Does Weight Matter?

By Scott

With the arrival of the second round of Polyvalent prototypes, one thing we did was weigh each frame as well as the matching fork with it. It’s one of those times where you have the frame without anything on it other then the bottle cage bolts that it comes with. It got me thinking about weight and a cyclist’s relationship with weight. We are, as the MTB crowd would say, a gravity sport. The effect of gravity is directly related to riding. Ride up a hill and you’d swear that you were in a high gravity zone. Go down a hill and you’d wish that you’d filled up your water bottle to help speed you down the hill.

So does weight matter? And further to that, is it frame weight/wheel weight or the total package (the bike and the rider) that makes the difference?

A sharper fork, that’s for sure

Now, I’m not going to insult all of you left reading this with a technical discussion of me going up hills attached to various meters/monitors and displays. I’ve given up on the cycle computer, and the last statistics course I took was in the 80’s, so I’m not going to stifle the situation with numbers that can prove anything they want and often (shockingly) do. What I’m speaking of is more of a feeling/perception.

no more Paris-Brest’s for Scott 🙁

I bring this up as over the past 6 months, I’ve lost 21 lbs. A change of diet and more exercise has led to this loss. In rides over the past month with my wife, who has also lost a significant amount of weight, we both found that going up the rolling hills of MD has gotten easier. Now losing this sort of weight means that my overall weight going up the hill is much less. The bikes we ride have not changed at all in terms of weight – same tires/wheels etc on them – but they feel easier to go up the hill.

So this all leads to my feeling that the frame and fork alone is only a small part of the overall perception of weight/speed/feel. If I weigh 181 lbs and my bike weighs 31 lbs, my frame is only 14% of the total weight of 212 lbs (I promise this is the only math in this blog post). If I drop 6 lbs off the bike, quite a big feat I’d say, the frame percentage only moves to being 12% of the total weight of 206 lbs. Dropping 21 lbs off my body results in a much larger % change in total weight and thus the greater difference I feel on the bike. Perhaps once my weight is between 165-170 lbs, frame weight will make the bigger difference.

Would you ask how much the frame weighs when talking to a custom builder?

How much emphasis does frame weight make to you? Is it a starting point when looking at a frame or is it just something you note along with the chain stay length and the BB drop when looking at a frame or bike on line? Source:

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