Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lighter bikes mean weaker riders

When you get a lighter bike, it feels unbelievably agile and quick. For weeks, you feel like a superhero. For months you smile at the sight of that exceptional new extension of your personal power.

Then you get used to it.

If your goal is to hang with and beat out a peloton of racers or serious pretenders, and if your budget extends to regular upgrades, you can get the genuine advantage of lighter and lighter equipment as it hits the market. But most of us have to stick with a bike for a long time, and may prefer that.

I don't suggest that riders should seek out the clunkiest chunk of gas pipe to push around. I do suggest that weight weenies are deep in addiction. I'm also waiting for a bike so light that the rider has to be on it just to keep it on the ground. You have to tie it down when you park it. I mean something less bulky than what Albert Santos-Dumont already made. Looks like he's pedaling it, right?
He famously tooled around the skies of Paris, visiting friends while avoiding traffic congestion and on-street parking issues. Thinking of an e-bike? Consider a personal dirigible instead. Talk about flying up the hills!

Unfortunately, history bursts my balloon on this one. All accounts I can find say that the airships were propelled by small engines of some kind. I feel quite deflated. But modern inventors have taken up the cause.

Parking over public transportation might get very interesting.

Headwinds would be a new kind of hell when you could actually get blown backwards for miles.

Meanwhile, here on the ground, I look at the industry's annual offerings, and the adoring press that lauds latest and lightest and then return affectionately to my longtime companions, grateful for their simple needs and rewarding company.


mike w. said...

With Weight Weenie-ism comes a degree of snobbery... on two occasions last season i was told by guys passing by on their carbon Wonder Bikes that my steel touring bike "looked heavy," with a hint of pity in their voices and a shake of their heads. i have been asked with a straight face why i would ride such "an old, slow bike." Another person felt compelled to heft my '80's steel road racer to see how heavy it was (they were surprised that it was "so light.")
My usual reply is that my bikes do what they're designed to do, and that i don't have too many worries that something will break on me when i'm 100 miles from home. i also like to opine that there will be no 40-year-old carbon bikes. Does that make me a retro-snob? Okay, i can live with that.

Anonymous said...

There is no shining without the darkness, no left without right, no wet without dry, no light without heavy. One should have a heavy bike with wide tires, and a light bike with thin tires. How else would you know what "Light" and "Heavy" mean?

This dicotomy matches up well with what it takes to stay in good healthy shape. Winter is the time for slogging through the mud and snow on the heavy bike and building up strength, while summer is for conditioning the cardio-vascular system on the light bike.

I own a vintage Italian road bike, a Somec made in 1978, all Campagnolo components except for the Cinelli handle bars and stem. It weighs 9 kilos (just a tad under 20 lbs). It flies. The winter bike is an agile tank at 16 kilos/35 lbs. It holds the road no matter what.


Unknown said...

Sometimes lighter bike is necessary for exercising. People who is old, then they want to use weaker ride. Even this is also helpful for body fitness Really you have shared great post which I was searching. So, thank you so much for sharing it!