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Does it matter? Climbing questions

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Does it matter? Climbing questions

Old 09-01-04, 12:30 AM
  #1  
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Does it matter? Climbing questions

ok, my friend and i were talking tonight about climbing a hill. he told me that there's not much difference to climb a hill with a 23lb bike vs. a 16-17lb bike. he said the 23lbs bike may be slower to climb but u can still get up there pretty quick.

now i know chainrings plays a factor, but it just seems that lighter bikes are much more easier to climb a hill compared to the 23lbs bike, if the chainrings and rear cogs are using the same teething. am i right to think that way or is my friend right that it doesn't matter about the weight of the bike?
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Old 09-01-04, 12:40 AM
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Ruirui,

Go to the Analytic Cycling website here. You put in different numbers to see the effect of weight will be on climbing time.
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Old 09-01-04, 12:51 AM
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thanks SteveE! good site!!! but i'm not 100% sure on how to actually read it. can you explain this one for me? here are the data i inputed: 78.42kg (173lbs = 150lbs + 23lbs bike) vs. 76.20kg (168lbs = 150lbs + 18lbs bike).

Benefit From Less Weight
This Much Less Weight 2.26 kg
Over This Distance 2000 meters
On Hill of Slope 0.03 Decimal
Faster by 4.06 s
Ahead by 29.58 m
Frontal Area 0.5 m^2
Coefficient Wind Drag 0.5 Dimensionless
Air Density 1.226 kg/m^3
Weight Rider & Bike 78.47 kg
Rolling Coefficient 0.004 Dimensionless
Power 250 watts

Last edited by ruirui; 09-01-04 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 09-01-04, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ruirui
thanks SteveE! good site!!! but i'm not 100% sure on how to actually read it. can you explain this one for me? here are the data i inputed: 78.42kg (173lbs = 150lbs + 23lbs bike) vs. 76.20kg (168lbs = 150lbs + 18lbs bike).

Benefit From Less Weight
This Much Less Weight 2.26 kg
Over This Distance 2000 meters
On Hill of Slope 0.03 Decimal
Faster by 4.06 s
Ahead by 29.58 m
Frontal Area 0.5 m^2
Coefficient Wind Drag 0.5 Dimensionless
Air Density 1.226 kg/m^3
Weight Rider & Bike 78.47 kg
Rolling Coefficient 0.004 Dimensionless
Power 250 watts
He's basically saying that if you raced your identical twin up a 2 kilometer 3% grade that whoever got the 18 pound bike would win by 4.06 seconds, or 29.58 meters. The "identical twin" part is because the calculations make the assumption that both riders are putting out 250 watts.

The graph at the bottom is showing your time difference as either the grade (i.e., the axis marked "slope %") increases or the weight drops. Note that the weight difference produces a linear change in time; that is, a 4kg drop in weight produces double the benefits of a 2kg drop in weight. The grade axis doesn't behave that way. Meaning that a weight drop that doesn't correlate to much benefit on a 3% grade (i.e., not very steep at all) will produce a lot of benefit on say an 18% grade wall -- you save a lot more then (18 / 3) * 4.06 seconds.

Hope that helps
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Old 09-01-04, 05:04 AM
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Faster by 4.06 s - this is how many seconds faster the light bike is when the light bike crosses the "finish line"

Ahead by 29.58 m - this is how far back the heavy bike is when the light one crosses the "finish line" in meters

Over this distance 2000 meters - is the length of the test, both bikes are even at the start.

