Weights not as stated / Are upgrades a waste of money?

d3matt Posts: 510
edited February 2011 in MTB general
I’ve recently spend some money on some upgrades on my Boardman and found the manufactures claimed weights for their components to be way out sometimes. Also, I'm questioning the benefits of upgrades.

I wanted to reduce the length of the stem from 100mm to 70mm, so after reading the stem review in the Feb 2011 issue of What Mountain Bike, I decided to buy a Ritchey WCS stem as this (and the Hope AM) came out tops. My current stem is a Ritchey Comp, so being bottom of the range, I thought this would also be a weight saving upgrade too. Ritchey don’t show the weight of the Comp range on their website, yet do for all the better ranges, so I was assuming that the basic Comp models will be quite heavy. I was wrong.
I got out my digital scales and the Comp 100mm stem weighed 164g and the WCS 4-Axis 44 70mm weighed 120g. When you consider that the WCS was 30% shorter, the weight saving for like for like size is probably only about 40g or less. Based on today’s CRC prices, the WCS is twice the price (£48 vs £25) of the Comp, at the 100mm size. Is it really twice as good?

I read a comment in the What Mountain Bike magazine that upgrading your bars to a carbon one can make a significant weight saving. So as I was changing my stem, I thought I’d treat myself to some new bars at the same time. My bike had the basic Ritchey Comp Rizer bars and the Ritchey website says these are 360g. I couldn’t justify the expense of the 160g carbon bar, so I opted for the 240g WCS Rizer bar.
When this arrived I weighed it and my existing bar. The weights were not at all as Ritchey claim!
Comp Rizer: Website 360g. Actual weight 342g. CRC price £27.
WCS Rizer: Website 240g. Actual weight 274g. CRC price £55.
As you can see from the real weights, whereas I thought the WCS was going to be 120g lighter, it was actually only 68g lighter and again twice the price. Still, it’s now wet black to match the new stem! But this wet black scratches easily and shows the marks when the brake and gear levers are mounted, yet the Comp version with mat black didn’t.

I had a Bikehut comfort saddle which was heavy at 635g. After reading all the comments on this forum, I’ve brought at Charge Spoon saddle. Evans are currently selling the grey one with white cro-mo rails for only £19.99 delivered. The packaging says it weighs 258g. Out with the scales again and I found it actually weighed 280g! I’ve got two sets of digital scales and on one it was 280g and the other 282g, so I know they are pretty accurate. I don’t know how the manufactures can claim it weighs 258g when it clearly doesn’t.

As I was changing my seat, I also treated myself to a better seatpost, but this time got a used one of eBay. Again my existing one was the bottom of the range Ritchey Comp, so I upgraded to a Ritchey WCS. I got a different length (which turned out to be a mistake) so I can’t do an accurate weight comparison, but it would seem that the difference between the Comp 31.6x350mm and the WCS is about 50g. And again the WCS is twice the price (Evans prices £31.99 vs £65.99), so that's a lot of money for such a small weight saving and a glossy paint job.

All these Ritchey upgrades were two steps up the product range and twice the price of the bottom Comp models. While you do get a different grade of aluminium, the only real difference you’re going to feel is the weight saving and this isn’t as much as the spec sheets indicate. Ok, you do get a different sticker on the product so you can show off that your components are a higher range, but is this worth twice the price? Getting the upgrade bug is a mugs game.
This has highlighted that the manufacturers published weights are way out from what they actually are, particularly the Charge saddle when it is actually printed on the packaging.
Luckily I didn’t pay full retail prices for these upgrades. But I still spent £118 on the upgrades and while the main objective of a shorter stem and new saddle have been achieved, the weight saving has been minimal – only 158g (without the saddle and like for like). That’s less than a small apple or banana you might carry in your back pack!
But in my case, with the new saddle and shorter stem, these upgrades have saved 517g, which is pretty significant. But only because I had such a big heavy saddle before.

Riding this Boardman Team FS 2010. Also trying my first blog.


