Weight of Bicycle – Energy and Power Use Breakdown*
% of Total Power Consumption:
Weight of Bicycle: ≈08% of overall energy/power consumption
The bottom line: First, never forget that you the rider are 85-95% of the total vehicle’s weight – the bike and components are only 5-15%.
Bicycle weight plays a comparatively small role in how a bike performs. Weight’s largest effect is on acceleration and the psychological benefits it can offer. Don’t compromise everything else to maximize a variable that is only 7-8% of your bike’s performance.
How to go about minimizing the negative effects: 1) Concentrate on your body’s weight first. 2) Before counting grams on parts, look at all your individual needs as a rider and never forget the big picture. If you are light and gentle on parts, go to town and feel free to go light! If you are not, don’t go too light or stability and durability will be compromised.
*Comprehensive studies have not been completed to show exact importance of all variables in relation to each other. Results are compilations from a variety of research studies within the cycling industry.
Explanation and Tech talk:
Psychology: Greg LeMond once said that he knew an extra couple ounces didn’t matter in the least. But he didn’t want to be thinking that he was at a disadvantage if Miguel Indurain passed him on a climb. The point is that weight’s importance is mostly psychological.
Weight does play a role in acceleration. However, not nearly the role the grade or slope of the road plays. It has been said that adding ½ a degree of slope is like adding 30 lbs. and that really isn’t too far off the mark. Rotating weight (wheels, for example) is more influential on performance than static weight. But the difference is not nearly the 6 times that is often claimed. I don’t have an exact number, and there are too many variables to determine it accurately, but it probably has two times the effect of static weight (frame, handlebars, etc…).
Basically, buy parts first on how well they address the major performance variables and then buy the lightest option that makes sense for your weight and riding style. If you weigh 190 lbs, don’t go gram counting with titanium pedal spindles that could break on you in the middle of a ride because they simply do not have the strength you need. This is especially important to consider when looking at frames, wheels and load bearing drive train parts like cranks and bottom brackets. We build up each customers bike as light as their budget and needs allow without sacrificing performance or safety.
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