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  1. #1
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    Heavy or light bike makes for a better rider?

    I was wondering if riding a heavier or lighter bike makes you a better rider. Does more weight make you stronger, slower or both? Does a lighter bike make you faster but not as strong. I have a 35lb. trail bike that seems to like to gain weight and would like to see if there is any real concern before I start trying to dump weight. It just seems like mt bikes and components are so weight concious.

  2. #2
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    This is a whole can of worms that I'm not sure everyone is going to agree on but I'd like to offer this. In terms of bike weight for non-racing it is largely personal preference. It is the whole light/strong/cheap, pick two, thing. People's preferences between those three differ. I personally like to stay at the lighter end of the spectrum because I love the way a light bike feels. It feels flickable and responsive. I ride with some guys that ride Hecklers that I imagine weigh over 32lbs and love them. Sure, it hurts a bit on the climbs but they can smoke me on the way down and sometimes on really steep rough climbs too. Its a give and take thing. If I were you I'd ask to borrow someone's cross country bike and take it for a spin. That way you'll have a first hand account of what a lighter bike feels like. As for which one is faster, that depends on the trail.

  3. #3
    "El Whatever"
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    Lighter makes better

    Just think about it. You can go as fast as you have the power to move the bike faster. As you can not increase significantly your power output (human power is very low for instance) the only way to make you actually faster is reducing weight. Thus a lighter bike can make you a bit faster.

    This is not necessarly true for DH (freefall especially) as the heavier you are the faster gravity will pull you down. But in DH you gotta pedal a lot too, so again, a light bike will make you faster.

    The best way to make your bike significanlty lighter is to decrease rotational weight so you can reduce the inertia moment of the thing. This translates in faster acceleration and you need less power to move the wheels (which are the ones which actually rotate).

    So slim down your wheels and you will make yourself faster.
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  4. #4
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by keen
    I was wondering if riding a heavier or lighter bike makes you a better rider. Does more weight make you stronger, slower or both? Does a lighter bike make you faster but not as strong. I have a 35lb. trail bike that seems to like to gain weight and would like to see if there is any real concern before I start trying to dump weight. It just seems like mt bikes and components are so weight concious.
    I think your bike is starting to like to gain weight because you are starting to go faster and bigger...which is a good thing! Does a lighter or heavier bike make you a better or worse rider? Personally I don't think it's going to have much bearing on your skill set itself. Actually when I first went from an xc hardtail to my bullit I think at first I was kinda struggleing because it was alot heavier and alot of the things you learned on your ht go out the window when you go to a fr/dh bike i.e. bunnyhopping.You could say that a heavier bike is going to be more stable at high speed, where as alot of people like to hop on the ol' 25 pound HT once in a while because they feel it keeps them sharp, in the sence that you have to be a little pickier in terms of picking your lines, because you cant just ride over them.

    I guess to answer the question as to wheather or not the heavier bike makes you stronger...I guess it would, and as to faster or slower?? I would think faster, if your legs become more acustom to pushing around a 45 pound bike as opposed to a 35 pounder. It's probably the same for yor forearms and chest too, because again if your bike is getting heavier it's probably because you are taking it faster and bigger down harder trails.....It sounds like you're being persuaded to come over to the dark side .....................

  5. #5
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    I ride a 34lb.Enduro and two of my fellow riders have 40lb. Big Hits. They purchased the bikes 6 mo. ago. & both riders really had problems pulling hills . Fast forward today they now can pull the hills and pretty much stay glued to my rear tire. Another fellow rider has a light weight single speed and a Bullit FR. He is super strong but allways comments on how much he likes the light weight feel of the SS - I wonder someone so strong should be a better match w/ the Bullit. I wonder if there is an ideal weight for the general rider build? 30lb.?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by keen
    I was wondering if riding a heavier or lighter bike makes you a better rider. Does more weight make you stronger, slower or both? Does a lighter bike make you faster but not as strong. I have a 35lb. trail bike that seems to like to gain weight and would like to see if there is any real concern before I start trying to dump weight. It just seems like mt bikes and components are so weight concious.
    Too many variables......I went, over the years, from a (probably about) 30# rigid to (more or less)a 27# fs - the lightness and suspension of the newer bike have definitely made me a "faster" rider (which some would percieve as better), but I believe am slowly becoming less technically proficient because of fs allowing one to be "sloppier" in picking lines, etc (which some would percieve as worse)....In general, the "lighter" one's riding is (say.c), the lighter bike can be safely and wisely used...if one is into hopping off of cliffs for fun, then durability is the main issue and light is not where it's at.

