There are a few quick and easy ways to save weight on your bicycle and lots of ways that are considerably more difficult with smaller returns. While saving weight is certainly a valid concern of many serious cyclists, anyone who rides a bike can benefit from a few pounds (or ounces) saved here or there.
Bicycle frames have come a long way in a short period of time. The lightest, and perhaps stiffest frame available, one made from carbon fiber, offers the best weight saving results for cyclists. Aluminum, which is considerably lighter than steel, is also commonly used in frame making. Steel is the heaviest, although many entry-level bicycles are made of steel due to its softer, more forgiving attributes and the lower cost of manufacturing a frame from it. Some frames and front forks have a hybrid composition where part of the frame or the fork itself is carbon while the rest is aluminum. Saving weight on the frame is probably the easiest and more effective way to save over the entire bike once you own it, but it’s definitely not the only way to save a pound or two.
Your bicycle’s components can cost a pretty penny to upgrade, but the good news is that most of the time, upgraded components translate to lighter weight components as well. Top of the line brakes or derailleurs not only help you stop and shift more efficiently and effectively, but they also typically weigh quite a bit less than the stock components. One great example is a hollow crank set. Most stock crank sets are machined from a solid piece of aluminum or steel, but hollow crank sets are usually made from carbon fiber or aluminum and are hollowed-out to save weight. Hollow crank sets are usually quite costly but they can also serve to enhance the bicycle’s performance and the enjoyability of the riding experience. The component category is where a little bit of monetary sacrifice can afford a rider both upgraded parts and weight-saving options.
Tubes and Tires
Lightweight tubes and tires can be pricey, and the weight savings fairly minimal. I would recommend that these components be upgraded to save weight only after you have done a few other things to the bike to help shed a few pounds. Seriously, we’re talking about maybe 3-4 ounces of weight savings per tube and tire combination if you spend an additional $100 or so. Not the most effective price to weight savings ratio possible but it does help lighten the bike nonetheless.
Many wheels and wheel sets (wheels, spokes, and hubs combined into one wheel) can save you considerable amounts of weight from the get go. Most stock wheel sets are relatively heavy, so upgrading to carbon or aluminum wheels with carbon or aluminum spokes and hubs can save you literally pounds of weight. Carbon wheels used to be very brittle but carbon fiber technology has come a long way even in the past decade, and carbon wheels offer the best results for those looking to save weight as well as help upgrade a key part of their bicycle.