Thursday, July 2, 2015

Another Opinion on Bike Weight

The Retrogrouch is still working with limited internet access. But if you checked in here for something new to read, here's a little something to tide you over.

I've written about bike weight before - and how obsessing about it is a pointless thing. To my mind, things like comfort, convenience, durability, reliability, and beauty are all more important than weight. My bikes are all steel. My components are always aluminum or steel. My wheels have 32 or 36 spokes. I like fenders because if the roads are wet, their usefulness more than offsets whatever weight they add to my bike. I like racks and nice-quality (and attractive) saddlebags and/or panniers - again, because when I need to carry things, their utility is worth every ounce of weight. I'd much rather carry loads on my bike than on my back.

Some months back, I encountered this post from Hiawatha Cyclery in the Minneapolis area. In it, there is another viewpoint on weight (HERE). The writer, Jim, pretty much agrees with things I've said myself - but it's nice to read the way someone else might put it.

Here's an excerpt:

"I don't weigh my bikes. Every part or accessory on my bike was put there for a good reason, and usually that reason is much more of a priority than the 'weight penalty' of using that part or accessory. My bike gets me to work, allows me to have some offroad fun along the way, and haul a load of groceries on the way home. I've accepted that this level of versatility involves a compromise. To torture a car analogy, I'm opting for the versatility of the SUV, rather than the fun impracticality of the 2-seater sport coupe. Even though I don't really care what my bike weighs, when I'm looking at bikes and components, I often take note of what they weigh for reasons that aren't directly about weight. This is especially true of tires and, to a lesser extent, rims. Lightweight tires tend to be more supple and have a better ride quality, which is a priority for me. A lot of the negative associations people have about heavy bikes are the result of lousy-rolling tires. And the weight of a rim can indicate whether it was designed for big hit dirt jumping or for superlight road racing - I'd rather not mix up the two. Weights of handlebars and seatposts and derailleurs and such aren't on my radar."

Hiawatha Cyclery, by the way, was the kind of bike shop that catered more to commuters, tourists and "bicycle lifestyle" types of riders - as opposed to the racer wannabes that seem to dominate some shops.  Unfortunately, I just read that the shop is in the process of closing up even as I write this now. I'm sorry to hear that.

I expect to be back to more regular posts next week.

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