Bicycles under 17 pounds are less stable and can be hard to control. On the other hand, a bike that weighs too much can cause muscle fatigue and damage if you ride too long and tear a muscle.
Cycling is a balancing act in more ways than one. Does bicycle weight really matter?
Increased bicycle weight matters because it requires more energy to overcome inertia. Reducing the weight of your bike will reduce muscle fatigue on long rides, but it also helps cut down on how hard you have to work to get up to speed. A lighter bicycle tackles hills better and lets you go faster for longer without straining your muscles.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
Table of Contents
How Much Does Bike Weight Matter
Bike weight matters most to professionals, uphill riders, and very serious solo endurance riders.
Changing your bicycle’s weight by reducing it slightly can help you move faster for longer because it cuts down on how hard you have to push your muscles.
However, all that doesn’t take into account is that the majority of the weight on a bicycle in motion will always be the rider.
I am not saying you should lose weight. It simply means that a light bike frame can only do so much, like helping reduce fatigue on hills or giving you a little boost for a longer ride.
Bicycle weight isn’t everything, but you should still consider it.
Why Does Bike Weight Matter
Bike weight matters because of inertia and physics. Newton’s first and second laws of motion act on you and your bicycle as you ride.
The first law is the famous one most people remember, which states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest stays at rest.
The second law is a little more complicated but equally essential.
Newton’s second law says that the time rate of change of the momentum of a body is equal in both magnitude and direction to the force imposed on it.
That means the harder you push on something, the faster it travels, but you also have to push harder to move a heavier object at an equal speed to a lighter one. You work harder on a heavy bike.
As Timothy Aron Physics explains it, “…the cyclist produces an applied force upon the bicycle, which allows the cyclist on the bicycle to enter motion. As a result, the applied force of the bike becomes greater than the opposing force of friction from the air resistance and the bicycle tires, therefore producing a net force upon the bicycle.”
Does Bike Weight Matter On Flat
Even on flat ground, the weight of your bike matters. The inertia issue doesn’t change, but there’s more to worry about because a heavier bicycle is also less agile.
It will take more energy to make every slight movement, slowing you down by a fraction of a second. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.
Losing fractions of a second can make a huge difference in reaction times, which are already measured in fractions of a second.
It slows you down if, for example, a truck ahead of you on the road suddenly loses something out of its bed and you have to go around it quickly, or you spot a pothole at the last second on a foggy morning.
There is often an incredibly tiny gap between when you realize you need to act and when it is too late to salvage the situation.
How Much Difference Does Weight Make In Cycling
Weight makes a significant difference in cycling. Removing even a little weight from your frame or tires can help you ride more efficiently, move faster, and even win races.
However, lower weight isn’t everything.
Truly bike-weight-conscious people understand that the handling becomes questionable around 17 pounds.
The only people who need 15 pounds or lighter bicycles are those who ride endurance races for a living, and even then, the low weight can be dangerous.
Even major races like the Tour De France cap the bike weight at a 15-pound minimum.
Bike Weight And Climbing
It takes far more effort to get up a hill than to move across the flat ground, and rolling downhill, gravity plus wheels will do the work for you.
However, pro cyclists know that using an ultralight bicycle like the incredible light bikes you can get from high-end road bike manufacturers can significantly increase your time as they decrease your fatigue and weight load.
Most people will never ride a bicycle that weighs less than 15 pounds, but you can opt for a lighter version of your preferred bike to help decrease your uphill effort.
Is A Heavier Bicycle Harder To Ride
A heavier bicycle is harder to ride. The act of pushing the pedals forward takes more muscle.
Moreover, if you’re riding a BMX or another bike made for jumps, it can be harder to get your front wheel up in the air and keep it there as you land.
It’s essential to have enough weight in your bike frame and wheels to help keep you stable without going overboard.
It is easy to assume that this means a heavier bicycle is better for getting in shape or staying healthy, but that isn’t necessarily true.
You can push harder, go faster and ride further on a lighter bike without causing faster muscle fatigue. A more lightweight bicycle makes the ride more enjoyable, not less healthy.
Does Mountain Bike Weight Matter
Mountain bike weight does matter. Cutting a little weight out in the wheels can be helpful if you want to ride for longer.
However, mountain bikes need to be heavy and durable to handle the forces of being an MTB, such as trail riding and occasional jumps.
As Endless Rush Outdoors points out, “…a good hardtail mountain bike will weigh 28 to 31 lbs. A good full suspension mountain bike will weigh between 31 to 34 lbs.”
Helpful Tips To Know About If Bicycle Weight Really Matters
The weight of your bike can significantly impact how much you enjoy your ride and whether you fatigue too fast. Finding the right balance between light and heavy can help you ride safely.
Here are more helpful tips to know about if bicycle weight really matters.
- Instead of increasing bicycle weight for more challenge, seek out carried terrain or steeper hills. Getting a great workout on a bicycle isn’t tricky.
- A bicycle can also be too light. Without some reasonable weight helping to keep you stable lower down in the bike wheels and frame, all the mass is up in your body, making for a very unbalanced and unstable ride. The lighter a bicycle is, the more likely it will fall on sharp turns or anytime the wheels experience a slight wobble.
- Professional riders like those in the famed Tour De France often ride heavier bikes for their qualifying time because it helps them stay more stable and means they will usually have a faster speed during the race.
Bicycle weight is quite literally a balancing act. If you have a bike that is too light, it will be unstable and dangerous, but an overly heavy cycle slows you down and fatigues your muscles.
Moreover, it would help if you had different bicycle styles and weights for various types of cycling.
A mountain bike trail rider should expect a much heavier bicycle than someone who usually rides a comfort road bike with a peloton of friends on weekends to stay fit.
Having a lower weight is usually helpful but keep most bikes above 17 pounds for stability.