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Why so much Worry about Weight?(32 posts)

Why so much Worry about Weight?mclements
Nov 30, 2001 8:37 AM
Why do some people care so much about weight -- especially static weight? Light weight is good, but not when it sacrifices reliability and structural integrity of the machine in order to get it a few pounds lighter.

Most of the people I see riding around here on their super-light bikes, would be better off shaving the extra pounds from their waistlines than from the bike!

And I wonder if the people I see by the side of the road with their broken super-light derailleurs and wheels, believe that walking a 13 lb. bike home is faster than riding a 19 lb. bike home.

I think if any of these weight worriers ever rode up some serious hills (say, 15% to 20% grade for 5-10 miles), or if their legs were strong enough to put some real power into the bike, they would quickly toss their lightweight wet noodles for something a lot stronger, even if a little bit heavier.

It's a free country and people can do what they want, but let's understand the motivation. It's all about flashy boy toys and conspicuous consumption, not about actual performance. Show me a pro who wins races on a 13 lb. bike and I'll eat my words.

[flame suit on]
re: Why so much Worry about Weight?TJeanloz
Nov 30, 2001 10:19 AM
No pros win races on 13lb bikes, because they're illegal- the UCI minimum weight is 14.98lbs, and Tyler Hamilton rides a rig that is just that weight.
What makes me laughColnagoFE
Nov 30, 2001 10:24 AM
is Lance using all the latest and lightest for his climbing bike, but still uses those boat anchor Look D/A pedals.
You wouldn't be laughingTJeanloz
Nov 30, 2001 10:29 AM
You wouldn't be laughing if you had a set of PD-7401. Best pedal ever made. Hands down. Essentially a Look with better bearings, they are smooth as silk, and they've won a place on my otherwise Campy equipped bikes.
Bearings smoother than the Campys?Colnago FE
Nov 30, 2001 10:45 AM
I use the Campy pedals and they seem to work as well as my old Looks and the bearings seem top notch. LOTS lighter than the Look pedals.
Way smoother,TJeanloz
Nov 30, 2001 10:50 AM
I'm not going to lie, these pedals are heavy. But SO smooth. And fully rebuildable. Much smoother than any Look, and in the class of 1970s Campy.

As a side note to point out the smoothness of vintage Campy, we had an old SR crank and bottom bracket in the shop one day without the chain on it. The bike was sitting in the stand, and the crank was turning (by itself) all afternoon. We were sure the bike was posessed, but later realized that the power of the cadence magnet on the crank was enough to turn it- that's how smooth it was.
Ho Humgrzy
Nov 30, 2001 11:06 AM
Fiddling with smooth bearings in a shop with no load applied is akin to kicking tires at a car dealership, but suckers still fall for it and shop guys keep the myth alive. It tells you little about how well they work underload. To be sure a set full of grit that will barely turn by hand will be a dog, but you can't tell much about two new sets of bearings. The slickest setup of course is s set of bearings with zero grease - only problem is that they won't last.

In all likely hood the bearings are all rated for well above the applied loads and the only real difference is if they're setup correctly and the weight of the grease used.

Dunno about the new DA pedals, but the Campy Profits sure are sweet -'cept for the price of a set of ti ones. Anything that uses sets of precision bearings is well above the older loose style. Ultimately bearing friction on pedals is several orders of magintude below rolling resitance from improper tire inflation and still behind hub bearings. It's right up there with worrying about the added rotating inertia of valve stem caps.
What makes me laughbrider
Nov 30, 2001 11:27 AM
You will find that the pros are VERY picky about their contact points on the bike (pedals/shoes and saddles). Not fond of change.
re: Why so much Worry about Weight?mclements
Nov 30, 2001 2:07 PM
That's pretty cool -- I didn't know the Trek 5900 was only 15 lbs. Amazing.

So is USPS going to be using Bontrager wheels now that Trek and Rolf have gotten a divorce?
re: Why so much Worry about Weight?rckymtnmd
Nov 30, 2001 10:26 AM
I guess it gives us something to think about on rainy days. You are right, most cyclists spend too much time on weight issues. Losing weight is the best way to lighten your ride, but it is a lot more fun to eat that extra slice of pizza and buy something made out of carbon fiber. I am no weight weenie. My frame is steel and the wheels are standard Mavic rims laced 3X. close to 1900 grams for the set.

