07 August, 2009

Weight Weenies

I've been thinking about weight today.

I weighed the chrome fillet brazed stems and the quill stem actually weighs about 40g less than a similar size Nitto Technomic. But when we make the quill a little longer the difference will be smaller.

Someone asked about the weight we list for our cranks, not the first time. Why is it that it's higher than some other companies list? That's because we include the weight of the crank, and chain rings and chain ring bolts. Some shops simply list the manufacturer's stated weight, which is often for the arms alone.

By the way, we have two electronic scales. One of them is certified and said to be super accurate, so I'm pretty sure of our weights.

One thing that surprises me is that that some parts can vary in weight by 10% or even 20% from one piece to another. I've also found that some stated weights, mostly for racing stuff that we don't stock, are just plain overly optimistic.

I've decided to cut down on carbs and lost 10.5 pounds in the last four weeks. And without ever feeling hungry. I find that amazing. It's a lot more weight than I could ever shave off my bike.

I actually don't think that bike weight is very important. Most cyclists worry way to much about it.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right on Chris! I actually worry about my fatt butt more than my bike. When I lose 10lbs, going up hills is instantly easier--much more of a difference than whether or not I'm hauling more bike/gear.

cleve said...

My randonneur weighs in at about 30 lbs with fenders, racks, handlebar bag, water bottles, and gear in bag. The other day I happened upon 4 people riding a pace line of sorts, all on sub-20 lb bikes, and it was not hard, not even the least bit hard to keep up with them , lead the pace line, and eventually have them drop off. I'm 58 years old and I use the easiest gear all the time going up hills. I never push myself too hard - just a nice feeling of working the muscles with the breathing up just a bit - I'm really not that strong a rider, so I can say that the weight of my bike definitely doesn't hold me back. Maybe it's the quality of my hubs and the suppleness of my tires :-)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, with the caveat that I have noticed when I intend to ride hard with the club, I'll probably grab one of my lighter bikes.

mw

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, with the caveat that I have noticed when I intend to ride hard with the club, I'll probably grab one of my lighter bikes.

mw

Anonymous said...

Please continue posting weights of your parts. While certainly overrated, I still prefer a light bike to a heavy one.
Amazing you lost 10.5# w/o feeling hungry!
Congratulations!
I must endure constant hunger even when just trying to maintain my weight, let alone lose any.

"As God as my witness, I'll always be hungry again!" -Homer J. Simpson

Chris Kulczycki said...

If anyone is interested, the diet advice that I followed was found here :

http://www.thepaleodiet.com/

There is actually a lot of science behind this paleo thing. What I find most interesting is the growing number of scientists and doctors who say that it's carbs, not fats, that are the primary cause of both weight gain and cardio diseases. There is tons of info about this on the web.

Josh Mitchell said...

Yeah, one can drop body weight faster, with less cost and with likely more impact on speed (due to being healthier) than one can drop bike weight.

Ryan said...

I second the request to keep posting weight. I have two bikes. One has a dual rack setup and I'm sure it's at least 30lbs. The other is a little lighter weight, and I use it not only for fast rides, but also for when I don't want to take a 30+ pound bike up and down three flights of stairs to go to the store.

I'm no weight weenie, but light bikes have their moments.

Sean said...

Not sure about the carb-light diet. Avoid junk, but pasta is a miracle cycling fuel leading up to big (long) rides.

I like to balance bike weight with durability. I'm 195lbs, and am relatively hard on my gear. I run heavier wheels and tires than many people - but rolling slower is faster than stopping for a flat or mechanical failure.

Brian said...

Funny timing as I just got a copy of "The Primal Blue Print" and have started reading it. Nice to hear from someone who is using the info succesfully.

Brian

JB said...

Weight matters.
Comfort matters.
Durability matters.
Functionality matters.
Aesthetics matter.
Aerodynamics matter.
Price matters.

I don't think anybody would really argue any of these points. The only question is how to weigh these considerations against each other when they inevitably conflict. We all do this differently depending on how we ride.

So, give us the weight. I'm a big enough dork to weigh my tire levers on my kitchen scale, but I also think the extra weight of my Brooks saddle is totally worth it. Now, if you could find me a saddle as comfortable as my Brooks but half the weight, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

cyclists definitely worry too much about weight...

they also worry too much about what they eat...

Kilroy said...

Greetings,

I'm concerned about bicycle "weight" as much as I am with the slight blemish of the hidden finish of the previous chrome plated fillet brazed stems. My main concern is with the unending line of college students that continue to "blow by me" on my bicycle rides!

Best regards.

patates frites said...

