thanks. I wonder what the effect of body profile and wind resistance is in the "real world" tests. I have that sprinter/track body and in a headwind that works against me for sure.
If only there were some way to account for that.
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Old 05-07-24, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Damon Rinard, my friend now at Cannondale (but ex-Cervelo, ex-Trek, ex-Kestrel, and ex-rec.bicycles.tech) sometimes says we got it wrong when we started obsessing about how much *faster* a change makes us. He says it often makes sense for us to think in terms of how much *easier* a change makes it for us. There isn't much difference in speed between riding at 250 watts vs. 240 watts but if your threshold is 245 watts there's a big difference to you in which is easier.
As things are now, I think the 'easier' paradigm is my current mantra... until you hit that point where 'captain, she's gonna blow!'...
which brings up that old Lemond 'quote'
"It never gets easier, you just go faster !"
the balance and challenge of finding 'more' in yourself and yet being ok with knowing that, in that moment, that's all there was...
one of the difficult things to balance on a lifetime basis...
Ride On
Yuri - and yes, philosophy helps get one thru ...
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