Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Weight Sneaks Up on You

Rivendell by the River
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.

70 comments:

  1. Very interesting. I solved the weight problem by buying two bicycles: a Globe Roll 2 with nothing but white/red LEDs for exercise and a Globe Daily 1 with a front wire basket/rear rack, fenders, etc. pour faire mon marché. Of course I could have had a “better” bicycle for the price I paid (950$ + 600$) for the two bicycles but each has its use. I also ordered a Pashley Guv'nor that I'll get in the Spring, as a work of art that I'll use on Sundays.

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  2. Sometimes I feel like my house is the land of the heavy weights. My Globe Daily 3 (with dyno hub) is 32.4 lbs, the DL-1 is 43.6 and my Pashley Roadster Sovereign is a whopping 50.4. I love he sovereign, it gets lots of attention, but it's a whopper that only gets ridden on the flats.

    V, have you come across any bikes with classic geometry (like the DL-1)that are in the 20 lb range?

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  3. When I first returned to riding as an adult it was on the bike boom era ten speed that my Dad had sequestered in the back shed. 49 pounds of lugged and brazed hi-tensile steel with steel rims. I took the fenders off as they were somewhat bent, removed the ineffective "chain guard" (just a circular plate mounted outboard of the big ring) and got rid of the "helper" brake levers on the bar tops. After this, it still weighed over 45 pounds. One nice thing about starting with this bike is that EVERY bike since, no matter what equipment I've added to it has felt lighter than air in comparison!

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  4. I have been far to scared to actually weight my fuji, as i'm sure it is in at least the 30-40 range. but, hey, i also don't really care, since i know can push it up a hill fast enough. maybe as fast as the dude on the carbon fiber bike, maybe not.

    i do know your body weight will make a bigger difference rather than, your bikes weight. a few extra pounds on the bike is nothing in comparison to the mass of the rider. and with all the gained utilitarian functionality of a fully tricked out tourer/commuter, i'd say thats 10-15 pounds well spent. getting the weight onto your bike, and off your back (messenger bags/backpacks) makes a huge difference in how comfortable it is to ride, actually hauling groceries, books, whatever.

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  5. @ Lucky Chow

    (...) bikes with classic geometry that are in the 20 lb range?

    I think the Linus Gaston is quite light.

    http://www.linusbike.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Gaston1_black_zoom.jpg

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  6. Lucky Chow - As far as transport bikes, Bella Ciao and Abici.

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  7. Particularly for a bicycle intended for transport, I'd advise against anyone obsessing over the mass of the bike. Whilst a lighter bike will allow you to go a bit faster at first, it will also allow you to go as fast with less effort. The body is a dynamic thing; if you are riding this bike practically every day, its weight will become largely irrelevant. Over time you'll become stronger if your bike is on the heavy side, (or weaker if it is on the lighter side) and it will balance out. The advantage of a heavier everyday bike is that it gives you the chance to really fly on a super-lightweight bike you only ride occasionally.

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  8. During the work week I commute with a large stuffed Sackville saddlesack. On the weekend I remove the bag and rear rack and go for a joy ride. Boy, do I ever feel the difference, sometime so much that I try to ride to work with a messenger bag and no load on the bike. I always end up missing the utility of the rack and trunk-sized bag and replace them the next day.

    Mona

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  9. Nowhere makes a good point. Right now I'm using 50-lb. Vélib' bikes to get around in Paris, which is a lot of fun when I go up hills. But when I get on my Bike Friday New World Tourist for a fun ride, it seems light as a feather, even with fenders, a rack, lighting, and a full tool bag.

    William Blake Stephens is spot-on, too. My Long Haul Trucker, which I normally use for long rides (when I'm in the US), weighs over 40 lbs. with its accoutrements and my normal tools and first aid kit. But until I lose the 30 excess pounds that I've put on my own frame in the last decade or so, I'm in no hurry to lighten the bike. Maybe when I do that I'll get a Boulder Bicycles brevet bike.

