1:20 AM

Weight Weenie

In the cycle racing world as is in any other racing industry, there is a simple fact that power to weight ratios is the basis for victory. The more powerful you are relative to how heavy you are determines your acceleration and potential speed. The problem with adding too much power to increase this ratio is that more power usually means more problems. In the auto industry this correlates to higher operating temperatures and more extreme operating speeds, leading to more engine failures. In parallel, more power in the cycling world means training harder, working your given muscles to the brink of failure, pushing your limits. This all sounds dreadful. If it were to be an enjoyable pastime one needs to be able to go faster but not have to work harder. This is where the "Weight Weenie" comes in. Using Collin Chapman's ideal of "adding lightness" the weight weenie sets out to increase his/her power to weight ratio by picking the lightest frames, straddling the thinnest saddles, and roll on the skinniest of hoops as wheels.

Story telling and sarcasm to the side, I'd have to say that building a weight conscious bike is simply addicting. Most cyclist who are anything short of avid about weight would simply quit long before achieving anything notable simply because it takes too much money and patience to follow through with such a build. If you want to see what kind of builds there are out there go here www.light-bikes.com

That website pretty much sums up all of the most expensive components for a bicycle, and shows how they are used in various ultra light weight builds. It also shows that one of its lightest contenders is a ~7lb bike made of mostly titanium, carbon, and some ridiculous compromises and modifications. From there, I formed the basis of my build. I decided I wanted something light and usable. I picked a weight goal of 13lbs and went to work looking for a frame.

I picked up a used Litespeed Ghisallo from a local. Now if you look through the many builds on the www.light-bikes.com website you'll see why I picked the frame I did. Its the lightest production bike frame in the world. TIG welded titanium frame tubes meets minimalistic architecture and you've got a 1000g frame. My frame is the 2001 model, supposedly it was built a bit weak and riders over 200lbs had to beware. I'm 150lbs and I got a great deal buying it used so I had no quarrels.

Right after I got the bike I built it up with a bunch of parts I had lying around. It looked Something like this.

I weighed it and it came in at an alarming ~19 pounds. Hardly extraordinary and not worth any mentioning. I decided to do this the proper way and I drafted up my build schedule and parts list. If you don't do this, you're going to dig a hole for yourself, an expensive hole. The frame came with some parts like the clamps, forks, and various other things that I decided were good enough for my build and will save me some major money. I added a couple of good parts that were lying around to the list.

After drafting up the build list and deciding what was worth keeping or not I realized that with my budget in mind and the stuff that I chose to keep, I can only reach a target weight of 15 pounds. I decided this was good enough and went for it.

First I changed out the crankset for a newer model. The newer cranks are actually the same weight, but where you save weight is in the bottom bracket. I saved about 100 grams in the change.

Just to show you what kind of things I change without going into to many mods, here's the headset spacers. the stock ones were aluminum and weighed in at 15 grams. I swapped them out with carbon ones that didn't even read on my scale because it was too light for it. Now 15 grams isn't much but it all adds up and 15 pounds isn't much weight to begin with.

One of my biggest problems with my build right now is that I wanted to keep using a clip style pedal so that I can just wear normal shoes when I ride. These are the lightest that I have but they are costing me a handicap of about 200 grams over the weight of any good clip-in pedal set.

Here the bike sits as built, weighing in at around 17 pounds.

I wasn't too happy with the results. I went back to my chart and picked at some more parts. In doing so I first decided to trade out my brakeset for a newer dura ace 7800 set that saved me a couple grams.

Finally, I decided to go for it and switch out the wheelset that was good to ride on, but was way too heavy for this setup. I went with a set of ZIPP 303 Tubular race wheels. These babies are light! The light weight rim coupled with the lighter tubular (glue-on) tire style made this wheelset the biggest change on the bike to date. Not only does it cut total weight but the reduction of rotational inertia means blistering acceleration along with near dangerous stopping capabilities. The addition of these wheels borderlines not being as usable as I want it to be because of the added fragility of the wheels but I'm willing to live with it.

As it sits, the bike weighs in at about 15.5 lbs. More work is to be done, and modifications are to be made but first the 15lb mark will be reached, then the 13lb mark.

I've gone over this build really quickly but I hope you get the idea. Here's the Spreadsheet that I used to build the bike along with future or "planned" modifications and additions. Hope it all makes sense! And to help with your builds and to expand your possibilties, go here http://weightweenies.starbike.com/listings.php