That diet sounds interesting, but I ain't payin' no $700 for someone to tell me to cut the carbs. I can do that by myself.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Patates, I wouldn't pay $700 either; do I look that dumb? ;<) Just get the book. The library might even have it. All the same info is on the web too; lots of blogs and sites and blogs about paleo diets out there. Try http://www.paleodiet.com/ . But the book puts it all in one neat package.

Alan said...

I always find it funny when overweight riders are concerned with the weight of their bikes. Ultralight backpackers fall into the same group. I've gotten my body weight back in line and lots of things are now easier; biking, walking, sweating less in hot weather, ....

Alan said...

I took a quick look at the diet web site. Michael Pollan summed this up rather simply, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." You have to be careful as to the food you select, especially when it comes to meat. For example, feedlot beef is a much different animal than grass fed, organic beef.

Jay said...

Check out Mark Sisson's blog as well for reasonable implementation of a paleo style diet:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-succeed-with-the-primal-blueprint/

JB said...

Alan,

Overweight riders have just about as much (or as little) reason to worry about weight as skinny folk. It's physics: It takes less work to move less weight up hills.

As is obvious from this whole thread, the importance of weight is debatable. But it's the exact* same debate for heavy and skinny riders alike.

* Ok, maybe not exact: A 120lb rider who shaves a pound off her bike shaves a larger percentage of weight off the total package than a 200lb rider. But still.

Alan said...

JB, I agree with you. My point is that it's just nuts to fret about bike weight if your body weight is out of line. I used to weigh 200 pounds, now I weigh 170, net loss of 30 pounds. No amount of money is going to buy me a bike weighing 30 pounds less than the one I am riding for that bike would need to weigh less than zero. A lighter bike would certainly be easier to peddle than a heavier bike. While I can lose 30 pounds of body weight, the gain from a lighter bike is minimal as there is only so far you can go.

bsk said...

Just remember the smart ways to eat beans, grains, and legumes. Sprouts and sauerkraut come to mind.

A lot can be gleaned reading raw-foodie literature. Surprisingly often it shares theories with the low-carb stuff. Of course the foods they recommend are quite different....

Joel said...

I have never had a weight problem and never worried about the weight of my bikes.

My first priority is to have the bike set up the way I want. My second priority is to have the bike look nice. Weight takes care of itself after that.

For the most part, I cheerfully ignore weight weenie questions - all those - nice bike! what does it weigh? I do find myself getting annoyed when extreme WWs associate low weight with higher quality.

Some high quality parts are among the lowest in their category - see TA chain rings. Many are more in the middle. Some are on the heavy side.

Anonymous said...

Grant Petersen would be proud of you.

Gunnar Berg said...

Ahhhh, not to worry, I found your missing 10.5 pounds.

Anonymous said...

Bike weight is the MOST important factor when you have a bad back and knees and have to carry it up and down 5 flights of steep narrow stairs and then lift it over your head to hook it onto the ceiling bike rack. Would love to see someone tell me that extra 15 lbs makes no difference.

Anonymous said...

I've read in several (non-cycling related articles) that 1 pound of rotational weight is equal to 4 pounds of static weight. Unfortunately, this is probably the impetus behind all the low-spoke-count wheels prevalent today (along with aerodynamics, I'm sure). Since none (maybe few?) of us are racing, I think more spokes and larger tires give a much more comfortable/durable/aesthetic wheel combo, without question. Like Chuck Berry said, "it's not what you got, it's where you put it". Despite ALL of my 4 bikes weighing north of 30 lbs, I still give a +1 on including the weight, if it's not too much trouble, if for no other reason than strict curiosity. BTW, I weigh 149 lbs, for better or worse.

Rick

ToddBS said...

You're 100% correct about the weight thing. For 99% of us. For the actual road racers out there, they're down to skin and bones as it is so I guess they can be worried about an extra 10g somewhere.

My philosophy has always been that if I have a choice of shaving 100g off my ride or getting stronger, I'll get stronger. It will benefit me in more ways than just the ride.

joel said...

Throwing this out there on weight and racing:

A while back, Vintage Bike Quarterly reported on a road test Jan Heine and crew did on wheel rolling resistance.

Their results showed wide smooth tires with quality rubber compound were actually faster than more thin (and presumably lighter - I lent the magazine to someone who did not return it) tires.

Pro Racers use what their sponsors give them. Most amateurs use what they see the pros using. It could be that race tires while lighter do not necessarily a faster biker make.

I recall thinking at the time the VBQ test set up and measurements could have been more robust. However, I have not seen any compelling counter arguments about tire speed on the road. There may actually be something to the results.

