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Home » Cycling » The Noob’s Guide to Cycling; On Being a Weight Weenie – All at Once or Over Time?

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling; On Being a Weight Weenie – All at Once or Over Time?

November 2018
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We’re into winter now, more than a month early, but here we are. The Venge hasn’t seen the light of day for close to a month.

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Every once in a while, I’ll walk into the bike room and pick it up, marveling at how light the bike is after all the upgrades. It was three pounds heavier when I brought it home five years ago. Considering you can feel one pound on a hill, three is a pretty big deal. What’s really crazy is the amount of money it cost to drop those three pounds, but no sense crying over new carbon fiber… because carbon fiber is freaking awesome. I digress…

There are two ways to go about being a weight weenie. First, the cheaper way is to go all in right off the bat and buy the best bike you can afford. The cost up front is great but if you’ve got the cash up front, it’ll beat the second option…

Option two – what if you don’t have the cash up front? The other way to go is to buy the low-end high performance bike and upgrade the $#!+ out of it – this is the way I went. The cost in going this route is greater, but you’ve got the luxury of time to get the bike where you want it. I needed the time because I didn’t have the $4,500-$5,000 up front.

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While it’s easy to go for the big items first, every little bit counts. Going with a $80 Ultegra cassette in lieu of a $30 SRAM model. A $60 chain over the $30 model. Carbon fiber cages over the molded plastic. Lightweight cable housing over the heavy, cheaper budget housing. You can knock 150 grams (more than a quarter-pound) just by going from a $100 saddle to a $300 top-of-the-line saddle. A stem that retails for $165 instead of the stock stem – call that 90 grams. A $500 crankset? Three-quarters of a pound over an alloy model. Lightweight carbon fiber wheels? A little more than a pound right there. Lightweight tires? 30-100 grams. Decent pedals? Another 50-ish grams.

Folks, when you start adding all of that up, it’s quite a bit of weight. In the case of my Specialized, a shade more than three pounds…

Even after all of the money I dropped on my Venge, having to do it over again I wouldn’t change a thing. I still like the “over time” method of upgrading a bike. It makes sense for someone who doesn’t have a great deal of disposable income to drop on a bicycle. I paid more in the long run, a lot more, but having spread it out over time has meant no financing was required. I was able to pay cash for everything, and no debt is good debt. Also, and this is the best part, because I upgraded the parts over time, I was able to pick out the perfect matching parts for my steed. The bike I have now is vastly better looking than the one I brought home.

As for the great Eddy Merckx and his quote, “don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades”…

I prefer doing both.

UPDATE: The Omil made a fantastic point in the comments a lot more eloquently than I did; building your bike over time is enjoyable because one takes an active role in the evolution of the bike.

Well said, by friend.

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3 Comments

  1. The Omil says:

    Agree 100%. There’s also the pleasure of making a big personal contribution to the bike’s evolution – rather than limiting the involvement to just writing a bigger cheque upfront.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Exactly right – in fact, I’d just updated the post to make that point a lot less eloquently. You’re absolutely right.

      • I’m with Omil in loving the process of hand picking each part over time and building up a bike that’s all your choice and hard work. That evolution over time is great to look back over.

        Although I could drop a bunch of $$$$ on a full custom build and still pick every part. That’d be nice too! 😎

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