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  10. "How much does that weigh?" seems to the first thing one cyclist will ask another, although sometimes "what did that cost?" pops up too (I always have to answer "I don't know" to both, because, although I know both the off-the-shelf MSRP and published weight of my commuter bike I started modding and swapping parts within the first 36 hours after purchase). It certainly is easy to accessorize yourself into another weight class, and transportation cyclists aren't the only ones who fall victim to this. I've seen guys invest in a 16-pound road bike and then add a gigantic seat bag, aerobars, a gps and whatever else they feel they need, until they find themselves with a 25-lbs machine (the other classic road bike weight folly is to shave weight on the bike by carrying everything in your jersey pockets).

    I'll definitely agree that weight shouldn't be your first priority on a practical bike, but a lot of transportation cyclists find themselves dealing with stairs, curbs, train platforms and varying terrain which occasionally mean picking up the bike and carrying it for a short distance. For a bike to be considered a good all-arounder, I think it's important it be light enough to haul up a flight of stairs (a weight which will vary depending on the rider).

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  11. I periodically weigh my bikes and that causes me to pare back what I routinely carry. Same with clothes. I use the shoes that are lighter and use the heavier ones I like no better at the gym or for walking.

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  12. I have given up caring about what my bikes weigh, instead I focus on having a quality set of true wheels, great tires, comfortable saddle and handlebars and make sure everything is working properly. After 25 years of riding, weight is just not in the top ten of criteria I try to judge a bike by anymore.

    I took my Sam Hillborne out last night and man, what a great riding bike. It is heavier than my old Trek 2.1, but rides so much better. That is what is important.

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  13. Now though, if this same smiling couple had picked up [eg]the Pashley Roadster that Harris Cyclery had there last week they might have been thoroughly impressed with your Rivendell's "feather weight". :)

    BTW - the Bella Ciao is one lovely bicycle! I could be wrong but I didn't get the impression that Harris is that hip to shipping (a whole bike). Any ideas?

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  14. Velodog, I hope that Bella Cioa going to be for Mrs Boptone! I think your stable is a bit unbalanced. ; - )

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  15. Velodog - Harris definitely ships whole bikes. Half of the Superba bikes were bought by people who need them shipped, as far as I know.

    And I agree about the Mrs!

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  16. I prefer this stencil:
    "This bike is fat and runs on fat. It can be skinny but that's another blog post."

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  17. Yes, lets be fair and say that heavy bikes are not as much fun or exciting to ride as light bikes. I've got both kinds and there is a huge difference.

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  18. Speaking of the Superba, any updates on the new one, V? I'm considering the current one (also got the impression they didn't want to ship, BTW) but am curious whether or not to wait and see what the new ones are like. Any hints?

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  19. "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. "

    All to many people have the attention span of an ant. They are lost unless someone tells them what to do or why something is the way it is.

    Also like an ant people follow the crowd in their thinking and actions all to often.

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  20. I just weighed my 65cm Rivendell Road Standard. Complete with fenders, lights, water bottles cages, "ring-a-ding" bell, frame pump and a Nitto M-18 front rack ("Mark's Rack") it weighs approximately 30 lbs. I don't consider this to be an excessive weight for a fully equipped bike (and I do carry my bike up a flight of stairs every time I ride).

    Obviously, when I add the weight of a small rack bag (I use the Nigel Smythe "Little Loafer" for most dayrides) and a full water bottle the weight goes up.

    I don't keep my Nitto Campee Rear Rack on the bike (which, like yours has the detachable low mount rack grates). It's easy for me to mount the rack, when it's needed, so I consider it unnecessary to have it mounted all the time.

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  21. 1)I like the article in the last Rivendell Reader where they do the actual weight difference between a bike with a rider and a bike without a rider. It's amazing how people forget they're throwing another 150+ pounds on top of the extant weight.
    2)Most of the bike conversations I've had over the past year have been across the counter at my not-bike-related job. And a lot of those have been with people my parent's age who started racing. The first response I get to my steel Masi is "isn't that heavy?" Steel is heavier, but a lot of people remember steel bicycles as the Cruiser or Schwinn Varsity they rode as a child.
    3) Did you point out the extra equipment to the lady?
    4) Not to get all back-patty, but isn't general riding on most bikes a little like trying to commute in an Indy Car. If you compare weights, I'm sure a Honda Civic is a lot heavier.

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  22. I like big bikes and I can not lie.

    that's all I have to say ont he weight factor. Granted I don't have to carry mine and I leave it to my poor Mr to lift and grunt to put them on a bike rack. I believe one guy at Harris said " You have a very nice husband" after he assisted us in putting the public ( fairly light actually) on the bike rack before we took off for cape cod.

