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How much does weight matter?

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Road Cycling ďIt 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.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

How much does weight matter?

Old 09-27-19, 06:13 AM
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UkCatsBiker
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How much does weight matter?

Iíve never had a high performance road bike. Currently on a Giant Escape 3 2013 model hybrid. Gaining experience, losing weight, building strength.

Of course Iím already dreaming of what I want. I plan to test all brands that are sold locally. Trek, Giant and Cannondale. Nothing against Specialized or the others just their max weight is lower at 245 and donít want to worry about warranty.

Question: How important is weight? Any of those will feel like feathers compared to a 7 year old Hybrid. The Trek Domane SL5 weighs almost 21 pounds. Iím assuming the comparable Synapse or Defy will be around 18-19. To me that seems significant. But maybe itís not.
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Old 09-27-19, 06:34 AM
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It doesn't. However, the more you'll think about it, the more it'll bother you! Some people are weight freaks & will do anything to cutt an extra 100grams (even put less water in their bottles...).

My massage therapist (who is a triathlete) always tells me that the best way to cut weight on a bike is to lose body fat. It's free & a lot more efficient than spending hundreds of $ to cut weight on parts . FYI, my previous bike was a Defy and I loved it! Anything under 20lbs is basically OK. Unless you want to start racing, you'll be fine.

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Old 09-27-19, 07:00 AM
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3 pounds is a measurable amount, yes, but it really isnt going to make one bike ride better or worse than another bike. Unless you are very skilled, you wont be significantly faster on the lighter bikes.

Things that make a bike 'fast'
- better motor. Either the rider improves(strenght and/or lost weight) or a literal motor = faster
- quality tires. Lower rolling resistance tires = faster.
- tuned up bike. No rubbing where it shouldnt be, no squaking or squealing = faster.
- comfortable riding position. Good bike geometry for a specific rider means more comfort which = faster


Between the 3 brands you mention, there are certainly enough drop bar options available with varied geometry and pricepoints to find something that feels best for you. If you end up with a 'heavier' bike of the group you consider, then look into a new wheelset. $300-500 for a new wheelset will get you 250-400 grams off whatever stock wheelset is on your bike.
Lighter quality wheels and quality tires completely changes a bike.
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Old 09-27-19, 07:02 AM
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For your comfort, bike fit > everything else
For your speed, body position > weight

So if you want to be faster than you are on your hybrid, while at the same time not being miserable, you want a bike that puts you in a more aero position without contorting you into that position.
The weight of the bike is essentially meaningless outside of competition, because the meat engine on top of it is going to weigh 10-15x as much-- 2lbs off of the bike might shave a minute off of a 2 hour ride. Maybe.
How much is that minute worth to you?
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Old 09-27-19, 07:13 AM
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The thing is though, light bikes feel great. What's that worth?

Mind you, it's not as simple as total weight; a 9kg bike with super light tyres, rims, seat and post, and stem/bars/levers will feel snappier than a typical 8kg bike.
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Old 09-27-19, 07:18 AM
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The larger the numerator in the w/kg calculation, the more effect the denominator will have. The smaller the denominator, the more effect improving the numerator has. It's just math.

It's all about where you currently exist. What size is each right now?

If the denominator is big and the numerator small.......a fancy lightweight bike won't mathematically matter for squat.

So, for a pro let's assume:

400w/75kg = 5.3 (rider plus bike)
400w/74kg = 5.4 (rider plus bike minus a 1kg improvement)

So, for a B-group rider let's assume:
230w/90kg = 2.55 (rider at 80kg plus 10kg bike)
230w/89kg = 2.58 (rider at 80kg plus 10kg bike minus 1kg improvement)

The 1kg improvement got the pro an entire tenth in w/kg improvement. The Joe only one third of one tenth in w/kg improvement.

I can't say that a rider should focus on the kit aspect (if money is an issue) until the balance of w/kg makes buying such things actually work........by the math.

If buying it is a stretch, and it only gets you 0.03 better w/kg.......that's a waste!