This much less weight - the difference in weight between the two bikes

Power 250 watts - your legs' power 250w is a solid sustained effort by a good enthusiast rider, 600w is Ullrich or Armstrong's max sustained effort. Sustained meaning several minutes.

slope of the hill - is the slope, rise/run, 0.03 = 3%

Air Density - this is how thin the air is from an aerodynamic perspective

Frontal Area -area of your silluet, veiwing you from the front on the bike

Coefficient Wind Drag- this is how slippery your shape is, without regard to size. 1.0 = a flat plate, 1.5 = parachute, 0.5 = you in tight cloths on a bike, 0.3 = waxed c5 corvette

Rolling Coefficient - rolling resistance with the effect of weight taken out of the picture
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Old 09-01-04, 07:41 AM
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I'm sure a lot of us see 4.06 meters and 29+ seconds over a 3%, 2K course as fairly substantial, but why do I think that your friend is going to see this more as substantiation for his opinion?

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Old 09-01-04, 08:34 AM
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Sure a lighter bike is better, I'll agree with that. But it has more to do with what is in the legs and heart - 250watts or is one able to put out more than the other.

Sure, I'm a 250lbs fat guy on a 21lb bike and suck at climbing hills but I bet you if that 2,000 meters was all down hill, I'd get there first.
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Old 09-01-04, 08:44 AM
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Yep, weight and gravity. The bigger you are and heavier the bike, the slower you are up the hill. But going down the otherside - watch out below! Flying low and fast!
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Old 09-01-04, 09:00 AM
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Would rotational mass of the wheels skew the result as well? Compare for example, two bikes that weigh the exact same. The first bike has a heavy frame/parts and light wheels while the second bike has heavy wheels and a light frame/parts. I would bet the light wheels win.

-mark
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Old 09-01-04, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ruirui
he said the 23lbs bike may be slower to climb but u can still get up there pretty quick.

...am i right to think that way or is my friend right that it doesn't matter about the weight of the bike?
Where you're wrong is thinking your friend said the bike weight doesn't matter. You can't really argue with may be slower to climb but u can still get up there pretty quick.
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Old 09-01-04, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by geneman
Would rotational mass of the wheels skew the result as well?
I don't think it's significant. With climbing, unless you're powering out of switchbacks, your speed is relatively constant.

Rotational mass is only really important for speed changes. In fact if anything, I'd say for climbing a slightly heavier wheel might help if there are little undulations in the road. Once that wheel is spinning it'll have more monentum to carry it over the little bumps. I'm just pulling that out of my ass though... 10 times out of 10 I'd pick the lighter wheels
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Old 09-01-04, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by F1_Fan
Rotational mass is only really important for speed changes. In fact if anything, I'd say for climbing a slightly heavier wheel might help if there are little undulations in the road. Once that wheel is spinning it'll have more monentum to carry it over the little bumps. I'm just pulling that out of my ass though... 10 times out of 10 I'd pick the lighter wheels
Saved that post at the last second - good pull!

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Old 09-01-04, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by geneman
Would rotational mass of the wheels skew the result as well? Compare for example, two bikes that weigh the exact same. The first bike has a heavy frame/parts and light wheels while the second bike has heavy wheels and a light frame/parts. I would bet the light wheels win.

-mark

You're right. That first site is an example of bad science and interpreting a single conclusion from too many variables. This is too common. It's like saying butane lighters cause lung cancer because people who buy more butane lighters get lung cancer.

For example, two objects over the same height and distance can take differing energy to get there in the same time if the mass is centralized in one object over another, this is especially true for rotating mass and the central design parameter for racing cars and racing bikes. Very important for acceleration.

Take two equal riders, same weight of bikes, but one bike has rear suspension, hard tail will beat out every time uphill because of energy transfer efficiency. Same is true for lighter wheels if starting from a stop.

I think what your friend means is that with weight and bike costs, there are greatly diminishing returns, it often does not make sense to simply make a lighter bike if that bike cannot transfer energy as a heavier bike would. Spending an extra $200 for a carbon fiber part for a weight savings of 0.2 grams is pointless, unless you like the look of the cool part and that will get you to ride more. That's still cool.

I think that a bike working well (comfort, handling, stopping, durability, energy transfer) is more important than just weight. Broken bikes don't go very fast.

Last edited by DocRay; 09-01-04 at 10:42 AM.
 