  7. #7
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    depends on your legs....

    while I agree with Warp that yeah of course the easiest way to go faster is build a lighter bike, I disagree about the power thing. My trailbike is right around 32 1/2 lbs. When I first got it, yeah it felt much heavier than my previous 28 lb'er.. but after three months on my new ride I am the fastest I have ever been in my life. I've been riding alot, and on a lot of longer rides (40+ miles) and now I don't even notice the weight. Plus when I hop on the SS I feel like it weighs nothing even though it still probably sits at 25lbs.

    If you can finesse a 32 lb bike then you can finesse a 25 lb bike. that's why I like it. Also, having good control of my heavy bike maintains my upper body much better, which I find very helpfull for SS'ing!

    don't count grams, just ride hard! heavy bikes rule!

  8. #8
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    You guys are forgetting the most important variable!

    The price of the bike is what really gives you the edge...any bike over 2 grand will make you a better rider. Anything under that - well why even bother? You'll just spend the majority of your ride hating yourself for riding such a poor performing POS.

  9. #9
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    the weight you like to ride

    One could argue that a heavier bike requires more energy to pedal and maneuver, and therefore makes you stronger. One could counter that with the argument that a lighter bike encourages more rapid pedaling and can be ridden longer to improve endurance.

    The only thing that improves your strength, speed and skills on a bike is riding, so the best weight for a bike is the one that encourages you to ride the most. If you like to bomb downhills and this sketches you out on a lighter bike then a heavier rig is the ticket. OTOH if you prefer to grind gnarly uphills then a lighter ride is more appropriate.

    If you are tired of your current bike then the right weight may be anything different that will encourage you to get back on the trails.

  10. #10
    Be about it!
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    Geometry, Shocks, Wheels, etc also...

    My first bike was a 2000 Fisher Sugar 3 -- pretty light bike, but lacked in travel. I upp'd the travel and wheels and after a few rides got adjusted to the change and was riding faster up and down (even with a slight weight increase). I also bought an Uzzi SLX and Gemini 1000. Both with 6" + of travel -- The problem with those FR/DH bikes were not only the weight, but the BB height, headtube angle and super-plush suspension. Although my conditioning was improving, the problem was that the riders I rode with were also getting stronger and faster on much lighter bikes. So coming down was great, but going up still sucked.

    So now I have an Intense Tracer which is right around 27lbs (real similar to the Sugar), but it's night and day. The geometry on the Tracer is amazing, the rigidity of the frame is very obvious and of course the suspension is different. Without getting into any details I have to say that I enjoy going downhill on moderately rough trails better on the Tracer as compared to DH/FR bikes. Of course I wasn't really using those DH/FR bikes to their potential either because at best I'm an aggressive trail rider and don't do much jumps/hucks and I still try and eyeball my lines. The Tracer just feels so light and agile compared to the other bikes and even though it "only" has 4" of travel, it's been plenty for the riding I do. I can go up and down quickly (I still have a long ways to go before I consider myself strong), nonetheless the overall bike is PHAT as hell and just plain out fast!

    My point is that the overall bike is more important -- weight is just 1 factor, though a big one in some cases -- so you gotta figure out what type of riding you do, the terrain you ride and then you can choose a bike within a reasonable weight range.

    Peace!
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  11. #11
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    I'm sorry to be nitpicky, but please revisit high school physics. This is completely wrong, remember the experiment where a feather and a bowling ball fall at the same rate (in a vacuum to negate the effects of friction). You do have more inertia going downhill if you are heavier.


    Quote Originally Posted by Warp2003
    the heavier you are the faster gravity will pull you down.
    Give 'da people 'da air.

  12. #12
    "El Whatever"
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBOC
    I'm sorry to be nitpicky, but please revisit high school physics. This is completely wrong, remember the experiment where a feather and a bowling ball fall at the same rate (in a vacuum to negate the effects of friction). You do have more inertia going downhill if you are heavier.
    Yup, I said stupid things. My apologies.
    But the outcome is the same. A heavier rider will gain momentum faster than a lighter one going DH. I personally weight 140# and I gotta pedal to keep up with people heavier than me going down a hill.

    Just to make clear the power thing, a elite track cyclist can put out only 1HP for a short period of time (1 minute or less). Maybe some guys could put out some higher than the 1HP barrier but you can count them with just one hand and still play classical piano. You can increase your power output by training (choose any method you want) but still, it will not be that much especially on the long run. So a lighter bike will require less effort to pedal and thus you can make it go faster with the same power you were using.

    MTB is not that simple but above mentioned stuff applies. If you want to make a upgrade that would make you actually faster, I must remark: shave weight at the wheels!!!! This is the more performance improving upgrade you can possibly do (suspension apart).