I have been involved in this sport for over 27 years and light weight has always been the Holy Grail. The only exception to that was the mid 80s when aerodynamics was the thing.

One final note. You will never have to eat your words since no professional will ever win a race on a 13 pound bike. The UCI has established a minimum weight limit of around 15 pounds
Built-in Excusegrzy
Nov 30, 2001 10:55 AM
The weight obsession is a built-in excuse for needing to buy new stuff or a quick excuse of why someone isn't as fast up the hills as their buds.

The reality is that yes, bike weight does matter in the sense that it's dead weight vs. the live weight on you body that is available for pedaling force. In a broad sense you still need to haul all of the weight up the hill no matter how it's distributed, but this simplification over looks some of the details. The other aspect is that lighter bikes have a higher frequency response and for that reason feel more responsive. None of this matters one wit of the bike is a flexy noodle or your beloved "unobtainiium" cranks break and leave you SOL in the sticks.

Take your current ride and do your favorite quickie loop. Next lap load up two full big water bottles and put them in the bottle cages and do the same loop. Now dump the contents into a CamelBak, dithc the bottles and do the loop. This should help illustrate that weight does matter and that there's a difference between live and dead weight. If you can't notice a difference then forget about the whole thing and just ride.
other way aroundDuane Gran
Nov 30, 2001 11:57 AM
For me I try to get good equipment (which is often light) as a means of removing excuses. If someone outsprints me or drops me on the climb, the onus falls on my training and ability. Sure, I like the new and sparkled fun stuff, but in a way having something very nice is a way of leaving the engine as the only object for improvement.

Disclaimer: I wouldn't advocate that a newbie go out and drop $5k on a bike based on this viewpoint, but if one is competitive it make sense to me.
Live weight and dead weight????mickey
Dec 2, 2001 6:24 AM
Oh physics master, please explain this one to me. I must have missed this when I got my engineering degree.

If my butt is on the saddle, and the water's on my back, it's weight is not "live" or "available" for applying pedaling force. If holding your butt down is vital to applying pedaling force, maybe a we should all be strapped to out saddles, for the ultimate in speed.

If I really want to go fast, should I strap a 20lb. backpack on?
Live weight and dead weight????grzy
Dec 5, 2001 9:55 AM
We talking Mechanical Engineering or not? Anyone who races sailboats is very familiar with this concept b/c it has a huge effect.

Any excess weight is bad - we all know that. Point is that 5 lbs. on the bike isn't exactly the same as 5 lbs. on your body. While your legs must still supply all of the force to get the entire package up the hill, having the weight on you back allows you to stand and not pull up on the bars as soon, thus reducing the total effort put out by your body. Your legs will still provide the same force, but the rest of your body will not. Then we can get into the whole vehicle dynamics issue of sprung vs. unsprung mass, but I'll refer you to the theroy of Ground Vehicles - 3rd Ed., by J. Y. Wong and available for $95 at:

It's not light reading. A simple experiment is to borrow a low end pig-iron bike and get the difference in weight of your fav ride. Ride said pig-iron up a signifcant hill. Now get on your light weight bike and fill a CamelBak with an amount of water equal to the difference (~ 8.2 lbs. per gallon). Now crank up the same hill and see how the times compare. If this doesn't work for you b/c of too many other variables - use the same bike and strap some weight into the bottle cages, then place the same weight in a back pack. Hope this helps.
Dec 5, 2001 2:14 PM
I suppose instantaneous power and fatigue resistance (endurance) might be different goals.

While weight on your back might allow you to push down harder on the pedals, you are also bearing that weight with muscles in your legs, arms, back, and on your contact points -- which might well result in additional fatigue.

On big climbs, I'd much rather have the water weight on my bike and not me. While on flat ground, while seated, the ill-effects of the additional weight of a Camelbak seem to be outweighed by the ease of and additional hydration possible. Weight on my back while standing requires extra power to support it.

That make sense?

Dec 5, 2001 5:55 PM
But ask yourself why are you standing?

