Parting the waters on a 24 pound bike.

Weight Weenies

by / / 118 posts

My bike weighs about 6 kilos. It is no waify little thing either, with it having a 61cm frame and and three stories of seatpost. It has beefy tubes, a stiff bottom bracket and steerer, and deep section wheels which are laced 3x in the back and 2x in front. This bike has never made me go faster; only going faster has made me go faster.

Gianni rode Haleakala in the 80’s on a heavy steel frame with a 42T chainring and a 23T cog in the back. He rode it wearing a cuttoff sleeveless t-shirt; an offense which, had I known when we started this site, I would have put him on probation for. Then he did it again several years later on a titanium, campa-equipped steed with a compact and wearing proper kit. He rode it in about the same time, also proving that you go as fast as you want, not as fast as your bike is.

Gianni Bugno (different Gianni but possibly the source of inspiration for Keeper Gianni’s name), won back-to-back l’Alpe d’Huez stages on a 24-pound steel Moser, beating lighter carbon TVT’s to the punch both times.

Riding light bikes is fun, but they won’t make you go any faster. Pushing harder on the pedals does.

// The Bikes // The Rides // Tradition // Unforgettable Rides

  1. @Ron

    Goddamnit, a lot of needless arguing going on here. The whole point is to balance speed with passion. Marginal gains being mentioned? Fuck that.

    It’s Friday. I’ll commence Recovery Ales in 4 hours, then I’ll ride my bike to a party. And, on Sunday, I’m riding in a sleeveless t-shirt.

    Poetry. And also two demerits.

  2. Frank – I was trying to make Gianni feel a bit less bad about his previous misbehavior being dragged out for everyone to see. I would never actually wear a sleeveless t-shirt, nor a tank top. With or without a bicycle involved.

  3. @frank

    @michel02

    gert jan theunisse had a training wheel filled with lead, for training purposes needless to say…it worked! (-:

    Fucking GJT was such a legend!

    O, fuck, why did I sell a Bart Voskamp TVM Gazelle Champion Mondial that I was about to build. Hanging this image in my “service course” to view each day — my mind would’ve been set right each day.

  4. Same Bison-Kit Squad too!

  5. Had the interesting experience of pushing on the pedals hard enough to blow the 16 tooth off my rear cassette (Dura-Ace 11 Speed).

    While it’s most likely an Mfr defect I still enjoy the idea that I was transferring so much Rule #10 through the Gun Platforms that I managed to fuck up my bike.

  6. @DeKerr

    I did this to a Chorus rear cog. I think it was the 15. Hit the bottom of a climb at speed and sur la plaque. Heard a tinkling sound, it was four pieces of cog hitting the pavement. That was pretty gratifying.

  7. Also, can we pass something extending Rule #24 to weight as well as distance/speed? I haven’t a fucking clue what lbs mean. I’m sure none of the pros weigh their bike in anything other than kgs.

  8. @frank

    @michel02

    gert jan theunisse had a training wheel filled with lead, for training purposes needless to say…it worked! (-:

    Fucking GJT was such a legend!

    That’s fucking gangster.

  9. Gert-Jan Theunisse certainly defends Frank’s choice to mount his control levers — level.

  10. @DeKerr

    Had the interesting experience of pushing on the pedals hard enough to blow the 16 tooth off my rear cassette (Dura-Ace 11 Speed).

    While it’s most likely an Mfr defect I still enjoy the idea that I was transferring so much Rule #10 through the Gun Platforms that I managed to fuck up my bike.

    Interesting, that’s not the first report I’ve heard of a DA 11sp cassette failing, from memory @Piwakawaka did something similar recently.

  11. @Mikael Liddy

    @DeKerr

    Had the interesting experience of pushing on the pedals hard enough to blow the 16 tooth off my rear cassette (Dura-Ace 11 Speed).

    While it’s most likely an Mfr defect I still enjoy the idea that I was transferring so much Rule #10 through the Gun Platforms that I managed to fuck up my bike.

    Interesting, that’s not the first report I’ve heard of a DA 11sp cassette failing, from memory @Piwakawaka did something similar recently.

  12. @Nate

    @DeKerr

    I did this to a Chorus rear cog. I think it was the 15. Hit the bottom of a climb at speed and sur la plaque. Heard a tinkling sound, it was four pieces of cog hitting the pavement. That was pretty gratifying.