But, if buying is a stretch and it gets you an entire 0.1 w/kg........that's a score!

If you have the money to burn, who cares, buy whatever you want! Don't mind the haters. I just don't like people to be disappointed if the money is a stretch for them.

But, that's the math.
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Old 09-27-19, 08:10 AM
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The real difference, for me, is that when I have been riding a heavier bike, I feel much stronger and faster when I get on a light bike. I believe that if you think you are faster, you probably will be. I am not saying there will be a huge difference, just some. When you look at the change a lighter bike will make, you have to figure in the weight of the add ons; water, your body weight, accessories and anything else that is adding weight. Add all that to the weight of the bike. Subtract the weight of the lighter bike from the heavier one, just the bikes Even if you have 4 lb. difference, which is a lot, it still is a small percentage of the total weight. If I have a heavy bike, just the bike, and it is 4 lbs heavier then my light bike, say 24 lbs to 20 lbs, The 4 pound difference is a 16.6 % weight drop from the heavier one. But if the total weight of everything with the light bike is 175 lbs, the heavier bike is 179, that 4 lbs is only about 2.25 % difference of the total weight. A difference, sure, but not all that much. But I still maintain that if you believe you are faster, you probably are going to be.The mental aspect of belief is real.
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Old 09-27-19, 08:32 AM
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Weight is very important...your body weight that is. A bike that is as light as possible is only important at the professional level of riding where the riders themselves are basically equal.
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Old 09-27-19, 08:35 AM
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It matters a very small amount. It's easily measured so cyclists (especially newbies) often overvalue it.

FWIW, my Titanium Habanero is probably 2-3 pounds heavier than the lightweight CF bikes my friends all ride. The extra pounds don't seem to slow me down.

Ride more, worry less.
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Old 09-27-19, 08:42 AM
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I think, as far as the bike goes, frame geometry and type of tubing is the most important aspect of cycling . This is , of course assuming the bike is in good tune and well maintained . The other factor , tires , and the correct pressure can have a huge effect . I ride old steel racers not because I race. I ride them because I am long legged and short trunked , so the geometry is most comfortable . Of my bikes , the Columbus tubed bikes seem just a bit stiffer and more responsive than the Reynolds tubed bikes. That said , they are all very comfortable to me and my build. I am 6.' and about 155lbs with a 35" inseam and these early racers are perfect. Even at 65 years old , I can ride these bikes easily although I swear the hills are getting steeper! Joe joesvintageroadbikes.wordpress
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Old 09-27-19, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
The larger the numerator in the w/kg calculation, the more effect the denominator will have. The smaller the denominator, the more effect improving the numerator has. It's just math.

It's all about where you currently exist. What size is each right now?

If the denominator is big and the numerator small.......a fancy lightweight bike won't mathematically matter for squat.

So, for a pro let's assume:

400w/75kg = 5.3 (rider plus bike)
400w/74kg = 5.4 (rider plus bike minus a 1kg improvement)

So, for a B-group rider let's assume:
230w/90kg = 2.55 (rider at 80kg plus 10kg bike)
230w/89kg = 2.58 (rider at 80kg plus 10kg bike minus 1kg improvement)

The 1kg improvement got the pro an entire tenth in w/kg improvement. The Joe only one third of one tenth in w/kg improvement.

I can't say that a rider should focus on the kit aspect (if money is an issue) until the balance of w/kg makes buying such things actually work........by the math.

If buying it is a stretch, and it only gets you 0.03 better w/kg.......that's a waste!

But, if buying is a stretch and it gets you an entire 0.1 w/kg........that's a score!


