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  1. #1
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    Bike weight vs rider weight

    Obviously rotational weight like your wheels, tires, brake rotors, etc will be felt. However, between dead weight on the bike versus the rider, is there a difference?


    For example, if you take the exact same bike and exact same rider (and all other things equal), is 3-5lbs of bike weight going to be more noticeable than 3-5lbs of rider weight? I guess the easiest example would be multiple full water bottles on the bike versus a camelbak.


    The real world question for me is... If I get a bike with a little more travel, it will inevitably weigh a little more. Is a couple pounds in bike weight really going to make climbing a hill substantially more of a pain or would it be like riding with an extra water bottle on what I already have? For this discussion lets assume that rotational weight is the same.

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    Of the 3.1 million Google results for "bike weight vs rider weight" I clicked this from Velonews: Tech FAQ: Does bike weight matter? - VeloNews.com

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    Real world experience from a group of my peers is more valuable to me than one mans opinion. That's why I posted...

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    I'd put more weight (no pun intended) in a Leonard Zinn opinion backed by actual numbers than so-called real world experience from anonymous weight weenie peers where 50 grams saved gets hundreds of subjective replies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    Real world experience from a group of my peers is more valuable to me than one mans opinion. That's why I posted...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    ...However, between dead weight on the bike versus the rider, is there a difference?

    yes. at least for me there is. i can feel my bike being more responsive the lighter it is.

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    Assuming you're carrying the weight (no total weight difference) on either you or the bike, I'd think it depends more on riding style. Fast turns where you want to be able to whip your bike, I'd want the weight off the bike. Lots of rocks/roots where your frame will bounce around like crazy and you'll loose stuff attached to your bike, throw it in a backpack. don't want your camelback swinging around on your back, throw it on your bike. Straight line/road, doesn't matter.
    If I'm bringing a camelbak for water, I put stuff in my camelbak. If not, I put what fits inside my sadle bag (always has tire/patch kit and multitool, no matter what).

  7. #7
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    Dead bike weight has a pretty small effect on acceleration and braking in a straight line and is probably equal to body weight.

    Where bike weight becomes important is maneuverability, climbing acceleration deceleration while on difficult terrain, flicability in the air, ability to control the bike, etc.

    Think putting a 2 foot stick attached to a 20 lb weight in your hand. and wave it around. Now do the same thing with a 30 lb weight. It will be noticeably different in how easy it is to move. That is essentially what you are doing with the bike. now put a 20 lb backpack on and then a 30 lb. the change is very little.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moefosho View Post
    Dead bike weight has a pretty small effect on acceleration and braking in a straight line and is probably equal to body weight.

    Where bike weight becomes important is maneuverability, climbing acceleration deceleration while on difficult terrain, flicability in the air, ability to control the bike, etc.

    Think putting a 2 foot stick attached to a 20 lb weight in your hand. and wave it around. Now do the same thing with a 30 lb weight. It will be noticeably different in how easy it is to move. That is essentially what you are doing with the bike. now put a 20 lb backpack on and then a 30 lb. the change is very little.
    so if you're overweight just buy a lighter bike and you're good!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fsrxc View Post
    so if you're overweight just buy a lighter bike and you're good!
    If only it was that simple.

    I prefer to lose weight in all categories.
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    Rider weight matters more, but with a number of exceptions.

    -There is such a thing as too skinny, power declines for reasons I never understood.
    -How much body weight to lose.

    Look at it in terms of the power/weight ratio. Making up some numbers:

    300w/75kg = 4.00
    300w/73kg = 4.10 (-4lbs american)

    The tenths on the end are *meaningful* speed.

    Check my math. I just hammered that out not thinking about it too much.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by moefosho View Post
    If only it was that simple.

    I prefer to lose weight in all categories.
    yeah, my smart-ass reply was kinda out of context anyway, since the OP is not really talking about "overweight rider wanting light bike".

    I'm in a similar spot, looking at new bikes, and debating 5" vs 6" Trail/AM bikes (~2lb heavier for the extra travel/geometry/beefier spec). I'm <150lb so I think I stand to benefit from a lighter bike (on our long climbs), but having a hard time justifying an extra $2k+ for a carbon high spec bike that's a couple pounds lighter...