Lats said...

Totally agree.

If you're worried about your bike weight I say 'Eat less Pie' but still enjoy your food!

Nathan Backous said...

I got curious the other day so I weighed my everyday commuter bike. 55lbs. 55lbs of magic.

Do I get passed by people in spandex on sub 20lb carbon bikes? Totally. Do I have to take a shower when I get to work? Nope. Net commute time 25 mins, but would be longer if I rode faster and then had to take a shower afterwards.

Worrying about weight ruins the fun of riding a bike.

wirehead said...

I was writing a post here, but I realized I pretty much wrote a blog response, so I just posted it.

It's about wasted weight, not being a weight weenie.

As far as weight loss, I've been able to lose weight equally well with caloric restriction with carbs and a low-carb diet.

I have stopped eating things that claim to be "low fat" and that actually has worked out OK for me.

Andrew said...

I've been eating hard core paleo for about 3 months now and I feel fantastic. I didn't really have weight to lose, just other issues that led me there. But the side effect is that I lost all fat off my stomach, it's now hard as a rock.

It takes a while for the body to adjust to burning fat rather than pasta though. I'm only just feeling ok doing a two or three hour ride now.

Anonymous said...

I don't think weight matters that much if you're comparing quality road bikes to quality road bikes. A couple of lbs really is not going to make a difference when climbing if you have the appropriate gearing, and you're not concerned about racing up with the obsessive-compulsive crowd. It's all psychological. And that's just for climbs. It makes even less difference, and in fact, none at all, when just riding level ground.

Now, if you're bringing 30-plus pound bikes into the equation, well, then sure, that's going to make a difference. But when I ride, I bring stuff with me, and I don't weigh any of it, so who cares. I just use a lower gear if I have to, and I have no shame about it whatsoever. I even climb with my heavier early-80's touring bike sometimes, and while it handles more sluggishly than my 90's sport tourer, it can climb the same hills.

Surely, bikes like VO deals with aren't being bought by people who care about ounces. The Alps were being toured even decades ago by people on heavy touring bikes.

Anonymous said...

I do have some reservations about the less carbs idea. I've lived on carbs all my life, and even at 56, I'm still within my ideal BMI. It's not what you eat, it's calories in versus calories used. That's all. All you need to do is to cut out the extra calories that you don't need, like the between meal snacks and drinks.

Marc said...

Usually when somebody asks the weight of my bike, I grab a couple fingers full of skin at my waist and tell them: "When I can't do this, I'll worry about that."

Anonymous said...

Taken from the copenhagencyclechic.com blog

"The North American fascination over weight is a hangover from decades of the bicycle being a product of the the sports/hobby industry. Those times are changing now. They can start putting kickstands, fenders, back racks and baskets back on now. We're not out to win the Tour de France. We just want to ride"

Anonymous said...

"I have stopped eating things that claim to be "low fat" and that actually has worked out OK for me."

I'm not positive about this, but I think "low fat" usually equates to more sugar. The calories have to come from somewhere.

Steve said...

An anonymous poster said:

cyclists definitely worry too much about weight...

they also worry too much about what they eat...


Now why does this bring The Triplets of Belleville to mind, I wonder?

Anonymous said...

I would certainly agree that some cyclists get way too carried away with the weight of their bikes and/or components, but I can say with certainty that for me, a 20-pound bike is easier to pedal up a given hill at a given speed than a 25-pound one. That said, I don't worry whether I have a 23-pound bike or a 24-pound one for any particular situation (for example).

Andrew said...

Anonymous: It actually IS more complicated than calories in, calories out. Everyone has a different level of sensitivity to carbs, and the way their insulin response works. Some people can stay thin on lots of carbs, but lots of people can't. As Gary Taubes says, there is something "uniquely fattening" about carbs.

Garth said...

Wind resistance takes the majority of a bicyclist's energy, not a few pounds difference.

That being said, I enjoyed replacing heavy clunky parts on my Heron with lighter parts. For instance, the Truvative "road triple" was a joy to ditch in favor of a Sugino PX with two TA rings.

My bike's pretty heavy because of the saddlebag and all the stuff I carry. When I take that off, I'm amazed how light it is, and I like that.

Bear in mind, I weigh 135 pounds and am 6 foot. I can never seem to eat enough...

AJ said...

