Some people ride for the fun of it. Some people ride for the exercise benefits. That's all good but if you are in it to win it – then there are some things you might want to do and change to give yourself an edge over the competition. Some things are small, some are big but all will cut down on the weight while you ride and give you the extra speed and seconds you may need to cross the finish line first.
1) Drop the booty baggage.
Okay, so maybe your booty isn't the problem but wherever you are stashing those extra pounds, it is time to lose them. You can tweak your bike every way possible but if you are weighing in on the heavy end, well, you might as well be driving a tank. The weight you carry effects how well the bike handles and how well you can handle the bike. Heavy = slow to turn, slow to climb and stress and pressure on your entire bike. You may be the biggest reason you cannot finish first. Time to get the lead out and slim down. Simple changes – increase lean protein, decrease saturated fats and always stay hydrated. That with some strength exercises should help you shed a few pounds and lighten the load.
2) Stock Handlebars.
When you purchased your bike, they came with whatever you may have had put on special, but a lot of times people overlook the handle bars. They may look like they are fine, but a lot of time the handlebars that came with the bike are heavier than a high quality racing handle bar. The difference in steering between stock and a lightweight handlebar is night and day. You will steer better and the heaviness you feel will be gone. It is something to check into.
3) What are you sitting on? - Saddle!
You may have a lightweight seat, but what about the seat post? Is that stock? It is definitely something that can add to the weight of the bike. Look for a carbon fiber seat post and save a few grams in weight. It is durable and sturdy yet lighter than most stock options.
4) Pedal to the metal.
What condition and what type of pedal are you using? Al lot of pedals are a closed design and weigh too much on their own. Add to that their uncanny ability to store dirt and mud and you might as well strap bricks to your feet. Check for a design that is lightweight and doesn't have spaces that could get clogged with mud and debris. This can make a huge difference in how fast you can pedal and your overall weight.
5) Nasty build up.
Time to give your bike a good thorough cleaning. Not just easy stuff like wiping it down or re-taping the handlebars, but getting in the itty bitty spots. Down in the drive train – the buildup of dirt and mud can not only add a few grams of weight, but, slow down the performance of the bike which can make a difference in your time. Get in between the tight spots – remove and lube and wipe it all down again. A clean machine is a beneficial machine. It is also a good time to check the condition of the bike from the smallest to the biggest details. Replace worn or damaged parts and clean and lube.
6) Streamline your body.
You can have an amazingly aerodynamic machine but if you are not also as aerodynamic as possible, then you are holding you back. Make sense? Time to upgrade the biking wardrobe. Invest in a good aerodynamic helmet, skin suit and we weather shoes can help to keep you as streamlined as your bike. Wearing inappropriate attire or heavy shoes that get bogged down in the weather is like trying to run a 5k wearing cement shoes – you're defeating yourself before you even begin. If you can't afford to revamp your whole wardrobe then the consensus is shoes and weather proof shoe covers are the first thing to shoot for.
7) Mini weight deposits.
Sometimes trying to figure out how else you can lighten your bike up is like looking for a needle in a haystack. You check and double check and check again. Then, something as simple as your cassette comes to mind. Again, this is another stock item that usually is over looked but can be a big difference in weight. Update your cassette and you can save some weight. The same can be true of your rims and tires. They may be well made but where do they rank on the weight scale. Updating the small things can make a difference in how the bigger parts work. Go from – "it gets the job done" to "this is a smooth, fast machine" by checking on the little things.
All in all, there are many ways you can take off some of the weight. Once you have gone over your bike from front to back, you may need to reassess the whole thing. How old is the bike? What are its primary materials? What is the cost of updating the major parts in comparison to replacing the bike? Sometimes it is more financially viable to replace it than part it. If you decide to stick with parts replacement, look for the lighter materials – carbon fiber and aluminum are the sturdiest lightest materials. There are frames being made today that stay well under the 7lb mark – they aren't the steel Schwinn's of yesteryear. It all comes down to your competition level, what you are most comfortable riding and your budget. If you are serious about your ride, consider a newer updated model, if your wallet can handle it. Otherwise, replacing items that are known for weight issues (tires, rims, forks, etc.) and hidden weighted areas (pedals, cassettes, etc.) can make a big difference in your speed, agility and thus your results.
Let me know about what you've done to save weight and how that's made a huge difference to the weight of your bike below in the comments!