Numerous features can affect biking performance and one is the terrain, your physical fitness, your body weight and the weight of the bike. You do have control over every one of these factors, and it does depend on the type of biker you are. You can choose the terrain you want to bike in, though environment can be changed by weather or road hazards. You physical fitness and body weight is up to you, and you can buy a bike that is lighter for racing and uphill riding or heavier for downhill and mountain biking.
If you are riding uphill you can expect to expend a great amount of energy. Energy is used in proportion to the weight you are moving and this is your body weight plus the weight of your bike. The heavier your equipment, the more energy you need to produce to move up the hill. For every five pounds added to the weight of your ride (by your or the bike) you will lose speed in 30-second increments. If you just cycle on the weekends and for fun, this doesn’t really mean much, but your ride competitively you can lose a race by less than that amount.
Weight and gravity work together to get you down a hill in lightning fast speeds. A much lighter bike will not travel as far and fast as a heavier bike, heavier bikes are preferred in downhill racing. A lightweight bike would cause you to careen out of control on steep downhill trails and you would experience serious falls.
Downhill biking categories include BMX, motocross, running down awful rutty trails plus falling and breaking arms and legs. A downhill bike needs to be durable and have a great ride, plus the ability to be controlled. Most downhill downhill bikers feel that the weight of the bike is not the essential element, they want control and feeling.
Competitive cyclists invest extra money into the purchase of bikes that are lightweight and sleek. Expensive bikes are known to be less in weight than more affordable bikes. You can compensate for the added weight on a less expensive bike by 1) losing a couple of pounds before your competition; 2) learning techniques that improve cycling performance; 3) just be a casual biker who needs a bike that has safety features but multi performance capabilities.
If you are a bike racer UCI regulations limit your bike to fifteen pounds. There are those on the cycling circuit who do push to about nineteen pounds that gives the ride a bit more stability and control. You do have to take into consideration that the difference between four little pounds is almost 24 seconds. If you feel that a “heavier” racing bike is for you, you may want to lose the four pounds.
A great bike that looks like it could take off into space at any given moment is more aerodynamic and efficient than many other bikes, but it cannot be ridden on rough terrain. A lightweight bike with a slim frame and sleek tires is very dangerous when you are biking over a rutty path and climbing hills that are full of rocks, weeds and pricklies. To be a good mountain biker you need a heavier bike with strong and knobby tires. This makes it much safer to climb and ride over mountain terrain, but do consider that you will not be moving at the speed of sound.
Consider the wheels on a bike. Light wheels flex but can break with a hard impact. A tire mounted on a wider and heavier rim does provide a wider footprint. The wide tire reduces rollovers and makes the bike a bit stiffer to handle. If your bike has a wider grip and is somewhat stiff you can reduce your braking time in turns when slipping around narrow mountain cliff trails. Biking experts claim that you need to use a wide rim and a light tire for the best control and action. Aluminum rims that are wider over lighter tires are the best combination on a bike.
Frames are very important and strength provides the weight issues. If you are looking for a bike that can be lighter and is stronger, look at the frame. A triangulated frame usually weighs less than a beam frame and is very strong due to physics of the triangle. If you use gusseting, butting and a straight gage tube you can have a strong but lightweight bike. The strength in a triangulated from is determined by the density of the materials that make up the frame.
Browsing through the bike shop and determining the weight in a bike, check out the spindles and other parts that bear weight. The handlebar is a good example, the stem and the seat posts all contribute to the weight of the bike. Using different types of metals and plastics in these parts will give you a lighter or a heavier bike. You still want the components on your bike to be strong enough to hold up in falls.
Bike riding is great but there are injuries you need to consider when looking at your weigh and the weight of the bike. Repetitive motion injures are those that come from sitting too long and your hips starts to ache. Your weight is the major factor in aching hips. Knee injuries are common among bikers and particularly those bikers who ride heavy free ride bikes. You need to spin your pedals for momentum and keep the torque or speed for short bursts. This can cause you to “blow out your knees.”
No matter the weight of the bike you ride, you need to make sure that the bike “fits.” If you are a person with a large behind, a skinny racy bike with a tiny seat will be awful in any ride. If you are lighter in weight you can ride just about any bike you want. Except maybe heavy model that requires jumbo legs.
Keep riding just remember that the heavier your bike the more of an environmental foot print you will leave. If you ride a bike that weights over 30 pounds and want to race downhill over ruts and rocks, do be careful. A heavier bike may entice you to do fancier stuff and get hurt. If you are a racer and love the feeling of speed you will definitely want to invest in a very lightweight bike (up to 19 pounds) that can be easily ridden up a hill. If you are a casual biker, you might want to invest in a bike with a bell, a basket, and just go out and enjoy the country side as those speed demon bikers pass you on the right and mountain bikers jump over head.