    If anything makes you feel like a stud, that does.

    I was tearing the pawls off the earlier revision of Zipp freehubs On the local 20% leg breakers and I’d walk into the shop post-warranty telling the lads that one of these days I’d teach Fabian how to pedal a bike.

  13. @Ryan

    Bicycle Quarterly has done some interesting research and testing on weight and stiffness with results that counter current trends. Far from conclusive, largely subjective and with an admitted bias (steel/constructeur/randonneur), but they were right about wider tires.

  14. @DeKerr

    Had the interesting experience of pushing on the pedals hard enough to blow the 16 tooth off my rear cassette (Dura-Ace 11 Speed).

    While it’s most likely an Mfr defect I still enjoy the idea that I was transferring so much Rule #10 through the Gun Platforms that I managed to fuck up my bike.

    I have had no such troubles, as my weak legs do not enable such events to occur. Be careful @DeKerr, or the next thing you know, your mighty guns will be snapping the spokes off your rear hub!

  15. @frank

    @michel02

    gert jan theunisse had a training wheel filled with lead, for training purposes needless to say…it worked! (-:

    Fucking GJT was such a legend!

    Why was his saddle taped up like that? Some sort of modification for saddle sores?

  16. Here’s a thought. We tend to ride with a given effort, whatever we feel we can do that day. Having a heavier bike will make us go slower for that effort but it’s the effort that gives us the conditioning. Increasing weight will only improve conditioning if you force yourself to go the same speed you would go with a lighter bike. And what are we talking about anyway, .05 km/hour?

  17. That being said, my bike will always be on a diet, the weight inching lower over time because I love light weight stuff. The love is sufficient reason for me.

  18. @frank

    @ErikdR

    I’ll probably spend the rest of the day wondering what it means to misunderestimate someone…

    If you had spent time living in the US during the Bush Era, you’d know exactly what it means.

    Cheers Frank – a lot of that stuff had me in stitches. My favorite would be, I guess: “… Our enemies never stop thinking of new ways to harm our country and our people… and neither do we” That’s political poetry right there… Priceless! But hey, at least the guy was being honest and straightforward about it.

  19. @SteelCamp

    Here’s a thought. We tend to ride with a given effort, whatever we feel we can do that day. Having a heavier bike will make us go slower for that effort but it’s the effort that gives us the conditioning. Increasing weight will only improve conditioning if you force yourself to go the same speed you would go with a lighter bike. And what are we talking about anyway, .05 km/hour?

    Aha! Very well put. But conversely, perhaps, don’t we often make our minds up, prior to the ride, about how far we’d like to go? So the next time I decide to go for a 30 km training spin, the choice between my 8 kg carbon stealth missile and the much heavier steel Moser should be an easy one. I’ll grab the Moser and put in the same amount of effort – but for a (much) longer time. Win! (If I strap a sufficient number of bags of cement to my frame, I might spend all day covering the 30 km… Oh, wait…)

  20. @SteelCamp

    Here’s a thought. We tend to ride with a given effort, whatever we feel we can do that day. Having a heavier bike will make us go slower for that effort but it’s the effort that gives us the conditioning. Increasing weight will only improve conditioning if you force yourself to go the same speed you would go with a lighter bike. And what are we talking about anyway, .05 km/hour?

    Easy enough to work out.

    At a power of 300 watts a 75kg rider plus 7kg bike has a power to weight ratio of 3.61w/kg.

    On a 12kg bike it is 3.45w/kg.

    That’s about a 4.7% reduction in power to weight, or close to 1km/h going up a hill at 20km/h.

  21. @unversio

    Gert-Jan Theunisse certainly defends Frank’s choice to mount his control levers — level.

    Those blue Banesto shorts blew my mind when they came out. I loved them; I bought some blue Santini’s shortly after and wore a red santini jersey with it and felt like I looked like a massive stud; I loved watching my legs moving in something other than black.

    Oh, youth.

  22. @unversio

    Gert-Jan Theunisse certainly defends Frank’s choice to mount his control levers — level.

    Awesome cap luft as usual from indurain.

    I never get tired of pix of Gert.

    Too bad Gunderson is in the frame, befouling the rainbow jersey.

  23. @Nate

    Gert does it with one bottle in the jersey pocket and one cage on the bike.

  24. I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

  25. @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Well yes, as @Frank also pointed out, the bike doesn’t make anything go, the rider does… so glad we cleared up that area of confusion.

