What's your thoughts on bike and component weight?

Stumpalump

Expedition Leader
#1
Has anybody switched to a heavy steel bike and not minded the difference?
Do you spend the time and money it costs to go lighter on components on a recreation bike?
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#2
What sort of bike are you talking about, a straight gauge tensile steel? I ride a relatively heavy steel bike but it's still True Temper OX.
 
#3
It all depends on your goals. For me, a heavy rider who's not focused on speed, reliability is first, cost is second, weight is third. When you're talking long distance camping bikes, they're all going to be heavy (compared to my carbon road bike anyway) because you have a bunch of crap strapped to them. Now ride them in rough terrain, and all that gear weight means you need a heavier frame/rack/wheels etc to take the abuse. Unfortunately, all of that can quickly snowball into a pig heavy bike if you aren't careful, and that's miserable to ride.

I approach it like this: First, minimize the amount of crap I pack. Live on less and you have less weight to support, and can use slightly lighter components. After that, buy the lightest component you can afford without spending stupid money. The uber-light, high priced stuff is for sponsored racers that don't care if it breaks. This all ads up to being on a good aluminum or steel bike and running mid-grade components (say XT if you're talking Shimano or Rival if you're a Sram fan.)
 
#4
Good steel isn't much heavier. But for steel these days you're talking custom (good) or Surly (heavy). I had a heavy surly Moon Lander fat bike and the weight was oppressive.

That said, for a touring bike, steel might be more comfortable for a skinny tire. Though it you're going with a plus sized tire, the frame compliance doesn't matter as much.

-M
 

Co-opski

Expedition Leader
#5
I switched from a light aluminum frame bike to a heavier titanium frame for my bikepacking 4 season tour rig. To me the durability of the frame is important over weight. I also choose to run brass nipples and aluminum rims over aluminum nipples and carbon rims. Same with tires. A heavy tough casting tire like Schwalbe Marathon or WTB though plus tires are worth their weight on a backcountry tour. None of these I would want on a race rig but that is a different purpose built bike. My recreation commuter bike is a heavy steel working mans Trek with some Gucci components just for fun.
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#6
The difference between a steel Pugsley and an alu-anything or carbon wonder bike is 4-5 pounds, which gets noticeable on really long journeys, but the piece of mind knowing that it will hold up and can be easily repaired outweighs (pun intended) the disadvantages for me.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#7
The difference between a steel Pugsley and an alu-anything or carbon wonder bike is 4-5 pounds, which gets noticeable on really long journeys, but the piece of mind knowing that it will hold up and can be easily repaired outweighs (pun intended) the disadvantages for me.
The design criteria is different, so that's not a completely fair comparison. A Pugsley was never intended to be ultra light and a carbon wonder bike was most likely never intended to carry frame bags for touring.

The real world different is less, probably a pound or two, between different materials when built for the same task. IOW, you can built extremely light steel bikes where there isn't much weight penalty but it wouldn't be any more appropriate for job than a carbon race bike.

For example, I ride two steel hard tails, a Gunnar Rock Hound 29 (the classic one, standard non-taper headset, 9mm dropouts) and a REEB Dikyelous (modern style, tapered HS, thru axles, dropper compatible, etc.). The Gunnar is a great bike, love it like crazy, but hanging any more than a half frame bag is just too much for it. But the nekkid frame is more than 2 lbs (I want to say almost 3 lbs) lighter, too. The tube walls are thinner, the tube diameters are universally smaller, the expected level of abuse each will tolerate is pretty clear.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#8
Oh, something else that comes to mind about steel is the field repair option. I would suggest that while this is possible I wouldn't trust that I could get my frames fixed as just any welding shop either.

With my Gunnar being ultra light steel the walls are pretty thin so hammering it with a stick welder or even a MIG is going to blow it out. I'd take my chances with a MIG on the REEB, though it's not like you're welding on schedule 80 pipe even with that.