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  23. I would be surprised to see a 65cm riv with all that stuff come in at 30lbs.

    Maybe we need to get a hanging scale and weigh the Sam with that 5lb Campee rack and really see where it stands.

    My Surly XC 63cm is probably in the 35lbs department without any racks, although I do have fat franks, fenders, a bag + batt lights.

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  24. "Speaking of the Superba, any updates on the new one, V?"

    Nope, sorry. It is in the ideas stage for now and we do not even know whether it'll happen for sure. Didn't mean to suggest it is a done deal.

    "also got the impression they didn't want to ship, BTW"

    I am confused; how did you guys get that impression? I am not a spokesperson for Harris, but I know for a fact that they ship complete bicycles all the time, Superbas and any other model they carry. They even have a packing and shipping service for those who want to mail their own bikes.

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  25. Well - as one gets older the weight does creep up on you... I started with a Titanium cyclocross frame, and look now - a rack, a bag of emergancy stuff, a big lock, fenders, another big lock and a jacket - that's 50% more!

    Then again the same happens wtih cars - my 89' nonda weighs 2600lbs - a new civic is about 3700lbs...

    As with me - an 89' me was 183lbs - the 11' me is 198lbs....

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  26. You no get wet food. You eat dry food to slim down.

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  27. Lucky Chow-
    My Indian-built DL-1 clone is at 32#. Biggest change is stripping off the rod brake system and replacing it with cantis, at that point modern 700 wheels are possible, any bars you want are possible, etc. I could get 29# easy if I didn't like a B.33, if I wanted tires smaller than Big Apple. I still have the big steel fenders, the chaincase is gone.

    Of course I use my biggest Karrimor saddlebag and always have 5 or 10 pounds in there.

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  28. I have the same problem with my bike! I have a basket and I didn't even think about the extra weight it + whatever I am putting in there would add! P.S. that bike is absolutely beautiful, love that green color!

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  29. "MDI said...
    I would be surprised to see a 65cm riv with all that stuff come in at 30lbs.

    Maybe we need to get a hanging scale and weigh the Sam with that 5lb Campee rack and really see where it stands."

    The original (circa 1995-1997) Rivendell Road Standard was Rivendell's "go-fast" bike. The most comparable bike in the current Rivendell range is the Roadeo (which Riv states as weighing in at 18 lbs. in a 55 cm size frame with "lightish clubby" parts) .

    The Rivendell Road Standard was designed for short reach competition style sidepull caliper brakes (mine is equipped with SunTour Superbe Pro brakes) and was considered suitable for racing (at the time - it isn't a 14 lb. Carbon Fiber Tour de France bike...). In the 65 cm size, with no accessories, it weighs around 25 lbs.

    The Nitto M-15 front rack, which is what is installed on the bike, weighs 340 grams (according to the specifications, I didn't take it off and weigh it with my digital pharmaceutical scale...).

    Many of the classic randonneur bikes from the French Constructeur makers (e.g. Rene Herse, Alex Singer, Routens) weigh less than 30 lbs. with a complete component build (fenders, lights, racks, etc.).

    Here's another take on the "Performance Bike" from Jan Heine: http://janheine.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/a-performance-bike/

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  30. Hey V, I'm Anon 1:14. I got that impression because I called to ask if they had any Superbas left. The guy who answered was very upbeat and friendly, said they had three or four left, asked if I wanted to swing by and check them out. I responded no, that I was in a different state. I then asked if they shipped the bikes and the guy's demeanor immediately changed. He said he'd "check", I was on hold for a while, then he came back on and said yeah, they could. But again, his attitude very much indicated that it would be a hassle for them. Completely different from the upbeat tone he'd used BEFORE I mentioned shipping. I could be completely wrong. Maybe something was going on in the shop at the time that I wasn't aware of. Who knows? But that was definitely my impression -- that it was a hassle.

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  31. @Don - I think it depends on the person and the terrain. My most fun bike to ride, is also the heaviest. It probably weighs twice as much as the lightest bike.

    Why this is so I think depends a lot on conditions. The heavy bike is a Big Dummy, about 65 lbs as normally configured (including comprehensive tool kit, IGH, dyno hub, big rims, big tires, etc, etc). It's stronger and much more stable than a "normal" bicycle, and so of course I use the strength and stability to do things I would not do on a normal bicycle.