    To make such obvious statements as if anyone was arguing about them is missing the point.

    I know people like to wax lyrical about steel and that a fast rider on a crap bike will be better than a crap rider on a fast bike. D’uh.

    You hit it when you said it comes down to how much power you can put on the pedals. That’s the single constant. You only have so much power at any time. Put that power on a heavy steel bike and give yourself a ‘bad’ position (aerodynamically) and you are throwing away some of what is already a limited resource. Everything matters – just riding on the hoods not the drops will make a 10-20 watt negative difference.

    If you want to see and work out some of what goes in to making you go faster have a look at http://www.bikecalculator.com . It’s not 100% but an interesting indicator of what we can do to make the most of what we’ve got, and not waste our improvements.

  26. @Nate

    @unversio

    Gert-Jan Theunisse certainly defends Frank’s choice to mount his control levers — level.

    Awesome cap luft as usual from indurain.

    I never get tired of pix of Gert.

    Too bad Gunderson is in the frame, befouling the rainbow jersey.

    Indurain’s Cap wearing is flawless to the point of frustration, because I know no matter how long I stand in front of the mirror trying to achieve the perfect Luft, it will never look quite as good as his. Fuck.

  27. @ChrisO

    @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Well yes, as @Frank also pointed out, the bike doesn’t make anything go, the rider does… so glad we cleared up that area of confusion.

    To make such obvious statements as if anyone was arguing about them is missing the point.

    I know people like to wax lyrical about steel and that a fast rider on a crap bike will be better than a crap rider on a fast bike. D’uh.

    You hit it when you said it comes down to how much power you can put on the pedals. That’s the single constant. You only have so much power at any time. Put that power on a heavy steel bike and give yourself a ‘bad’ position (aerodynamically) and you are throwing away some of what is already a limited resource. Everything matters – just riding on the hoods not the drops will make a 10-20 watt negative difference.

    If you want to see and work out some of what goes in to making you go faster have a look at http://www.bikecalculator.com . It’s not 100% but an interesting indicator of what we can do to make the most of what we’ve got, and not waste our improvements.

    Give http://www.bestbikesplit.com a shot if you want to go all nitty-gritty with the details. For those with measured CdA values, you can get to within seconds if actual wind measures up to the value entered.

    P.S Hoods are sometimes more aero than the drops, thanks to modern fitting practices. Frank, for example, or Ryder Hesjedal.

  28. @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Question: Would Ultegra be considered more durable than Dura-Ace ? And 105 even more durable still ?

  29. @frank

    Once again the meter of seatpost throws me off. The head tube is a telltale sign. Thanks for the clarification. Sweet whip btw.

  30. @frank

    @michel02

    gert jan theunisse had a training wheel filled with lead, for training purposes needless to say…it worked! (-:

    Fucking GJT was such a legend!

    Rock star without a band!

  31. @wilburrox

    @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Question: Would Ultegra be considered more durable than Dura-Ace ? And 105 even more durable still ?

    Tiagra, heavy punched steel, a bit of drilling but all the cogs are splined right to the middle rather than milled out and riveted onto a cage, no alloy to speak of, heavy and cheap as fuck.

    But why would you ride it. The profiles and teeth patterns are probably at greater tolerances than all the others put together, so your shifting etc is probably going to suffer. The higher spec cassettes have alloy cogs to make weight, which is obviously going to hurt longevity compared to steel.

    I ride lower level on my training bike as it is not a problem to change regularly. Can get chain, cassette and chainrings for the price of a dura ace cassette, and my butt doesn’t clench everytime I ride gravel or it starts raining.

  32. @Nate

    @unversio

    Gert-Jan Theunisse certainly defends Frank’s choice to mount his control levers — level.

    Awesome cap luft as usual from indurain.

    I never get tired of pix of Gert.

    Too bad Gunderson is in the frame, befouling the rainbow jersey.

    While I get where you’re coming from re COTHO, his desire to commit to Rule #15 was at least a slightly redeeming feature…

  33. @Beers

    @wilburrox

    @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Question: Would Ultegra be considered more durable than Dura-Ace ? And 105 even more durable still ?

    Tiagra, heavy punched steel, a bit of drilling but all the cogs are splined right to the middle rather than milled out and riveted onto a cage, no alloy to speak of, heavy and cheap as fuck.