So you will need to find someone with a TIG or at least a light touch (I'd seek an automotive body shop personally, if I couldn't find a local frame builder). To fix something in the middle of nowhere you probably should ride a mild steel straight gauge frame to be honest.
 

Co-opski

Expedition Leader
#9
The design criteria is different, so that's not a completely fair comparison. A Pugsley was never intended to be ultra light and a carbon wonder bike was most likely never intended to carry frame bags for touring.

The real world different is less, probably a pound or two, between different materials when built for the same task. IOW, you can built extremely light steel bikes where there isn't much weight penalty but it wouldn't be any more appropriate for job than a carbon race bike.

For example, I ride two steel hard tails, a Gunnar Rock Hound 29 (the classic one, standard non-taper headset, 9mm dropouts) and a REEB Dikyelous (modern style, tapered HS, thru axles, dropper compatible, etc.). The Gunnar is a great bike, love it like crazy, but hanging any more than a half frame bag is just too much for it. But the nekkid frame is more than 2 lbs (I want to say almost 3 lbs) lighter, too. The tube walls are thinner, the tube diameters are universally smaller, the expected level of abuse each will tolerate is pretty clear.
I do like the Pugs as a steel benchmark. 33.8lbs. Now look at a carbon Otso Voytek built in fat mode is 25.7lbs. That is 8.1 lbs. The Otso is the bike that Eric and Dustin are riding from Revelate Designs. Eric used to ride a Pugs before his Otso so both are proven fat bikepacking platforms. I don't think carbon should be written off as not a bikepacking material, I've seen all types of frames break but in the field it seems like it is always little things like freehubs, derailleur hangers, rims and such.

The put off for me on carbon is cracks from impacts from falling over loaded or an overly aggressive flight dock attendant tossing a boxed bike. Metals will dent and bend, carbon get soft spots. That's all I've got.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#10
The only reason I'd write off carbon is it will not tolerate abrasion nearly as well as steel. I run carbon bars and seen the grooves worn in by a front harness after just 7 days of mud would bother me about long term. I end up with bright steel on my REEB and it's getting stripped right now actually for it's periodic powdercoat. I suspect carbon frames must have wear pads all over. That would dog me in the back of my mind. Like the reason I could probably never mentally be an astronaut thinking about those 3 precious cloth layers in my spacesuit are all that prevent me from being pink cosmic vapor.
 

Co-opski

Expedition Leader
#11
The only reason I'd write off carbon is it will not tolerate abrasion nearly as well as steel. I run carbon bars and seen the grooves worn in by a front harness after just 7 days of mud would bother me about long term. I end up with bright steel on my REEB and it's getting stripped right now actually for it's periodic powdercoat. I suspect carbon frames must have wear pads all over. That would dog me in the back of my mind. Like the reason I could probably never mentally be an astronaut thinking about those 3 precious cloth layers in my spacesuit are all that prevent me from being pink cosmic vapor.
That is true the carbon bikes are wrapped in 3M Helicopter tape on all wear points.
 
#12
My HEAVY steel road bike full build weights a little over 17#. I'm currently building a steel Niner gravel/ bikepacking bike. Pretty sure it won't weight all that much more. The upside of steel is it won't just break on you like my carbon mtb frame has. You can also bend steel back to shape if you need to. Carbon won't bend And aluminum will more than likely break. If you need a new rear derailleur on a steel bike you can get a new one brazed on.
 
#14
Meh. The difference between a light bike and a heavy bike is roughly three cheeseburgers.... Skip a couple of burgers and it all evens out. I have a couple of 20lb steel road bikes and a 27lb steel mountain bike. When compared to my 6'5" 250lb self, they are insignificant...

That said, I do enjoy climbing on a lighter bike, particularly one with lighter wheels--the perceived effort is far less though I don't think it makes me much faster...physics always wins...
 
#15
For me it's loosing 5 lbs of fat. Much cheaper and then I can have the heavy durable bike intended for the purpose of carrying gear. A heavier bike will help me loose 5 lbs of fat faster so it's a win/win.