Weight obsession

jermas
jermas Posts: 484
edited May 2008 in Road beginners
As a group are we road cyclists getting too concerned with cycle weight? It seems to me that we are all paying huge premiums for lightweight gear that offers very little real world performance benefits. I can fully appreciate pro cyclists wanting to squeeze every last watt of power into forward motion but for us amateurs is there much point in paying say £3000-£5000 for a bike when one costing half as much (but maybe 800g heavier) would result in v similar performance. Let’s face it we all add significant amounts of weight to a bike every time we venture out – water bottles (1kg per litre ouch!!) tools, pump, inner tube etc. Yes hypocritically I own a light cbn fibre bike but finding a bike that fits well, is reliable and comfortable is far more important than weight alone. Dare I say that sometimes I actually prefer riding slightly heavier bikes. They are less skittish over rougher roads and are steadier in windier conditions. Also can’t owning ultra expensive gear sometimes result in less enjoyable rides? What I mean is spending time worrying about buckling wheels and wearing away £50 of carbon each time press the brakes against a ludicrously expensive set of wheels aint much fun. Above all putting the miles in gets the greatest performance results! Interesting link below explaining the effect of weight on a bike.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_performance
«1

Comments

  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    I made my bike almost a Kg lighter just by only quarter filling my water bottle.

    Seriously though i agree - the real enjoyment comes from riding not what you ride. It's the marketing/advertising/image people that make you want to spend a fortune. Then someone else comes along and wants to sell you insurance for it :evil:
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • Agent57
    Agent57 Posts: 2,300
    I'll worry about the weight of my next bike after I've shed the excess stone or two I'm hauling around my middle... :(
    MTB commuter / 531c commuter / CR1 Team 2009 / RockHopper Pro Disc / 10 mile PB: 25:52 (Jun 2014)
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    Agent57 wrote:
    I'll worry about the weight of my next bike after I've shed the excess stone or two I'm hauling around my middle... :(

    You got that right.

    Dennis Noward
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    I have often wondered about the "weight weenies". Other than bragging rights, about
    who has the lightest bike, why and to what other end do they obsess about titanium bolts,
    carbon fiber chainrings, 7 gram bottle cages, carbon fiber spoke nipples, and literally
    hundreds of other very high priced components of extreme light weight and questionable
    durabilty, very questionable? I mean, it's not like you see these people and their bikes at
    races, and even if you do they're not "winning" anything like they are supposed to with
    this big weight advantage. I have been around racing on the local and regional level for
    many years and have seen my share of people who think that all they have to do is buy
    the best stuff and they will be a bike racer. They come to a race fully expecting to
    really do well and basically get blown off the road. I never see them at the races again.
    Seems to be lots of disposable income out there and lots of people are very susceptible
    to believing what the ad-men say.
    Check out www.fairwheelbikes.com

    Dennis Noward
  • drenkrom
    drenkrom Posts: 1,062
    What the weight weenies are dishing out loads of money for this year may be what we'll all be riding in a few years' time. There was a time when hollow crank arms were the domain of the obsessive, yet most of us have some now. Don't be too hard on the weight weenies. They're the ones who will buy all these glorified prototypes and weed out the useless from the useful. In a few years, we get the useful at a more reasonable price, and they get to buy some new shiny useless stuff.
  • In my racing days, shaving a few pounds off the weight of my bike might have made the difference between coming 77th and 78th in the event :)

    So, no, it makes little difference to me. My bike weighs next to nothing, and yet I routinely cycle carrying two full water bottles, a lock, a waterproof, tool kit, spare tubes, etc. That's not to mention the spare tyre around my midriff.

    But I think what might (maybe) make a difference is the rigidity of the bike. And (maybe) it's not weight of things like aluminium frames and carbon forks that makes the difference, but the stiffness. Dunno, really.
  • benvickery
    benvickery Posts: 124
    We can look at it another way. I weigh about 88kg, so with clothes, shoes, jacket perhaps I weigh 90kg. My bike is carbon and pretty light but with tools, tubes, water, pump etc it will weigh about 10kg. So that makes 100kg. Opened up Cycling plus to the review on aero bars and the difference in weight between the lightest and the cheapest is 100g and £130. I make that about a 0.1% difference. If that drop in weight linked directly to a drop in time, over a 1 hour ride you will be 3.6 seconds faster. That could be important if you were into time trialing but for your average recreational cyclist that difference is completely unimportant.

    I'd rather spend that money on comfortable clothing.
    _______________________

    FCN : 4
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    I carry my bike(s) up 5 floors of stairs every day, and 3lbs really makes a difference! :D
  • celbianchi
    celbianchi Posts: 854
    Nobody is forced to buy high end bikes. If you can afford it and desire them, go for it.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    I really do think I can tell the difference between a 16lb bike and a 20lb bike when there are any hills about. Any weight difference much less than that and I can't say I notice. maybe it's a placebo effect, or down to other properties of the bike such as geometry or stiffness.
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    neeb wrote:
    I carry my bike(s) up 5 floors of stairs every day, and 3lbs really makes a difference! :D


    Didn't think about that. Good reason.

    dennis noward
  • Rich Hcp
    Rich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    For me as a try to get fit and stay fit 42 year old, the main thing isn't the weight of the bike, but the way it feels and the quality

    I'm not a person who buys a bike to upgrade, I buy it to last, so a few hundred grams here and there makes little difference to me.

