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Bike weight is something many keen cyclists obsess over, perhaps to an unwarranted degree. But a bike’s weight does affect various aspects of cycling.
If you’re just taking up cycling or want to know how your bike stacks up in the weight stakes, this article is for you.
We’ll reveal the average weight of a bike and then divide the answer into different bike types. Why does bike weight even matter?
This article will tell you how your bike’s weight may affect your ride, for better or worse.
What Is The Average Weight Of A Bike?
A typical adult bike weighs between 18 to 29 pounds (8 to 13 kg). Some weigh a bit less and others weigh much more, depending on the bike type, frame material, and components. Certain features like suspension always add to the weight of a bike.
Let’s look in more detail at some of the features that affect weight in bikes.
Nothing influences bike weight more than the frame material, assuming we’re talking about comparable bikes.
Many modern bikes are made of carbon, which has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other material. Even among carbon bikes, properties such as weight and compliance (flex) can be influenced via the layup pattern used by the maker.
The lightest and most expensive bikes tend to be made of materials with high strength-to-weight ratios. For instance, titanium is almost half the weight of regular steel but just as strong. So, you get lighter, comfier bikes with thinner tubes.
Chromoly steel is stronger than standard carbon steel, too. As with titanium, this benefit is usually used to make lightweight, compliant frames. It can also be used to make heavy-duty bikes for large riders, as exampled by Zize Bikes.
Aluminum is a lightweight material, but it’s also brittle and not generally as strong as steel. For these reasons, bike makers tend to use a lot of material in the frames, so the bikes can end up heavier than you’d expect.
Bike manufacturers with well-funded R&D departments use advanced manufacturing processes to make aluminum bikes lighter and more comfortable.
With carbon bikes, the precise weight of the frame is largely decided by the type of carbon used and the “layup schedule”.
Metal bikes can be made lighter not only by the material used but also by the treatment of that material. In particular, “butted tubing” is a common way for frame makers to reduce bike weight. This refers to bike tubes with varying internal thicknesses.
Below are some of the weight-related features of metal bike frames.
- Straight Gauge – straight-gauge tubes (aka plain gauge) in a metal bike frame are equal in thickness along their whole length. This doesn’t weaken the bike, but it does make it heavier by a few pounds and reduces cost.
- Single-butted – a single-butted bike tube tapers one end of the tube to a greater thickness than the other. This type of tube is frequently used in the seat tube of a bike, with the thicker portion at the lower end.
- Double-butted – double-butted tubes are like single-butted except the thickness is greater at both ends rather than one. This type of tube is commonly used in the top tubes and down tubes of bikes. It gives extra thickness to the critical joints.
- Triple-butted – a triple-butted frame steps up twice in thickness towards the end of each tube. This allows the center to be thinner still, thus a triple-butted frame is lighter (and rarer) than a double-butted frame.
- Hydroformed – a hydroformed bicycle frame uses tubes formed in a mold using high-pressure fluid. This method creates contoured, nuanced frame shapes that are more economical in weight as well as more compliant.
- Gussets – gussets add extra material to the joints of bike tubes to reinforce them. This may be plates of metal or gusset welding. Reinforcing the bike’s strength at critical joints enables thinner, lighter tubes overall.
- Lugs – lugs are similar to gussets except their main purpose is to join two tubes together. They’re a kind of reinforced junction or socket. Lugs are usually brazed on. They make a bike heavier but can be safely used on thin, lightweight tubes.
- Fillet Brazing – an alternative way to join frame tubes is by fillet brazing. This creates a subtler join than TIG welding. Brazing adds more weight to a bike than welding. However, it preserves structural integrity and is thus often used on thinner, lighter tubes (e.g., Brompton bikes are brazed).
- TIG Welding – a more common way to join frame tubes than brazing. Welding as a method adds less weight to bikes. But it isn’t always used on the thinnest, lightest tubes for structural or aesthetic reasons. Because it melts metals together, welding creates an inherently strong joint when done well.
