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Opinion: how important is weight for a gravel bike?

Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Opinion: how important is weight for a gravel bike?

Old 05-10-17, 01:22 AM
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johngwheeler
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Opinion: how important is weight for a gravel bike?

Title says it all! When you are considering a primarily off-road bike, or a mixed road/off-road machine, how important is overall weight in your decision?

Do you consider light weight to be important for the possibility of gravel-racing, or even joining in with road events & races?

Or is robustness and longevity a more important factor?

Interested in hearing your opinion and thoughts,

John
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Old 05-10-17, 06:38 AM
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I don't care about overall weight and I don't think one needs to consider weight when deciding to race. Technique and physical fitness are more important for the gravel events down here, weight probably matters more for flatter, smoother dirt/gravel but we don't have much of that on our race courses.

Someone who can ride light and find the smoothest path through the chunk is going to be faster on heavy bike than someone who can't pick a line and rides heavy on a light bike. This is especially true going up-hill.

I'm on my third season of gravel racing and what I want are light wheels with high-engagement freehub, big light tires and round-tube steel. Most often that combination will be around 25 pounds and then I add 1-2 pounds for repair kit and another 2-3 for water.
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Old 05-10-17, 07:54 AM
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When I built my current gravel bike, I wanted to make it lighter than my previous one. That was the only thought I had in terms of what it should weigh...just lighter than the previous bike.

I am tall and bigger, but try to ride light and a quality steel frame and fork was everything I wanted in a bike so I knew it wouldnt be some featherweight bike, but based on the frame size it never would be anyways even in a different material.

I have 105 drivetrain, 105 hubs laced with H+Son wheels, Gevenalle shifters(lighter than STIs), and aluminum seatpost/stem/dropbars. No desire to try and shed weight thru spending hundreds to use carbon cockpit pieces or spending hundreds to use Ultegra to drop 7oz or so from the drivetrain.


3# of bike weight is simply meaningless to me when I ride on gravel. It means absolutely nothing to me and that is based on however many miles I have ridden thru the years. I dont ever climb a hill wishing I had a bike weighing 3# less. I havent ridden 60mi and thought to myself 'boy I could have ridden 65mi if I just had spend hundreds upon hundreds more to cut a few pounds'.



My 65cm bike all built up with pedals, wedge bag, and bottle cages weighs 25#. I dont know the weight with the top tube frame bag and pump added in as I havent cared enough to find the scale, but I would guess its 27# with that stuff.

I dont find those who strive to make a sub20# gravel bike wasteful or misguided or whatever. Gravel bikes are a blast because they are often a representation of the owner and therefore unique. Its part of why I love this style of riding.
I dont find value in a $4500 carbon Di2 bike, but if the perceived weight loss is that valuable to you, then have at it.
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Old 05-10-17, 08:27 AM
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I did quite a bit of road and mtb racing in olden days. And I do a lot of gravel riding now.

My sense is that light wheels and light-but-fat tires would help in gravel races if placing and performance is a priority.
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Old 05-10-17, 08:45 AM
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Yep - light wheels. That's the approach I went with.
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Old 05-10-17, 08:58 AM
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It all depends on the gravel. If it's "civilized gravel" or "rich man's gravel" -- the average dirt/gravel road, lightness is good and it has no downsides. If your gravel is "serious gravel," robustness is worth its weight.

My road bike checks in just over 15 pounds. My gravel bike (for DK style gravel) is 4 pounds heavier. Those 4 pounds wouldn't be necessary if I only rode it on the average rural dirt/gravel road.
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Old 05-10-17, 09:10 AM
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For me, personally, it's all about fit. If I'm comfortable, I ride more. If I ride more, I'm faster (or rather, less slow). After fit comes tire clearance and gearing. A light bike is nice, but not if it don't fit or have clearance for the tires I need for rough stuff.
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Old 05-10-17, 05:26 PM
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How much do you weigh?
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Old 05-10-17, 06:18 PM
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Thanks for the answers - sounds like weight-watching is not a major concern for a gravel bike, at least not at the expense of other, more important, qualities such as fit, tires & rider ability (or indeed "ride-ability")!

FYI, here are the weights for some gravel bikes that I like the look of:

Salsa Warbird Carbon: 19.4lbs (54cm)
James Renegade Elite: 18.2lbs (54cm)
Niner RLT 9 RDO 19.5lbs (size unknown)
GT Grade Carbon Ultegra 18.9lbs (51cm), 20.2lbs (56cm)

...so none of the above are exactly overweight! My Trek Crossrip Elite with tools/spares, lights, rack and empty panniers weighs over 30lb....and I ride this nearly every weekday (with some cargo in the panniers), so just about anything will feel a lot lighter :-)

John
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Old 05-10-17, 08:26 PM
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I don't race. And the funny thing is I don't do much gravel, either. Hard packed dirt, sure. Sand, well, I hate it, but sometimes it's there. Rocky dirt road, great. Deep gravel you sink into, I'll look for another route. Out here, we have plenty of good(ish) dirt roads.