    The lighter bike feels peppy, but I wouldn't want to (for instance) ride it no hands through three potholes in a row (which the heavy bike has done). Yesterday I took a corner no-hands, rolled over a stick in the middle of the turn, and the bike just shifted slightly to the side (as the stick rolled under it) and carried on. It would not have been so nice on the light bike.

    Obviously, for me, fun includes a certain amount of f*cking around. Perhaps I am an Insufficiently Serious Cyclist.

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  32. Anon - Well, Harris *shouldn't* have any problem shipping the bike. Thanks for your feedback; maybe they'll read these comments and take note that customers are feeling discouraged.

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  33. Pimadude - Would love to have tried one of their original road standard models. My signature question though: Did they have TCO? I know someone who bought a huge Roadeo frame, and to his surprise it did.

    I've seen a Roadeo in the flesh, 56cm I think. It was somebody else's bike and too large for me, but I stood over it and picked it up. Fitted with 32mm tires, fenders and a rack, the bike was not light. I have a hard time imagining getting it down to 18lb, but I could be wrong.

    Then again, the Royal H Randonneur we built up was not as light as I expected either.

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  34. V- No, the Rivendell Road Standard does not have toeclip overlap. Even with fenders I don't have that issue (thankfully!).

    The weight I quoted for the Roadeo was taken directly from the Rivendell Frame website.

    "Weight (finally)

    Built up with Mark's choice of lightish clubby parts, his 55cm weighs (minus saddle and pedals) 18 pounds."

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  35. Yes, I'd read that too. Would love to try one built up as they describe.

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  36. V- Some have commented on the choice of the name for the Roadeo. Personally, I like the name.

    I think the Roadeo is a very attractive bike with the colors schemes and decals that Grant has chosen. It reminds me of some very classy racing bikes (e.g. Richard Sachs).

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  37. "Maybe we need to get a hanging scale"

    Please DO get a scale. There are a number of interesting bike reviews on this site, but they would be improved by including actual measured weights instead of guesses.

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  38. I never have and never will weigh my A. Homer Hilsen. I have had light carbon fiber, titanium and steel bikes and the Hilsen is the most fun I have ever had (outside of road racing) And it has taken me to places I never would have gone before because I never would have considered it with a lightskinnytirednofender bike. The Roadeo however, I ordered with a threadless stem because it will save grams when I build it. It will still have fenders though so I'm not a complete weight weenie!

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  39. "Please DO get a scale. There are a number of interesting bike reviews on this site, but they would be improved by including actual measured weights instead of guesses."

    I don't know about that. It feels like once I get into weight specifics and other technical info, they will become very different kinds of reviews. That info is usually available from the manufacturer. Subjective perceptions of the bike's heaviness/ ease of being carried around are important as well, and those tend to fall by the wayside when a review focuses on measurements and numbers. Same with frame geometry actually.

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  40. Two things relating to weight.

    One I bought a Pashley Roadster Sovereign at the beginning of the summer based on your review and it is heavy, but it is also one of the best bikes I have ever owned. I have been biking for a quite a while and I have had the pleasure to ride a lot of different bikes. Some of the vintage bikes you ride are bikes I had when they we current. Weight is not a concern when it come to bikes fir me. When I am riding I never seam to notice weight much. I think it is more important to love what you ride, the weight thing for me has more to do with bikes for sport than bikes for transport.

    Two; I am just turning 52 and yes weight really does sneak up on you!

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  41. +1 for "please DON'T get a scale." Apologies, Anonymous. I see your point Velouria; whilst I do tend to geek out on the technical, your gift seems to be describing the subjective experience.

    When I set out for an overnighter with saddle bag and small panniers bulging with food, water, and all manner of things I don't need, I often think to myself as I go down the apartment stairs: I'm so glad I don't know what this weighs! And then I go have fun on my bike for a few days!

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  42. @anonymous - "please do get a scale".

    I think that's pointless. Most people make ridiculous extrapolations from tiny differences in weight, and believe what they are told without ever stopping to test it against reality, or even physics. They have these crazy ideas about the importance of rotating weight (at the wheel circumference, it counts exactly double what it would if it were not rotating. At the hub, maybe only 5-10% more, and that depends on the diameter of the hub. Physics, it has laws, they cannot be broken.)

