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  1. #1
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    Does a heavier bike = a stronger rider? (NO FLAME WAR PLEASE)

    I have a crappy entry level GT Avalanche 3.0 which I absolutely love. Every time I ride it I'm pushing myself to go faster and faster. But this thing is pretty heavy compared to most bikes, which got me to wondering...if I just keep pushing myself on this thing, will I keep getting stronger until weight doesn't really matter?

    I thought this through a little bit. Sure if you have an ultralight bike, you can keep pushing yourself to make the ride harder and more strenous. But for the average rider on my average trails (Tight and twisty singletrack), you can really only go so fast, which limits how much you can actually push your strength/endurance limits. It would be a different story on a straightforward uphill climb.

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    Do you smile when you ride?
    That's all that matters.
    Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous View Post
    Do you smile when you ride?
    That's all that matters.
    Usually, unless I'm getting stung by hornets like today LOL. but after that I got back to enjoying the ride. my bike might not be "dialed" in to me, but I'm dialed into my bike.
    "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." -Back to the Future

  4. #4
    AZ
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    A heavier bike means you get the same amount of work done in a shorter period of time. That just means you drink beer before everyone else.

  5. #5
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    I think in a way it does... When I train with heavy wheels/tires I feel a difference in leg strength when switching back to normal light wheel/tire combo and Im not just talking about feeling the rotational weight difference..

    Its kinda like dropping an extra 45 plate on each side of the squat rack
    I do all my own stunts, but never intentionally...

  6. #6
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    I think since my local trails are relatively easy I might start strapping dumbbells to my bike to make it more difficult. lol jk

    But I feel like when I abuse the Avalanche to the max and finally get a pretty light bike it'll be like floating on clouds.
    "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." -Back to the Future

  7. #7
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    I thought about this a lot back in the day. I'm a really light person (125lbs) and I use to ride a 22.5lbs SWorks because I thought it was all proportional and what not. Now, I'm still the lightest rider of my friends and I have the heaviest bike (34lbs-ish). I don't race and neither does anyone I ride with. We have a ton of fun and I've never felt like the weight of my bike stopped me from smoking my 200lbs friends up a technical climb.

  8. #8
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    thats how it is with all exercise. The more you push yourself, the more endurance and strength you will build.....as long as your replenishing yourself with enough calories and vitamins.

    I myself have a pretty basic entry bike (2008 Trek 820). It is being converted to a single speed this weekend. Expecting this thing to own me considering the weight of this thing.

  9. #9
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    No, a heavier bike means you go slower. Its still fun though.
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  10. #10
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    Well I don't notice much of a difference in the weight of the bike...
    Throw some nobby tires on with low pressures, I think that will help with exercise... A lot.
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  11. #11
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    I've seen guys riding cross country trails on down hill rigs clearly in an effort to train hard for down hill riding.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    No, a heavier bike means you go slower. Its still fun though.
    This.

    This topic comes up on a semi frequent basis in the XC racing forum. Studies show that the only effect a heavier bike has is to slow you down when compared to a lighter bike.
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  13. #13
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    I ride a heavy bike when I'm alone or with slower riders and a 27 pound bike if I'm the slow guy.
    Keep loving your boat anchor. You definitely have to be stronger to push more weight the same distance as a light weight.

  14. #14
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    Riding a bike makes you a stronger rider. Just ride, smile, repeat. Don't forget the beer part.

  15. #15
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    If you' manage to hang on the wheel of an equally fit rider on a much lighter bike then yes, I think riding a tank would make you stronger, otherwise you'll just go a bit faster on a light bike.

    If you like it, rock it!

  16. #16
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    The heavier the bike, the harder the climb... Downhills, not so much of a difference...
    I wonder if any pro riders train on heavier bikes to build their legs or if there's some reason why that wouldn't help their riding. I know when I demoed a lighter bike than I was used to riding on trails that I ride often, I beat some previous times I had (according to Strava) by some pretty good margins.

  17. #17
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    I think riding a heavier bike will make you a stronger
    rider.

  18. #18
    U sayin' Bolt ?
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    On trails that are twisty and gnarly to the point you have to control your speed, riding a heavier bike will allow you to work harder over the same amout of time.

    On trails where you can go as fast as you want, you can get the same work out in the same time regardless of bike weight.

    I think, psychologically, going faster makes you more energized which makes your workout more intense which makes you stronger.

    So get the bike that best fits your trails and ride the hell out of it, for best results !

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kuhl View Post
    I think riding a heavier bike will make you a stronger
    rider.
    this is not a haiku. are you not feeling well john?
    If you arent bleeding, you arent riding hard enough.
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  20. #20
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    Unless you're a competitive racer, I don't really see a huge difference in a 34 lb bike vs a 28 lb bike. Of course you will go a little faster on the lighter bike, but does it really matter?

