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  1. #1
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    How Much Should a Road Bike Weigh?

    Being a newbie to road bikes, I have noticed a lot of "roadies" seems to be very concerned about the weight of their bike. Some spend large sums of money, just to reduce the total bike weight by a pound or even a few grams. My questions is: Wouldn't it be a lot less expensive just to lose a few pounds of your body weight? For example, if you currently weigh 150 lbs and your bike weights 20 lbs and you go on a 20 mile ride, you would have to expend enough energy to carry a total weight of 170 lbs for 20 miles. Now, suppose you spend a large sum of money and get your bike weight down to 17 lbs. You now have to expend enough energy to carry 167 lbs for 20 miles. Why not just lose 3 lbs. of body weight and save your money?
    "If you can keep your head when all around are losing theirs...then you obviously haven't realized the severity of the situation"

  2. #2
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    This question has been asked many many many times. And the math done over and over again.

    One of the answers you will get is, some people are so fit that they can't really lose 3 more pounds without affecting their health. So they can only lighten the bike.

    Of course you know most people don't fit that category. The majority of us find it hard to maintain that kind of physical conditioning, and so for a given (albeit not ideal) bodyweight, it would be nice to ride a lighter bike.

    Yet still others, the real weightweenies, have made weightweenying a hobby inside a hobby, and make it a goal to reach a certain target weight for the bike, making it almost an aesthetic and engineering project. They take pride in having a 14.5lb bike after weeks or even months of component hunting (sometimes drilling).

    Personally, I am not bent on light weight stuff (still running '04 Carbones), but I can understand the weightweenies. It's one branch of the bike culture, and is indeed a colorful aspect of it. If they are happy pursuing it, good for them. It's just like some people collect stamps, some people even collect toilet covers. It's all fine w/ me.

    Open your mind, don't think cycling is only about dropping a few seconds from your next 40km TT.

    That said, if you want to take a crap and save 3 grand, I say good for you. Just don't judge others who choose to spend 3 grand AND take a crap.

  3. #3
    fmw
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    Light weight in a bicycle is a good thing for a racer. For a recreational rider riding for fitness then a heavy bicycle is better because it will provide more exercise. How heavy should a road bike be? I have road bikes ranging in weight from 16 lbs. to 27 lbs. They are all the "right" weight.

  4. #4
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    I was just riding along one day, minding my own business, when this massive troll showed up and bit me in the @$$.

    Maybe it's not a troll. In brief:

    Lightweight bikes and their advantages and disadvantages have been discussed ad nauseum.

    My steel bike weighs 20 lbs.

    I am 6 feet tall and weigh less than 140.

    On a certain uphill course I rode last year, according to analytic cyclist, if I were to have a bike 2 kilos lighter (15.5 lbs,) I would save about a minute. If I were honestly trying to WIN the race there, I might care. In 99% of riding condition, I would not care.

    It would not be particularly feasible to lose 2 kilos from my body.

  5. #5
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    The old rule: "In day-to-day use, they all weigh 30 lbs."

    Years ago, I read an argument that a bicycle in daily use weighs 30 pounds. If you have a 30-pound bike, you don't bother to lock it up at all. If you take off five pounds, you have to carry a five-pound lock to secure it. Take off another five pounds, and you need a big padlock and case-hardened chain . . . .
    Weight is something the average, non-pro-racing rider worries a little too much about, I think. I've never weighed any of my bikes, but I wouldn't be surprised if my Atlantis (64cm, Brooks saddle, 36-spoke wheels, almost always at least one big bag) weighs 28-30 pounds. I have other bikes that are probably close to 20 (it's hard to get a big frame with stout wheels much lighter than that). I ride the one that feels appropriate for the route, and I don't remember ever saying, "Man, I would have had a lot more fun if my bike were two pounds lighter."

  6. #6
    SoCal--S Beach to the Dam
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    Question

    Under 20 pounds for a roadbike works for me. My brother in law asks why i ride. To stay in shape. Then you should want a heavy bike for a better workout.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Under 20 pounds for a roadbike works for me. My brother in law asks why i ride. To stay in shape. Then you should want a heavy bike for a better workout.
    I weight 210, and i'm 5'7.... ergo I'm fat.