Wheels always contribute to a bike’s weight or lack thereof. When you buy a new budget or mid-range bike, it will often come with “heavy” stock wheels. And these can easily add a pound or two to the bike, making it feel less nimble or agile.
Carbon wheels are a good choice if you want to reduce the weight of your bike, though a decent set of alloy wheels does a similar job. If the carbon wheels happen to have a shallow rim depth, they’ll be hard to beat as a weight saver.
Tires & Tubes
Tires vary a lot in weight, ranging from fast, lightweight tires with little or no puncture protection to heavy tires with a nearly impenetrable tread.
The modern trend is towards wider tires, which inevitably add a bit of weight.
Tubeless tires aren’t always lighter than tubed tires since they’re often beefed up with slightly thicker, stiffer sidewalls. Sealant adds weight, too.
Cyclists who prefer tubed tires still have some weight to save in their choice of tubes. A latex tube is lighter than a cheap butyl tube, for instance.
Groupsets & Drivetrains
The groupset of a bike includes all the mechanical components that help propel it forward (the drivetrain) as well as the brakes. Most manufacturers offer groupsets at various price points.
Aside from perks like smooth gear changing and durability, one of the most saleable specs in a top groupset is its lightness. Expensive groupsets like Shimano Dura-Ace, SRAM Red, or Campagnolo Super Record are always lightweight.
Disc brakes are usually heavier than rim brakes, though weight should be a secondary concern when it comes to safety.
There isn’t much weight difference between mechanical and electronic groupsets.
Other Bike Parts
Most bike parts you can think of are available in expensive, lightweight forms.
Key components like handlebars and seat posts are available in carbon, which not only saves weight but also tends to soak up vibration better from the riding surface.
Even minor bike parts like derailleur jockey wheels can be bought in ultra-lightweight versions.
The average weight of a bike varies a lot between different bike types.
A typical road bike weighs about 18 to 25 lbs (8.1 to 11.3 kg). At the lower end of that range and below, the bike is likely to be very expensive.
Road bikes can weigh as little as 13.6 lbs (6.2 kg), though this is below the 14.9 lbs (6.8 kg) limit that the UCI rules allow – the world governing body for sports cycling.
A lightweight road bike accelerates faster, so it may be useful to a racing cyclist who needs to frequently respond to attacks. That’s true of a crit racer, for instance.
Gravel Bikes & Cyclocross Bikes
An average gravel bike weighs around 19.8 to 24.2 lbs (9 to 11 kg). Although it looks similar to a road bike at a glance, a gravel bike is about 10-15% heavier.
Gravel bikes are built more robustly than road bikes because they have to withstand rougher riding surfaces. They’ll have a longer wheelbase and thicker frame tubes.
The wheel rims and tires of gravel bikes are also wider than those on road bikes.
A cyclocross bike has an average weight of about 18 to 19 pounds (8.1 to 8.6 kg). It’s a bit lighter than a gravel bike, not least because it must be carried in races.
An average mountain bike weighs around 29 lbs (13.15 kg).Hardtails are usually a bit lighter and full-suspension bikes are a bit heavier.
In extreme cases, a hardtail can weigh as little as 17 lbs approx. (e.g., Mondraker Podium), and a full-suspension bike can weigh below 20 lbs (e.g., Orbea Oiz XC).
Downhill full-suspension mountain bikes tend to be heavier (35-45 lbs), but not for reasons of gravity. The high speeds they’re ridden at mean the bikes need to be robust with bulky suspension, larger brakes (disc rotors), and strong wheels.
Fat bikes are a type of mountain bike and usually weigh around 33-35 lbs.
Video: Is Your MTB Too Heavy?
Hybrid bikes normally weigh 26 to 29 lbs (11.79 to 13.15 kg).
