March 15, 2009

Lazy Saturday followup: Weightweenies, leave me alone!

In response to yesterday’s post, Mike from VT asked about the weight of my scrounged-parts oval-bladed fork (aka SPOBFork1). Here’s the story. Please keep in mind I have yet to actually ride this thing. It might totally suck. So don’t go bothering me about buying one, please. I’ll have some riding feedback when I get over this damn bug that’s keeping me indoors all day in the beautiful 60 degree weather.

It’s 885g (albeit with no powdercoat) with an 8″ steerer. I could probably make it a bit (5-10g) lighter by cutting most of the plugs and the rack mounts off of the dropouts (since they’re welded in, the plugs don’t really need to be there).

So it’s basically a 900g fork, give or take a little bit. Probably only appropriate for people under 170# or so? I’ll be curious to see how it rides.

For comparison, the usual tapering blades I use are 25.4mm diameter, with 1.3mm/.94mm butting (the thicker section being at the top) or 1.0mm/.7mm (I only use those blades for ‘cross forks, generally). These are 1.2/.9mm (they started life as 25.4mm round tubing, and got smooshed into their current form), which is a nice compromise between the two – still beefy enough for medium/small people on mountain bikes, right in between the other two options.

Late night edit: I posted this response to Guitar Ted over at a weightweenie MTBR thread.

I’ve thought about this a lot, and the only explanation I can think of for being super concerned about grams here or there is that it’s really easy to quantify and measure. Most people don’t have an easy way to measure, say, rolling resistance, or aero profile, or whatever, but they can easily throw their bike (or parts of it) on a digital scale. You get instant, easily understandable feedback, with minimal effort. Sweet.

There’s something about that weighing of things that makes a strong emotional connection to the European brain, I think. 🙂

And yes, of course, all things being equal, a lighter bike is faster. But the gains are really minescule – as I said, if you’re a fast pro/expert rider, a pound of weight will only save you 5 seconds in a thousand foot climb. A few grams isn’t even worth mentioning. If you’ve already done all you can to be fit, and you’re getting frames for free, by all means use the lightest stuff – but if you want to race this weekend in sport (or expert, or what passes for “pro”) and you have to pay for what you break, you should spend that money hiring someone to coach you instead. A dozen extra watts will put you at the front of the pack, bike be damned.