But, that's the math.
In the first case, dropping 1 kg is a 1.33% reduction in weight which results in a 1.33% increase in W/kg.
In the second case, dropping 1 kg is a 1.11% reduction in weight which results in a 1.11% increase in W/kg. Not a big difference.
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Old 09-27-19, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The weight of the bike is essentially meaningless outside of competition, because the meat engine on top of it is going to weigh 10-15x as much-- 2lbs off of the bike might shave a minute off of a 2 hour ride. Maybe.
10 unnecessary pounds over an 88 hour ride are definitely felt, though.
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Old 09-27-19, 10:10 AM
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The light weight of a bike helps at the end of the ride when I have to put the bike back up on the car rack.
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Old 09-27-19, 10:14 AM
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3 pounds, out of 180 total, is 1.7% more weight. You might feel the difference for a few seconds getting out of the saddle for a sprint, and you might feel it, a little, adding up after hundreds of miles. In between, 3 pounds heavier is nothing.
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Old 09-27-19, 11:46 AM
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For a 150-lb rider putting out moderate power (160 W), a light bike (15 lbs) climbs about 3% faster than a heavy bike (20 lbs).

To a serious climber, 3% is a lot.

I did the Everest Challenge in 2004 on a 24-lb touring bike, because it was my only bike at the time (and I didn't know any better). My current bike is just over 14 lbs.
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Old 09-27-19, 11:58 AM
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Is weight a relevant factor in performance on a road bike? Yes. It is, however, IMO without a doubt by far the most overrated variable. Power and lactate threshold trumps weight by a country mile, (or kilometer.) Here are some weights of TdF winners. You will note a 50-pound spread from low to high. When it comes to riding a bike the several pounds of difference for the one bike that cost twice the price or more of the heavier bike is not going to make a real-world performance difference of any consequence.

Marco Pantani 126 pounds

Jan Ullrich 176 pounds

Lance Armstrong 165 pounds

Chris Froome 152 pounds

Geraint Thomas 157 pounds

Alberto Contador 137 pounds

Bradley Wiggins 152 pounds

Egan Bernal 132 pounds

Miguel Indurain 176 pounds

That is a difference or spread of 50 pounds among the riders.

Give me a choice of adding twenty more pounds to my riding weight but with that magically give me 100 more watts of power and with that combo, I will be way faster and stronger than my lighter self regardless of the road terrain.

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Old 09-27-19, 01:01 PM
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A lighter bike matters A LOT... For bragging rights and the placebo effect.
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Old 09-27-19, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
For a 150-lb rider putting out moderate power (160 W), a light bike (15 lbs) climbs about 3% faster than a heavy bike (20 lbs).

To a serious climber, 3% is a lot.

I did the Everest Challenge in 2004 on a 24-lb touring bike, because it was my only bike at the time (and I didn't know any better). My current bike is just over 14 lbs.
I wouldn't argue with your evaluation, but will point out that 3% more weight makes less than 5 watts more in your example for the climb to go the same speed. Whether that's "a lot", and important to a serious climber is subjective, but pragmatically it's still less than 5 watts.

The weight OP is talking about that is half that. So, less than 3 watts.
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Old 09-27-19, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I wouldn't argue with your evaluation, but will point out that 3% more weight makes less than 5 watts more in your example for the climb to go the same speed. Whether that's "a lot", and important to a serious climber is subjective, but pragmatically it's still less than 5 watts.

The weight OP is talking about that is half that. So, less than 3 watts.
Also, if it's an event you care about.......a person that does ultrasonic chain cleaning and waxing will have the power advantage of 3 watts or more over the schmuck putting on the 30th layer of drip lube on in the parking lot before departing.

That wax job? Maybe $10 in wax, $20 in a cleaning box, and your time. That weight in a frameset? Could be a crap ton more money.

Also, people are like "you run latex tubes, you'll die!!!" Meanwhile, the watts saved running a low crr tire and tube trumps their super expensive lighter frame.

The original post was about weight, but if you actually want to go faster.......there's cheaper/easier places to start.

Shoot, learn what two allen keys you actually need for your bike and ditch the half pound multi-tool.

Also, 5 pounds change for a 150 pound rider is a lot. And 160w is actually a little.

The original example is 2-3 pounds. I've seen that difference in weight over the course of a rough ride.

