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Home » Cycling » Old School Carbon Vs. New School Carbon Vs. Disc Brakes Vs. Rim Brakes, Etc., Etc., Etc. and Why Old Bikes Are Cooler Than New Bikes (To An Extent). The Proof is in the Poundage, As They (Should) Say.

Old School Carbon Vs. New School Carbon Vs. Disc Brakes Vs. Rim Brakes, Etc., Etc., Etc. and Why Old Bikes Are Cooler Than New Bikes (To An Extent). The Proof is in the Poundage, As They (Should) Say.

January 2022

Trek’s lightest “climbing” road bike is the Emonda. They’re beautiful, stiff when they’re needed to be and compliant, well, kinda, where needed. And they’re light. When the Emonda was released, it was the lightest production road bike at every component class. A friend of mine has an SL 7 and absolutely loves it…

For 2021 the Ultegra Di2 model, with hydraulic disc brakes weighs in at 17 pounds 13 ounces and will set you back a cool $5,900. Used.

The high-end SRAM Red eTap is lighter, at 16 pounds 12 ounces. It’ll set you back more than $8,500. Again, used.

To be perfectly clear, those are two phenomenal bikes and I’d be happy to own and ride either, but in a day and age where most bikes look alike because manufacturers have pursued aero over everything, including class (with the exception of paint and decals, of course) I can’t help but be thankful I got into high-end bikes when weight and “cool” both mattered as much as aerodynamics – and before over-testing in a wind tunnel led to all aero bikes looking alike.

So while the high-end spec’ed Treks above are excellent choices, you’d be into a few thousand Dollars more than I’ve got into my Specialized and your new Trek will still be more than half a pound heavier.

It doesn’t end there, though.

My 1999 Trek 5200 currently weighs 18-1/2 pounds with a full line of Shimano 105 components. I’ve got about $2,500 into it, including a new paint job. In all fairness, the drivetrain was taken off the Venge when I upgraded its components, so figure another $450 and round up to call it $3,000. It’s not as responsive when laying the power down, but it’s only a half-pound heavier than a $6,000 new Trek!

Now, there are down sides to older bikes. Today’s road bikes have enough clearance at the seat stays and fork that you could easily run a set of 28 mm dirt tires and use it as a gravel bike. That couldn’t be done on my Trek. There’s no clearance. Same thing with my Venge (not that I’d ever want to do that). There’s no clearance for 28 mm road tires on either bike, let alone dirt tires (and my Specialized is only eight years old). Newer road and gravel bikes can easily be set up to do double duty with an extra set of wheels and a cassette.

That said, this is one of those odd times – if one of the first in history – where new cycling technology makes a bike heavier than those that came just a generation or two earlier. And that’s good for cyclists; especially those on a budget.

Buying a 1st Generation Specialized Venge, with the right components, you can have a lighter aero bike than virtually anything produced today… and save a few grand in the process!

It’s a good time to take advantage of this rare anomaly.


  1. Dave Talsma says:

    My custom made Assenmacher is a marvel of beauty to look at and a fantastic ride, but I can barely stuff 25 mm tires between the fork, I thought would be my forever bike but now only comes out a couple times.

  2. I completely agree. I have to say that I love some of the new stuff that comes out. However the road bikes that I have are both from around 2016 and I think they still look great to this day and weigh less than some of the new bikes costing over double the price.

  3. There’s do doubting older bikes look WAY better and tend to be lighter, I have no complaints. That half a pound makes next to no difference unless you climb mountains all day. On the flat it’s not even noticeable. Plus every so often when I’m descending steep winding roads on my carbon rim brakes, I do think about discs (can’t believe I just wrote that, don’t tell anyone).

  4. I know it’s not as big a deal as it used to be, but they are porkers! 😅 My alloy framed bike all-in (pedals, cages, mounts) still comes in under 17lbs.

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