Hybrids are part road bike, part MTB. They’ll usually have 700c diameter wheels like a road bike, but a gear range that errs on the low side to help with off-road riding.
Though heavier than road bikes, hybrid bikes are sometimes raced by beginner triathletes, usually in shorter triathlons.
Beach cruisers usually weigh in the region of 35 to 40 lbs. These are bikes that are built for comfort and never performance or speed.
A beach cruiser has a long wheelbase for stability and sturdy wheels that hold wide balloon tires. Swept-back handlebars give the rider an upright riding position.
Most folding bikes weigh between 25 lbs and 30 lbs, though cheaper models are likely to be nearer 35 lbs. Anything around 20 lbs or under is exceptionally light.
Folding bikes are usually made of steel or aluminum. The latter is not always the lightest, as the nature of the material means the frames tend to be chunky.
Some manufacturers make folding bikes in titanium or carbon. A single-speed folding bike (or any single-speed) is lighter than a geared equivalent.
Most e-bikes weigh from 40 to 60 lbs (18.14 to 27.21 kg). However, the weight can swell to 80 lbs and far beyond.
How come e-bikes get so heavy? The motor is part of it, but some electric bikes also carry weighty high-capacity batteries and may have fat tires. Some have suspension, which always adds significant weight.
E-bikes with mid-drive motors tend to be lighter than bikes with hub motors.
Why The Weight Of A Bicycle Matters (And Is Lighter Always Better?)
The weight of a bike is always a big selling point if it’s low, but why does it matter?
Performance & Speed
There are situations where a lighter bike doesn’t give you any tangible benefit at all in terms of performance or speed.
When riding on flat terrain, the aerodynamic qualities of a bike are more important than its weight in terms of average bike speed.
However, a lightweight bike is likely to be more agile and will accelerate faster. This could give you an edge in explosive bike races.
Video: Aero vs Lightweight Bike: Which Is Faster?
When you’re riding uphill, gravity dictates that a lighter bike is better.
You can certainly feel the extra weight of a heavy bike when pointed upwards, and that may have a psychological effect.
Professional riders always choose a lightweight bike if a race entails long climbs. They won’t necessarily choose the lightest bike for a series of short climbs.
A heavy bike and/or rider makes for a faster descent.
A lightweight bike is usually easier to maneuver and handle than a heavy one. A cumbersome bike is less agile.
The maneuverability of a bike is especially important when riding technical off-road trails. You wouldn’t use a heavy fat-tire bike for this.
And because a lightweight bike is easier to handle, it enhances safety on certain types of rides.
Agile handling in a road bike is largely dictated by geometry. Extreme differences in weight will have an effect, however, on actions like steering and cornering.
Comfort & Fatigue
The longer you ride, the more a heavy bike is likely to tire you, unless you happen to live in a pan-flat part of the world.
Having said the above, some heavier bikes are naturally comfortable.
You may ride farther, for instance, on a steel touring bike than an aluminum road bike, though the former is likely to be heavier.
Many cheaper aluminum bikes have a steel front fork for reasons of compliance and comfort, even though it makes the bike heavier.
Bike weight isn’t a reliable factor in comfort, but it becomes more so if you have to slog over multiple hills. You may quickly run out of easy gears on a heavy bike and put more strain on your muscles and joints.
Portability isn’t always an important factor in a bike, but it is vital in some cases. A folding commuter bike needs to be lightweight and portable, for instance.
If you intend to load a bike onto a car bike rack, that’s easier if the bike is lightweight. Putting a bike into a car trunk is also simpler if the bike lacks heft.
Anyone who lives in an apartment may have to carry a bike up and down stairs. Low weight and portability are welcome in that instance, too.
Although a lightweight bike is usually preferable to a heavy one, it’s not always going to make a big difference to your speed. And it won’t necessarily be more comfortable.
Unless you identify a need for the lightest possible bike, don’t let an extra few pounds of weight put you off buying the bike you want or can afford.
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