Also, don't forget the cheap/easy weight upgrades if we are talking money.

Still, buy what you want if you can afford it.
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Old 09-27-19, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Also, 5 pounds change for a 150 pound rider is a lot. And 160w is actually a little.

The original example is 2-3 pounds. I've seen that difference in weight over the course of a rough ride.

Also, don't forget the cheap/easy weight upgrades if we are talking money.

Still, buy what you want if you can afford it.
I confess that I use exactly these reasons to justify my innate cheapness. If I really cared that much about 3 watts - I tell myself - I'd first of all buy nicer rolling tires. Thinner, lighter tubes. Clean my pulleys. And since I built my road bike a few years ago I've lost 4-5 pounds. I think. Which I purport to represent hundreds maybe thousands of dollars saved over having put together a 5 pound lighter bike.

And since I don't time myself up hills, if I did have a lighter bike how would I know that I actually went up the hill any faster? For me at least, it's really tough to talk myself into the gram counting.
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Old 09-27-19, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
5 pounds change for a 150 pound rider is a lot. And 160w is actually a little.
Actually, that depends on your perspective. 160 W is not so little to some of us.

If I average 160 W over a long ride, you can stick a fork in me. I'm cooked.
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Old 09-27-19, 05:30 PM
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People do loaded down bike tours over mountain ranges.

A light bike matters if you pick it up and carry it. I live two flights of stairs above the road, that's when weight matters to me. My current bike is a couple pounds heavier than an older one by the same manufacturer and I'm faster on it. For several reasons that would probably bore you. A light bike can be a little easier to handle in some situations that might amount to half a percent of the time you spend riding, but can be fun.

Weight in and of itself isn't a great reason to choose one bike over another for recreational/fitness cyclists. If you get paid based on race results in the Alps it's a different story, not for the rest of us comfort is way more important, and even liking the way it looks may be more important. I mean, any price range you're looking at will have broadly similar bikes, it's not like you might buy one at 17 pounds or a different one that's 35 lbs.
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Old 09-27-19, 07:22 PM
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Maybe Iím missing something here or maybe Iím jumping to a wrong conclusion, but if the OP is concerned about busting a 245 pound total rider/bike weight limit, then bike weight is not even the right question. You might be better served by seeking a robustly designed bike built specifically to perform well under heavy loading such as a touring type bike. Alternatively perhaps a crit type racing bike, But certainly not an extremely lightweight road racing type bike. Just my thoughts. Obviously, do what makes you happy and will get you out and riding!
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Old 09-27-19, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by UkCatsBiker View Post
Iíve never had a high performance road bike. Currently on a Giant Escape 3 2013 model hybrid. Gaining experience, losing weight, building strength.

Of course Iím already dreaming of what I want. I plan to test all brands that are sold locally. Trek, Giant and Cannondale. Nothing against Specialized or the others just their max weight is lower at 245 and donít want to worry about warranty.

Question: How important is weight? Any of those will feel like feathers compared to a 7 year old Hybrid. The Trek Domane SL5 weighs almost 21 pounds. Iím assuming the comparable Synapse or Defy will be around 18-19. To me that seems significant. But maybe itís not.
IMO once you get below that magic number 20, weight is not so important.
You can shave three pounds off of that bicycle and you probably won't feel the difference, unless you are getting lighter wheels.
What you will feel is the frame.
I've had sub 20lbs bicycles that felt like lead and I've had bicycles right at that 20lbs mark that felt light and nimble.
You are right to test all the brands. Find the one that feels light to you.
Weight tells you nothing about how a bicycle accelerates or takes a corner or climbs.
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Old 09-27-19, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
The thing is though, light bikes feel great. What's that worth?

Mind you, it's not as simple as total weight; a 9kg bike with super light tyres, rims, seat and post, and stem/bars/levers will feel snappier than a typical 8kg bike.
^This. I have all these mods done to my aluminum bike. I haven't rode a cf bike for comparison, but I assume it isn't much better.
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