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    I once dropped 4 lbs off my cyclocross bike by switching from a steel frame and fork to carbon fiber and by putting on skinnier tires. The bike felt a little quicker (probably just from the slightly lower gearing of smaller tires), but it made almost no significant difference in my average speed over my normal route. A couple of weeks ago I dropped 1 1/2 lbs off my commuter bike just by swapping out the rims. I could barely tell a difference at all. I have two single speed bikes with the same gearing and one is probably 4 or 5 lbs heavier than the other one. Can't really tell any difference in effort when climbing. So based on all that, my conclusion is that weight matters a lot less than most people think it does. (For reference, rider weight is 190 lbs).

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    The only riders who should care about weight on a bike are getting all their equipment for free anyway.

    Mass is mass, generally speaking. Where it comes from will change the rider-bike system's center of mass, but it doesn't impact real world riding much at all. Rotating mass being worse than non rotating is largely a fallacy as well. The biggest reason to cut wheel weight is because they are a large source of bike weight, generally, and not that they rotate. Yes, light wheels accelerate easier, but they decelerate more easily too.

    If I had magical abilities, I'd shift the weight from my love handles to the BB and the wheels.

  14. #14
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    I found that once you do the big things like you listed (wheelset, drivetrain, etc) the others don't matter as much. You see comparisons like this alot, and I think it definitely depends. If you lose 30lbs on yourself, you'll see gains. But losing that first 5lbs in rotational weight can give you those gains or more. That's why when people are quick to say, focus on losing weight on the rider, before losing weight on the bike, they're only correct some of the time.

    Going from a 30lb ht to a 25lb ht was huge. Going 25lb to 23lb was smaller. Going from 23 to 21lb, not much gained. Diminishing returns for sure.

    I'd toss a heavy saddle bag and 2 full bottles of water on the bike and run no camelbak, any day of the week, if the ride permitted it.

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    A lighter bike is going to feel a lot nicer towards the end of an 8hr endurance race. Every time you lift up the front wheel or hop over something. Or twitch the bike to the left to dodge that small rock you use energy. Heavier the bike the more energy used.

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  16. #16
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    I agree with Nic688. Based on my +20-year experience in MTBing, I'd say that weight saving do show after a couple (or more, depending on your condition) hours of riding. The longer the ride, the better it will feel to have a light(er) bike. On short rides, I think that a few lbs don't make such a difference on the bike. That said, I am kind of a weight-weenie myself and always prefer putting extra weight on myself (moving weight) than on the bike (dead weight).

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    Obviously rotational weight like your wheels, tires, brake rotors, etc will be felt. However, between dead weight on the bike versus the rider, is there a difference?

    For example, if you take the exact same bike and exact same rider (and all other things equal), is 3-5lbs of bike weight going to be more noticeable than 3-5lbs of rider weight? I guess the easiest example would be multiple full water bottles on the bike versus a camelbak.


    The real world question for me is... If I get a bike with a little more travel, it will inevitably weigh a little more. Is a couple pounds in bike weight really going to make climbing a hill substantially more of a pain or would it be like riding with an extra water bottle on what I already have? For this discussion lets assume that rotational weight is the same.
    Your question and your reason for it are 2 different things

    1. Weight on bike or off bike makes no serious difference. Lowering centre of gravity makes a tiny difference .

    2. Weight on a bike because it's a longer travel bike makes a measurable difference.

    Longer travel bikes are less efficient in transferring power to the ground, we have guys in our ride group that sometimes bring their trail/all mountain bikes to rides, and guys that are upfront on climbs on their XC bike, are suddenly been waited for at the top on their trail bikes. In a 37minute xc lap I've experienced a specialized stump jumper sworks been 2 to 3 minutes slower a lap than a scalpel. ( they weigh almost the same)

  18. #18
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    I'm by no means a ww,but I avoid water bottles and saddle bags on my bike,I always use a camelbak instead. Maybe it's placebo,maybe just a matter of preference.

    Sent from my ST21i2 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by redmr2_man View Post
    You see comparisons like this alot, and I think it definitely depends. If you lose 30lbs on yourself, you'll see gains. But losing that first 5lbs in rotational weight can give you those gains or more. That's why when people are quick to say, focus on losing weight on the rider, before losing weight on the bike, they're only correct some of the time.
    You're not seriously claiming that losing 5lb of magical rotating mass will give the same (or more) benefit than losing 30lb of rider mass, are you?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsrxc View Post
    so if you're overweight just buy a lighter bike and you're good!
    That's what I tell my wife!

    [Expecting slap across face when she reads this.]

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