Old 09-01-04, 10:49 AM
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If bike weight is the issue in question, 3% grade is not a very good parameter. A cyclist in reasonable shape will be fighting the wind as much as gravity. I'd say bike weight becomes a much more significant issue around 5+% grades.
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Old 09-01-04, 10:49 AM
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Wheel weight at the rim is significant only in acceleration, for small ranges of variation in wheel weight (say 500-1000grams). On the level once upto speed the energy
to keep that speed will be independent of wheel weight; with constant power input
the bike with lighter wheels will accelerate faster and thus be farther away from the
start than the bike with heavier wheels. On hills though, going up you are CONSTANTLY accelerating, if you don't accelerate you slow down or stop, even
go backwards. To maintain the same speed you have to accelerate to counter
gravity and heavier wheels will be an additional decrement in speed that is not seen
on the flat. Air resistance is an independent variable directly proportional to the
bicyles speed relative to the air. Steve
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Old 09-01-04, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by sch
On hills though, going up you are CONSTANTLY accelerating, if you don't accelerate you slow down or stop, even go backwards.
Acceleration = change in velocity/time. If you’re riding a steady speed up a steady incline, you are not accelerating since you are not changing speed or direction. You are fighting the force of gravity that is trying to accelerate you downward, though. Rotational mass on the wheels won’t have much more effect than other mass on the bike or rider.

OTOH, when you stand, wheel weight is very noticeable due to the change in gyroscopic effect from the wheels; lighter wheels will allow the bike to rock back & forth much easier. This makes the bike “feel” much lighter. I’m not sure if this translates into speed or not.

-murray
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Old 09-01-04, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by roadbuzz
If bike weight is the issue in question, 3% grade is not a very good parameter. A cyclist in reasonable shape will be fighting the wind as much as gravity. I'd say bike weight becomes a much more significant issue around 5+% grades.
I was thinking the same thing...bike weight is a serious issue at over 10% grade...of course, you can't start griping about the bike if you weigh a gazillion pounds...but if you don't, then having a lighter bike DOES make a difference
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Old 09-01-04, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by VeganRider
How hard is it to loose a few pounds as a cyclist? come on now.
I went from 147lbs to 130lbs on my 5'5" body this spring. Yeah, I could probably lose a few more pounds, but I could also drop a few lbs off my bike. Once the weight is off the bike, it doesn't come back over the winter or after a vacation; it stays off for good! You don't feel hungry trying to keep your bike at a lower weight.

I see no problem with riding a lighter bike so long as you can afford it.

-murray
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Old 09-01-04, 02:37 PM
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Rotational weight loss to me is a great bang for the buck. Good light wheels are expensive but it directly effects the efficiency of the ridder's watts. Other than rotational, I feel that the frame/component weight loss is a waste and the real issue should be the cyclist. How hard is it to loose a few pounds as a cyclist? come on now. Light and strong gets to the top first every time.
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Old 09-01-04, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Murrays
I went from 147lbs to 130lbs on my 5'5" body this spring. Yeah, I could probably lose a few more pounds, but I could also drop a few lbs off my bike. Once the weight is off the bike, it doesn't come back over the winter or after a vacation; it stays off for good! You don't feel hungry trying to keep your bike at a lower weight.

I see no problem with riding a lighter bike so long as you can afford it.

-murray
Hey Murray, you sound to be in good shape! But I try to remind myself that when my body wieght goes down my heart and lungs do more for me and dont work as hard. right? dropping just the bike weight dosen't do that, it's not attached to my veins.
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Old 09-01-04, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by VeganRider
Hey Murray, you sound to be in good shape!
Thanks! I was never “overweight”, but it’s kind of shocking when none of your shorts fit you in the spring

Originally Posted by VeganRider
But I try to remind myself that when my body wieght goes down my heart and lungs do more for me and dont work as hard. right? dropping just the bike weight dosen't do that, it's not attached to my veins.
Yeah, you’re probably right. I just hear the argument from non bikers that it’s silly to spend money to drop weight on the bike when your XXlbs overweight.

