In a world of quadruple tailwhips, double backflips, and 20lb bikes, many people nowadays are going to great lengths to lighten up their bike. Some people say they can ride longer and stronger with a lighter setup because they use less muscle and energy to do things. Others claim the bike whips, spins, and flips easier if it is lighter. Whatever the reason, light is in, so here are 10 things you can do to save some weight on your whip.
1. Remove Unnecessary Parts
Some things that many complete bikes come with that you may not need are: chain guards, reflectors, detanglers, brakes, and pegs. All these things are personal preference of course, but take a good look at your setup and see what you could do without. Just don’t tell your parents that we were the ones that told you to take off the reflectors and brakes. And if your bike has a basket and/or a bell, you probably need more help than this article can give you, so good luck.
Remove all the junk you don’t need off low-end complete bikes. Or strip your high-end bike to the bone.
2. Buy Lighter Components
Some of the first things you’ll want to look at are the more inexpensive parts like pedals, seats, posts, pegs, etc. However, for every part of the bike, there is a “lightest” out there. Start where you can save the most weight for the least amount of money and go from there. A lot of mail order shops even have weights of parts on their Web sites and in their catalogs so you can easily compare several parts, their weights, and their prices.
See, plastic is lighter than metal.
3. Buy Titanium Parts
Titanium spindles, bolts, and spokes are lighter substitutes to traditional chromoly or steel parts. Some companies even have titanium bars and cranks. But remember, titanium is an expensive metal, so these upgrades will definitely cost you.
Titanium axle… Or magic wand?
4. Use 36-Hole Wheels
Yo, old-schooler…48-hole wheels are a thing of the past. 12 more spokes per wheel plus a larger hub means more weight—and more rotating weight. I’m not a physicist or anything, but rotating weight feels like more than what it actually is. So any weight on your wheels will make your bike feel heavier while it is in motion. Don’t believe me? Just ask ol’ Wiki… The Internet doesn't lie—you know that.
Imagine the two numbers spinning in circles and the idea is much clearer.
5. Use Kevlar Bead Tires
“Foldable” tires, as many companies are calling them, are lighter than traditional steel bead tires. This goes right along with that rotating weight concept we just talked about. And since tires are the farthest thing out on your rotating weight, this will make a big difference in how your bike feels.
You can fold just about any tire, but that doesn’t mean it is lighter. Check the materials (kevlar -vs- metal) and weight to be sure of what you are getting.
6. Get Thinner Or Smaller Tubes
Back in the day I used to use a heavy-duty, thorn-resistant tube lined with the skin of another tube. And back in the day my bike weighed 45 freakin’ pounds, too. Screw that crap man. Be dialed, don’t case or hang up, watch out for glass, and don’t get flat tires. You can buy tubes with thinner rubber that weigh less and even get 18″ tubes instead of 20″ tubes. The thin guys or 18-inchers will still expand enough to fill your tire and will save you a few grams of rotating weight.
Cross section of two kinds of tubes. The one on the left is lighter, duh.
7. Drill Holes In Your Parts
This may be going to the extreme for some people, but I’ve seen it done. Some companies already have holes drilled in various places on their parts and frames. If you are skilled and creative though you can find plenty of places to drill out excess metal and/or plastic. This will definitely void any warranty the parts may have, but dude, you’ll look soooooo hackin’ cool.
This is just one of dozens of places you can drill holes to save weight without sacrificing much (if any) strength.
8. Saw Parts Off
Do your axles stick out farther than the nut? Saw them off. Are your bars wider than you need them to be? Hack off an inch or so on each side. Is your seatpost slammed with 8 inches of extra post inside the frame? Cut that sucker down to a nub. Do you have a bunch of extra spacers on top of your stem? Cut down that steer tube on the forks, my friend. Not running a detangler or brakes? Get rid of those gyro tabs, cable guides, and brake posts. Cutting excess metal will definitely save you weight, and will often make your bike look a little more sleek and sexy.
This is an old photo from an Ian Schwartz bike check we did. Notice his sawed axle and nut. Huh, huh…we said “nut.”
9. Pay Attention To The Little Things
Bolts, spacers, washers, nuts… All these small pieces of metal are things that can be replaced with aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, or other smaller/lighter versions. Also, paint and clear coat will add a little bit of weight to your frame as well. If you are really getting down to the nitty-gritty of lightening your bike, try running a raw frame.
Carbon fiber is very lightweight and very strong. Not that you need a headset spacer to be strong, but you know…
10. Put Your Bike (And Yourself) On A Diet
Seriously, tell your frame to lay off the soda and candy and start making that lard ass bike of yours eat healthier. And while you are at it, lose some pounds yourself and take the quarters out of your pocket. Oh come on, let me see you come up with 10 things. It doesn’t sound as good if you say “9 Ways To Lighten Your Bike.” Don’t like my jokes? Well then you need to “lighten” up. Oh god, I kill me.