    All I know is that I once rode the most technical trail in Dallas without getting off on my old Raleigh M80... A 31lb HT with maybe an inch of travel, and that was the only time I was ever able to clean the whole trail, even though years later I was riding a FS Jekyll that weighed about 26 lbs.
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  21. #21
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    A heavier bike does make you a stronger rider, its just the law of physics. When I ran track in high school our coach made us drag a car tire around the dirt track. It had some sort of harness. After removing the harness we ran faster.

    I have a couple of kona stinkys with White Bros dual crown forks. They weigh 46 lbs each. When I ride my 31 lb XC bike it feels like
    I'm cheating. By the way, that fork only weighs 16lbs
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Does a heavier bike = a stronger rider? (NO FLAME WAR PLEASE)-dscf0570.jpg  

    Last edited by fatcat; 08-19-2012 at 04:09 PM.

  22. #22
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    sure it can. but it might not. you could work yourself just as hard with a light bike.
    but if it were true in every case then we have to say that fat people are stronger walkers.

  23. #23
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    I am going to kinda test the theory out myself. I currently travel between the Ft. Collins area and Phoenix. While in Co I am riding at altitude with a heavier bike. I am looking forward to seeing the difference when I get back to Az.

  24. #24
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    ALL things being equal, the guy riding the heavier bike will get stronger 'muscles' than the guy riding the lighter bike.

    I know where you're coming from with this question. Its all about the silver lining and I'll take it! I've been there, long climb, gasping for breath, legs screaming on my 1x9 32lb AM bike...thinking, "well, at least its a great leg workout!"

  25. #25
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    It all probably levels out in the end. A lighter bike would probably just mean you push yourself that much harder to achieve the same level of exertion. At least that is what I tend to do if I switch from mountain to road biking.

    At the same time, training on a heavier bike and then switching to a lighter one is probably not a bad strategy for better performance. I used to practice throw-ins for soccer with an old bowling ball. After working with that thing for a while, I could send a regular ball halfway across the field!

    As many have said, if you are having fun, that is all that matters.

  26. #26
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    From riding a 45lb Yeti AS-X as my sole mountain bike from 2009 - 2011, I can tell you that when I bought my Trek Fuel EX5 in 2011, I can tell the difference in how fast I can ride with the lighter bike. The Yeti was great at everything except climbing (obviously since it was heavier) but on a flat or downhill and on technical terrain, you couldn't beat it with a light XC bike - it ate up obstacles like Bill Cosby ate up puddin'!

    Of the two years the Yeti was my main bike, the long uphills never really got any easier.
    I don't use Strava. Don't need an application to tell me I am slow because I already know.

  27. #27
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    It can as long as you don't keep downshifting to a comfort zone. On a heavier bike you may find yourself dropping an extra gear in order to push the extra weight which about negates the weight difference. If you want a heavier bike to work for you for training then find a comfortable gear and go one higher and force yourself to push the extra weight till that gear is easy to push on the same area in a few weeks/months.

    If you can climb a hill on your 28t using a lighter bike but find yourself using your 30 or 32t on a heavier bike then just stick wit your lighter bike because you're doing it wrong.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by WD9 View Post
    It can as long as you don't keep downshifting to a comfort zone. On a heavier bike you may find yourself dropping an extra gear in order to push the extra weight which about negates the weight difference. If you want a heavier bike to work for you for training then find a comfortable gear and go one higher and force yourself to push the extra weight till that gear is easy to push on the same area in a few weeks/months.

    If you can climb a hill on your 28t using a lighter bike but find yourself using your 30 or 32t on a heavier bike then just stick wit your lighter bike because you're doing it wrong.
    This is an excellent point
    "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." -Back to the Future

  29. #29
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    I would say riding a heavier bike will make you stronger. The 6" FS rig I ride regularly tips the scales at 33lbs and a few weeks ago I demoed (sp?) a Spec Stumpy 29er Carbon that probably weighed about 26lbs and I was flying on that thing. I have a road bike that weighs about 18lbs and I feel really fast on it after stepping off my 33lb sled...but I really really LOVE my 33lb sled and a newer, lighter FS rig isn't in the budget right now

  30. #30
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    -no-

    Make you have stronger legs? No, gearing will always make a bike easier to ride. Even single speeds can be geared lower.

  31. #31
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WD9
    It can as long as you don't keep downshifting to a comfort zone. On a heavier bike you may find yourself dropping an extra gear in order to push the extra weight which about negates the weight difference. If you want a heavier bike to work for you for training then find a comfortable gear and go one higher and force yourself to push the extra weight till that gear is easy to push on the same area in a few weeks/months.