You're standing to apply force to get the system (you and your bike) up the hill. It's all a matter of are you standing just to change position or are you trying to apply more force than sitting will comfortably allow and if so are you trying to maintain a certain rate of climb. If the answer is yes then additional weight on the frame vs. your body will require you to pull upwards on the handle bars and sooner.
it would be nice to own a lotus/porsche/ferrari/maserati etcdupe
Nov 30, 2001 11:45 AM
even though
a) you could never wind it up on the road without facing serious jailtime

b) almost most of us would never come close to testing its limits of adhesion or handling

c) most of us couldn't afford one

but almost all would perceive and appreciate their quality.

why would i feel guilty or full of hipocrsy for owning a an immaculate lotus elite, or a ferrari 355 or a d-type jag or even a subaru wrx. a hyundai will get me there but i wouldnt stare at it nor be interested in polishing it or listening to the engine or wake up early in the morning to take it for a spin. same with bikes.

i like nice things. i would even consider mounting my front wheel ala marcel duchamp just for its inherent beauty thru form. i dont consider weight per se but i find that the most lusted after components weigh less. i have ridden with delta brakes even though they they work barely ok and weigh more.

i remember when sugino brought out their carbon brake levers i drooled even though my snob "italian only" mindset was telling me otherwise. but then was the first kid in my club that rode shimano sante.

it can also work the other way; if someone said go out an buy any groupset you want - i would choose chorus but with record cranks and hubs and 9 speed as i think its enough.

pride of ownership doesn't have to be justified. if someone pays for exotic bits thinking they'll be faster for it then they deserve to be slighted.

women like make-up, men like toys. essentially about as usefull and im sure a large generalisation. who knows why.....
it would be nice to own a lotus/porsche/ferrari/maserati etcmclements
Nov 30, 2001 12:37 PM
Your car analogy is excellent.

If somebody is concerned with pure performance, he does _not_ buy a Ferrari or Porsche. These cars have good performance but in autocross and racetrack events they are consistently beaten by other less exotic and cheaper, yet higher performance cars.

Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati are all about hand crafted, exclusively expensive exotic flashy boy toys, with enough performance to make them fun to drive, but insufficient for people who know how to drive and know what real performance is. If that's your thing then have fun with it.

I have absolutely no criticism for the man who is into this kind of thing and is honest about it. My ridicule is directed at those who pretend that it's a purist quest for high performance.
Whoa theregrzy
Nov 30, 2001 4:15 PM
The Sube WRX is a very affordable pocket rocket and it's a total compliment to group it with the other machines. I drive the hell out of my 2.5RS and make good use of it in the snow. You simply cannot believe what a hoot it is to drive the AWD Sube - way more control and performance. Will get the WRX when we need a 4 door - for $25K you can't find anything that will come close to it in terms of performance. BTW - that whole guil things goes away fairly quickly - just like dating a super model (well, maybe not).
grzy, if you ever get to europe...dupe
Nov 30, 2001 4:52 PM
get behind the wheel of a lancia delta hf integrale evo.

amazing car that was a soccer mom, shopping cart hatchback run-around transformed to win 3 world rally championships. point to point, in all variety of conditions i doubt there is a faster car. production stopped about 4 or 5 years ago. ugly but a devastatingly quick pocket rocket.

but of course without the subies reliability or length of warranty. actually, the police in australia outfitted themselves with a few wr-x's for suburban pursuits as they had no chance of catching theives in stolen subies. they figured if you cant beat them join 'em. aussie's will use any excuse just to burn more rubber.

no shame in a nice car i say. jack keroac was inspired to write at least one famous book after being told that a buick he bought was his pen and the road his paper. 'nuff said.

with regards to super models - lets just say i spent 6 years closely involved thru work with some. i have dated models, though not super* and can attest that i am left with not much admiration. as much as i like an emotional and psycological challenge dating a model isnt that hard to acheive but rarely rewarding and definately tiresome. expected when you get such young girls thrown into such a nefarious industry with everyone wanting something.

if you ever come to NYC ill take you to a few agencies and parties. youll wish you never did. ;-)
grzy, if you ever get to europe...grzy
Nov 30, 2001 5:14 PM
"expected when you get
such young girls thrown into such a nefarious industry with everyone wanting something."

Yeah, but don't they have what we want? Isn't that what makes them super and not their crystal meth habit? ;-) Actually I don't think that anorexia looks good on anyone. It's also funny how they look awesome in photos, but unhealthy as hell in real life. Not much different from greyhounds or race horses... they suffer almost the same fate.

