Tempo Cyclist recently wrote a post about the issue of body weight in professional cycling and eRacing. He asks the question, “So in amateur cycling, is there an image problem around weight?”
I don’t see any concerns about body weight amongst the people with whom I ride. Then again, we aren’t competitive cyclists looking for our next PR or KOM.
On the other hand, I do see a fixation with the weight of bicycles. Generally speaking, the lighter the frame or component, the better. A fixation that is common to cyclists around the world.
That reminded me of a bit of not particularly scientific research I did some time ago into the cost of reducing weight on your bike. I looked at the difference in weight and price between an alloy component, in this case, stems, bars and seat posts, and the equivalent carbon version.
In summary, I found each gram of reduced weight cost an additional MYR10 / USD2.42. On average, a carbon bar weighing 100 grams less than the equivalent model alloy version cost MYR1000 / USD242 more.
Coincidentally the latest issue of the Road Bike Rider newsletter has an article in it titled “How Much Does Bicycle Weight Matter?” In it, Kevin Kolodziejski presents a more thorough investigation of what it costs to reduce the weight of a bike. Kevin looked at websites like trek.com and competitivecyclist.com to compare the weight and price of “standard” items and their lighter equivalents. His findings are below.
Kevin looked at a broader range of items than I did. His “all-in” review averages out to a premium of MYR22.69 / USD5.50 per gram of reduced weight (at prices as of 8th April 2021 and at current exchange rates).
He implies that there is little meaningful speed to be gained from the expense of reducing grams on your bike. With the exception of lighter wheels. Buying lightweight wheels is commonly accepted as the number one improvement you can make to your bike.
Kevin goes on to suggest more cost-effective ways of shedding weight on your bike. These include dieting. Taking one kilogram off your bike will cost between MYR10,000 – 22,690 / USD2,420 – 5,500 as per mine and Kevin’s data. Taking one kilogram off your body is free. In fact, you will save money by not buying so many of these.
I have to admit that buying a lightweight frame or component is much more fun than losing weight.
On the flat, there’s definitely very little difference in 1 or even 2 kilograms of bike (or body) weight on flat roads. It’s all about power to aerodynamic drag. Even on a longer climb a kilo of bike weight hardly makes a difference unless you’re racing. I can’t tell the difference between riding with two full water bottles and just one. Still, a lighter bike is a nice thing to have.