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Realistic weight of commuter

Old 05-23-14, 07:09 AM
  #1  
NOS88
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Realistic weight of commuter

I've been on the sidelines of a debate between three friends about realistic weights for a commuter rig. While I'm not especially concerned about the weight of my rig, I am curious about which of my three friends is the closest to being on target. So, you feedback and thoughts are appreciated. Here's the rig's requirements. It must have a long enough wheelbase and/or front fork rake to be stable with a handlebar bag, it must have full mudguards, it must have a rear rack, and it must have gearing appropriate to climb a one mile hill with average grade of 9% and short spans with 17-19% grade (These climbing requirements were picked because they represent a route all four of us use and know well.) And the rig must be capable of carrying at least 225 lbs. inclusive or rider and cargo.

Friend number one argues that you'd be looking at 34 or 35 lbs. at least.
Friend number two says you can do it for under 30 lbs.
And, friend number three says you should be able to do it for under 25 lbs.

All of these include pedals but no bags, tools, etc.

So, what are your thoughts and how might you achieve the weight you suggest? I'm inclined to think that somewhere around 30 lbs. is the most realistic figure.

Please keep in mind that this is really just an opportunity for friends to disagree about something and entertain ourselves via debate. For example, we've argued over racks and have finally all agreed that a Tubus titanium rack would be a good choice. We don't however, agree on frame material, wheels, components, etc.
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Old 05-23-14, 07:44 AM
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I'll bite, simply because I built my commuter and was surprised that it didn't weigh that much. I started with an aluminum cross bike, a Cannondale CAADX with a 105 build, so off the bat it has the ability to mount fenders and decently wide tires. The geometry is such that it has a longer wheelbase than racier road bikes. It's stable enough that I accidentally learned how to ride without hands. Lame I know, but I never tried it until it suddenly happened while riding up an incline.

I'm not a fan of racks, so I don't have one, but it looks like the rack you mentioned would weigh no more than a pound.

The stock gearing is a 36/46 front with a 12-27 cassette in the back. If you put on a long cage derailleur, you could get something like a 32 on the rear if needed.

Anyhow, with aluminum fenders, a front dynamo hub and front and rear lights, my bike only came in at 23.5 pounds. So yeah, you could probably get at or under 25 pretty easy if you're not including a lighting system. If you were determined to go steel, you would probably need to focus on something like a Reynolds frame to stay in that weight category. Giving yourself room to go to 30 pounds would make it even easier.
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Old 05-23-14, 07:52 AM
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Since pretty much any kind of bike can be pressed into service as a commuter, weights are going to be all over the place.

Still the classic commuters are portly. I'm thinking about the European three speeds with fully enclosed chain guards. Those are the gold medal standard for commuters in many ways. Three speed hubs are pretty bombproof and seldom need adjustment. The fully enclosed chain guard is a drag when fixing a flat (in fact you'll want to repair the tube on the wheel rather than remove one of those things) but they are great for keeping pants legs clean and keeping the chain clean as well in all kinds of weather. They have generator lights, a super strong rack, and usu. a built in lock. I'll bet those bikes weigh upwards of 40 lbs.

Americans are pretty eclectic as to the kinds of bikes that get pressed into service for commuting. Still if you are looking for a bike that can take a reasonably stout tire, racks, fenders, etc., 30 lbs give or take a few lbs is probably a pretty reasonable weight. I currently have two vintage bikes I've set up as commuters: a 1993 Bridgestone BB-1 and a 1988 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp that I converted to drop bars and bar ends for commuting. The Stumpy has double butted Tange tubing; the Bridgestone is plain gauge Tange tubing. They both weigh the same with leather saddles, stout tires, racks, fenders, etc. at 32 lbs. Both bikes were CL finds and cheap; recycling an old bike as a commuter is a fun project. They both soak up bumps beautifully:

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Old 05-23-14, 07:59 AM
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I have a Disc Trucker that meets all those requirements. With racks and empty bags on it, its like 33 lbs. I could take the front rack off and that would save me about a pound, but when I put the studded tires on its going to cost me a couple of pounds. A DT is probably one of the beefiest, heaviest frames out there, and I built it up with heavy duty wheels and sturdy racks. Based on that I'd say you should easily be able to find something that will come in under 30.
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Old 05-23-14, 08:06 AM
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My commuters are all basic touring bikes with racks, fenders, triple cranksets, and sturdy wheels. They weigh 26 to 29 pounds without bags. Under 30 is realistic. Under 25 is doable with higher end bikes/components or by foregoing racks and fenders.