    I have a 2007 Allez Sport and to me it's perfect and suits my needs, my LBS service is superb and I'm happy 8)

    You see people on more expensive bikes, I just think "That's a nice bike", say hi and keep pedling.

    I'm happy and that counts most
    Richard

    Giving it Large
  • sicrow
    sicrow Posts: 791
    Rich Hcp wrote:
    For me as a try to get fit and stay fit 42 year old, the main thing isn't the weight of the bike, but the way it feels and the quality

    I'm not a person who buys a bike to upgrade, I buy it to last, so a few hundred grams here and there makes little difference to me.

    I have a 2007 Allez Sport and to me it's perfect and suits my needs, my LBS service is superb and I'm happy 8)

    You see people on more expensive bikes, I just think "That's a nice bike", say hi and keep pedling.

    I'm happy and that counts most

    couldn't agree more
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Don't see why people get hung up over buying expensive bikes - you can get the same as the pros ride for about £5000. To a lot of people £5000 on a bike is not a lot, especially if they don't spend (waste) as much on things like expensive cars, clothes, TVs, drink. What does a good two week holiday abroad cost? £1000, £2000? You'll probably still have the £5000 bike a couple of years down the line and it'll have probably been well used.
    I like bikes...

    Twitter
    Flickr
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    There are certainly worse things to spend your money on. Many years ago I had a girlfriend who was perpetually poor because she was making monthly repayments on the four figure purchase price of a sofa. I kept telling her what a nice bike she could have had for that sort of money! I mean, who in their right mind spends that sort of money on a sofa in their 20s? Ikea or second-hand for me every time. Admittedly she did spend rather a lot of time on the sofa in front of the telly. needless to say the relationship didn't last very long!
  • jedster
    jedster Posts: 1,717
    BTW, thanks to the OP for posting that link. Very interesting (to me anyway!)
  • jedster
    jedster Posts: 1,717
    My main commuting bike is not that light (was OK before I loaded it with guards, rack, dynohub, lights, 28mm tyres and a panier with tools, tubes, book, newspaper, jacket, phone, blackberry, etc). When I don't have the panier, I THINK, I can really tell the difference but I suspect this is more arodynamics than weight).

    All that said, I saw and fondled a mates new carbon cervelo/dura ace bike at the weekend. The weight may not matter that much but it was REALLY nice.
  • Steve_F
    Steve_F Posts: 682
    It doesn't take much of a drop in body weight to notice the difference on the road (but I suppose dropping body weight for me means my fitness is coming up) so I suppose when the elite get to the stage where they can't loose an ounce more fat then I can see why they would look to the bike.

    That said, I'm sure most of us on here would have the lightest, flashiest bikes going if our numbers came out on a Saturday night but that's just the same for all aspects of life.
    Current steed is a '07 Carrera Banshee X
    + cheap road/commuting bike
  • ellieb
    ellieb Posts: 436
    I don't think that weight does make as much difference to performance as one might like.
    In terms of why people buy this stuff: Apart from the obvious showing off, I think perhaps it is nice to have things which are both beautiful to look at and are beautiful because of the perfection in the way they perform their function. A lightweight component is the pinnacle of the bike makers art. Until it breaks of course :P
  • I ride a bike that alot of people think is expensive £2000 inc mods but i didn't buy lucy solely because its light i bought it cos i really really like it and at the end of the day some people like to spend hundreds on the lightest bits of kit for there bike because not only is it light buying it release endorphins in the brain and gives you the feel good factor and prob saves a few grams when you could easily go for an hours run burn off some fat and save as many if not more calories from the overall weight of you and the bike, do this regularly and you'll save kg's off the bike and all for a bit of hard work.

    oh and lay off the pies!!!!
    felix's bike

    pedal like you stole something!!!
  • cee
    cee Posts: 4,553
    I agree with what most of the folks here are saying.

    When the pro's race, 3.6 seconds over an hour is an eternity. The difference between 1st and 20th place. Sponsorship next year etc etc etc

    For most of us, it is nothing. OK, there will be a few here who REALLY race competitively (not just for fun and don't really care whether they finish 77th or 78th), and for those folks, the difference could be advantageous.

    However, most of us are not Rasmussen thin and could lose more weight off our bodies than off the bike.

    That said, I don't have a problem with folks spending their money as they see fit. Like someone said here, what do you not spend money on. Going to the football every week could cost somewhere in the region of £5000 a year (obviosuly depending on your club......Cowdenbeath would clearly be less than that, but maybe Man Utd would be more) if you take tickets, transport, beers, food, scarves, team strip etc, and manymany folks do that year in year out.

    Then you have fashion to take into consideration.......and i think thats a good place to stop :lol:
    Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I believe in the future of the human race.

