I can accept the fact that some people just like the feel of a lightweight bike, and others might want a lightweight bike to help them keep up with their friends that are in better shape. Racers probably have the most valid argument for obsessing over bike weight since they’re already in excellent physical condition and have a specific need to go faster. But for us commuters, fitness riders, casual cyclists, and general lolly-gaggers, worrying about how much our bike weighs is akin to my Great Aunt obsessing about how much horsepower she’s getting from her ’76 Chevy Chevette.
The irony is that many fitness riders pay big bucks for ultra-light bikes, yet heavy bikes actually give you a better workout (this isn’t strictly scientific, but work with me here). For example, let’s say you have a 10 mile commute, and on a 17 lb. racing bike in a full tuck you can make it to work in 30 minutes at a particular heart rate. On a 50 lb. bike with an upright cockpit and internally geared hub, I’m guessing it would take about 45-50 minutes to make the same route at the same heart rate. So the heavy bike is slower, but it provides a 50% longer workout and consequently, 50% more health benefits. Add in the fact that lightweight bikes are expensive and fragile, and that old boat anchor out in the garage starts looking pretty good. I mean, where else can you get 50% more at half the price?
Of course, some riders need to schlep their bikes up a flight of stairs or onto a bus rack; in that case, a boat anchor might cause a slipped disc or a split gut. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t mind shaving a few pounds off of my Brompton; at 27 lbs. it’s not exactly a tank, but it can be a bit of a handful to drag onto a crowded bus with one hand while carrying a breifcase and helmet in the other.