    But why would you ride it. The profiles and teeth patterns are probably at greater tolerances than all the others put together, so your shifting etc is probably going to suffer. The higher spec cassettes have alloy cogs to make weight, which is obviously going to hurt longevity compared to steel.

    I ride lower level on my training bike as it is not a problem to change regularly. Can get chain, cassette and chainrings for the price of a dura ace cassette, and my butt doesn’t clench everytime I ride gravel or it starts raining.

    I’m looking at switching to an 11-28 soon rather than the 11-25 that came on The Redback (jumped from 34 to 36 up front), when there’s only a 60g gram difference in going Ultegra & I can get 3 for the price of 1 DA, you can bet your arse I’m choosing Ultegra.

    Side note, apparently the all alu Ultegra is actually quieter than the Ti infused DA as an added benefit.

  34. @unversio

    @Nate

    Gert does it with one bottle in the jersey pocket and one cage on the bike.

    It’s the half-Anquetil, in the Krabbe mythology.

  35. @Mikael Liddy

    I’ll give you that, but Gert and Big Mig are taking him to style school in that pic.

  36. @Mikael Liddy

    @Beers

    @wilburrox

    @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Question: Would Ultegra be considered more durable than Dura-Ace ? And 105 even more durable still ?

    Tiagra, heavy punched steel, a bit of drilling but all the cogs are splined right to the middle rather than milled out and riveted onto a cage, no alloy to speak of, heavy and cheap as fuck.

    But why would you ride it. The profiles and teeth patterns are probably at greater tolerances than all the others put together, so your shifting etc is probably going to suffer. The higher spec cassettes have alloy cogs to make weight, which is obviously going to hurt longevity compared to steel.

    I ride lower level on my training bike as it is not a problem to change regularly. Can get chain, cassette and chainrings for the price of a dura ace cassette, and my butt doesn’t clench everytime I ride gravel or it starts raining.

    I’m looking at switching to an 11-28 soon rather than the 11-25 that came on The Redback (jumped from 34 to 36 up front), when there’s only a 60g gram difference in going Ultegra & I can get 3 for the price of 1 DA, you can bet your arse I’m choosing Ultegra.

    Side note, apparently the all alu Ultegra is actually quieter than the Ti infused DA as an added benefit.

    I am all for the less expensive, more durable cassette that weighs 30 grams more. Especially in Campagnolo, I just looked and a Chorus cassette seems to cost more than DA! But an all steel cog Chorus cassette lasts a very long time if you keep your chain clean and replace it at appropriate intervals.

    BTW I am pretty sure Ultegra is all steel cogs too. I can’t imagine an Alu cog lasting for more than a nanosecond.

  37. @Nate

    could well be the case, when it comes to research, I’m a student of the Strackian school of thought.

    Regarding style, it may have been something to do with the name similarities, but Mig has been my idol from very early days…

  38. While we’re on the topic of bikes of that era, the original Phast Phil brought one of his Zullos to the Melburn Custom Bike Show for some ogling on the weekend, pictured here with the man behind many a ruined marriage here in Australia

  39. @Mikael Liddy

    I’m not sure what Lance thought about Rule #15 but in those days (1993-ish) he had to wear black shorts. If the team kit had registered with the UCI with coloured shorts or short panels that was fine, but a rider couldn’t wear different shorts from the rest of his team so he was stuck with Motorola black shorts.

    It was only when Cipo started accepting the UCI fines for wearing different coloured shorts in the Tour a couple of years later that things started to change, with the UCI caving in to custom kits for tour category leaders/World/National Champions eventually.

  40. Why don’t my italics show up after posting when the option is there in the post editor wtf??

  41. @frank

    @ChrisO

    @Daccordi Rider

    ChrisO, I didn’t take that from Fronks article, just calling bullshit on a couple of responses. I thought Frank meant it doesn’t matter what you ride, you get better by hurting yourself. That’s the fun of some of his articles, we can misinterpret them any way we like. People frequently misunderestimate Frank…

    Well there’s not much misinterpreting this:

    Riding light bikes is fun, but they won’t make you go any faster. Pushing harder on the pedals does

    which is quite simply wrong. The same effort on a lighter bike WILL make you go faster. Pushing harder will make you go more faster.

    But that would be letting facts get in the way of the story.

    Apparently there is misinterpreting it; the bike is not what makes the bike go, fucktard. Pushing on the pedals does; the bike does not have a motor (we hope). I never said you’d go the same speed on a light and heavy bike.