    So, just for example, the lighter tire can have increased rolling resistance (I have observed this, both in a rolling test, and in my commute to work). But rolling resistance is a pain to measure, but weight is not -- so should we make our choices from the easy metric, or from the one that actually matters to performance?

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  43. Kinda like this guy... extra weight really does add up!

    http://static.themetapicture.com/media/funny-Indian-carrying-bricks-bicycle.jpg

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  44. +10 for getting a scale. Your bike reviews are already lots of cases where you make many specific comments about weight. For example:

    "It's real easy to turn a <30lb bike into a 40lb bike. "
    "The Bella Ciao is also less cushy than the Gazelle (similar to the Pashley in that respect), but is half the weight "
    "Fully built up with similar components, the Randonneur indeed came out lighter than the Rivendell. Unfortunately I do not have a scale to weigh them - but I estimate maybe 4-5lb"
    "The weight - with everything shown here (note the tool pouch) plus clip-on lights and empty water bottle - felt to be around 17lb"

    Rather than list specific numbers like this, and then say it's unfortunate that you don't have a scale, why not simply get a scale?

    In my own experience, guesses about weight are often surprisingly inaccurate when actually checked. And manufacturers' numbers don't take account of the differences in frame sizes, wheels, accessories. Finally, while weight is only one aspect of a bike, it can make a substantial difference for one of the hardest parts of riding (climbing hills). I have seen many friends and family members get discouraged about biking because they had a hard time pedaling some big heavy bike up a hill. People are too often told to ignore weight, and then decide biking is not for them because of the effort required to go up a hill. Some of these people might still be riding if they had started with lightweight bike and appropriate gearing.

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  45. Sorry, but I have to ask; Are you riding it or carrying it?

    Get a good fit, set it up with appropriate gearing and use the right bike for the task - the weight will take care of itself.

    My Riv is definitely not lightweight, but it rides better than any other bike I own. I'm more efficient because it fits me well and it has the appropriate build for my riding style and location.

    The weight of the rider affects the ride more than the weight of the bike. Get out and ride!

    Maryk
    Philly, PA

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  46. >>>Sorry, but I have to ask; "Are you riding it or carrying it?"

    That was exactly what Schwinn dealers were instructed to ask their customers back in the 70s. At the time, a Schwinn 10 speed bike weighed about 40 pounds, while lightweight imports from Britain, France, and Italy weighed 20 to 25. Of course, Schwinn completely lost the US market when customers realized that a lighter weight bike was both more fun to ride, and more fun to carry!

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  47. @Anonymous - Please quantify "substantial difference". Would that be greater than 10%? If so, nothing less than 22 lbs added to a bicycle that I ride can be "substantial".

    Seriously, you ask for measurements, and then toss out a marshmallow word like "substantial". Get real.

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  48. "Rather than list specific numbers like this, and then say it's unfortunate that you don't have a scale, why not simply get a scale? "

    You have a point, but at the same time one could argue that subjective impressions of weight are as informative as the actual numbers. I am not anti-scale. It's just not a priority in the scheme of other things I could theoretically benefit from buying.

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  49. " 'Sorry, but I have to ask; "Are you riding it or carrying it?'

    That was exactly what Schwinn dealers were instructed to ask their customers back in the 70s ...Of course, Schwinn completely lost the US market when customers realized that a lighter weight bike was both more fun to ride, and more fun to carry!"


    I think this is a very apt point, and relevant to today's situation. For instance, purveyor's of European city bikes try very hard to convince customers that weight is not important, but no matter how they spin it customers care. And not because they are influenced by racing culture. But because most of them do have to carry the bike up and down the stairs - of their own house, and sometimes also office buildings. Try doing that several times a day, particularly if you are a petite woman, and then say that weight does not matter. I love heavy Dutch bikes, but I also understand that for some people weight is genuinely important and I would not try to change their mind.

    With roadbikes, I also think that some people would genuinely benefit from a lighter bike and have more fun with it. My Riv weighs 40lb because it's still set up for carrying 2 weeks' worth of stuff from when we went on vacation. You need sturdy, heavy-duty racks for that sort of load, or they will fail. But the woman who tried to pick it up does not need that and cannot really be blamed by being put off.