    Reducing rotating mass (which make for greater inertia moments) is the key here.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warp2003

    Reducing rotating mass (which make for greater inertia moments) is the key here.
    Yea, but won't smaller tires eg. 26 x 2.0-2.1 equal out to less stability at high speed vs. 2.7 or 2.5 or even 2.35? I think I'd rather trade rolling efficeincy for a chin slider.

  14. #14
    "El Whatever"
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    Quote Originally Posted by MVRIDER
    Yea, but won't smaller tires eg. 26 x 2.0-2.1 equal out to less stability at high speed vs. 2.7 or 2.5 or even 2.35? I think I'd rather trade rolling efficeincy for a chin slider.
    Nope. For the same tire width you can have lighter tires. You can go tubeless. You can have lighter rims. You can use butted spokes. Always within the limits of your riding style. I was not saying to go down Whistler Mountain on 1.95 XC semi-slicks.

    I was talking about rotational WEIGHT. Not rolling resistance. Different stuff. Obviously, you can not use a XC rim on a DH rig. And this applies to every part of the bike for Christ sake!!! There are heavy DH rigs and there are "light" DH rigs. Within the same riding style there are heavy and light bikes. how do you figure out some people consider the Spec Epic as heavy??? It's obviously heavy for XC racing but not that the bike is a ship anchor.

    BTW.... I like heavy bikes.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warp2003
    Nope. For the same tire width you can have lighter tires. You can go tubeless. You can have lighter rims. You can use butted spokes. Always within the limits of your riding style. I was not saying to go down Whistler Mountain on 1.95 XC semi-slicks.

    I was talking about rotational WEIGHT. Not rolling resistance. Different stuff. Obviously, you can not use a XC rim on a DH rig. And this applies to every part of the bike for Christ sake!!! There are heavy DH rigs and there are "light" DH rigs. Within the same riding style there are heavy and light bikes. how do you figure out some people consider the Spec Epic as heavy??? It's obviously heavy for XC racing but not that the bike is a ship anchor.

    BTW.... I like heavy bikes.
    Good explanation!!

    Most people are taking this thread with a few month of adapation in mind. Personally, I believe if you're going to enter a race and had a choice between a heavier and a lighter bike with about the same quality wheels, drivetain..etc I'd definitely take the lighter one because it will be much easier to push it up a hill. Also, the handling will be a little bit quicker because there is less total inertia allowing easier direction changes.

  16. #16
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    Define "Better"....

    Quote Originally Posted by keen
    I was wondering if riding a heavier or lighter bike makes you a better rider. Does more weight make you stronger, slower or both? Does a lighter bike make you faster but not as strong. I have a 35lb. trail bike that seems to like to gain weight and would like to see if there is any real concern before I start trying to dump weight. It just seems like mt bikes and components are so weight concious.
    If you're talking better performance in an XC race, I'm sure a lighter bike is the way to go. For better performance on technical singletrack/light freeridey stuff, you'l probably do better on your 35lb trailbike. I'l say that pedaling your 35lb trailbike up a hill will certainly make you a STRONGER rider then pedaling a 25lb XC bike up the same hill...but you'l get to the top quicker on the lighter bike.

    ...It all depends on what yooz calling "better" and ultimately...what puts that smile on your face
    Last edited by Ricko; 11-05-2004 at 06:19 PM. Reason: sp

  17. #17
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    For me lighter is faster

    Quote Originally Posted by keen
    I was wondering if riding a heavier or lighter bike makes you a better rider. Does more weight make you stronger, slower or both? Does a lighter bike make you faster but not as strong. I have a 35lb. trail bike that seems to like to gain weight and would like to see if there is any real concern before I start trying to dump weight. It just seems like mt bikes and components are so weight concious.
    being that if a ride is 50% uphill and 50% downhill that means I'll be spending 75% of my time riding up, so I'd rather have my bike leaning towards being an uphill machine. Out of my faster buddies riding 4"To 5" 30 pound plus duallies I can keep up or almost keep up with them on the down hills so if I don't wait at the top of climbs for them they won't see me or my 22 pound HT.

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    Define better -

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricko
    If you're talking better performance in an XC race, I'm sure a lighter bike is the way to go. For better performance on technical singletrack/light freeridey stuff, you'l probably do better on your 35lb trailbike. I'l say that pedaling your 35lb trailbike up a hill will certainly make you a STRONGER rider then pedaling a 25lb XC bike up the same hill...but you'l get to the top quicker on the lighter bike.

    ...It all depends on what yooz calling "better" and ultimately...what puts that smile on your face
    I originally purchased my Enduro w/ the intention of owning one bike that would do it all. I really enjoy bombing down singletrack so I decided, coming from an MX backgound , some beefy components were manditory so I ran a Vanilla 125R, Singletrack rims, 2.4" Motoraptors, XT drivetrain. I have always wanted to raise the BB height on my Enduro so I purchased an affordable 6" 20mm Manitou Sherman Flick. Weighing in @ over 5lb. there is some more weight for my bike. No racing but plenty of hills.

