Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Why is the weight of a cyclocross bike a big deal?


First off, consider this an editorial piece, not a letter of fact. It is the result of my opinions.

The weight of a bike matters for a few reasons:

1. Lighter bikes are theoretically faster to accelerate. Because cyclocross racing involves lots of turns and dismounts to accelerate out of, this makes accelerating back to “race speed” easier.

2. Related to the above, because cyclocross racing requires the carrying and lifting of the bike, a lighter bike takes less energy to move up a mud hill or a set of stairs.

3. It could be said that the above are the fake reasons and that #3 is the truth behind the madness: Light bikes are cooler. Especially for cyclocross. They showcase more specialized technologies, carbon fiber, titanium this and that etc. Lighter bikes are rarer bikes. Heavy/Stock bikes arent as fun because anyone can go down and purchase or ride or lift them. Whereas lighter bikes, like those featured on this blog, have been built from the frame up with hard to find, expensive or boutique bike parts.

8 comments:

Josh Snead said...

I agree with this, and I'll go another step beyond #3- having the frame built custom for one person is the logical starting point here. This means that not only is the bike hopefully light, but it is one (or 2, for cross) of a kind. For me the next most coveted and wonderful part of the cross bike is the tires. Dugast tires are finally available here, and they are not only light but heavenly to ride and incredibly duable. I'm equally queer for other aspects of the bike, particularly handlebars. IMO, there is nothing that looks (and feels) cooler than shallow drop traditional bend handlebars. I have a collection of hard to find models that are modern enough to be light, with this classic shape. Thank you Easton for creating a carbon bar in this shape! In short weight is only the first step- any rich bastard can throw cash at a bike till it's 15 lbs and many do. It's the little things that make bikes really interesting- race proven setup, cable routing, ease of maintainance, easy to pack in a case, etc.

jeremyb said...

hey josh, what easton bar are you referring to? is it cx safe? whats the weight? thanks for posting.

Josh Snead said...

The Easton EC90 Equipe Pro ("pro" differentiates it from the ergo ones). I like the way 26.0 looks and that's what I use, but I think it's cool that it comes in either that or oversized, depending on your preference. I don't have a scale but it's pretty darned light. I don't weigh bars or stems (I love my EA50 stem!), but I think this one's proven itself as a safe choice for cross. Shape and strength is all that matters to me when it comes to handlebars. If Easton made this shape in aluminum, that would be my first choice. This bar is just a hair deeper than my Cinelli top 64 bar, or the Deda 215 shallow drop. It also has a somewhat shorter shoulder to put the lever closer when you're on the hoods. Non-ergo bars allow for infinite hand positions in the drops and usually put the lever reach closer when in the drops. To me, ergonomic handlebars look like deer antlers and a proper racing bike should have a nice round handlebar.

Greg Keller, Boulder CO said...

Based upon the unbelievable detail of that comment, I thought I was a bike snob but I now bow to Josh. But hey, we both ride Paul's frames so it must be genetic. You're right about the look/feel of the shallow and non ergo drops. Problem is that I like 'em wide (e.g. 46 c/c) but I'm hard pressed to find a set. Help? Back to the original posting thogh, ultimatley, I think a HUGE factor is wheel selection. On my Rock Lobster, I dropped nearly a pund by switching from a set of hand built Mavic Open Pro ceramics/Hugi hubs to a set of FSA carbon fiber 488's. Sick weight reduction and so far at 175 and 6'2" tehy are holding up fine. Glued Challenge 32's on them as well and STILL significantly lighter than teh other wheels with Tufos.

Josh Snead said...

Thanks greg, I do my best. Check Ritchey and Oval Concepts, they make nice shallow drops that might come that wide. 3ttt makes a carbon traditional bar that is called the Big Man that is a deep drop. I think it comes that wide, but it's pretty deep and 31.8. Does your Lobster qualify for Jeremys site? Let's see some pics!

Jsage said...

Here is my take:
1st season I raced on my old cromoly mountain bike. Pre mud...32lbs. give or take a 2 lbs. I only raced the c's.

2nd season. I get a Felt F1X...20lbs. 1 lb heaveir than my road bike. I raced the B's. There was a huge difference in energy level. I felt like I was able to keep up after 3/4/5 lap going through the barriers. Before I was feeling the bike getting sloppy. The extra weight a huge factor. This time not a factor. I didn't waste as much energy lifting a huge load. I simply popped...rather than lugged.

So it pays off...now to get it down to 16lbs....figure I need to swap out the crank set, carbon brakes, with 10 speed oh yeah...just need to convince thy wife...

Greg Keller (Boulder, CO) said...

I'm gonna call my homie Johannes at Ritchey to see what they have. Rocky Mounts (my team in Boulder) has the Ritchey hook up but Jo will have to dig through the secret parts bins to find bars like those you describe I imagine. My Rock Lobster is riiiiight at the border line weight limit for this site. I have to see if I have any bike porn shots of it. Most are just me racing it. Anyway, I'll see what I can find and I'll mail to Jeremy. I am going to be calling upon Paul for my 06 race frame relatively soon and move the current RL to my pit bike. Now that that beeatch is famous, I guess I've got to get in line! This is the same guy who built my dual slalom frames back in the day! Ha! Now I see him featured on cyclingnews.com like every other week. Kinda sweet. Adios from a cold yet sunny Boulder.

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