  • your scales are wrong* :wink:

    * this thread is a big tin of worms!
  • d3matt
    d3matt Posts: 510
    Unlikely as both my scales say the same.
    Also today weighed my new Time Roc Atac pedals at 382g (pair) and Time state 384g, so they don't over-claim their product weight.

    Riding this Boardman Team FS 2010. Also trying my first blog.
  • The lighter the parts get the larger the increase in price. Unfortunately they know the racers & terminal upgraders will pay out to shave a few grams here or there.

    As for the difference in actual & claimed weight, that should to be down to build tolerances although sometimes I have my suspicions.
    Statistically, Six Out Of Seven Dwarves Aren't Happy
  • Steve_F
    Steve_F Posts: 682
    Did you really make those upgrades just to save a tiny bit of weight?

    A lot of what you've upgraded seems to be weight based, my rule tends to be get what is actually going to make a difference in the way my bike handles (right size stem for instance) and if it weighs less even better. That said I wouldn't put something on that's seriously heavier. Of course if there's a component that is seriously overweight (like myself or maybe wheels) I'd certainly think about upgrading.

    If you want real weight saving the wheels would have been my starting point. Sell what you've got and get something lighter, probably tubeless with light tyres.

    I know it's your money and the way you want to spend it but if there's no other benefits from the parts you buy (apart from a more comfortable saddle) I certainly wouldn't do it!

    Would take someone with a real eye for detail to notice it wasn't the standard parts too.

    If it was all a nice new colour scheme on the other hand.....
    Current steed is a '07 Carrera Banshee X
    + cheap road/commuting bike
  • As the saying goes:-

    'Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades.'

    If you have a body composition of greter than 12% fat then bike weight reduction is counter productive. Set about loosing the fat and you may find a reduction in your grocery bill will pay for your later bike upgrades. :wink:
    To err is human, but to make a real balls up takes a super computer.
  • cooldad
    cooldad Posts: 32,599
    To summarise you replaced a perfectly good Boardman saddle with a sofa, then replaced that with another good saddle, and effectively saved very little?
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

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  • the weight savings may be minimal but the materials used often means a much stiffer ride,
    upgrading to carbon often doesnt save much weight but it dies reduce buzzing through the bars, stem, seat post etc.
    the bpardman ranges are often sprc'd very well from the off so weight saving is going to be minimum!

    anyway, we all know that upgraded parts make you Much Faster!! 8) :D:wink:
    After all, I am Cornish!
    Cotic Soul, The bike of Legends!:wink: Yes, I Am a bike tart!
    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtop ... 1#16297481
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Manufacturer claimed weights are often +/- 10%, with certain parts being particualrly 'bad'. Tyres often have huge variations in weight for identical models.

    About 5 years ago I got a Bontrager XXX Lite carbon stem for my road bike, claimed was 124g (IIRC) it actually weighs over 160g, and more than the £20 alu one on there before. If I'd paid the retail price of £120+ (in fact, if I'd paid for it at all!) I'd have been pretty annoyed. On the other hand, it's incredibly stiff.
  • d3matt
    d3matt Posts: 510
    Sirius631 wrote:
    If you have a body composition of greter than 12% fat then bike weight reduction is counter productive. Set about loosing the fat and you may find a reduction in your grocery bill will pay for your later bike upgrades. :wink:

    You've hit the nail on the head here. This is exactly what I need to do.

    Riding this Boardman Team FS 2010. Also trying my first blog.
  • I'd take no notice of weights because manufacturers will weight items without bolts or nuts or washers etc.

    Also, because an item (the seat post for example) is twice the price it shouldn't mean it should also weight far less. Pricier items sometimes are made of better materials and better designed for strength and may stay the same weight as a standard seat post.

