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overall bike weight - how much does it matter?

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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

overall bike weight - how much does it matter?

Old 08-21-10, 07:41 PM
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moose8
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overall bike weight - how much does it matter?

I've been doing more organized rides of late (did d2r2 100k today and it was awesome, took me 7 hours) and I've noticed I am definitely not on the fast side of things, but always get where I am going. I try to up the speed the more I do, but it still takes me awhile relative to lots of people, which obviously may be a matter of fitness, but I'm wondering if equipment is playing any role. Anyway, my bike ways around 30+ pounds, and is pretty much bombproof with 36 spoke wheels, but the more I think about it the more it does seem heavy. I always thought that since I wasn't as skinny as I could be, that a light bike would be lost on me. Now that I am actually more fit I am not sure, and am wondering if anyone has made the move from heavy touring bike to lightweight road bike and noticed whether it improved their riding to any significant degree. I had a 23 pound roadbike, and it seemed faster, but I recently broke it without getting to really test it on a longer ride.
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Old 08-21-10, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by moose8 View Post
I've been doing more organized rides of late (did d2r2 100k today and it was awesome, took me 7 hours) and I've noticed I am definitely not on the fast side of things, but always get where I am going. I try to up the speed the more I do, but it still takes me awhile relative to lots of people, which obviously may be a matter of fitness, but I'm wondering if equipment is playing any role. Anyway, my bike ways around 30+ pounds, and is pretty much bombproof with 36 spoke wheels, but the more I think about it the more it does seem heavy. I always thought that since I wasn't as skinny as I could be, that a light bike would be lost on me. Now that I am actually more fit I am not sure, and am wondering if anyone has made the move from heavy touring bike to lightweight road bike and noticed whether it improved their riding to any significant degree. I had a 23 pound roadbike, and it seemed faster, but I recently broke it without getting to really test it on a longer ride.
Might make a difference in a race situation where you either a) have to quickly accelerate b) climbing c) both, where said race matters to you in some sort of pay-out (feeling of accomplishment, ego, money, etc.).

Otherwise, the lighter bike might feel quicker since it will "feel" more maneuverable. Getting into a more aggressive position (cutting wind resistance as much as possible) as well as aero equipment (fitted kit, aero wheels, etc.) will make more of a difference albeit relatively small in most real-world riding conditions.
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Old 08-21-10, 07:47 PM
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Less to push up a climb is always a good thing. I'd say you're acceleration from a stop is increased too.

There's a reason there are weight weenies
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Old 08-21-10, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by moose8 View Post
...my bike ways around 30+ pounds, and is pretty much bombproof with 36 spoke wheels, but the more I think about it the more it does seem heavy.
... I had a 23 pound roadbike, and it seemed faster, but I recently broke it without getting to really test it on a longer ride.
1) How did you break your 23pound bike, if you're significantly overweight then you'll have to stick with the 30+lb 36spoke bike - I have one too and it is bomb proof
2) a heavy bike does slow you a a bit, but the problem is usually not the bike. Very often teams of MTBers pass roadies on the road with their noisy fat tires, very upsetting, but true.
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Old 08-21-10, 08:20 PM
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For an event like d2r2 it's a balance. It's hill climbing intensive which would favor lighter weight but the gravel roads might find the one lightweight part that just wasn't strong enough.

If your everyday riding includes rough roads and getting stuck 50 miles out with no one to call then you may want to err on the side of caution and make intelligent changes to your present bike.