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  50. "Finally, while weight is only one aspect of a bike, it can make a substantial difference for one of the hardest parts of riding (climbing hills). I have seen many friends and family members get discouraged about biking because they had a hard time pedaling some big heavy bike up a hill. People are too often told to ignore weight, and then decide biking is not for them because of the effort required to go up a hill. Some of these people might still be riding if they had started with lightweight bike and appropriate gearing."

    I have to take slight issue with this generalization. A lightweight bike doesn't magically become easy to ride up hills; hills are hard to pedal up especially when you are new to riding and not in shape. It won't change with a light weight race bike.

    Hills get easier as you do them more, but they are never easy and the bike weight has little to do with the perception of how easy it is to climb. Lets just say for instance a 180lb man is riding a 30lb bike up a hill compared with a 20lb bike. How much is that 10lbs really going to matter with the effort exerted? Not much, and I will wager that that man will actually feel better about climbing, will actually have a better time climbing, if he lost 10lbs off his body weight instead of bike weight. (and his wallet will probably be heavier)

    My point is this: Climbing is hard, it is suffering, no gram saving is going to alleviate that suffering. You either learn to enjoy that suffering and have fun doing it or you stick to flat routes. Do I advocate sticking cinder blocks on your bike to make it more fun...no, can't say that I do. What I will say is that weight is such a secondary, heck probably a thirdary ;-) concern when deciding on a bike to buy. Comfort, fit, tire choice, saddle & handlebar shape, shifter preference, color all should come before weight when considering a bike buy. IMHO of course.

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  51. Ryan I understand your example. Here's another one to consider. My wife weighs 110 pounds. She is attracted to lovely bikes, of exactly the type written about on this blog. If she buys a tricked-out Pashley Princess, she gets to ride, climb with, and try to carry a bike into and out of the house that weighs nearly half of her own weight. If she could find a 20 pound bike she likes instead, she has about 30 pounds less to lift, carry, or climb with. That is a huge practical difference in how easy the bike is going to be manage. For every 180 pound rider who doesn't think weight really matters, there are an equal number of light weight female and younger riders for whom bicycle weight turns out to be a make or break difference in usability.

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  52. I see the point of your wife's bike issues too. I guess here I have to admit that I don't own a 50lb bike that I have to lift up stairs on a daily basis. That is quite a heavy bike that would present problems for anybody, 110lb or 180lb, to do that; lifting that kind of weighty bike up stairs is a whole 'nuther issue than the rideability of it. Your wife really would need a physically lighter bike or a place to lock it up that is not up or down stairs. It is a convenience issue for sure.

    I was just riding my Sam Hillborne (guessing that it weighs over 30lbs with the fenders, handlebar bag and tool pouch attached to the brooks seat; it aint light) on a 40 mile hilly route that I do routinely. My other bike I ride that route with is a stripped down Jamis Aurora that comes in at 25lbs and change (I actually weighed this bike a few years ago). If judging by weight, the Jamis should climb better, but it doesn't, and noticeably so. I can ride the Hillborne faster and with less effort over that same route. I am convinced the difference in feel is due to the geometry difference and mostly the wheels (the Sam has Velocity Dyads laced to Phil hubs and 650b Pari-Moto tires where the Jamis has the stock 700 wheelset, Sora hubs and Bontrager race lite tires). Basically, other differences are trumping any weight difference for climbing efficiency.

    I guess my real point I am trying to make is that I disagree that lighter bikes = more fun bikes. More fun bikes = more fun bikes and weight shouldn't be the main concern. In your wife's case, I can see weight being more important though.

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  53. Peppy (the amazing double top-tube for strength cat)October 8, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    In retrospect, it was a mistake filling the tubes with concrete + rebar.

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  54. "My point is this: Climbing is hard, it is suffering, no gram saving is going to alleviate that suffering."

    And yet... When you try a climb on a Dutch bike vs a loaded steel touring bike vs a titanium roadbike, it becomes apparent that there are *degrees* of suffering : )

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  55. Peppy (the amazing, compact-named, you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil cats cat)October 8, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Only *degrees* of feebleness.