I *try* to stay out of NYC as much as possible - there was a time when I was hypnotized by it's energy and raw power. Then I got to fly jets for the Navy and found that mainlining adrenalin was way more adictive than booze and cigs. I have them to thank for the monkey currently on my back.

Yeah, the Sube is an awesome package - they said there was no way in hell they'd bring the WRX to the US market, but we battered down their resistance. You just have to be careful when you get behind the wheel of a "normal" car like a Camry - next thing you know the tires are squealing and people are reaching for the Jezus Handle. More storms are rolling into the Sierras this weekend - it's time to go get sideways on the roads and on the mountain. Several feet are expected to fall by sunday night - yee hah!
plenty to worry aboutDog
Nov 30, 2001 3:29 PM
I am a quasi-weight weenie. That is, I want the lightest stuff, subject to sufficient reliability, functionality, comfort, and aerodynamics. How to achieve the balance for a particular event or conditions is the trick.

Many riders have several bikes. Quite often they'll have a light bike and a regular bike, among others. Same here. I described my light bike in another thread below. Yes, I REALLY can tell the difference up a hill. At the same time, the light bike is not quite a comfy, is a bit of a squirrel on twisty descents, and I certainly wouldn't expect it to last forever under normal riding conditions. But, I guarantee it will get me up a hill faster than any other bike on the planet, given today's technology.

I don't understand this comment: "I think if any of these weight worriers ever rode up some serious hills (say, 15% to 20% grade for 5-10 miles), or if their legs were strong enough to put some real power into the bike, they would quickly toss their lightweight wet noodles for something a lot stronger, even if a little bit heavier." You seem to assume that riders of light bikes don't do any climbing. Not where I'm from (Fresno, CA). Yes, many, many weight weenies ride up extremely steep and long hills. Further, even 500 watt riders (pros) use similar equipment without turning it into pretzels. Even Nothstein is using Speedplays now.

That said, I'll grant you something. Comfort does matter for some events. If you are not familiar with the Terrible Two, it's a double century with 16,000 feet of climbing, some very steep hills, and has some very rough semi-paved roads. For that race, I rode the heavier C40 rather than the climbing bike (even with the large chainring and rear brake). For very long events, yes, comfort matters much more, especially on rougher roads, etc. But, if I could, I'd switch to the climbing bike for the long, steep hills every time. Also, as a concession to comfort when the mileage gets really high, I had to switch to Looks for the larger platform, rather than Speedplays. The Speedplays were bruising my feet.

Don't always assume that all light stuff breaks, too. Some of the lighter equipment is very well made and reliable -- Speedplay X/1's, Kestrel carbon bars, Zipp 303 wheels....

I think it's wrong to assume that riders of light bikes are necessarily doing it for show and not performance. It may well be that they could improve their training, lose weight themselves, and ride faster, but then again, they likely then would be slower on heavier bikes. You do what you can.

For mountain stages and timetrials, pros do ride the lightest bikes they can under their rules. They ride special "climbing bikes," with lighter frames, wheels, Ti bolts, downtube shifter, and even custom aluminum cassettes. You should eat your words, as I guarantee you that if 13 pound bikes were allowed, some of them would ride and win on them. They just can't.

Further, lighter equipment matters more to those with less power, rather than more. While more is at stake for a pro, power to weight ratio is what limits speed up hills. Compare a 150 pound pro making 500 watts, to a 150 pound rider making 250 watts. With less power, the weight component matters almost twice as much to the slower rider; in other words, for every increment of mass added to the slower rider's bike, it will slow him twice as much as the pro. The is pretty straight forward physics.

Yes, we must have sufficiently reliable, comfortable, and functional equipment for the conditions. That certainly does not mean that there is not a place and time to use lightweight equipment.

plenty to worry aboutmclements
Nov 30, 2001 5:48 PM
My experience on the hill climbs is different from yours. I used to be a weight weenie myself a few (17) years ago. When I switched to a stronger frame and wheels I was going so much faster it was just silly. Being able to hammer the pedals hard with confidence and no frame flex made a huge improvement. The extra 2 pounds of bike was nothing compared to the improvement in rigidity, strength and efficiency.

You rarely see Dura Ace or Campy Super Record on tandems. Ultegra is what the vast majority of top end tandems use. It's a few ounces heavier, yet a lot more durable. I'm not disparaging Dura Ace or Campy SR, just saying that they sacrifice durability for weight.

