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  1. #1
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    Groupthink, and where it goes wrong.

    I was perusing a different thread in this subforum a few hours ago and came upon this phrase:

    "Lighter and less rolling resistence is always better, there is no exception to this."

    I didn't want to take that thread further off topic, so I started this one. That statement was made in the context of discussing appropriate wheels and tires for any given scenario.

    I started this thread because it occurred to me that I didn't agree with the statement at all. Not even for racer geeks.

    But as I ruminated further on it, I realized that nearly everyone else believes it, accepts it as truth, even if they've never really experimented with anything different to have learned otherwise.

    *-On technical climbs, a heavier wheelset (rims + tires) stays more planted, that is, *maintains better traction* than a lighter wheelset. This is true for dirt as well as snow.

    *-On technical descents, a heavier wheelset is less easily deflected, allowing you to maintain traction and hold your line better. Also true on dirt and snow.

    *-On non-technical trails--climbing, descending, or flattracking--increased wheel (rim + tire) weight gives a flywheel effect. This means that once up to speed you can maintain momentum with less effort. Definitely true on both dirt and snow.

    Every other scenario I can think of is basically a subcategory of the statements above.

    I've been intensely experimenting with different rim widths, tread patterns, tire pressures, and casing thicknesses for the last decade. I stumbled onto the above by accident, when out looking for other answers. But the lessons learned, even by accident, have taught me to stop accepting "facts" as such until they're proven as such.

    I don't own a light XC bike anymore--I don't see the point. Why is that important?

    Because riding will always be faster than walking, not to mention more fun and more rewarding. And I can ride more on a bike with heavier wheels and "slower" tires.

    In case it wasn't clear above, I'm talking about *trail* use, not road of any ilk.

    Discuss?

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    The correct tire is seldom the lightest.

    Having all of the correct tires is pretty expensive for most people, not to mention how many can't even change a tire to begin with.

  4. #4
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    Lighter and less rolling resistance isn't always better.

    My road bike has extremely light wheels with contact patches the size of dimes. That's low rolling resistance.

    It would be a nightmare off road.

    It seems more correct to say, the lightest wheelset with the lowest rolling resistance appropriate for the situation is best.

    But once you go down that road, my guess is that there are seriously diminishing returns and that experience trumps weight and contact patch.

    Think about it- you weigh 170. your bike weighs 40 pounds. that's a total of 210 pounds. Drop your bike down to 30 pounds and you've dropped 25% off the weight of your bike but only 5% of your total rolling weight, so, it that 5% gonna make that big a difference?

  5. #5
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    Mike I think, at least on the face of it, your implication that heavier is always better is as flawed as the other persons statement that lighter is always better. Even you must draw the line on how heavy you will go for any given condition. I think I read you the other day to say how you are trying hundies in new riding environments because the new ones were light enough to work in that application.
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  6. #6
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    Lighter and less rolling resistence is always better, there is no exception to this."
    This might be somewhat true for road bikes, but not even entirely for them. You have to understand that rolling resistence = traction. I could be more or less convinced that lighter (given strength is the same) is generally better, but traction generally trumps rolling resistance. If this wasn't true every MTB would be running skinny road slicks.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I was perusing a different thread in this subforum a few hours ago and came upon this phrase:

    "Lighter and less rolling resistence is always better, there is no exception to this."

    I didn't want to take that thread further off topic, so I started this one. That statement was made in the context of discussing appropriate wheels and tires for any given scenario.

    I started this thread because it occurred to me that I didn't agree with the statement at all. Not even for racer geeks.

    But as I ruminated further on it, I realized that nearly everyone else believes it, accepts it as truth, even if they've never really experimented with anything different to have learned otherwise.

    *-On technical climbs, a heavier wheelset (rims + tires) stays more planted, that is, *maintains better traction* than a lighter wheelset. This is true for dirt as well as snow.

    *-On technical descents, a heavier wheelset is less easily deflected, allowing you to maintain traction and hold your line better. Also true on dirt and snow.

    *-On non-technical trails--climbing, descending, or flattracking--increased wheel (rim + tire) weight gives a flywheel effect. This means that once up to speed you can maintain momentum with less effort. Definitely true on both dirt and snow.

