So I have now been part of, privy to, or read about the famous “buy the lightest gear in existence” conversations.
Now to explain this I’ll tell you what I have heard from both sides. Then I’ll give you my “very well informed” 3 months of cycling experience and the “deep understanding” of the way the Universe works :).
I have read, almost everywhere, that there are many different factors that go into the “increased efficiency” category for riding. The largest or most popular method, that I have read about, to this is to buy lighter gear.
Now, I am a beginning cyclist and won’t even attempt to really “make claims”, but I am a very active person and have been very active for a majority of my life. Completing hikes of over 100 miles, running as a passion, kayaking, and many other hobbies. So with this experience, I would say Yes to “part” of that “Buy Lighter Gear to be a more efficient and faster Cyclist”. The “Lighter” Part, to be specific.
In each of the disciplines above, the ones I have more experience in of course hehe, the lighter the better. The less you have to trudge along with, the easier it is to trudge along.
Now I think a great many people truly and deeply understand this fact- the lighter something is, the easier it is to move- or to make move. What I think(my opinion here) is that people, as usual like to take the shortest route to a goal. With this “easy route” mode stuck in their minds, they lose all control or understanding of anything except the words “Weight” and “Lighter” when thinking of cycling and immediately look at a store shelf, instead of a mirror. This pursuit of “lighter” isn’t a bad thing, in fact in many cases it can be the best solution. However, I do think that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
With this said, it’s time for the big statement that, I am sure, will make many people downright pissed off.
You need to shave weight off of your big ass before you need to worry about the weight on the bike :).
People will spend 1000$ to save 1 pound of weight for a bicycle component, but they have a Double Bacon Wrapped Deep Fried Three Patty Deep Burger for dinner(on a regular basis).
I don’t even understand how that makes sense inside someone’s head- excepting the above “take the easiest route possible” mentality.
Now I get wanting to have high speed low drag gear, who doesn’t. But if you are reducing the weight of your bike, thinking it will get you “real” gains in your cycling efficiency, I truly think you are going to be a bit disappointed, although you will see a small improvement.
I will continue this from my POV- so I don’t anger anyone lol.
I want to look at the whole picture. From this I mean that (from a weight) point of view, the Bike is not the only thing that has weight! My big Ass just so happens to be on top of this 20 lb steed(least that is what the Felt Website says it weighs lol).
So after about 2-300 miles I began to wonder what would make me a more efficient Cyclist(and that is how this post was conceived lol).
So I sat down and wondered- Being Lighter(that “whole picture” thing above again) would make it easier to move. Being lighter would mean that there is less mass to move, less drag from wind, less downward force to overcome the friction of sitting on it. So if I make the bike lighter that would make it go easier- But how much weight can I really shave off of a 20 lb bike? A few of you may be thinking “A Lot!”. So what is “A Lot” of 20 lbs? 5lbs= 25% decrease! Percentage wise that is huge! I would soar like and eagle and strike like lightening, I’d be so fast!! Umm, I’m not seeing that happen in the real world.
But what if I lost that same 5 lbs? I mean, what if I made ME 5 lbs lighter? Wouldn’t that be just as good? And no lying to yourselves here, who among us couldn’t lose a few extra pounds here and there? What if I decided to lose 20 Lbs? Now, I can currently lose about 25-30 Lbs without going below 12% body(yeah I’m a fatty at the moment and this is one of my goals hehe). And that is just me and everyone is different, but most people could lose a few and not miss them too much.
I’m not going to go into nutrition, or eating habits, or any of that crap right now. But I will say, those who want to lose weight do. Those who don’t, don’t. There is no secret to losing weight. There is hidden myth behind weight loss. If you expend energy and eat in a healthy and balanced style, you will lose weight. If you are never active, eat anything at all at anytime, and never make an attempt to change that- Do you really think you’ll lose weight? Ok, that is all on that- I’m not gonna try and tell you “how” to lose weight. But I am trying to “shed” light (see what I did there?)on the fact that, to weigh less, you actually have to decide you want to change and then figure out how that change works or will work for you. (insert promotional “I’m an Awesome Inspirational Speaker” plug here)
With this in mind- although I can’t lose 20% of my weight nearly as quickly as I can go to my LBS and get some high speed low drag gear that weighs almost nothing, if I did lose that weight, wouldn’t I be stronger for ME instead of doing it “only” to the bike and not worrying about my own weight on top of it? Wouldn’t I be able to cycle even more efficiently if I didn’t have the extra weight dragging not just the bike, but my body down? So instead of worrying about the bike’s efficiency, I just increased mine! Not to mention the increase in my own bodies efficiency for all of the other activities I like and a decrease in the physical stress associated with those activities.
Before you hate, I am not proposing that getting components that are “higher” end is not a good idea. I’m just saying that I think it is purposeless to have the most expensive gear you can mortgage your home for, and still have an extra stone on your gut! I think I should explain. By “higher end” I mean not only lighter gear, but gear that is designed to do it’s function more efficiently. This is sometimes forgotten, because at the same time the manufacturer makes it a better mechanical component, they also make it a “lighter” component. So people see this gear and think only one thing- lighter is the only thing that equals better.
On this line of thought- I also believe that there are diminishing returns. Both in the weight of the bike and person. A slightly heavier person, with a bit more leg strength(dense leg muscles) may be able to outperform a person that does not have that extra muscle in their legs. But, get too much muscle and you’ve now made your “too much heavier” for that muscle to really give you an upper hand.
So I am saying that there is a point where a specific person’s weight should stabilize for their personal optimum performance. At this point, they could race themselves with two different bikes, set up with entirely opposite end of the spectrum components, and that would be a real test!
I, myself, plan on eventually upgrading things on my bike- drive train and wheels are on that list. And who knows where I will want to try and take myself in the future with cycling. But I will do my best to never attempt to “upgrade” something on the bike without making sure I can use the bike to it’s fullest as it sits(and I have a long way to to with my stock Z7 lol).
I know this is tired subject and there are many schools of thought on it. This is just my take, opinion, 1.4 cents worth, whatever lol.
I hope we all reach our goals and make new ones that are even harder 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!