Bicycle weight is very, very important. How the weight is distributed etc ... it's endless. The less experience you have the more significant weight weighs into your bicycle, just the "whole" weight. I'm inclined to ride a bike that feels great to ride and weighs more than a bicycle that weighs far less but feels terrible. I don't think a case exists for diminishing the importance of weight. I take a great riding bicycle that is lighter over a great riding bicycle that is heavier. I do feel sorry for those people who need to sell bicycles to people who recognize little about the value of weight.

AJ said...

...also the lighter a rider is the more important the weight of the bicycle is. I have found this to be very significant. A 50kg rider will notice one hell of a difference between a 7kg bike and a 9kg. I suspect the sensitivity is similar to the exponential curve. A 40kg rider would really be slapped about. Heavier people are really lucky in this respect. They push the limits of components without even trying, they flow with the bicycle mass better. This is my experience, naturally.

BG's Blog said...

The weight weenie fixations on dropping grams will never end. All the rationale for paying ridiculous amounts of cash to shave a few more grams from ones bike falls on deaf ears to those who peruse such things. I've seen more than my share of fellow riders touting their latest, lighter-than-ever part to the rest of the club riders. It is true, cutting rider weight rather than buying some feather weight bike jewelry part is the better way to go - healthier and less bruising to ones wallet. Ever note that women rarely fall prey to such idiocy - perhaps they are not only the fairer sex, but the wiser as well.

M said...

I think there may be something deeply paleo about parts weight obsession. It's not really about the weight -- it's about the hunt. It's about finding, the rarest, most exotic, most fabled parts.

To me craftsmanship and history are worth hunting for.

Balance and proportion effect ride at least as much as raw weight. A bicycle is, after all, an instrument.

J ustin. said...

I went on the same basic ride twice today - once while loaded up with my weekly groceries and once with no panniers, bags, etc - just a u-lock strapped to the front.

My bike felt like it was made of carbon on the second ride! Perception is key - there's always something lighter, always something heavier. It's better just to ride a bike that does what you need it to do.

rgonet said...

Chris: I'm interested on your take on the paleo diet. How difficult was it and how did you like it? Did it become pleasurable? Do you think you will continue it after your experimentation perios? Have you noticed anything else other than weight loss?

Anonymous said...

Joel said:

"A while back, Vintage Bike Quarterly reported on a road test Jan Heine and crew did on wheel rolling resistance.
Their results showed wide smooth tires with quality rubber compound were actually faster than more thin (and presumably lighter - I lent the magazine to someone who did not return it) tires.
Pro Racers use what their sponsors give them. Most amateurs use what they see the pros using. It could be that race tires while lighter do not necessarily a faster biker make."



Interesting article, and a great justification for old guys (like me) to use wider tires.

But this shows a bit of selective memory also. The fastest tire in the test was a 24mm Deda race tire. Jan's conclusion was that the construction of the tire is more important than the width.

He has also mentioned that skinny tires are faster on smooth pavement and wider tires are faster on rough pavement. Who doesn't have rough pavement? Most racers, that's who.

Race tires are in fact lighter than wide tires, and rolling resistance doesn't mean much when you're climbing the Alps at race pace. A 15 pound bike climbs faster than a 25 pound bike for the same power input.

Race sponsors are in the game to win. If the team doesn't win, it isn't worth the advertising budget. The bikes are built to win, not necessarily for comfort. Racers ride what they're given, but it's a mistake to think that they're given equipment that's not as fast as the team can afford.

We might be scoffing at the wannabes who are buying the equivalent of F1 cars for club rides when we think that they ought to buy a Lexus, but that doesn't reduce the need for F1 drivers to use those cars to win races.

Rich F.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The paleo diet is not hard, except breakfast since I'm used to nothing but coffee and fruit, or a croissant. I'm not super strict about it, still drink coffee and wine, still eat some extra carbs when at restaurants. Overall, I generally feel fine and plan to continue.

The thing that's cool is that if you eat only protein and veggies, it seems to stave off hunger for a long time. I've missed breakfast once and dinner twice and felt only mildly peckish, no hunger pangs at all.

Anonymous said...

Re: Bike weight. Our local "Surly Randonneur" (rides brevets on a Long Haul Trucker) estimates he's shaved sixteen pounds from the total system by removing the racks, using water bottles in frame-mounted cages instead of wearing the Camelback and somehow getting six pounds off the engine. No new wheels or tires (yet). The results are astounding in terms of his completion time. I really WILL have to lock him in the bathroom at the midpoint if I want to "beat" him in the next 200 km brevet.

Actually, not. I ride brevets more as a fitness check for touring than anything, so between my bike (Trek 520), my equipment and my essential laziness (I'd rather carry the front racks all over than take them off and put them back on when I need them) my total consist is about 40 pounds. It'd be less if I left the lock and the maps at home....