    A light bike, or aero bike, or light wheels, or aero wheels, or better tires, or sleeker kit etc will all make it possible to go faster. But they won’t actually make you go faster.

    Your guns and the level of suffering you wish to inflict on them is limited by your brain. I’m sure there are many things that can effect your relative level of suffering, but it just might be that in certain cases you push harder for longer on the steel bike rather than on the lightweight plastic bike. If you go into it with the mentality of ‘this thing is slower, there I will push harder,’ then you might just go faster. And maybe no matter how hard you tell your brain to suffer on the lighter bike, it just won’t go to the same limits.

    I watched the Marinoni Movie back in April. Giuseppe Marinoni broke the… “Senior’s” (74-79) Hour Record in 2012 on the same bike frame he had built in the early 80s for Jocelyn Lovell. He raced on that bike not because it was the lightest or the fastest, but because it gave him the mental fortitude to push harder.

  42. @Oli

    Why don’t my italics show up after posting when the option is there in the post editor wtf??

    Because @Frank cares little for your nuances…

  43. @Nate

    @unversio

    @Nate

    Gert does it with one bottle in the jersey pocket and one cage on the bike.

    It’s the half-Anquetil, in the Krabbe mythology.

    You know your classics!

  44. @HigherGround

    @frank

    @michel02

    gert jan theunisse had a training wheel filled with lead, for training purposes needless to say…it worked! (-:

    Fucking GJT was such a legend!

    Why was his saddle taped up like that? Some sort of modification for saddle sores?

    On a Dutch website I read that indeed he had a saddle sore when this pic was taken. But did not say what the tape was supposed to help. Apparently he had some blisters on his feet as well?

    He does look differently now by the way:

  45. @wilburrox

    @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Question: Would Ultegra be considered more durable than Dura-Ace ? And 105 even more durable still ?

    I don’t know the answer to that question, although I would speculate that there is some sort of reverse progression. In the everyday world Dura-Ace would most likely be as abused as Ultegra or 105, but those groups, particularly 105 are directed towards cyclists that can’t or won’t go all in in the most expensive stuff. Weight savings come with some sort of sacrifice regardless of the material used. My instinct tells me that the top end stuff is higher maintenance and most of us don’t have the advantage of having our bikes overhauled completely by professional mechanics on a regular basis.

    This is just an observation. I have no science to bolster my theory.

  46. @Jay

    @wilburrox

    @Jay

    I have always contended that it is not the bike, but rather the engine (as in rider) that is the most important component. I could ride on the most aerodynamic and lightweight TT bike with the most aerodynamic positioning possible, yet someone like Cancellara would kick my ass while riding a Schwinn Varsity. It comes down to how much power you can put to the pedals.

    Nice article. For the record: I am no weight weenie, I go for durable.

    Question: Would Ultegra be considered more durable than Dura-Ace ? And 105 even more durable still ?

    I don’t know the answer to that question, although I would speculate that there is some sort of reverse progression. In the everyday world Dura-Ace would most likely be as abused as Ultegra or 105, but those groups, particularly 105 are directed towards cyclists that can’t or won’t go all in in the most expensive stuff. Weight savings come with some sort of sacrifice regardless of the material used. My instinct tells me that the top end stuff is higher maintenance and most of us don’t have the advantage of having our bikes overhauled completely by professional mechanics on a regular basis.

    This is just an observation. I have no science to bolster my theory.

    I guess the cheaper and heavier materials used, would wear better? I run DA @ 13500km pa, I change the chain @ 3500km, I haven’t had to change cassette or chainrings yet, is that good or bad durability?

  47. @piwakawaka
    Definitely good.

  48. @HigherGround

    @frank

    @michel02

    gert jan theunisse had a training wheel filled with lead, for training purposes needless to say…it worked! (-:

    Fucking GJT was such a legend!

    Why was his saddle taped up like that? Some sort of modification for saddle sores?

    I’m guessing it was a first attempt at grippy tape, but who knows. Maybe he was channeling Eddy Van Halen?

  49. I believe the correct term for my jersey of choice on that ride was “wife-beater”. I too was working the Gert headband and Gert wristband. Big sweaty bastard. 1985. Frank might have been right about the 42 on the front. It looks big. He was also right about what a shit climber I’ve always been.

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