Bottom line, a new, lighter bike just makes you feel better/ride faster just like a new pair of sneakers used to make me run faster and jump higher

-murray
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Old 09-01-04, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Murrays
Thanks! I was never “overweight”, but it’s kind of shocking when none of your shorts fit you in the spring



Yeah, you’re probably right. I just hear the argument from non bikers that it’s silly to spend money to drop weight on the bike when your XXlbs overweight.

Bottom line, a new, lighter bike just makes you feel better/ride faster just like a new pair of sneakers used to make me run faster and jump higher

-murray
murray.. ur lucky.. i use to be 110lbs from age 18-22 and couldn't gain any weight.. then all of the sudden.. a computer desk job lands me at 150lbs with a pot belly. worse part is... all that weight is in the belly! i guess that's what happens when you eat only a 30 min lunch and have a stressful work. time to do the situps!!!
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Old 09-02-04, 05:38 AM
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Murray: just because the speed going up hill is constant does not mean the acceleration is zero. Consider going down hill, if the hill continues the speed will
gradually increase until air resistance overcomes acceleration and speed levels out.
The inverse is also true, going up hill you must accelerate to overcome gravitional
pull. If the acceleration is zero you are going to stop and fall over or roll backwards.
If your acceleration exceeds a certain level you will increase your speed up the hill,
if your accleration equals the component of gravity in the direction you are moving
then you will maintain whatever speed you have. Steve
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Old 09-02-04, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by sch
Murray: just because the speed going up hill is constant does not mean the acceleration is zero.
From http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionar...a=acceleration

Main Entry: ac•cel•er•a•tion
Pronunciation: ik-"se-l&-'rA-sh&n, (")ak-
Function: noun
1 : the act or process of accelerating : the state of being accelerated
2 : the rate of change of velocity with respect to time; broadly : change of velocity

What component of velocity (speed or direction) is changing when you go uphill at a constant speed?!?


Originally Posted by sch
Consider going down hill, if the hill continues the speed will gradually increase until air resistance overcomes acceleration and speed levels out.
Yes, if you drop an object, it’s speed increases (accelerates) until it reaches terminal velocity. At that point, it is no longer accelerating since its velocity is constant.


Originally Posted by sch
The inverse is also true, going up hill you must accelerate to overcome gravitational pull. If the acceleration is zero you are going to stop and fall over or roll backwards.
This would be negative acceleration. If your acceleration is zero, your velocity (speed) won’t change.


Originally Posted by sch
If your acceleration exceeds a certain level you will increase your speed up the hill, if your acceleration equals the component of gravity in the direction you are moving then you will maintain whatever speed you have. Steve
If you are maintaining your speed, you are merely counteracting one force (due to gravity) with another (pedaling force).


Back to the original point, if your speed is constant, your wheels are rotating at a constant RPM. Neglecting air and bearing resistance, it takes no additional effort to maintain the rotation of the wheels regardless of how much the wheels weigh. In fact, the heavier wheel will maintain its rotation longer when subjected to similar bearing loads and air resistance. But, as F!_Fan stated, I’ll take the lighter wheels every time!

-murray
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Old 09-02-04, 09:29 AM
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Murray: gravity is a constant downward acceleration to any vehicle going up an
inclined plane, the % of the gravitational acceleration is the cosine of the angle
of the the hill times the gravitational acceleration (9.8m/sec*sec or 32ft/sec*sec).
If your effort in climbing produces an acceleration less than this, you slow down,
if equal your speed is constant, if greater then your velocity up the hill will increase.
On the flat you are moving perpendicular to the gravitational acceleration and the cosine of 90d is 0, hence no contribution. Going downhill gravity accelerates the
rider depending on the length and angle of the hill. Gravity is constant and unremitting acceleration which the bicyclist overcomes every time he goes up a
a hill and glories in going down. Steve
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