    I'm getting a bike that weights 18.4 pounds.. why do I know this ? The guy at the LBS said so... do I care ? not really. Why did i choose this bike : price was right, and it's really shiney

    I'm in the camp where I'll loose the 40 pounds, so my bike ends up with a negative weight..

  8. #8
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    Hummmmm. There is the thought that a heavier bike provides a better workout... but I like my idea better. A lighter bike is more expensive, cooler looking, and makes me want to ride it more (and when I don't ride I remember how much it cost and then I HAVE to ride it to justify owning it) so I think the lighter the better, my bike weighs 14.5 lbs complete with everything and I LOVE to ride it.

    K

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by IUbike
    Hummmmm. There is the thought that a heavier bike provides a better workout... but I like my idea better. A lighter bike is more expensive, cooler looking, and makes me want to ride it more (and when I don't ride I remember how much it cost and then I HAVE to ride it to justify owning it) so I think the lighter the better, my bike weighs 14.5 lbs complete with everything and I LOVE to ride it.

    K
    14.5 pounds with a saddlebag,cages and full bottles,computer? Wow,now thats light.
    Mine with a computer,no cages or bages or pedals was around 17.

  10. #10
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    Always..

    1/4 lb. less than your current rig weighs. Anything less is "stupid light." Any smaller gain "isn't worth it." But 1/4 lb? That's just a swap here, a hole there, leave that thingy off...

    Of course, by the time you go through all that, it'd be easier and cheaper to just get a new bike when a sale pops up.

    Then you've got a new rig, and the cycle repeats. Endlessly. But I don't have a problem. I can quit anytime I want. I just like buying bike stuff, that's all.


    Seriously, though, for average-sized riders, anything in the upper part of the 'teens or so is a good bike. A bit heavier doesn't hurt that much in mathematical performance terms, but it's probably a lesser bike in other ways, and that might give some regret. Within a certain range, weight and price walk together. They've usually got quality keeping them company.
    A good habit is as hard to break as a bad one..

  11. #11
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    yeah, didn't you see any of his excited posts in the Bikes forum? There were lots of pics.

    It's a CR-1 with full record.

    Scott make a point of saying that if you take a totally stock cr-1 and put a record gruppo on it, no modifications, you will be at or under the UCI weight limit.

    Seriously, though, that "heavier bike is a better workout" thing is ABSOLUTE nonsense. That's like saying a 50-lb weight gives a better workout than a 25-lb weight. Did you lift it 10 times? 100? Fast? Slowly?

    I could ride a 50-lb or a 50-lb bike so slowly I'm not raising my heartrate above 100. You can chose to put out 300 watts on whatever equipment you like.

    I mean, what, is there any time when you think "oh, gee, I wish I could go harder, but my bike is so light, it's all easy!" It just makes you marginally faster at the same wattage.

  12. #12
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    question

    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    14.5 pounds with a saddlebag,cages and full bottles,computer? Wow,now thats light.
    Mine with a computer,no cages or bages or pedals was around 17.

    Would it be safe to say that if you meet a person having "climbing performance" issues on their bike, and it weighs lets say, under 18 pounds, we are in reality discussing an under trained rider and not a bike weight issue?

    Otherwise, bike weight can make a perceived diff to most ordinary riders. On a math level, yes, you could in theory climb faster. However, the energy required to climb is still the same.

