Bicycle Weight and Commuting Time

Dec 14, 2010
Outside
Outside Magazine

Deep down, most of us know it's the riders legs not the bike. When British Doc Jeremy Groves upgraded his $50, 30-pound steel commuter clunker to a $1560, 21-pound carbon beauty, he didn't feel like he was riding that much faster. So, he set off on a test. Just published in British Medical Journal this week, he completed a randomized trial. He alternated the two steeds on 26 commutes covering 711 miles. The result: he was equally fast on both bikes. Considering gravity, friction aka rolling resistance, and drag, the 30% reduction in bike weight--which translated to 4% bike+rider weight--made nary a difference in commute time. Incidently, the author preferred the character and comfort of the steel commuter, in addition to its value. Dr. Grove's conclusion: bike commuters may look at weight reduction of the cyclist, rather than the bike, to improve preformance at a much reduced cost.

--Christopher Van Tilburg, MD

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