  19. #19
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    I'm a trailrider, not a downhiller, but one thing I haven't seen anyone mention is braking power. Seems to me that a lighter bike, especially if it has lighter wheels, will require less braking effort (and give you the equivelent of more total braking power). Then again, maybe you downhill guys don't use the brakes that much, I dunno

    Okay, so if we lived in a magical world where you could have a 29lb downhill bike that was just as strong as a 45lb bike (and both bikes were free), which would you chose? Assume that you cannot add ballast to the light bike.
    Last edited by Warthog; 11-06-2004 at 11:07 AM.

  20. #20
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    The lighter one would be better. Less inertia so you can take corners faster.

  21. #21
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    Riding your preferred MTB style often, is what makes you a better rider

    [QUOTE=keen]I was wondering if riding a heavier or lighter bike makes you a better rider. Does more weight make you stronger, slower or both? ...
    I really enjoy bombing down singletrack, coming from an MX background...
    QUOTE]

    As others have stated, there are many variables aside from bike weight as to what a makes for a better, stronger rider. What kind of better, strong rider do you want to be? As regards bike weight, if you love bombing the big hit singletrack, you're going to need a beefier (and heavier) bike than if you're training for XC racing (although bombing downhill runs can be part of the regimen when done on a bike made for it).
    But riding alot of what you prefer to ride will make you stronger and better. Lighter weight bikes for "bombing down singletrack" are typically more responsive, and expensive; but a line is crossed when the weight drops to the point where frailty is met.
    Likewise, if you wanted to get into XC racing, you'll need to put in some time on the road to build an aerobic base; on long, fast climbs (requiring a light bike) to build an endurance base; and some heavy intervals to build strength.
    Finding the ideal bike involves comparing and weighing various factors. Such as, a given bike manufacturer's reputation for quality; the component set up; bike weight; and what you can afford. As someone pointed out below, the addage of the formula is: "light, strong, inexpensive; pick two".
    The fixation on component weight is there for your consideration: What do you need a given component for? Lighter, expensive gear can belie higher materials and craftsmanship quality; but do you really require that net loss of 10 grams for your net loss of +$100?

  22. #22
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    Warp2003 has a good point..

    With lighter rotational mass.. I know some XC racers who actually used their 'Training wheelsets' for the training rides which are usually the heavier sets (i.e. LX/Rhynolites) then come race day will slap on the bling bling i.e. CrossMax or XTR/XC717 sets. Even though its on the same frame/bike the weight difference can be felt on the climbs.
    "No, it's not Ron Jeremy in tight Lycra Shorts"....

  23. #23
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    Being a XC racer in the sportsman class, I look at weight this way. I'm a wussie, therefore my body turns into dead weight. I need my bike to be as light as possible to counter the large dead carcass on top of it.

  24. #24
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    its more about riding then weight..

    Quote Originally Posted by keen
    I was wondering if riding a heavier or lighter bike makes you a better rider. Does more weight make you stronger, slower or both? Does a lighter bike make you faster but not as strong. I have a 35lb. trail bike that seems to like to gain weight and would like to see if there is any real concern before I start trying to dump weight. It just seems like mt bikes and components are so weight concious.
    i mean you can be in great shape and still smoke your buds on a 35lbs bike. If your outta shape you can still suffer no matter what the weight of the bike is. Get out and ride.

  25. #25
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    weight matters for xc racing

    weight matters (assuming the parts perform well) mainly for xc racing since 70% of race time is spent climbing
    for trail riding or downhill racing the weight is secondary to factor from suspension travel and parts performance
    in all case, design and performance matters, but assuming good design and erforamcne than you're looking and wight vs durability for xc racing
    for trail riding and dh racing weight si less of an issue.

    for instance my 26.5# steel hardtail with xt, hope disks, tubless rear wheel set, and 100mm Marz fork is a lot more fun bike to ride, esp. on deceding
    -vs.-
    my 20.5# aluminum hardtail, xtr, avid rim brakes and 80mm air fork RS Sid..this light al. bike is ealier, faster, to climb, but its not as much FUN to ride or descend on.

    if
    fun = better placement then my 20.5# hardtail or typical NORBA xc race course.
    fun = rough technical single tracks then my 26.5# hardtial is better equipped for fun.
    fun = "really" rough technical single tracks and jumps or dh racing, then a 36# ~42# fs bike's what will be fast and fun: kona coiler or stinky or santa cruz bullitt or vp-fee kind of bike,

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