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  56. only because someone mentioned the Rivendell Roadeo (size 55) and its weight (as spec'd by Mark), i mention the weight of mine....my Roadeo is a 57cm, and it's built up with older (early 90s) Campy Chorus/Record gear (including Ergo levers). WITH saddle (B-17 Ti) and pedals (MKS w/clips and Billy Kirk leather straps), it weighs 23.05 pounds. interestingly, my 1993 Chris Kvale road bike (Columbus EL Nivachrome-NOT OS) weighs roughly the same..just under 23 pounds. when i run tubulars on the Kvale it's about 21.5 pounds. i have never owned a bicycle that weigh LESS than the Kvale when at its 'best' (lowest) weight. -k

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  57. Thanks kim!
    23lb for the bike set up as you describe is not bad. What tires do you have on it, and do you get TCO on the 57cm frame?...

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  58. "And yet... When you try a climb on a Dutch bike vs a loaded steel touring bike vs a titanium roadbike, it becomes apparent that there are *degrees* of suffering : )"

    Which I would argue the "degrees" come more from bike geometry and the different category of bike that the designers were going for (racebike vs. touring bike vs. transpo bike) and not the weight difference. Would the 18lb titanium roadbike that fit great, had great wheels and tires climb better than the 17lb titanium roadbike with mediocre wheels and decent tires that didn't really fit? I doubt it.

    Weight weenie stuff is a great marketing ploy. Easily measured, felt and compared in the showroom and perfect for determining what is the "best" component or frame before you buy, but it is oversold and IMHO people stress about it too much.

    Plus V, the suffering remains the same, the speed just increases. ;-)

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  59. It would be fascinating to experiment and build a 50lb bicycle (the weight of a typical Dutch bike) with classic racing geometry, drop bars, etc. Then do hill intervals and see how that compares to a 20lb bike with the same setup.

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  60. Velouria I think your experiment can be easily done by starting with a 20 pound bike that already rides well for you on hills (say the Seven), and then try climbing as usual, or on the same hill when you carry 30 extra pounds strapped onto the frame or in your pockets. Exactly the same fit and geometry and wheels and materials. Just extra weight.

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  61. Velouria, the Roadeo has jack brown greens on it....and I don't have TCO on that bike. Have not tried fenders on the Roadeo yet...don't know if there will be TCO or not with Fenders. When my Kvale sports 700c wheels, I do experience TCO, as the specs are 56 c-t seat tube, 53 tt, with 72.5 seat angle and 73 head angle. Right now I have a set of 650B wheels on the Kvale, and with these, I have no TCO.
    Interestingly, the Roadeo has very similar geometry as my Kvale, but for a 57 c-t ST and 56.5 tt. The seat and head tube angles are identical. The BB drop is pretty much the same, too. I run a 90 stem on the Kvale and a 70 on the Roadeo.

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  62. Velouria, I did a charity ride last year and saw a guy riding a Lemonde race bike that had a cinder block strapped to the seat and to the handlebar. I think he was trying to make a point or just trying to get less efficient to get some exercise. He road pretty fast with that weight, beat me to every rest stop with a smile on his face.

    I don't doubt that a 50lb race bike will climb worse than a 20lb one just by adding weight. 30 lbs is nothing to sneeze at when getting up a large hill. But the light bike doesn't automatically make the hill easy and wouldn't make a newbie suddenly love hill riding.

    The experiment I would like to see is the 50lb Pashley vs. the 50lb titanium race bike. Would a 50lb race bike climb as bad as a 50lb Pashley? I would wager a weeks wage that the race bike still climbs noticeably better.

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  63. @anon-w/-110lb-wife

    In your wife's case, the 10% margin is only half of mine. On the other hand, she ought to be able to make do with a bike that is lighter in every way, because she is only half as likely to break it. I have to be careful to make my bike(s) strong enough to withstand abuse (large chainrings, large tires, large rims, skinny handlebars). She can customize in the other direction; for example, if she can guarantee that no gorillas are allowed on her bike, she can run an IGH at half the input ratio (twice the torque) that I can, the better to climb steep hills.

    And I think it is important to realize how much of this is In Our Heads. 10% feels like a big deal, but it's only 10%. And if 10% were really, truly, a big deal, than 50% would be absolutely intolerable, and I've carried 50%, and it's merely heavy.