    H.G. Wells.
  • yorkshireraw
    yorkshireraw Posts: 1,628
    there's also the point that if you're using a bike most days, then 2 to 3 grand (if you can afford it) isn't that much when you think what people pay for cars.
    The guys / girls who like the trick stuff also help keep the industry (and often LBSs) in business, which benefits everyone.
  • I...buying it release endorphins in the brain and gives you the feel good factor and prob saves a few grams when you could easily go for an hours run burn off some fat and save as many if not more calories from the overall weight of you and the bike...

    What makes me feel good is overtaking somebody on a fancy bike, all tarted up with fancy kit, while I'm riding my tatty old bike and wearing jeans and t-shirt.

    It makes me feel particularly good knowing that I haven't spent a fortune, and I'm still faster than him :) The only problem is that it doesn't happen anywhere near often enough :/

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned (well, I am old-fashioned, no doubt about that) but I find it difficult to understand why spending lots of money makes people feel good about themselves.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    I'm skinny so my body weight varies between 63kg and 68kg depending on whether I'm in shape and have been watching my diet or otherwise. I don't like getting lighter than about 62kg, it doesn't feel healthy. The difference in weight between my good bike and my everyday bike is about half of that difference - not insignificant. And whatever people say I'm not completely convinced that weight on the bike is completely equivalent to weight on the body. Obviously it is if you just apply a simplistic formula to calculate the energy required to move/lift a particular mass, but the bike is less a part of you than your body is, it moves around underneath you especially if you are out of the saddle. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some subtle physics going on in the relationship between the way you and the bike move and accelerate that is influenced by bike weight. I any case, it seems to be the subjective experience of a lot of people, including many pros, that it makes some difference.

    Whether you think it makes a difference or not, if you decide that you want to have a bike that weighs 15lbs instead of 19lbs then you will start worrying about 100g here and there, just because there is no single component that makes a bike light or heavy. A light bike is the product of lots of 100g weight savings here and there, although no single one makes a noticeable difference.
  • Belv
    Belv Posts: 866
    We've all got our vices and a top-of-the-range bike is still a pretty cheap hobby by many standards.
    I think low weight is often a by-product of buying that nice bike we really want or maybe a justification (excuse!) to spend money (that we don't need to) on our bikes.
  • meagain
    meagain Posts: 2,331
    Bit of a strange obsession really isn't it (and yes one I share to some extent)? And i guess we all start from different points - for example I REALLY neither want nor need to lose any weight from the rider bit of the equation. I've wanted to reach 10st (60kgs would do!) for past 40 years or so. Never have. Last year I cut my pedalling miles from 7000 to about 3000 - and I lost weight (less exercise, less eating see).

    Hills I find easier the lighter the bike - though I suspect that the main benefit is from the lighter WHEELS rather than the rest. Heavy (say 30 lbs) v. light (say <20 lbs) makes maybe 5-10% difference in distance per hour - or at least for the FIRST hour, after that comfort more the deciding factor for me I think.

    And yet....I'm in midst of building a Raleigh Timet "race" bike (well, it would have been pretty well up there 10 years ago) and I can't help keep lifting it up and thinking,,,,"ooohh that's LIGHT!". As indeed it is compared with my usual 531 Fixed on 27x1 1/4s. But I know which I'd ride for anything over 20 miles!
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • neeb wrote:
    I wouldn't be surprised if there is some subtle physics going on in the relationship between the way you and the bike move and accelerate that is influenced by bike weight. I any case, it seems to be the subjective experience of a lot of people, including many pros, that it makes some difference.

    I don't think it's necesasrily all that subtle -- weight is weight and it's a pain to carry it around :) When I'm hiking, an extra 5lbs in my rucksack makes a huge difference, and yet it's pretty insignificant compared to own my wieght.

    But it is, as you say, subjective. And that means that when you compare bikes you need to eliminate all factors except weight that might contribute to the riding experience. I've already suggested that stiffness could be an important factor, for example. Lighter bikes tend to be stiffer than heavier ones, because of the materials used. My `nice' bike and my old nail are about the same size and shape, but the nice bike is not only lighter, it's much stiffer. So it's difficult for me to tell whether it's the weight or the stiffness that makes the difference in what each is like to ride.
  • nolf
    nolf Posts: 1,287
    If you want to go faster just do some power training instead of trying to shave those extra grammes from your bike.

    I'm a pretty lightweight person with a bike that weighs 8.5kg. I'm going to have to spend a lot of money on getting it lighter (except on the wheels). But if I spend 1 day a week doing power training then that will increase my performance by so much more.

    Wasn't there an article on this issue on bikeradar a while back, just had a search and can't find it.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    nolf
    It doesn't matter how much power work you do, the bike doesn't get better. You might get faster but it's still the same bike.
    I like bikes...

    Twitter
    Flickr
  • cee
    cee Posts: 4,553
    nolf wrote:
    If you want to go faster just do some power training instead of trying to shave those SNNNNNNNIP......

    LEGS ! 8) :lol::o:D:wink:
    Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I believe in the future of the human race.

    H.G. Wells.