    IMO, again, IMO, unless you are a goat and climb everywhere (I do mean uphill both ways etc etc), I cant IMO, see why this is a valid question. The purpose, would I guess be, to sell an expensive bike, again, its a guess
    This old anvil has cracked alot of hammers

  13. #13
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    lightweight is wonderful..

    if you can afford to repair it and maintain a 15 lb. bike. mine is 17 lbs. with cages and pedals and it borders on too light for hard riding/racing (I only weigh 160 now, 154 during race season). light weight bikes are often more prone to taking a beating (I've broken several spokes, cracked rims, split chain stays). they're wonderful for pros who have endless supplies of wheelsets and mechanics...but you have to take safety into consideration as well as your bike handling skills. a lightweight bike is powerful and beautiful to look at (think Maserrati)...but are not designed to last very long (think '84 Nissan pickup). most LBS wrench's have touted to me a 2 year life span for most high end (race) bikes...and a 10-20 year span for the lower end (heavier) stuff...weight reduction is a hobby like anything else. there will be those who throw endless amounts of $$ into a bike(s) just for show/braggin rights (and never race higher than a Cat. 3) and there are those who keep the same bike for years and ride harder than anyone else around them...
    at the level we all exist, the only place you'll see a performance difference with lightweight parts is in the wheelset (think rotational weight from your HS physics class)....

  14. #14
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    I agree with IUBike. The lighter the bicycle, the more fun l tend to have. The scientists here can spit out data from now 'till Tuesday about how weight doesn't matter, and I'm sure their data is valid. But from a purely subjective, seat-of-the-pants perspective, when you go from a heavier bike to a lighter bike, it's like you've hacksawed off that ball and chain. Suddenly, you want to go further. You stop being afraid of that hill. As Woody Allen put it in Sleeper, suddenly you're "free as a tree." As for the bicycle weight at which this magical moment takes place, I've found it happens at about 18 lbs.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

  15. #15
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    I'll agree with those who say it doesn't matter, but I'll go ahead and bump the weight limit for "doesn't matter" up into the low 20s. Anything over that, and you're into the realm of cheap bikes that ride so poorly that they won't be much fun, regardless of weight. But if we confine ourselves to quality bikes and riders who have to pay for their stuff, there's simply no valid reason to worry about how far your bike moves a scale.

    FWIW, I'd rather ride my 21 pound SL framed steel bike than a 15 pound Cannondale. I've ridden both, and I'm sure of this. When the bike feels "right", you won't care what it weighs. When it's "wrong", making it lighter usually doesn't help.

    Light bikes can be neat, and if that's your trip, gofer it, but don't expect it to help YOU much. If you were the kind of rider where it would really matter, you wouldn't be buying your bike... your sponsors would. I'll sit back on the couch with a beer, watching you on OLN.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbmcclus
    Being a newbie to road bikes, I have noticed a lot of "roadies" seems to be very concerned about the weight of their bike. Some spend large sums of money, just to reduce the total bike weight by a pound or even a few grams. My questions is: Wouldn't it be a lot less expensive just to lose a few pounds of your body weight? For example, if you currently weigh 150 lbs and your bike weights 20 lbs and you go on a 20 mile ride, you would have to expend enough energy to carry a total weight of 170 lbs for 20 miles. Now, suppose you spend a large sum of money and get your bike weight down to 17 lbs. You now have to expend enough energy to carry 167 lbs for 20 miles. Why not just lose 3 lbs. of body weight and save your money?
    A very common rule of thumb is that you take your body weight in lbs and divide it by you shoe size in common USA sizing.

    Thus for me it's 250/12 = 20.83 lbs. This includes water bottle cages but not the water.

    This may not work for everyone but it is a pretty good ROT.
    Joined the other team in the name of the economy

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbmcclus
    Being a newbie to road bikes, I have noticed a lot of "roadies" seems to be very concerned about the weight of their bike. Some spend large sums of money, just to reduce the total bike weight by a pound or even a few grams. My questions is: Wouldn't it be a lot less expensive just to lose a few pounds of your body weight? For example, if you currently weigh 150 lbs and your bike weights 20 lbs and you go on a 20 mile ride, you would have to expend enough energy to carry a total weight of 170 lbs for 20 miles. Now, suppose you spend a large sum of money and get your bike weight down to 17 lbs. You now have to expend enough energy to carry 167 lbs for 20 miles. Why not just lose 3 lbs. of body weight and save your money?
    The one thing nobody has mentioned it the biking corallary of the Backpacking Mantra: "One pound off the feet is like five pounds off the back". And I think on a bike it is probably more like a 1:10 ratio, because of the RPMs the wheels are spinning at, one pound off the wheels (specifically rims, tires and spokes) is like ten pounds off your butt. I am sure someone can do the math and tell us exactly how much a pound off the wheels means, but I say; buy slightly less than the best bike you can afford, then spend 10% extra to upgrade the wheels. If you got the best bike you could afford the extra money would go into all the components, and everything that isn't rotating is somewhat wasted on us not so competative types.

