Does Bike Weight Matter?

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Bike weight vs wheel weight. Which one really makes the difference? Joe weighs in.

Starling frame weight is about 3.6kg. Our bikes build to about 14-15kg with average components. 13kg if you throw money at it.

Weight is not an important factor for a bike. Wheel weight matters, but not frame weight. It’s just a convenient metric for marketing

How much do you weigh? I’m 80kg, plus say 15kg for a bike and 5kg kit. A total system of 100kg. If you were to swap one of my frames for an absolutely top end lightweight carbon frame, you’d save at most 1kg (plus a 100g lighter wallet). So 1kg in a 100kg system is 1% saving in weight.

Weight matters due to the extra energy you need to put into the system to climb (it’s not just the bike that goes uphill). So 1kg saving is 1%… Well, not quite, we also need to consider rolling resistance, air resistance, mechanical inefficiencies, these all act to reduce the impact of weight. So 1% is massively reduced.

If you are a Tour de France roadie, weighing 45kg, racing a 7kg bike, and a small percentage will affect if you win or not, then maybe it matters. For everyone else, it doesn’t. If you were talking about 5-10kg differences in weight, then maybe there’s an argument there, but not at small weight differences

Wheel weight does matter as it is rotational and on technical climbs you constantly need to accelerate the wheels. Also, the gyroscopic effects of a heavy wheel makes the bike harder to move around. I think it’s these factors that make people think that heavy bikes are hard to ride. Heavy bikes tend to come with heavy wheels.

I do however have to concede that if you constantly ‘hike-a-bike’, then weight becomes a bit more of a problem. But in this case, the nice open front triangle and small tubes on a Starling make the bike easier to carry and this is probably far more important.

You can check out our wheel options for Starling complete builds on the bike builder here.

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Joe Mcewan

Ex-aerospace engineer Joe Mcewan is the founder and chief engineer of Starling Cycles. Passionate, outspoken and fond of a cuppa and a debate, Joe loves to challenge the established thinking of the industry.

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