    If you can climb a hill on your 28t using a lighter bike but find yourself using your 30 or 32t on a heavier bike then just stick wit your lighter bike because you're doing it wrong.
    This is an excellent point
    Not really. A decent recipe for blowing out our knees maybe.

    If you have the discipline there is always a gear to work your muscles to maximum efficiency. You will just be going faster on a lighter bike.

  32. #32
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    If you want to become a faster/stronger rider you need to up your volume (ride more/ride longer) or up the intensity.

    Plenty of guys I know train for XC racing on sub 18 pound road bikes.

  33. #33
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    I'd like to amend part of my last post. If you can haul a heavy bike up a hill in the same gear and speed as your buddy who is riding a very light bike then that could potentially make you stronger, so WD9 is partially right.

    However, if you can do that then you could be on a lighter bike and taller gear smoking your buddy on that climb.

  34. #34
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    If you want to become a faster/stronger rider you need to up your volume (ride more/rider longer) or up your intensity

  35. #35
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    All my bike are on the beefier side. I'm 6'4", 235 lbs. I break those spindly racer parts and pieces. Ever broken a top tube? Really. Rims, hubs, axles, seatposts, seats, pedals etc. So I build for durability and strength. Weight is not my first concern. So would a heavier bike make me stronger? Probably, a lighter bike would not last under me, So I rides what works.
    Last edited by leeboh; 08-17-2012 at 01:05 PM. Reason: spilled coffee

  36. #36
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    If you're not wearing lycra and training for xc races then weight doesn't matter (IMHO). It's all about having fun, and you'll have a lot more fun if you're not thinking of the weight that's underneath you. I abuse the hell out of my bike when I ride. If I had light weight xc parts I'd be left stranded A LOT. There's a reason AM/Trail/DH/FR bikes are all heavier, they were made to take abuse. There are a lot higher end bikes than your avalanche that weight significantly more. Just enjoy the bike and clear your mind...and ride.

  37. #37
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    I guess my question is, stronger compared to what? Stronger compared to yourself on a lighter bike, or stronger than your ride buddies on lighter bikes? The former is an easier comparison than the latter because there are less variables involved. Most trainers do not go tell someone who is trying to prepare for a race to go ride a heavier bike because they have more specific ways to improve strength and endurance and speed: strength training, 20 million different specific types of interval training with a power meter and/or heart rate monitor, pedal cadence work, technical skills work, etc... So, I guess it's true that "It ain't about the bike". It's more about what zone you train in and how focused your workouts are. I tried this for a while, but man it's hard work and having enough stress at work, I just wanted to get back to my "JRA" ways. Pedaling a heavier bike at the same speed and in the same gear as your buddy might force you to ride in a "redder" zone than them (maybe), but you might bonk faster and ride less, or if the weight on your bike is mainly non-rotational etc..... So it depends. But hey, I'd give ya more respect and kudos for doing the same ride as your buddies on the heavier bike!
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    All my bike are on the beefier side. I'm 6'4", 235 lbs. I break those spindly racer parts and pieces. Ever broken a top tube? Really. Rims, hubs, axles, seatposts, seats, pedals etc. So I build for durability and strength. Weight is not my first concern. So would a heavier bike make me stronger? Probably, a lighter bike would not last under me, So I rides what works.
    Me too. 6'1" 244. I bought A closeout Haro-Beasley getting back into it, my plan was to get a tank that will hold up, then get something light and all farkely later. My plan changed due to the tank to grins ratio. I even put on a B17, Gravity dropper, X-Fus-fork, Steel Fleegle bars and bar ends. I bet it's 35 Lbs of XC grins.

    I think I'll name it after a USA tank when I figure out the name!

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahday View Post
    It all probably levels out in the end. A lighter bike would probably just mean you push yourself that much harder to achieve the same level of exertion. At least that is what I tend to do if I switch from mountain to road biking.

    At the same time, training on a heavier bike and then switching to a lighter one is probably not a bad strategy for better performance. I used to practice throw-ins for soccer with an old bowling ball. After working with that thing for a while, I could send a regular ball halfway across the field!

    As many have said, if you are having fun, that is all that matters.
    I have to agree with this. What matters is how hard you push yourself. Heavier bike you'll most likely be slower (depending on the trail of course.. but I think that's a safe generalization) but as long as you are pushing yourself harder with the light bike (i.e. actually riding faster) then it should be pretty similar.

    I can take my normal lunch loop in an hour and feel fine or crank it up to run it in 45min or less and I'll feel the leg burn. If my bike were 5-10lbs lighter I'd have to run it even faster.