For racing weight weenism is the way to go. If something breaks, you just tell your friends "Everything was going great! I was fresh and just unleashing signature move when the torque transmitter broke under my awesome power. C'est le vie".
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Old 08-21-10, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rufvelo View Post
1) How did you break your 23pound bike, if you're significantly overweight then you'll have to stick with the 30+lb 36spoke bike - I have one too and it is bomb proof
2) a heavy bike does slow you a a bit, but the problem is usually not the bike. Very often teams of MTBers pass roadies on the road with their noisy fat tires, very upsetting, but true.
My other bike broke because a friend crashed it and bent the derailler hanger, which caused the derailler to catch in the rear spokes and bent the hanger very badly, though I am hoping to fix it. I'm 6ft and 180lbs, so not too heavy. I think you're probably right about it being the engine - I think it was just wishful thinking that weight would make a big difference for me. It's just I go pretty slow up the climbs, then need to use the brakes to keep from running into people when I do the downhills because my bike is like tank that is slow to start but then really flies on the downhills, and this happens consistently, so it's seems like something is going on. The guys on lighter bikes don't appear to be using brakes to slow down when I catch up to them.
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Old 08-21-10, 08:44 PM
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At 30lbs it makes a big difference depending on terrain. Pretty easy to drop 12 lbs(or more) of weight just by riding another bike.
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Old 08-21-10, 08:52 PM
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A light bike will help, but if it takes you 7 hours to do 60 miles, even on a course as tough as D2R2, the bike isn't really the slow part. Sorry. Not that being slow is anything to be ashamed of. It's not a race, after all. But if you want to get faster, you'll have to work on your engine.
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Old 08-21-10, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
A light bike will help, but if it takes you 7 hours to do 60 miles, even on a course as tough as D2R2, the bike isn't really the slow part. Sorry. Not that being slow is anything to be ashamed of. It's not a race, after all. But if you want to get faster, you'll have to work on your engine.
I kind of figured as much, which is one of the reasons I haven't made a move to a lighter bike. It seems like it would wasted on me. People were doing the same route in like 4 hours, which blew my mind simply because the downhills were so sketchy but they must have just bombed through them.
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Old 08-21-10, 09:08 PM
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so how did you break your bike
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Old 08-21-10, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by moose8 View Post
I kind of figured as much, which is one of the reasons I haven't made a move to a lighter bike. It seems like it would wasted on me. People were doing the same route in like 4 hours, which blew my mind simply because the downhills were so sketchy but they must have just bombed through them.
It's not an either / or choice. Going from a 30 lb bike to say an 18 lb bike would make a fairly large difference when climbing hills, but it won't make you a great hill climber by itself. But if there are hills where you feel you're near the threshold of being able to climb them faster, yes it will help you get over that threshold. Plus, it's a lot more enjoyable to pick up an 18 lb bike than a 30 lb bike...
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Old 08-21-10, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by darkadious View Post
so how did you break your bike
derailler hanger was bent, sending the derailler into the wheel, thereby really bending the hanger, destroying the derailler, and significantly bending the quick release axle.
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Old 08-21-10, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by moose8 View Post
My other bike broke because a friend crashed it and bent the derailler hanger, which caused the derailler to catch in the rear spokes and bent the hanger very badly, though I am hoping to fix it. I'm 6ft and 180lbs, so not too heavy. I think you're probably right about it being the engine - I think it was just wishful thinking that weight would make a big difference for me. It's just I go pretty slow up the climbs, then need to use the brakes to keep from running into people when I do the downhills because my bike is like tank that is slow to start but then really flies on the downhills, and this happens consistently, so it's seems like something is going on. The guys on lighter bikes don't appear to be using brakes to slow down when I catch up to them.
Your buddy owes you a bike fix. If he crashed it, he fixes it (unless the crash occurred because of something YOU did, like leaving the brake cables unhooked). What you've described is fixable, but it could run into money if you need a new rear wheel and derailleur.
Good advice from everybody so far, in my opinion. Weight does matter, but I weigh 240--the difference between a light bike-rider package and a heavy one, for me, is only around 1 percdent of the total (full disclosure: When I dropped 40 pounds, from 270 to 230, I could really feel it. But I can't feel three pounds).
And on downhills, weight is an advantage. Everybody I ride with leaves me behind on climbs, but if we all start at the top of a hill and coast, I roar away. We'd travel at the same speed in free fall in a vacuum, but rolling down an inclined plane, I eat 'em up.
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Old 08-21-10, 11:13 PM
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My bike weighs about 25lbs. I don't see that as the problem. I see the worst components as the problem. If I ever upgraded it would be because of the component upgrades and the technology advances, not the weight. Less weight is always nice though, but can be easily made up for in skill, training, or talent.
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Old 08-21-10, 11:21 PM
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Some marketing mofo is doing his job well, if every fred is soo concerned about overal bike weight ...
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Old 08-21-10, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by moose8 View Post
I kind of figured as much, which is one of the reasons I haven't made a move to a lighter bike. It seems like it would wasted on me. People were doing the same route in like 4 hours, which blew my mind simply because the downhills were so sketchy but they must have just bombed through them.
If it's a hilly route then the downhills don't particularly matter - it's the climbs where you spend your time. If you go up at 5mph and down at 30 then you spend 6x as much on the uphill. In other words, for every ten minutes of descent you climb an hour. The real difference in 4 vs 7 hours is they go UP the hills almost twice as fast as you, while they probably don't go down much quicker.
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Old 08-22-10, 12:32 AM
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Obviously a lighter bike helps on the climbs but if you could take 4 or 5 pounds of the engine that would help a good deal.