Anonymous said...

Diet notes:

I gotta tell you people get pretty upset, IRATE, positively go flamewarrior over diets. And I'm guilty. Friends have had to separate me from health fair booth demonstrators talking about "effective carbs" (one problem is the "effective carb" number is derived by subtracting all the sugar alcohol carbohydrates, when the American Diabetes Association recommends counting them as half, and in actuality some sugar alcohols affect blood sugar levels at about the same way as glucose, your glycemic index may vary, and in part because "effective carbs" is too too close for comfort or explaination among the credulous to "net carbohydrates," where you subtract the dietary fiber carbohydrates from the food content, if you really want to know more ask a Registered Dietician or your favorite Type 1 diabetic).

I think you see where I'm going to here. In the US, the food supplement industry has a bit of a reputation for underregulation and lax product monitoring (so "I took an American dietary supplement" is a favorite excuse for athletes caught with wacky hormones in their blood, not to mention the occasional "Chinese herbs" that are "good for your blood sugar" that have been dusted with glyburide).

Let's not forget what we can call "the study effect." I don't have a link on me, but Jenny Brand-Miller did one study where the four college-student study cohorts were given different proportions and glycemic indexes of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in their diets, but allowed to eat however much they wanted. The punchline, yeah there were rate of loss differences, but all the cohorts lost weight. If they'd eaten the amounts which they they ate on the study to begin with, they'd all have been nice and thin no matter what their fat/protein/carb and high vs. low glycemic index diet properties would be.

Yeah, I need to lose some weight....

Singletrack Mind said...

Hear Hear!!!

Marc said...

regarding the comment from Anonymous:"I'm not positive about this, but I think "low fat" usually equates to more sugar. The calories have to come from somewhere."

I can verify that. Many years ago I managed the training store for a major buffet chain in the southwest. We tested the recipes and products for the chain. A major manufacturer was giving us a chance to test their new "no fat" dressings on our salad bar. When the rep made his pitch I asked him how they managed to emulsify and stabilize the seasoning without oil or fat. He explained they added a great "new mono-saccharide!" He was a little embarassed when I guessed that meant simple sugar.
Rather than getting fat, you're given something which forces you to produce more fat.
Oh, yeah. We tested the product and they are wildly popular all over the country.

Pierre said...

French style traditional bikes are meaningless without the French attitude about life.

Enjoy the ride, enjoy food, enjoy drink... but without going overboard.

Or do it the American way... obsess about the weight of your bike, obsess about the numbers on your cyclocomputer and powermeter, eat gel, obsess about diet... because life is meaningless without those things.

I prefer the traditional way, myself.

P.S. Yes, my name really is Pierre :-)

American Patriot said...

Pierre, how many times have the French won the Tour de France in the last decade ? Go eat another croissant .

Le Cagot said...

French riders have won the tour 36 times. Americans have won it 10 times, Belgians 18, Spanish 12, Italians 9, etc. A Cagot has never won.

What does that have to do with cyclo-touring or enjoying life.

Anonymous said...

An aunt over from Europe said it nicely, "what is it with pregnant men here all riding $10,000 bikes?"

George Stick said...

Pierre, you generalizations about americans make you sound simply like a small minded bigot. Is tha part of the French way

Anonymous said...

Pierre's generalization about the American attitude towards cycling seems reasonable from my viewpoint in Southern California. I don't see a lot of power meters, but computers, gels, obsession with bike weight all seem pretty common. (He could have added "aerobars.")

But his generalization about the French attitude surprises me. I'm a long way from Paris, so I don't have first hand knowlege, but based on imported French cycling products, I would have thought the French cycling attitude is ultra high tech. The products I see are:

(1) Clipless pedals. If I'm not mistaken, that's an innovation in the 1980's of the Frech company Look when it was then better known for ski bindings.

(2) Carbon frames (Look and Time).

(3) Wheels without many spokes (Mavic, including the famous exploding R-Sys).

By contrast, it seems like the French cyclo touring products aren't made any more (for instance, Ideale saddles and Maxi-Car hubs).

Like I say, I'm not in the ground in France, so maybe my impression is wrongly skewed by what gets imported to the US.

--Wayne

Beth said...

If you have to carry a bike up 4 flights of stairs for your walk-up apartment, the weight of the bicycle matters. If you have to then store your bike on a hook on the wall because you don't have a garage, weight matters. If you're carrying your bike upstairs from a train platform, the weight of your bike matters.

There are a number of practical reasons to be concerned about bike weight for many slim urban dwellers.