    Every other scenario I can think of is basically a subcategory of the statements above.

    I've been intensely experimenting with different rim widths, tread patterns, tire pressures, and casing thicknesses for the last decade. I stumbled onto the above by accident, when out looking for other answers. But the lessons learned, even by accident, have taught me to stop accepting "facts" as such until they're proven as such.

    I don't own a light XC bike anymore--I don't see the point. Why is that important?

    Because riding will always be faster than walking, not to mention more fun and more rewarding. And I can ride more on a bike with heavier wheels and "slower" tires.

    In case it wasn't clear above, I'm talking about *trail* use, not road of any ilk.

    Discuss?
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  8. #8
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    I find supple tires provide better traction than ones with very stiff casings. Usually the supple tires also weigh less. Ergo, it seems lighter tires roll better. I am not talking about any gyroscopic effects or deflection, just the quality of the contact patch and how it conforms to terrain features.

    I figure I can aim the tire where I want it, but it's the tire's job to provide the traction.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sryanak View Post
    Mike I think, at least on the face of it, your implication that heavier is always better is as flawed as the other persons statement that lighter is always better. Even you must draw the line on how heavy you will go for any given condition. I think I read you the other day to say how you are trying hundies in new riding environments because the new ones were light enough to work in that application.
    I didn't write "always", but I did imply "often". And I stand by that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tscheezy View Post
    I find supple tires provide better traction than ones with very stiff casings. Usually the supple tires also weigh less. Ergo, it seems lighter tires roll better.
    The rooster crowing does not make the sun come up. Although supple tires may have more feel on the trail, I find that running lower pressures tubeless on the same tires results in squirm and less confident traction - in that case I prefer a heavier carcass and a stiffer sidewall and will gladly accept the additional weight. My Racing Ralph 2.4s were supple as anything, but at 26psi would barely keep on track - the Ardents and Purgatories were much more confidence inspiring.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I didn't write "always", but I did imply "often". And I stand by that.
    "Often" it is then.

    As to the individual points in your thread starter I would offer a couple of points:

    On technical climbs if they are steep enough and I am going very slow, which I do on climbs, my weight on the rear wheel seems to be what keeps it planted maybe the front wheel would wander less if it was heavier.....

    On decents heavier does deflect less....

    I have noticed the flywheel effect for sure and love it when it is all spun up but on twisty turny up and down singletrack that requires very much braking then you have to keep spinning up the flywheel.

    This is starting to decend into splitting hairs on my part so I'll just go riding.
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  12. #12
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    Last edited by bprsnt; 09-23-2012 at 07:30 PM.
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  13. #13
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    I think, as I've said before, it comes down to where you ride, and what you're looking for in that ride.

    Bomber solid, never have to think about it, point and go, middle of nowhere, long hike out type desires? Yep, heavier will reward that group, and they should be entitled to product that works for them

    Seldom more than an hour from home, generally never more than a 20 minute to half hour walk out, lots of climbing, off camber, mud, sand, leaves, wet, rooty, mixed conditions, type riding, often appreciate the lighter weight and more supple ride. These riders also, should have stuff that suits.

    Of course, as others have said, both can be taken to the ridiculous, but a middle ground of light, yet sturdy enough for my situations, and I have no issues, nor do most of the folks I ride with. Of course, anything can happen, period.

    If I found myself being let down by my lighter set ups? I'd change. Seeing as I ride without hassle, why strap extra weight on? My downhills are fast enough to scare me a little now and then, my lungs and legs still burn on the climbs.

    Yep, not seeing the need. However, none of my bikes weighs less than 29 or 30 lbs, with several in the mid 30's...

    All this said? The original statement is ridiculous, there is ALWAYS and exception to an opinion.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpettit View Post
    You have to understand that rolling resistence = traction. I could be more or less convinced that lighter (given strength is the same) is generally better, but traction generally trumps rolling resistance.
    How can traction trump rolling resistance when rolling resistance = traction?

  15. #15
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    I finally read the post that Mike quoted to start off this thread and find it interesting that it started off with a reasonable statement that BFL's had their place over presumably "lighter" tires where the trail was soft and then went on to make the somewhat contradictory statement that lighter is always better....I know I'm supposed to be riding.
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  16. #16
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    I would say that lower rolling resistance will always be better *if it doesn't compromise traction*. But it almost always seems to do that, sooo....