Another thing to consider, depending on your current cogs, is just getting a new rear cassette rather than a whole bike.

For the longest time I refused to admit I was getting older and clung to my 11-23 in the back. The first hill wouldn't be so bad but eventually pounding out climbs at 50 rpm would take it's toll. The next hill was harder and slower, the one after that even slower etc.

Finally gave in and went with a 11-28. Although there's less gear inches I can spin faster and maintain the same speed consistently hill after hill. Putting a little less stress on the legs ( but slightly more on the cardio ) and being able to keep a fluid stroke made a world of difference.
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Old 08-22-10, 12:33 AM
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My bike feels lighter when I'm not as fat.
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Old 08-23-10, 06:17 PM
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I think I wrote this post in a slight post-ride delirium. I think unless I stop drinking beer and drop some pounds, 10 pounds of bike probably won't make much difference for some one of my skill level. I also think I was just coveting the bikes i saw a d2r2 - I've never seen so many insanely awesome bikes together in one place. Those team rapha bikes were absolutely gorgeous, as were many, many others.

sfrider - you make a very good point. I was going really fast on some of the descents, so I can't imagine people could go much faster than that really, but then I was going "barely able to stay upright" on the uphill portions. I'm definitely going to attempt to do some hills before next year's ride.
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Old 08-23-10, 07:00 PM
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Lighter bikes are pretty fun, for a while, but in a few weeks you acclimate and then it gets more difficult to notice the lightness. I've experienced it myself going between bikes.

That said, there's no reason to stick with the 30-pounder forever. Give yourself 6 months / a year or so more of riding, save your pennies, and who knows, you might be in such better condition that you'd want a different type bike than what you'd buy now. Or another one like what you have now, but lighter. Either way, you'll have a lot more self-knowledge and will make a better purchase decision.
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Old 08-23-10, 07:33 PM
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What is this 30 pound wonder you ride?
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Old 08-23-10, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by schnee View Post
Lighter bikes are pretty fun, for a while, but in a few weeks you acclimate and then it gets more difficult to notice the lightness. I've experienced it myself going between bikes.
From firsthand experience I'd have to disagree. My bike has dropped (over several years and different frames) from 17 to 15 to 14.5 to 13.5 to 12.5 to just under 12 to the 11.5-11.6 pound range (if you don't believe this, I really don't care, I've got the pictures over on weightweenies.starbike.com to prove it). Granted there was a period there where I dropped 20-25 lbs as well, partially inspired by the ability to use lighter stuff if I weighed less, but the bike has been between 12.5-11.5 pounds over the past 2 years, and all I have to do is get on my winter/commuter bike (19 lbs) and trust me, there's a difference- big difference.
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Old 08-23-10, 08:32 PM
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on extended climbs, if you were riding at your threshold, 10lb less bike would have you climbing 4.8% faster.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclebycle13 View Post
From firsthand experience I'd have to disagree. My bike has dropped (over several years and different frames) from 17 to 15 to 14.5 to 13.5 to 12.5 to just under 12 to the 11.5-11.6 pound range (if you don't believe this, I really don't care, I've got the pictures over on weightweenies.starbike.com to prove it). Granted there was a period there where I dropped 20-25 lbs as well, partially inspired by the ability to use lighter stuff if I weighed less, but the bike has been between 12.5-11.5 pounds over the past 2 years, and all I have to do is get on my winter/commuter bike (19 lbs) and trust me, there's a difference- big difference.
Link please? I gotta see this!
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Old 08-23-10, 09:27 PM
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rocky mountain sherpa 30 with racks, lights, fenders etc.. I actually just weighed it without the rack and lights and it came in at 28.3 pounds. It think the wheels may be the heavier part.
Originally Posted by icyclist View Post
What is this 30 pound wonder you ride?
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