    I suppose there's a bit of history here as well; I raced for a few years as a kid, in the mid-70s, back in the drilling-out-weight-saving craze. People did silly stuff to save grams, and sometimes their bikes broke.

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  64. V, so i have to laugh at myself. i said there's no TCO on the Kvale now that i have 650b wheels on it. i just rode it and happened to look down and there's still TCO. guess i just never bothered to notice!

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  65. Ryan and dr2chase:
    I agree that shaving grams can become a silly obsession. However buyers today are faced with choices in bikes that differ by thirty pounds or more. If my wife buys a 50 pound bike instead of a 20 pound bike, she is choosing a 27% increase in total rider/bike weight, and a two and a half fold difference in weight she has to lift onto racks or carry into and out of the house. Those are big differences, substantially larger than 10%, and can come back to haunt you when living with a bike on a day to day basis.

    Is this an uncommon situation? I actually it's much more common than many people realize. Just look at the experiences with lovely but heavy bikes on this and other blogs. Velouria was attracted to the Pashley, and ended up selling it when she later found it was harder to ride up hills and carry in and out of the house than other bikes. She tried bringing her heavy, accessorized Rivendell bike on a pace line ride, and soon discovered that a lighter racing bike made a huge difference in how fast she could climb hills and keep up with other riders. Over at Rideblog, Snarkypup bought a big beautiful white Viva Kilo, but decided to sell it after only a few months because it proved much harder to manage than a smaller lighter alternative. I realize that weight was only one of the contributing factors in each of these situations. However, my wife, and Velouria, and Snarkypup, are all examples of smaller female riders, who are faced today with real world choices between bikes that differ in weight by tens of pounds, not tens of grams. I think it is a disservice to over emphasize a "weight doesn't matter" message to all riders, especially when weight choices in the market are huge, and can have a big influence on how fun or exhausting it is to lift, carry, and climb with a bike, especially for smaller female and younger beginning riders.

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  66. Re "small wives" and bikes as percentages of their weight: The thing is that it isn't just about that, but about the (statistically typical) differences in strength between men and women - particularly upper body strength. A 140lb man will likely have an easier time dragging around a 50lb bike than a woman of the same weight.

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  67. I agree that weight does matter more than the Rivendell/ Compass crowd sometimes lets on. Someone pointed out to me once that some of the influential internet pundits, e.g. Grant and Jan, who pooh-pooh weight weenie obsessiveness also happen to be big, strong former racers for whom that extra weight may not be such a big deal. This is well and good but the 120 pound, female non-jock who takes their advice may find it tougher going.

    The "Dutch bike versus 50 pound Seven" experiment sounds like it would make for a fun test and follow-up blog post. I am pretty certain that the better fit and positioning on the Seven would give its rider a big advantage on hills, but it'd still be interesting to see how the actual test panned out.

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  68. I just stumbled across this: http://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/ontwerp/fiets1_en.html

    Ti-OmaFiets!

    I am not sure that bicycle racers would be that good at hauling bikes up stairs; they're not well known for their bulky upper bodies. And if you are really hauling a bike much at all, 35lbs is too much. I had a short experimental ownership of some random folder from Japan, and it weighed about that much, and it quickly felt like it was going to yank my arms out of their sockets (mostly because, as a bicycle with hard bits sticking out, you try to hold it off to the side, and it had no good handholds).

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  69. Interesting discussion, and timely!
    A few weeks ago I decided to try building my 60cm Sam Hillborne up as a "lightweight." I had weighed the Riv-style build - fenders, Pasela 35's, Brooks, Marks rack, etc at 28lbs with no tools, bottles, or pump. I had a silver SRAM Rival drivetrain lying around that I was going to use on a "roady" bike build, and found some superlight 28mm tires on sale. Stripping off the fenders and rack, swapping a mid-weight (not superlight Ti or anything) WTB saddle for the Brooks, with the new tires and drivetrain, got the Sam down to 23lbs! Not bad for bike that is purported to have a "robust" frame.
    BTW, I read somewhere that your bike should weigh 10% of what you weigh. I can't remember if the context was "don't bother spending money making it lighter than that" or "anything lighter will probably break" but it's an interesting guide. The 23lb Sam felt about as light as my 230lb self should be riding! Also, I've since gone up to 32mm tires for more cushion, and put the fenders back on, so it's close to 25lbs now.

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