Question: I’m a first-year racer and bought my current bike a year ago from a friend for $400. It weighs 22 pounds and has a triple crankset. To lighten my bike, where would I get the best bang for my buck: wheels, fork, frame or drivetrain? Or do I need to bite the bullet and invest in a whole new bike? — Scott P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: 20 years ago, we thought that a 22-pound bike was light and anything under 20 pounds was so gossamer as to be scary. Now the standard has changed so much that 14-18 pounds is the norm for high-quality road bikes, and the lower weight limit keeps dropping.
An extra 3-4 pounds won’t penalize you much on flat courses, but on long climbs you’ll lose about 2 seconds per mile for each extra pound of bike (or body) weight. That’s not a lot if you’re on a group ride or out training by yourself, but it could put you off the back in races.
The most cost-efficient way to get a significantly lighter bike would be to buy a new one. This way, you can get a lighter frame, a carbon fork with a carbon steerer tube, lighter wheels and higher-end (and therefore lighter) components.
If you keep your current frame but replace the triple crankset with a double and buy lighter wheels, it will make a difference you can feel. After that, replacing components would pare more weight. But when you finished, the bike still wouldn’t be superlight because of the frame, and you’d have spent a large portion of the price of a whole new bike.
Another advantage of buying a new bike is that your old one can become your winter bike for training on wet, gritty roads. For this type of riding, a little extra weight isn’t a problem. Some riders even like lugging extra poundage up hills, believing it makes them stronger.
Kerry Irons says
And consider the same route he took when he bought this bike: a used high performance bike can be had for roughly half the cost of a new one. While there is nothing like the thrill of a new bike, the same economics apply as with automobiles: a 3-4 year old unit has absorbed a lot of depreciation but if it has been properly maintained without a lot of miles, it will give the most performance for the least cost.
You can finish 400th instead of 405th!
Geez by the time you spend $800 (bare minimum price for something sort of aero and aluminum so you don’t have to use a different set of brake pads for CF wheels that will hinder your ability to stop) for a new set of lighter wheels or more aerodynamic wheels, another $400 for a CF fork with CF steerer like the Enve 2.0 (which I think is the best for the money for strength), another say $200 for a decent light enough double crank like the Shimano 105, and suddenly you have $1,400 roughly invested into a $400 bike which in my opinion is a huge waste of money to do to that level of bike! Getting a new bike for that kind of money would massively improve what you already have. You can google: best bicycle for $1500 and get a bunch of websites with bikes they feel are the best for that sort of money, like the Specialized Allez Elite with Shimano 105 components as just one example, and that bike can be found in most LBS’s so you can test ride one, plus Specialized has the best product quality control programs going on.
Problem with buying a carbon fiber bike used is NOT knowing if the bike was involved in some sort of impact that may have damaged the frame or fork in a way not visible to the eye, but the owner, or bike shop, may have detected it by perhaps tapping the tubing with a coin, or saw what appears as flaking and to the untrained (ie unaware buyer) eye won’t look like much. Even a used aluminum bike could be problematic if it too had suffered say a bent rear stay and they bent it back to pass it off for resale, but now that area is a lot weaker than before it was bent. Buying a steel or titanium used bike is a lot less riskier but for weight issues as the question was about a steel bike won’t do and a titanium bike will be too expensive. Even if a steel bike or a titanium bike had been involved in an accident that tweaked the frame those can be rebent back without weakening the frame material, plus since steel and some aluminum is usually painted any bending and rebending would be visible due to crinkled paint where the stress point was. I have bought used bikes, if you know what you’re looking at it’s not a problem at all, but if you’re new and untrained to spotting problems than it could be a problem, you don’t want to spend money for something that is damaged and maybe unrepairable or leads to an accident that can seriously injury you or worse; and you won’t be able to prove in court your problem because the previous owner will simply say you damaged it because they never did, so it’s their word against yours and you’ll lose because you are not going to be able to prove it was damaged prior to you buying it because if you could then why did you buy it and risk riding it the court will ask.
Lou Frankel says
Fred attempting July 2019! team Evergreen’s Triple bypass ride living in Atlantic City New Jersey by the ocean where the roads are flat as can be it’s always a challenge in going to altitude in addition to writing and elevations I was there ion 2004, I train today with Weather in the 30s and would like to continue training up until July on the roads but have to be realistic as some winners here can be brutal as for his road conditions what do you think I can do to keep my Conditioning up so that the prime age of 68 can enter this event and completed with no problems