Monday, December 13, 2010

So, Just How Light Is That?

We're constantly wowed by the latest, greatest bicycle part that comes down the pike when it comes to weight. Even complete bicycles are amazingly light these days. The thing is, I wonder how jaded we have become when it comes to weight, and more specifically, materials technology. That we can even trust this gossamer weight componentry is, to me, nothing short of a miracle.

Still, as consumers, we seem to go, "Ahh......so what. This could be lighter." As if we expect it will never stop. For example, I remember when Bontrager came out with that 118 gram titanium bar. Whoa! That was nuts. How could you ride that? It was so much lighter than the 150 gram plus bars we were using then, it was unbelievable. Of course, that bar was super skinny because it was super short. But now, a 120 gram XC bar that is fairly wide is no big deal.

Or for a better example, how about this.....

Check out the fork. It is a Spanish made, single leg type rigid fork that weighs 668 grams with the triple clamps.

For a bit of perspective, that is similar in weight to one Salsa Gordo 29"er rim, or three Thomson stems. That is flat out amazing.

I mean, try making a single leg fork for a mountain bike that is rideable out of a Gordo rim. Ya know what I mean? That's insane.

So when things like this get shown, folks don't say, "668 grams? Are you nuts? Prove it works." No, they want to know who to send the credit card info to and if it takes more than three days to get, they will be upset. Really. It's just wonky out there.

One has to wonder where the line will be drawn in terms of what is safe that will work, and also, why. I mean just that: Why? Don't get me wrong- I love great performing, lightweight, durable, trustworthy parts as much as the next mountain biker, but there comes a point where it goes over the lines. The line of safety, the line of controllability, and the line of costs. The line of practicality, the line of reliable performance, and the line of wisdom also must be considered. Why mess with that stuff?

I don't know. I suppose there is always a fool and his money-will-part thing going on out there to some degree. I suppose some folks will always want to push the limits which will make our "reliable, trustworthy" parts even better. I suppose I should just keep my mouth shut and ride.

Speaking of which- I really wish I could do that safely right now, but it is below zero here, and not just a little bit. I guess I could, but my "common sense" and "better judgment" say otherwise.

Which might be a good thing to employ when it comes to these lightweight wunder-parts out there.

7 comments:

Dave said...

In the end it's all about the engine anyway. I'm one of those people that like the parts and can appreciate engineering marvel, but at the end of the day, I'd rather spend my time on training rather then working to pay off the credit card that I ran up buying the newest and greatest lightweight parts!

Cheers,
Dave

Ari said...

For the next Trans Iowa I plan on buying all the lightest stuff and then putting the drill to it. My plan is to beat Joe Meiser.
Ari

Webbies said...

Light parts are great if they dont kill you. Theres a fine line between light and everyday race ready and superlight race ONCE. The fork in my mind is just weird. A Niner fork is lighter and looks better :)

grannygear said...

I remember a guy that used to be Pro horse jockey...little Italian guy...and a real weight weenie. This was back when XTR first came onto the market, so he had the cranks, etc. Decided to drill lightening holes in his cranks with a drill press. They sure looked cool. Till he pedaled them the first time...snapped right in half.

Too funny.

chexem said...

How about the line of "I just ain't that much of a rider."

James Fisher said...

How light is light? I guess I don't even think about weight except to brag. Lets see now my last good month for riding was November, 650KM. When I commute I haul at least 10Kg of stuff (clothes, tools, computer). Made 5 trips to town for groceries average load 45KG. Oh ya, the Dummy its self....Grams? Whatza gram? It's more about fun and enjoying the views.

Geoff Apps said...

With the 'Cannondale' http://www.flickr.com/photos/38236150@N06/5043539351/
I tried to get the weight to a minimum by removing anything that wasn't absolutely necessary, and fitting the lightest components available at that time. I got it down to about 19lbs.
However, it somehow didn't feel particularly good, except for lifting it over fences and stiles (we have loads of them in the UK).
I've ridden machines that are very light, and very heavy, and in many cases I've found that light doesn't always translate into 'good'.
My present steed is heavy (haven't weighed it though) but this weight seems to give a really solid, satisfying and reliable 'feedback' ~ I can't quite explain it.
As it happens, I don't have a choice in the matter right now, but I'm not unhappy about that.