    Gordon

  18. #18
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    Theoretically, it's double, at most, because the outermost part of the wheel is spinning at the same rate you're moving.

    I'd say given that all bikes fit the same, get the nicest frame / components you can afford, rather, and open pro / ultegra or chorus wheels. The wheels are always upgradeable later, are a very easy upgrade, and having a set of 32-spoke training wheels is something every rider should have, at least.

    If you get Tiagra and decide you want Ultegra or something, you'll have to throw away the lower-level stuff, and it's not easy for a total beginner to install shifters.

  19. #19
    jains89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lifelover
    A very common rule of thumb is that you take your body weight in lbs and divide it by you shoe size in common USA sizing.

    Thus for me it's 250/12 = 20.83 lbs. This includes water bottle cages but not the water.

    This may not work for everyone but it is a pretty good ROT.

    yea if i follow that i should have a bike that weighs somewhere around 14.09lb
    155/11=14.09

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jains89
    yea if i follow that i should have a bike that weighs somewhere around 14.09lb
    155/11=14.09
    145/11=13.2. Gotta go save some serious money or eat lots of bad food. My current bike weighs 21 including the usual, and it's absolutely fine since the landscape is excitingly flat where I live. ;)
    Originally posted by thatsmybush:
    I can only speak for my self, but if Fergie wanted to rub her lovely lady lumps on me, I could play the role of "human stripper pole."

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lifelover
    A very common rule of thumb is that you take your body weight in lbs and divide it by you shoe size in common USA sizing.

    Thus for me it's 250/12 = 20.83 lbs. This includes water bottle cages but not the water.

    This may not work for everyone but it is a pretty good ROT.
    Never heard that before in my life. So a TDF rider thats 140 pounds and wears a size 8 is on a 17.5 pound bike,or not.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Never heard that before in my life. So a TDF rider thats 140 pounds and wears a size 8 is on a 17.5 pound bike,or not.
    ROTs don't apply to pro riders. Just guys like you and me. However, I have heard that there is a new problem with young riders binding their feet in an effort to get the ratio higher.
    Joined the other team in the name of the economy

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bahueh
    if you can afford to repair it and maintain a 15 lb. bike. mine is 17 lbs. with cages and pedals and it borders on too light for hard riding/racing (I only weigh 160 now, 154 during race season). light weight bikes are often more prone to taking a beating (I've broken several spokes, cracked rims, split chain stays). they're wonderful for pros who have endless supplies of wheelsets and mechanics...but you have to take safety into consideration as well as your bike handling skills. a lightweight bike is powerful and beautiful to look at (think Maserrati)...but are not designed to last very long (think '84 Nissan pickup). most LBS wrench's have touted to me a 2 year life span for most high end (race) bikes...and a 10-20 year span for the lower end (heavier) stuff...weight reduction is a hobby like anything else. there will be those who throw endless amounts of $$ into a bike(s) just for show/braggin rights (and never race higher than a Cat. 3) and there are those who keep the same bike for years and ride harder than anyone else around them...
    at the level we all exist, the only place you'll see a performance difference with lightweight parts is in the wheelset (think rotational weight from your HS physics class)....
    I ride 17lb steel bike. The frame is the only "heavy" part and if I swapped it for a carbon frame it'd be closer to 15. Cranks, bars & stem are the lightest aluminium ones I could find. I commute through London on it 14 miles each way with NO problems at all. Certainly none due to lightweight parts.
    I'm intrigued by talk of splitting chainstays and cracking rims. What are you doing to your bikes. 17ld is no where near too light to ride hard on, provided you aren't overly heavy.

