How to Make a Bicycle Lighter

How to Make a Bicycle Lighter

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Whether you’re going to participate in a Tour de France or just want to make your bicycle easier to ride, this ‘How-To’ will describe the steps to making a bicycle weigh less. Doing this to your bike creates a more efficient unit so the rider won’t have to do as much work as he/she would with the excessive weight. The ways to do this may differ between riders, depending on what the specific goals may be. You may want to strip the bike down to the frame and rebuild it, take off little things here and there, or just buy all new ultra-light parts. This method can also be tweaked and applied to a small business type environment that may be starting to produce bicycles and need to start concentrating on lean manufacturing.


  1. Look at the big stuff. This means the frame, the wheels, tires, and the handlebars. This applies to any type of bike. If you’re willing to spend the money on a new frame, a titanium or carbon frame will be a much lighter alternative. Explore other options that wont break the bank in frames and handlebars, as these are the two that will affect the cycle’s weight the most. As for the wheels and tires, obviously a road bike will already have the advantage over a mountain bike. However, you might want to look into titanium, carbon or aluminum rims and sets of tires with less tread to reduce rubber weight and friction.
  2. Select the right type of bike. If you are using your bike strictly on road, get a road bike rather than a mountain bike. Road bikes are made to be very stiff and strong, but aren't meant to ever leave the ground (and come back down), whereas a downhill or mountain bike will handle a 10 foot drop with ease.
  3. Go for quality in when deciding on weight. Rotating weight is the most important weight on your bike. To make you go faster, a general rule is to start with the tires and work in, with rims, spokes, and hubs next.
  4. Get a lighter seat. Seats have come a long way in ergonomics which coincidentally affected a weight problem in seats. Seats are now made with large cut-outs in them to better conform to your body.
  5. Saw it off. Another part of the seat to get rid of is any excess seat shaft you may not be using for your height. Find a hacksaw and cut away an inch or two below where your seat shaft enters the bike frame. You can go less if you want, but that’s your call on safety. If you always have your seatpost slammed to the frame when riding, all you need is a couple of inches inside the frame.
  6. Cut down the bars. A tip more for BMX and mountain bikes, cut the bars down a little bit. Many BMX bars come at 27" to 29" wide, so you may need to cut down the grip a little bit as well.
  7. Get rid of the minor stuff. If you’re serious about really making your bike as light and efficient as possible, all the little safety/convenience gear can be stripped. Reflectors on the wheel spokes, reflectors in the front and back of the bike, the kickstand, or any type of rack on the bike can be taken off because they serve no functional purpose for the bicycle. Another option is to switch to plastic pedals, or smaller light-weight metal pedals. Also, try a foam handlebar wrap instead of a dense, rubber, slide-on grip.
  8. Reduce the number of gears you use. If you won’t need all of the gears on your sweet 21 speed, take off some of the extra gears and recalibrate your derailleur to shift only to those gears (you don’t want to shift over to empty space while riding…that could get ugly). One more thing could be to eliminate a set of gears altogether and reduce it to one. This way you can remove a derailleur. And if you want to take it to an extreme, implement a set-gear system on your bike. These bicycles have one gear at the pedals and one at the rear tire, locking up the motion between the two. Doing this will make it so you’ll always have to be pedaling because when you slow your cadence, you slow your speed. However, this same ‘symptom’ will allow you to remove the braking system on your cycle. You’ll typically find this on road commuter bikes, however singlespeed mountain bikes are also extremely popular.



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