Lightening the Load- Bike Equipment choices and tips

Chapter 4: Lightening the load, Equipment choices and tips!

by Ted Willard G2 Bike and G2 Athlete Coaching

You’ve been working hard on the bike, eating well and pushing yourself to be a better athlete. What else can you do to improve your performance?

Upgrading your bike may be the next step. This topic is sure to draw out the opinionated mechanically inclined members of your riding crew, so tread lightly and remember that what works for some riders doesn’t always work for everyone. Here are a few concepts and tips that will improve your performance without taking out a second mortgage to cover the costs.

What’s the best way to upgrade my bike?
When considering how to upgrade your mtb for racing events the obvious conclusion is lighten up your bike and you will also lighten the load placed on your body during the race. A light bike won’t make you any more fit but a light bike will make you a bit faster. How much faster? One good illustration of weight and its effect on your performance is this: If you we’re to climb continuously for one hour, a weight difference of 1,000 grams would save you 350 ft. on 7% grade climb. The steeper the climb the greater the benefit. So the lighter you can make your bike, the faster you will go up every climb.

I’ve heard upgrading my wheels is the most effective why is that?
Your bike is made up of two types of weight: rotational weight and static weight. Static weight is basically your frame, brake levers, shifters and other components that don’t rotate or move when you pedal away to from the start line. Rotational weight is simply your wheels, cranks, pedals, cassette, chain and anything that starts to move as you accelerate. Simply put it takes more energy to move rotational weight than static weight, so  it is more beneficial to upgrade rotational weight items than static weight items.

The most benefit does come from reducing the weight of your wheel set. Mostly because apart from your frame, your wheels make up such a large part of your bikes overall weight. Most importantly, your wheels make up the largest portion of your bike’s total rotational weight.

Wow, so I need a light hard tail bike for OTH?
No way! The bottom line is these are ways you can increase your performance through equipment choice. But at the end of the day, you are as fast as you and your machine together! So practice riding YOUR bike and make upgrades only when you are ready for them.

Going Tubeless: Rotational Weight Value
A great option for racers looking to lighten up your wheel set is going with a tubeless tire setup. For a fraction of the cost of a new wheel set you can lighten up your wheel set and get some added flat protection with the addition of the sealant used in most tubeless set ups. Most modern wheel and tire combos are easily converted to tubeless and can facilitate a lower tire pressure for better tire grip and performance.

Your body is ready, and a few tweaks to your bike setup can set you up for a better race at this years Over The Hump Series!

About the author:
Ted is a USA Cycling Certified Coach and avid mountain biker. He cut his teeth on the US Cup MTB Series in 2011 taking the Series overall and landing on the top podium step at 3 US Cup XC events last year in Cat 1 30-34. He is an owner of G2 Bike in Aliso Viejo. G2 Bike is a full service bike shop and also offers all types of athlete coaching programs and compliments many of its athletes training with G2 Altitude Training.
More info at

Coming up:
Chapter 5: Ready, Set, Go!

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