If you're not familiar with La Ruta de los Conquistadores, it is considered to be the most brutal mountain bike race on the planet. 300 miles in 3 days across Costa Rica through jungles and over volcanoes with 25,000' of climbing between sea level and 11,000' altitude. I rode a cheap 32 lb. tank of a bike on the ride this year and passed a number of guys trying to fix their broken 22 lb. machines by the side of the road. Also passed up a few guys while climbing the hills. Sure some guys passed me too I'm not bragging just pointing out that "weight worriers" suffer from the delusion that the bike makes more difference than it really does.

My point is best summarized by Baron Manfred von Richthofen: "The quality of the crate matters little. Success depends on who sits in it."
There is a limit.cyclomoteur
Nov 30, 2001 3:44 PM
I owned a 20.5lbs Trek bike, witch is better then my previous peugoet (24lbs) I like my Trek but it would tear my heart to spend 1K$ to lose 2-3 lbs.

When you are counting how much grams you can save with 1000$ there is a problem, when you are counting lbs, it's a smart move

The weight issue is also relative to your own weigh; saving 3 lbs on a 20lbs bike with a 140lbs rider is boosting climbs by 2%;
Shaving 1lbs on a 180lbs guy with a 14lbs bike is ONLY boosting your climbs by .5%

Perhaps the car/cycling analogy is misused : buying a Porshe is buying a name, buying a Zipp Z3 wheelset is buying performance. Crusing on the highway to show your car doesn't apply to Cycling : we don't cruise around with a 5000$ bike, we perform.

Let's take it in another way : Cycling is a competition, Showing the horse in front of your Ferrari is not. People won't laugh at you on the highway. But People WILL laugh at you on hills when you can't finish first with your expensive alien alloy 12lbs bike. You must win if you have the best bike suck

Nov 30, 2001 4:07 PM
No one sucks who is out there giving it all they have, regardless of equipment.

What I think sucks it the attitude that if you are slow, then you are relegated to inferior equipment. Every single rider who gets on a bike, gets fit, and then competes, for God's sake, should be entitled to ride anything they damn well please. They are doing far more than 99.99% of the population.

Anyone who laughs at any rider, no matter what equipment, who is slower up a hill should be punched right in the mouth and be taught some manners and maturity.

Nov 30, 2001 4:23 PM
It's this very elitist attitude that gives roadies such a bad reputation - Beavis and Butthead go bikin' - we don't need it.
Nov 30, 2001 5:52 PM

We should all have the maturity to laugh inwardly without letting it show.

Sure, I respect anybody who gets out there and rides. But when he fills his tires with helium to save weight I just can't hold back the giggles.
Thank you, Dog (nm).dsc
Dec 1, 2001 11:58 AM
You are like Jesus : you never laugh at no onecyclomoteur
Dec 1, 2001 2:29 PM
There is a can get good equipement but not the top notch pieces for a 300lbs guy.

This is going nowhere but we have to admit that you laugh when you climb faster with your 20lbs crap vs a C40 ! at least you laugh when he doesn't see it.

no, but there are times to laugh at peopleDog
Dec 1, 2001 2:58 PM
Jesus would hardly advocate punching someone. I've never actually done it, though.

There are plenty of times to laugh. Heck, if I saw the guy who was thinking about drilling holes all over his frame actually do that, I'd laugh my butt off. I'd not be laughing at him ridely slowly though, just the stupidity of drilling holes in his bike.

Most of the stupid things we could laugh about are too dangerous, though, and maturity and decorum prohibit laughing at those who get hurt. It could have been funny when Jan went over the handlebars. He even poked fun at himself in that TV commercial someone here linked us to a while back.

Not half as hardGawfawr
Dec 6, 2001 5:43 AM
as we'd all laugh at you when he whipped your ass on his drilled out bike.

And why - not 'cos you'd lost, but cos you'd have your own punch in the mouth comin' right in...
So he always laughs at someone?Nic
Dec 2, 2001 4:57 PM
Do you even understand yourself?
So you're setting the official limit at 300 lbs? Anyone who weighs more isn't allowed to get top notch stuff? Or are they allowed to get the equipment and everyone who sees them is required to laugh? What happens if they pass you on your 20 lbs bike? Can you still laugh? Gosh, maybe I should take up a sport with fewer rules to follow, like golfing.