For reference, my fenders (SKS longboards) weigh 600g and my rear rack weighs 800g, so that's 1.4kg (3 pounds) I could save if I used a backpack and didn't mind getting grimy. My 36-spoke touring wheels with tubes & tires come in at a whopping 9 pounds for the set. Obviously, I could save a lot of weight there if I went with higher end wheels. OTOH, I've only had 2 commuting flats in the last 10 years, so there's something to be said for beefier wheels and tires.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:00 AM
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A light-touring bike with a triple weighs in a 18-19lbs. Add racks, lights, lock, etc. and you should be under the 25lbs bar. A full-on touring bike will add a couple of pounds.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:12 AM
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Based on my experience, 25-30 pounds seems about right for a commuter. As others have said, you can commute on most anything so it can be more or less than that.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
I've been on the sidelines of a debate between three friends about realistic weights for a commuter rig. While I'm not especially concerned about the weight of my rig, I am curious about which of my three friends is the closest to being on target. So, you feedback and thoughts are appreciated. Here's the rig's requirements. It must have a long enough wheelbase and/or front fork rake to be stable with a handlebar bag, it must have full mudguards, it must have a rear rack, and it must have gearing appropriate to climb a one mile hill with average grade of 9% and short spans with 17-19% grade (These climbing requirements were picked because they represent a route all four of us use and know well.) And the rig must be capable of carrying at least 225 lbs. inclusive or rider and cargo.

Friend number one argues that you'd be looking at 34 or 35 lbs. at least.
Friend number two says you can do it for under 30 lbs.
And, friend number three says you should be able to do it for under 25 lbs.

All of these include pedals but no bags, tools, etc.

So, what are your thoughts and how might you achieve the weight you suggest? I'm inclined to think that somewhere around 30 lbs. is the most realistic figure.

Please keep in mind that this is really just an opportunity for friends to disagree about something and entertain ourselves via debate. For example, we've argued over racks and have finally all agreed that a Tubus titanium rack would be a good choice. We don't however, agree on frame material, wheels, components, etc.
I'm with friend number three long as you're OK with starting with a road bike or cross bike. Number one is definitely wrong because a lot of people do it under 30 pounds - you almost have to add a lot of extra accouterments to get over 34 pounds or start with an exceptionally heavy bike to begin with.

It's more a matter of style and preference than it is "have to." It's all good - I've commuted with a 38 pounder all told, but my regular commuting bike right now is about 22 pounds (no rack, not counting light and tools) and I haven't particularly striven to make it light.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:25 AM
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My fully loaded 29er (~$1,000) with everything on it that I need to carry to bring in to work (except for me) is about 45lbs and I will ride it like that in the summer from work on a Friday to the cottage (30km on a hilly 2-lane highway then 28km on a hilly dirt road).
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Old 05-23-14, 09:26 AM
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I'm about 13 stone.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I'm about 13 stone.
Is that sans bike?
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Old 05-23-14, 09:28 AM
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My first commuter A Schwinn Cruizer from 1987 wound up being 48lbs. My current Nishiki Blazer with fenders and rack ~33lbs. My Nishiki International Road Bike with no fenders or rack, but horn, lights and saddlebag ~25lbs. Since my main reason to ride is fitness, I don't mind the extra weight, as long as it's not my actual body weight.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
Since my main reason to ride is fitness, I don't mind the extra weight, as long as it's not my actual body weight.
+1
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Old 05-23-14, 09:36 AM
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Im not sure I understand what the "realistic" weight for a bike means. Without a budget threshold or an off the shelf limiter it is possible to achieve pretty much anything you want if you point the money bazooka at it and shoot long enough.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:40 AM
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There's another thread here with commuter bike weights. Go through it and tally the data. I'm sure you could start with a nice frame and build it with light and/or simple components and get it into the mid twenties. The average decent mountain bike is going to ring up in the mid thirties.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:49 AM
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My commute bike is an early 80's steel race road bike which was reasonably light for the time - around 22 lb in 58 cm with clincher rims.

Add metal fenders (I like PDW's Full Metal Fenders), NiteRider headlight and a big-ish battery, tailights and various blinkies, small Carradice saddlebag and support (weight similar to a light rack and a single light pannier, if you prefer those), a spare tube and a small bag of tools, frame pump, 4 lb Kryptonite U-lock, full water bottle - the bike as I ride it is about 35 lbs. If you don't count the lock, lights, and water, call it 28 lb or so.

No question the weight makes the commute bike sluggish. When I ride my "weekend bike" (about 18-19 lb) on the same road, I go notably faster with less effort.