    I've always been a fan of big, heavy, knobby tires up front and a lighter tire with less rolling resistance out back. I've always run fr and dh rims on my xc bikes though...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Endomorph View Post
    How can traction trump rolling resistance when rolling resistance = traction?


    Not true. You can have a tire with horrible traction and high rolling resistance just as you could have a tire with incredible traction and low rolling resistance. Tread pattern, rubber compound, casing design, terrain and riding style will have different effects on each quality.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Endomorph View Post
    How can traction trump rolling resistance when rolling resistance = traction?
    I meant it in the context that traction trumps wanted less rolling resistance. We are on the same page, i was just not clear. You should be looking for the tire that offers the traction you need, not the tire that has the lowest rolling resistance.

  19. #19
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    With bike wheels I think it is important to not just think of the energy needed to accelerate heavy parts but rather what happens to that energy after you expended it. I think fat bikes do a great job of preserving that energy and giving it back later. As long as you are not braking a ton and your bike is not wasting/absorbing the energy you put into accelerating it you will get it back. A thoughtfully ridden fat bike can be like a potential energy bank in some ways.

    To test this we need someone with two sets of wheels and a power meter ridden over the same course.

    This thred is similar to what I was trying to say here.
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  20. #20
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    "better" is a bad word

    For me, the problem with these statements is the word "better", it is just to ambiguous.
    I ride heavy, fat, 2.4, tubeless Rubber Queens on my 5" travel bike. They are slower on the climbs then other, lighter tires I've run. But, they allow me to be slower as well, gripping like crazy on technical climbs with little worry of spinning out. So on climbs everyone can make, I'm probably near the end of the group, but on climbs that are more difficult, I am often the only one cleaning them.
    And on the downhills, the confidence they give me is superb!
    So my "better" is clearly different than someone who is interested in faster.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrossman View Post
    So on climbs everyone can make, I'm probably near the end of the group, but on climbs that are more difficult, I am often the only one cleaning them.
    And on the downhills, the confidence they give me is superb!
    This is why I highlighted the word 'technical' in my original post. More mass = more traction, which means that with a heavier setup a given rider stands a higher chance of cleaning something.

    Quote Originally Posted by cbrossman View Post
    So my "better" is clearly different than someone who is interested in faster.
    On roads (dirt, paved, or otherwise), lighter *might* be faster. But on trail, riding is almost always faster than walking. And riding is clearly "better".

    MC

  22. #22
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    You would think that the only proof would be a time clock. But even this would not be total proof. There is always some opposing factor that you cannot duplicate. So I guess mikesee, you are correct in that the dilemma now becomes the perception of what brings you confidence, pleasure, accomplishment, etc.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I didn't write "always", but I did imply "often". And I stand by that.
    I wouldn't have agreed at all with you six months ago, Mike, but now that I have the perspective of a few dozen fast rides on my fatbike with fast riders on "regular" bikes, I do agree that, at times, the momentum and gyroscopic effect of heavier wheels can actually be advantageous. I'll give an example of riding against a headwind on a slight uphill. When you put the power into a pair of Fatbike wheels, you feel the momentum and speed build, even against the wind, and the inertia of the wheels is a good partner to have. Speed isn't easily "blown away".

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaredbe View Post
    With bike wheels I think it is important to not just think of the energy needed to accelerate heavy parts but rather what happens to that energy after you expended it. I think fat bikes do a great job of preserving that energy and giving it back later. As long as you are not braking a ton and your bike is not wasting/absorbing the energy you put into accelerating it you will get it back. A thoughtfully ridden fat bike can be like a potential energy bank in some ways.

    This thred is similar to what I was trying to say here.
    You are nailing it now...

  25. #25
    i heart singletrack
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    This is why I highlighted the word 'technical' in my original post. More mass = more traction, which means that with a heavier setup a given rider stands a higher chance of cleaning something.



    On roads (dirt, paved, or otherwise), lighter *might* be faster. But on trail, riding is almost always faster than walking. And riding is clearly "better".

    MC
    Amen brother... It's just all a matter of what you're after. I like riding... And cornering hard.

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