For me, weight is important. Less so than function and reliability, but more than money. Best place to ride is in the mountains and they're nearby.

I'm on a GT Grade (Carbon) with SRAM Force 22. I can't comment on the other bikes you're considering but I like this one a lot.
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Old 05-10-17, 09:58 PM
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As in all forms of cycling it all comes down to the motor (rider). Correct tires and tire inflation for the riding conditions are more important than than a light bike. Light wheels are the most important part of speed for most riding conditions.

We have a former dutch pro that rides here in the Central Valley of California in the winter. He routinely drops us on every climb even though he is 190 lbs or more now. Still has the watts to just put everyone else in the hurt locker.
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Old 05-11-17, 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by thehammerdog View Post
How much do you weigh?
Me? 70kg / 156lbs
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Old 05-12-17, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I don't race. And the funny thing is I don't do much gravel, either. Hard packed dirt, sure. Sand, well, I hate it, but sometimes it's there. Rocky dirt road, great. Deep gravel you sink into, I'll look for another route. Out here, we have plenty of good(ish) dirt roads.

For me, weight is important. Less so than function and reliability, but more than money. Best place to ride is in the mountains and they're nearby.

I'm on a GT Grade (Carbon) with SRAM Force 22. I can't comment on the other bikes you're considering but I like this one a lot.
The Grade sounds perfect for those conditions. Speaking of lightweight, I can't wait for Scott to come out with a real gravel bike, I've liked all my Scott bikes and they usually make a very affordable lightweight bike.
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Old 05-12-17, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
Niner RLT 9 RDO 19.5lbs (size unknown)
My RLT 9 RDO is 19.8 lb including pedals, GPS mount and cages. This does not include bottles and bag. Size 53.

I paid particular attention to weight and it is lighter than the $8800 factory build with ENVE wheels.

19.5 lb seems to me to be a very aggressive number, certainly not possible without lots of carbon and probably sans pedals. It might be possible with a 1x factory build.


-Tim-
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Old 05-12-17, 05:27 PM
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I'd like to believe weight matters to me but I'd need a better engine first. Even on days when I think I'm riding gravel at a pretty good clip I get passed by some guy on a fat bike. So my hybridized 1992 rigid steel mountain bike (about 30 lbs as I ride it, with full water bottle) is a reasonable match for my capabilities right now.

A year from now I might change my mind, assuming my conditioning continues to improve due to exercise rather than deteriorate due to age. Approaching 60, it could go either way.
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Old 05-12-17, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I'd like to believe weight matters to me but I'd need a better engine first.
Aero is a smaller portion of drag at lower speeds, so weight becomes more relatively significant for a weaker motor. And since the speeds are lower, a greater proportional effect on speed is a greater absolute effect on time.

The weaker the motor, the more weight matters.
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Old 05-12-17, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
My RLT 9 RDO is 19.8 lb including pedals, GPS mount and cages. This does not include bottles and bag. Size 53.

I paid particular attention to weight and it is lighter than the $8800 factory build with ENVE wheels.

19.5 lb seems to me to be a very aggressive number, certainly not possible without lots of carbon and probably sans pedals. It might be possible with a 1x factory build.


-Tim-
Better to have it come in beefier and be overbuilt....than suffer the fate of many a UCI race competitor of broken frames and forks and what not.
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Old 05-12-17, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
The weaker the motor, the more weight matters.
Which is why instare in disbelief at how heavy almost all bikes bikes are. Even bike shop sold kids bikes are absurdly heavy for the rider and for what will be asked of the bikes.

Isla, frog, etc have good options, but they are a serious minority in the market
...end tangent...
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Old 05-12-17, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Aero is a smaller portion of drag at lower speeds, so weight becomes more relatively significant for a weaker motor. And since the speeds are lower, a greater proportional effect on speed is a greater absolute effect on time.

The weaker the motor, the more weight matters.
I'll test that theory soon. I've been back in the saddle about 18 months, gradually recovering from back and neck injuries. I've about maxed out my capability on a bike with low riser bars just slightly above saddle height. On good days I can average just a bit faster than 14 mph over 10-50 miles but can't quite crack the 15 mph barrier (I managed 14.96 mph on a favorite 20 mile route the other day, but usually ride closer to 14 mph). Wind resistance kicks in, and probably some weight on hills.

My weight is down near where it was nearly 40 years ago when I was in my 20s. And I've been working on neck and back strength and flexibility to see whether I can handle drop bars again.

