Weight Issue

A General Discussion on Weight

Our major design criteria have been quality, efficiency, comfort, durability, serviceability, longevity, safety and value for money. We are highly conscious of weight. But it is an outcome rather than a starting point. The need to make non-competition bikes lighter has often been exaggerated in the media and the marketplace.

We wanted to leave the word “weight” for its own page as we do not make decisions in frame design and material selection, based on weight. We are wary of allowing marketing language to distort the design story.

And there can be distortion in marketing statements about bikes. A good example is that of tensile strength. It is often mentioned. But, bike frames don’t fail in tension. Frames and parts fail due to fatigue, lack of toughness, “notch-sensitivity”, or in an impact. The glass in a window has over five times the tensile strength of cr-mo steel but windows readily break.

Defects in manufacturing are unavoidable. Space programs burn up billions of dollars but still have catastrophes happen when something as simple as an O-ring has a tiny flaw. There is a term “defect tolerance” used in engineering. On our bikes, in traffic, or coming fast down mountains, we need to be able to trust that defect tolerance has been factored in. An obsession with weight would have been likely to get in the way of that.

In competitive cycling disciplines such as road, track and cross country MTB racing, weight is a big issue. But when we are touring, we don’t mind if drag on the heavier front dynamo hub caused us to arrive 6 minutes later than we might have (2% extra energy used at 20kph over a 100km day). We want the function over the speed.

A simple way to save weight on a bike is to leave things off and to talk about lightness as if it is a virtue. No kickstand. No mirror. No dynamo hub and so on. Pretty soon though, it is not a touring bike.

The Tubus Logo in Cr-mo, with the mounting items, weighs 738gms and is rated to carry 40kg. The Logo Titanium, is the same design and there’s just the difference in metals. It weighs 200gm less at 538gms, is rated to carry 30kg but adds $160 to the price.

Cyclists riding up mountains are acutely aware of their load. But it is the sum of their bike, their body, what they had for breakfast, clothing, water in the water bottle, and the luggage they are carrying up that mountain So we encourage some wariness on this weight issue. Be cautious when comparing a World Randonneur with a different bike. If the other bike has no lights then add them. If you add rechargeable lights then also add the weight of the recharger as you have to take that on tour. Finally, close attention to tools, spares, clothing and other equipment can go a long way to keeping weight down. It seems a better approach than compromising on strength or leaving things off.

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Vivente Bikes is a venture of Gemini Bicycle Centres Pty Ltd, ABN 32 003 102 538

Designed by Joshua McFarlane

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