    Of course if you are stuck at a set pace by a group (and they are below your fitness level) the extra weight couldn't hurt.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredchic View Post
    I guess my question is, stronger compared to what? Stronger compared to yourself on a lighter bike, or stronger than your ride buddies on lighter bikes?
    this

    Quote Originally Posted by AC/BC
    If you want to become a faster/stronger rider you need to up your volume (ride more/ride longer) or up the intensity.
    and this

    if you get comfortable riding a bike that's 35lb and then go buy a bike that's 10lb lighter, yeah, you'll find that for the same effort, you'll be faster when pedaling a flat trail. but if you want to be faster than your buddies on any bike, you need to ride more or ride harder.

    any bike can go fast. but the gains are higher from pushing your body harder than from buying new gear. when you've pushed your body as hard as you can, then you can spend money on lighter parts to go faster for those incrementally smaller gains.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by WD9 View Post
    It can as long as you don't keep downshifting to a comfort zone. On a heavier bike you may find yourself dropping an extra gear in order to push the extra weight which about negates the weight difference. If you want a heavier bike to work for you for training then find a comfortable gear and go one higher and force yourself to push the extra weight till that gear is easy to push on the same area in a few weeks/months.

    If you can climb a hill on your 28t using a lighter bike but find yourself using your 30 or 32t on a heavier bike then just stick wit your lighter bike because you're doing it wrong.
    Sorry man, watts are watts no matter what gear you are in. Spin faster or grind harder, it's all the same. Although I climb faster in a higher gear, but that's just cause I can only get my cadence so high. And it's pretty low.

  42. #42
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    There are two occasions when the bike weight is actually critical for performance, races and time trials.

    The rest of the time, it's more of a personal preference.
    Can you lug around a heavy bike, sure, do you want to? probably not.

    I do like my bike to be closer to 26 lbs than 30 lbs but dropping 4 lbs on my bike isn't going to transform me in to Lance.

    I am told that Down Hill bikes are made with stronger joints and materials and bigger forks/shocks and therefore heavier.
    But I'm not certain if the added weight is more than just a byproduct of strength/travel.
    Does anyone know if it has more purpose - like keeping the bike down instead of in the air?

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous View Post
    Do you smile when you ride?
    That's all that matters.

    Mountain Biking (and cycling) is suffering. If you're smiling you're doing it wrong.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by WD9 View Post
    It can as long as you don't keep downshifting to a comfort zone. On a heavier bike you may find yourself dropping an extra gear in order to push the extra weight which about negates the weight difference. If you want a heavier bike to work for you for training then find a comfortable gear and go one higher and force yourself to push the extra weight till that gear is easy to push on the same area in a few weeks/months.

    If you can climb a hill on your 28t using a lighter bike but find yourself using your 30 or 32t on a heavier bike then just stick wit your lighter bike because you're doing it wrong.
    Exactly. My main bike is a 36-pound Specialized Enduro with a Hammerschmidt crank and a dropper seat post. I ride it on the same trails that I ride my 22-pound carbon hardtail and I always find myself in the lowest gear going up even moderately difficult climbs, a gear that I don't even get close to on the hardtail. Is this a problem? No. I'm not racing and I seem to get plenty of suffering regardless of the bike.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ailuropoda View Post
    Mountain Biking (and cycling) is suffering. If you're smiling you're doing it wrong.
    you a practitioner of Buddhism? lol
    "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." -Back to the Future

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ailuropoda View Post
    Mountain Biking (and cycling) is suffering. If you're smiling you're doing it wrong.
    Dang it! Here I've been smiling for the last twenty years and now I have to start over doing it right

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfruits View Post
    sure it can. but it might not. you could work yourself just as hard with a light bike.
    but if it were true in every case then we have to say that fat people are stronger walkers.
    fat people are stronger walkers? I doubt it. Maybe in a short distance.

    Working yourself
    on a light bike means you have to totally torture yourself, do twice or three times the amount of distance, climbs you would on a heavier bike. Yesterday I did 12 miles in 100 degree heat on my 46 pounder bike which I think is like 36 miles on a 22 lb bike. I believe
    its all comes out in the wash. Train hard on a 46lb bike, train 3x's as hard on a sub 20 lb bike. Some folks ride to put a smile on their face, sure thats cool, but I ride to keep a smile off my belly And you know that smile, its an ugly line that goes above your belly button.

  48. #48
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    rofl, apparently this thread did rustle someone's jimmies. i don't believe i told anyone what to do.

    "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." -Back to the Future

  49. #49
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    ^ There is no accounting for or rhyme or reason for the number of asshats on here who leave idiotic anonymous neg rep like that.

    My last neg rep said -- "just cuz". Its like any other site though in that many people abuse it and will give neg rep just because they disagree with you.
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  50. #50
    Clyde on a mission!
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatcat View Post
    A heavier bike does make you a stronger rider, its just the law of physics.
    ..as long as you climb the hills at the same speed as on the lighter bike. If you slow down to compensate for the added weight you gain nothing extra.

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