Where do you draw the line on adding weight to a mountain bike you’ve spent a heap of cash trying to get lighter parts for it?
Two parallel ideas have been existing within mountain biking recently, that don’t make an awful lot of sense. On-bike storage seeks to take the weight off your back and out of your pockets and onto the bike. Pretty self-explanatory.
Pete and Dave mull the pros and cons of on-bike storage and loading everything into a riding pack.
That is countered by the age-old concept of a lighter bike generally being faster in all situations, especially when it comes to unsprung mass and wheels. Riders spend thousands on the latest complete bikes, frames, wheels and other components, seeking a lower overall weight. This concept has been hard-pushed by the bike industry as they seek for the next ‘lighter and stiffer’ version of their latest product.
Where do you draw the line though? Is there anything to gain from taking a 26lb bike and adding four pounds of metal to it? Is it perhaps that the average rider won’t notice those marginal weight differences as they struggle with the trail ahead?
To me (Pete) it does seem daft to covet a light bike then strap as much of the clobber you’re taking out on the trail to your bike. But there are exceptions.
Let’s look at this objectively. You’ve paid three thousand five hundred pounds for a new bicycle, not the most expensive bike out there, but certainly not cheap. You bought it because while everything else adds up, the headline weight is 28lb, lighter than the competition which were all just under of over that 30lb marker.
Add a 500ml water bottle and you’ve already added 1.1lbs to you tally. That doesn’t include the bottle weight, but that’s not an awful lot. It’s even more so if you’re using a 750ml bottle or have double bottle cages (or both). If you used a double bottle cage with two 750ml bottles, your bike would be 3lb heavier without anything else added.
Add a tube, a pump and a good multitool (all coming in around 0.4lb each) and you’ve added another 1.2lb of weight. So we’re back above the 30lb bike weight you were looking to get under in the first place before you’ve done anything out of the ordinary.
With the right kit, you can keep everything you need for any big day in the hills in a good pack. I mourned the loss of my USWE Explorer 26 when the zips died after many years of use. It could swallow everything, I never filled it, and it didn’t ever sit anything bit dead still on my back.
Whereas Pete isn’t so keen on the on-bike storage, I am all for it. As far as I am concerned, the more that I can get onto the bike the better. I currently have a tube, pump, gas canister with adaptor, tyre levers, spare chain link and a water bottle cage with a multitool on the back of the cage on the bike.
Personally I am not a big fan of riding with a pack. I find that it often rides up and pushes on my helmet on the descents and it just feels weird. I find that having the kit on the bike frees me up. Sure, it makes the bike heavier, but I ride an e-bike, so I’m not super fussed on the weight of the bike, but more about comfort when riding.
As more and more people strap kit to their bikes, over time the equipment will get better and multi use. I have got a pair of the Granite Designs ‘Clever Tyre Lever’ that doubles up as a pair of tyre levers and a chain split link plier. My multitool is built into the back of the bottle cage (Topeak Ninja TC) and the rest of the kit is held in place with a Granite Designs Rock Band.
I haven’t yet found something that I wish that I had and didn’t have on the bike. Its all about finding the parts that work for you. I would recommend putting the kit low and central on the bike so that the weight sits nicely on the bike and doesn’t affect the handling (I don’t think that it would anyway).