    As my old mate keeps saying at the moment, take 3 Senna pod tablets and you'll lose weight within 24 hours :twisted:
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • thats mostly my issue too! bikes around 24lb but as soon as i get on it, turns into a 240lb bouncing bomb stylee!! :D
    can save close to 4lb from a good pre ride lav deposit!!! :wink:
    After all, I am Cornish!
    Cotic Soul, The bike of Legends!:wink: Yes, I Am a bike tart!
    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtop ... 1#16297481
  • Frame, fork, wheels. That's where upgrades count.

    Everything else is just decoration (unless you're changing something to alter your ride position).
    Less internal organs, same supertwisted great taste.
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Those are the areas it makes the biggest difference, but you'll never get a light bike if you only address certain parts!
  • I think you should throw your scales in the bin.

    Unless you seriously competing i really don't think weight is an issue, where as the quality reliabity and relative strength for purpose. I mean i have started going slightly heavier on my bike and am having way way more fun now :s
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Surely that depends if you break things or not. If you're not a heavy rider then light kit certainly makes more sense than if you're dirt jumping. Horses for courses and that!
  • I always found the best weight-reduction was to have a giant poo before racing - it easily outweighed all those uber-expensive Ti bolts i have on the bike...
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Imagine if you had a poo and a ti bolt equipped bike...
  • shm_uk
    shm_uk Posts: 683
    Upgrades aren't a waste of money per se but beyond wheels, forks & frame saving weight in other areas isn't going to make a lot of difference to the average hobby cyclist.

    Splashing out wads of cash on other parts is primarily for the 'bling' factor in my opinion. Which in itself is an important part of being a cyclist if you're that way inclined, and eventually the trickle-down effect makes the top-tech stuff cheaper.

    Expensive parts may technically be 'better', but in the real world for the average rider you're better off (literally) going for best value.

    (waits for the "ah, but I'm not your average rider" comments... :-) )
  • njee20 wrote:
    Imagine if you had a poo and a ti bolt equipped bike...

    I do - makes no difference - I'm now a lardy git instead...
  • Pirahna
    Pirahna Posts: 1,315
    Always worth checking the listings on Weight Weenies. If it's not listed use the forum search before posting.
  • As much as i like a lightish bike, i tend to upgrade to make the bike either more comfortable or change to more reliable and better components. I did try to find the lost reasonable weight bike in the first place so plumped for a Scott scale which isnt so bad.
  • Miggins
    Miggins Posts: 433
    d3matt wrote:
    I'm questioning the benefits of upgrades.

    Upgrades should do at least one of two things: 1 - improve your performance or 2 - make you happy

    Ultimately, either one of these will increase your enjoyment which is what it's all about anyway.

    Personally, I would only upgrade a component if it was holding me back in some way. I couldn't justify it otherwise. But that's just me.
    After uphill there's downhill
  • I changed a set of grip locks from gold to green last week.
    Unfortunately I haven't had time to test them out yet but I expect to go faster.

    Does green weight less than gold?

    And before anyone says it, yes I know that only red makes you go faster! (So i bought red hubs).
    "If in doubt....close your eyes"

    One One 456 Carbon
  • Northwind
    Northwind Posts: 14,675
    ll_sharpy wrote:
    Does green weight less than gold?

    Gold is a very dense metal, I'm assuming the green ones are verdigris, which is copper, which is about half as dense as gold. So yeah, you're going to rocket up them hills!
    Uncompromising extremist
  • Hi,

    Random thought - if you get the new things home weigh them and they are more than 10% out just take them back - I am sure if they are not used the shop will have to take them back as they did not meet the label and were not therefore fit for your purpose - ie to lighten the bike.

    I have a super light carbon bike 6.6Kg and it's brilliant...and yes all the carbon does lighten the bike but it also stiffens it so that energy goes where, you want, into the road and the hills.

    Take my triple (Alu/Carbon), or compact (Titanium) out ascend a 20% and it feels like sh*t. Take my carbon on a regular 53/26 and I'm going up it with far less stress.

    Maybe it's all in my head - if so the money on the carbon was worth it as it moulded my mind!!!!