Cycling along the Charles River last week, I stopped to enjoy the scenery and eat an apple, when a smiling couple approached me. They had seen a bike like mine at Harris Cyclery and the woman was considering getting one. She asked to have a closer look and examined it with admiration.
But her smile quickly fell when she tried to pick it up. "Oh my God! I don't remember the one at the bike shop being this heavy!" Oh boy, I thought... Did I just ruin a sale for Harris?
As a general observation, I get the sense that when people shop for bikes they often don't take into account which components and accessories the floor model is fitted with. And this can give them an inaccurate sense of what the bicycle would actually be like to use in everyday life, once they fit it with all the cool things they read about on the internet. They don't think it can possibly make that big of a difference. But of course it does.
The first time I tried a Rivendell Sam Hillborne, the floor model was a basic build fitted with 35mm tires, and no lighting, fenders, or racks. Sure, it felt fairly light.
However, when my own bike was assembled, it got a dynamo hub, 42mm tires, aluminum fenders, a headlight, a tail light, a kickstand, a waterbottle cage, a stainless steel waterbottle, a computer, Power Grips, and a brass bell. Taken individually, each of these items seems hardly worth mentioning. But taken together, I could feel an obvious difference between my own bike and the floor model. Several months later, I added a front rack. And then a handlebar bag. Naturally, the bike got heavier still. Finally, a year later I added a rear rack with removeable lowrider panels, which I don't always bother to remove.
Moral of the story? It's real easy to turn a <30lb bike into a 40lb bike. Every extra component, every rack, bag, basket and other accessory we pile on adds weight - not to mention the stuff we end up carrying in those bags and baskets. And that's fine - that's normal and good, as all of those things are usually done to add functionality to the bike. But let's be fair and compare like to like. When bicycle shopping, beware that a floor model may appear lighter than your own bicycle, without actually being lighter once you set it up in the same manner.