A local shop along the MUP rents Allez, which feel light (to me, coming from nearly 30 lb steel bikes). It'll be a good way to test myself without buying a bike I can't handle yet. The main trick will be finding out whether I can keep my head and neck in a position to see the road ahead without strain (permanently damaged C2 vertebrae). Good used entry level road bikes come up for sale often here as folks either lose interest or progress to better bikes. Not really worthwhile to buy new at full retail for an entry level road bike, although I'd consider doing so for a higher end bike to take advantage of the LBS warranty and extended service agreements.

Or I might swap out the 1-1/2" riser bar for a flat arced bar or albatross and try it on the bike I've been riding the past year. But it'll still weigh close to 30 lbs as I ride it, no matter what I do. Not really cost effective to replace components to reduce the weight. I've been that route before with my old Motobecane, and barely shaved off a few ounces.
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Old 05-13-17, 04:08 PM
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I have good quality Parts on my gravel bike. That being said it's not built for a weight weenie. The frame and fork alone of my Soma Wolverine is over 5 pounds I think. The wheels are Shimano XT hubs so they're a little heavier than the Hope hubs that are on my mountain bike. I'm guessing my Gravel bike probably weighs about 25 to 30 pounds. I'm running 42 tires and they're not tubeless so I have inner tubes in there as well. And this thing rides like a dream. I don't think I would want a sub 20 pound bike to be riding on the gravel roads that we have here in Iowa. That is just my opinion.
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Old 05-13-17, 05:40 PM
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I am the newbie to gravel grinding. My Road bike is a Lemond Victoirre with a triple which is a sweet climbing machine. Since I am new to gravel grinding I won't know the outcome to my bike and gravel grinding until after the Farmer's Daughter next weekend. My gut reaction now is I believe I wish I would have bought a carbon bike that was a little bit lighter. My bike is a leftover 2016 Raleigh Tamland 1 It weighs 24.5 lbs in a 56 cm frame and with mt. bike pedals weighs in at 25.15 lbs. I wish it was a couple of lbs. lighter and because it doesn't climb that well I replaced the 11-32 rear cassette with a 11-36. I haven't been able to test this combo out yet but I hope it makes a big difference. One of the main reasons I bought the Tamland was the sweet heart deal on it for $799 when it sold last year for $1799.

Zman

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Old 05-13-17, 11:51 PM
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Gravel bikes I think are meant for both road and gravel. The closer the gravel bikes resemble a road bike, the more it will ride like a road bike. That includes weight and geometry.

If you already have a road bike with low weight, then that's going to be a "standard", especially when riding with a group and climbing too. But if your road bike is kind of heavy, then you will not miss something you don't have.

It's what you want, or think you want. If low weight costs more, then that's the price you pay.
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Old 12-14-18, 02:58 AM
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Pure Cycles Adventure Gravel Bike

I think my bike TILTS the scales at 31 lbs. for the Pure Cycles Adventure Gravel Bike, the largests size XXL 60cm. It's a Boat anchor. False advertising stated it weighed 26 lbs! I THOUGHT I got a great deal on it at $480 vs. the $800 reg. price until I received it via mail. Considering it's frame/fork is Chinese made with generic CrMo straight guage tubing and the frame alignment was off, offsetting both wheels about 2mm. I think I STILL paid too much for it. DON'T BUY ONE!
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Old 12-14-18, 03:23 AM
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In a race in hilly terrain where weight trumps aerodynamics, of two riders of equal excellent fitness and equal skill and equal rest and nutrition, as well as equal power output both sustained and in sprints, the one who is 3 pounds lighter would stand a stronger chance of coming in ahead by a nose, or maybe even a few lengths. And since we are keeping all other factors equal we have to assume equal rider stature and weight, so the three pounds is bike pounds. Even that is an oversimplification as it doesn't account for how the weight is carried; rims, frame, etc.

But this post is about recreational riding where unless the bike is built like a lead balloon the rider is probably going to experience the largest difference in his or her head. Sure it is fun to have a snappy and responsive bike, and perhaps oer the miles less tiring though fit and a forgiving ride may be more important. People do not generally prefer a touring bike for a quick ride in the gravel (though I'm sure there are some who enjoyably do). The best thing one can do is ride more and shed some unnecessary weight. At the same time strip off heavy but unneeded doo-dads from the bike. Keep it sensible and you'll have fun.

I try to keep my road bike light and my Quick CX acceptable. Seems to work out fine. I agree I've never failed to climb a hill that would have been possible if my bike were lighter.

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Old 12-14-18, 05:40 AM
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Getting the weight down was pretty important for me, on the build.
My only bike, so I wanted it to still be nimble enough up the hills, and when riding at a fair pace with roadies, which I do at times.

Even now I`m plotting to get it lighter i.e. making my wallet lighter
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