  24. #24
    SoCal--S Beach to the Dam
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lifelover
    ROTs don't apply to pro riders. Just guys like you and me. However, I have heard that there is a new problem with young riders binding their feet in an effort to get the ratio higher.
    I heard that,they will wear a size 12 on there 8's to get a lighter bike.

  25. #25
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    It's often a head game...

    I have heard most of the arguments regarding bikeweight over the years. Some shop owners have very funny (some humorous, some strange) arguments to help you spend your $ to own a lighter bike. I sometimes ask the question as an icebreaker when I go into a shop for the first time.

    Bike weight used to be very important to me, but my thinking and priorities have changed. I want a bike that fits me well, one that allows me to be the best "bike-engine" for the type of riding I plan to do. I want to be fast & efficient. I want to enjoy the experience. I want to come home feeling that I had a great workout, without hurting. Tired/exhausted is OK, but hurting like I've possibly done lingering harm is not. I want to look forward to riding. I want to enjoy the fine machine I'm on, how it rides and how confident I am in it's ability to handle what I throw at it without safety issues or breakdowns. I want my equipment to work well without requiring lots of maintanance. I'd rather ride than wrench. I enjoy nice things / works of art / precision machinery.

    When I shopped for my latest road bike earlier this year, filtering using both my priorities and my budget, I found myself looking at bikes in the 17-21 lb range. In attempting to make a final decision, weight was considered, but the above list of ideals were more important to me.

    Over the years of thinking about weight, I have come to the following conclusions for myself:

    When considering static weight, physics equations don't know whether the weight is part of your body, your bike or your accessories. For example, you are going to perform the same amount of work to accomplish a given ride regardless of whether you carried 2 lbs of water in water bottles attached to the bike frame or you carried 2lbs of water on your body. (I'm assuming that bike operates to my liking regardless of where the water is placed.) So until I am at or very near my optimum body weight, I won't pay specifically to reduce the weight of my bike.

    When considering dynamic/rotating weight (wheels/tires being the largest factor), I used to believe that lighter wheels were always better (assuming similar strength and stiffness). I don't anymore. I believe that lighter wheels make for snappier acceleration so they feel better when you start and while you climb (climbing to me feels like trying to accelerate on every pedal stroke). I believe that heavier wheels carry more momentum and may be slightly easier to maintain a faster pace on the flats and downhill. I believe that aero wheels make a difference at higher speeds and may provide a faster ride overall depending on the type of ride you are doing. For me, since much of my riding involves climbing, I prefer lighter, stiffer feeling wheels, primarily because they feel better. I have ridden the same rides many times with wheelsets of different weights. While it hasn't been a scientific study, I can't say that my high end, lightweight wheels have allowed me to do the same ride any faster or easier on average, but they feel better and I descend more confidently (which is probably more due to their stiffness).

    Usually when I choose a lighter weight component, there is another reason that drives the choice like it's stiffer, it functions better, it's made better, it will last longer, it requires less servicing. I prefer to put my money & time into better training and nutrition - it's a much better return on my investment.

    I was discussing my thoughts on weight with a friend of mine who runs a well known bike shop and is a serious cycling competitor. In the end, I stated that I wouldn't pay specifically to reduce the weight of my bike until I was at my ideal body fat ratio and standing on the podium regularly (neither are likely anytime soon...). He was in general agreement, but he gave me a very good argument for lighter weight that I had not considered before. Athletic performance is highly impacted by the athlete's mental strength, especially at the competitive levels. Many competitive athletes hire coaches specifically to improve their mental focus and discipline. His point was that what an athlete believes often has a remarkable impact on their outcome. So if an athlete believes that a lighter weight bike/component gives them a performance edge, it usually will. He says that he has observed this in himself and among his teammates. He pointed out that the effect often fades as the rider gets used to the new equipment. He says for him it's not just a weight reduction that does it. It could be a new component, new shoes, new clothing, new nutrition, new training method, etc. It makes sense to me. I did chide him thoroughly for coming up with a near perfect sales pitch: You should buy (put your desired item here) because it will make you go faster (for a while). When that wears off, come back and we'll find another way to make you go fast!

    Merry Christmas

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