However, all that stuff is necessary for year-round commuting in rain, night, etc. The stuff I carry to/from work weighs 15+ lb anyway. And the work is good for me.
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Old 05-23-14, 09:49 AM
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I agree with those who say the variety dictated by personal preferance will put weights all over the place. If you're starting with road, touring, MTB, or a "city" bike, the base platform alone makes a huge difference.

I'm also of the opinion that "commuter" is not an adjective. It does not describe how something looks, or is equipped. It's a verb. It describes what something does or how it is used. So if you commute on it, it's a commuter bike.

I was passed earlier this week by a guy commuting on a Specialized Venge Aero TT bike. The backpack gave him away as a commuter. As I understand it, those bikes come in under 15 pounds.

I commute regularly on my Litespeed. It's under 20 pounds. In fact, I was commuting home on the Litespeed when we were passed by the Venge. The Litespeed does gain some weight during EST and a few weeks before and after, when I have to add a Magicshine and battery pack to it.

When weather or load carrying needs dictate, I use one of my two "commuter" bikes. One is just shy of 25 pounds, the other just shy of 30. If you use "commuter" as an adjective, then IMHO, rack, fenders and dynamo lighting systems are requirements. Dyno hubs add a pound by themselves.
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Old 05-23-14, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
There's another thread here with commuter bike weights. Go through it and tally the data. I'm sure you could start with a nice frame and build it with light and/or simple components and get it into the mid twenties. The average decent mountain bike is going to ring up in the mid thirties.
Thanks for the link. I checked it out. I only included those bikes that met the criteria identified in my original post as determined by photograph or text. Anything that was questionable was not included. Drum roll please..... the average weight was 35.1875 lbs.
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Old 05-23-14, 10:08 AM
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Full fendered with Soma Fab chromoplastic fenders, top peak rear rack, tubus (I think) front rack. Two bottle cages, hand pump, lights, basic tools and flat repair kit, lights, computer, stock set-up (except Tiagra STI), 700 by 32 Marathons, pedals and child seat mount and my Surly LHT weighs in between 34-35 pounds.

I like the steel, it is sturdy. I never worry about over loading it, and it feels great.

I have never tried a handle bar bag, but have been considering it. But with the front panniers it handles fine. I figure all daily supplies weigh about 15 more pounds (pannier included), I weigh between 185-195 pounds. My son is about 35 pounds (his kit about anothe 10 pounds). I have no idea how much his seat weighs. Anywhere from 5-12 pounds is my guess (never weighed it). So regular commute with bike we weigh in near 285 pounds.

Handles great, climbs well, descends even better! Yeah gravity! I figure with my base weight at 285 a 10 pound frame weight savings is only 3.5%. Then with another frame I may not feel as comfortable loading it with all I do. Plus I figure when I get a "light weight" bike I will crush hills.
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Old 05-23-14, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
the average weight was 35.1875 lbs.
Yeah I am below average in something!
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Old 05-23-14, 10:21 AM
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as others have said, you can commute on any kind of bike, hell i've even seen a guy commuting on a unicycle and that was well below 25 pounds.

i have a titanium road bike that i commute on when the weather allows and it's around 18 pounds naked, almost 20 pounds with commuting stuff like lights and water bottle/cage (i keep things pretty bare-bones on the bike because i'm a backpack commuter).

i also have a disc brake/IGH fully-fendered hybrid for commuting in foul weather that's ~29 pounds when kitted out with stuff. i'm thinking of replacing it with a titanium disc brake CX bike to get the weight down a little bit.

as for the OP's requirements for racks and front bags and other such carrying equipemnt, i think you could easily rig up a titanium or carbon CX bike with fenders, lights, and a rear rack for less than 25 pounds.

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Old 05-23-14, 10:26 AM
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Old 05-23-14, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by modernjess View Post
Im not sure I understand what the "realistic" weight for a bike means. Without a budget threshold or an off the shelf limiter it is possible to achieve pretty much anything you want if you point the money bazooka at it and shoot long enough.
I would think that refers to what would be considered average for a bike that's used for commuting; Maybe a mid priced bike with fenders, rack, water bottle, lock, and lights.
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Old 05-23-14, 11:27 AM
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I've always been of the opinion that the 190 pounds I put on top of the bike slows me down far more than the 25-35 pounds of total bike weight.

I know, I know - Call me crazy...
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Old 05-23-14, 11:59 AM
  #25  
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All my commuters seem to end up weighing in the 28-32lb range. Folder, uber commuter with dyno-lights fenders rack, or mtn conversion running 2.50 Hookworms.
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