Why diet when your bike can lose weight for you?

Losing 1 lb of bike weight is like losing 4 of body weight.

How To
Jason is no stranger to light bikes.

Jason is no stranger to light bikes.

This time of year most of us are trying to figure out how to shed the five pounds of tenacious baby fat we gained over the holidays.

Instead of depriving himself of home cooking and craft beer, Jason Moeschler decided to put his bike on a diet. “I lost five pounds almost overnight!” proclaimed Moeschler, the chief operating officer of Seattle-based Evil Bikes.

Jason’s project was his spanking new Evil Following MB (‘mo better’). To reach his target, he tracked each component gram by gram on a spreadsheet. The result: a reduction of 2,374 grams, or 5.234 pounds.

Moeschler Sheet

Jason’s numbers, gram by gram.

His experience re-taught him the lesson all mountain bikers eventually learn: When it comes to speed, handling and ride quality, nothing compares to trimming phat.

“Taking 5 pounds off a bike is like losing 20 pounds off the body,” is how Moeschler puts it.

On his first ride out he set multiple PRs at Tiger Mountain, a rough and tumble trail network 30 miles east of Evil’s headquarters. The new standards came on the downhills as well as the climbs.

And they weren’t even close: On a three-peat climb-and-drop loop he slashed 40 minutes total off his typical times. This is quite a feat but we suspect he took a nap or had a beer on his previous attempts.

So how’d he manage to pull it off? After some prodding from MTBR, Moeschler produced his component breakdown. The big loss, as any weight weenie might predict, came in wheels.

Moeschler Following

Wheel makeover saved nearly 3 pounds. Photo courtesy of Jason Moeschler

Switching to SRAM Rise cross-country carbon wheels lost 498g — more than a pound. Moving from 2.3 WTB Vigilantes to 2.25 Rangers proved an even greater bonanza — 802g, nearly 2 pounds.

Other significant reductions came from:

  • Fork. Going from a Fox 34 140mm to the inverted 120mm RS-1 saved 339g.
  • Seat post. Going from a Fox 160 Transfer to BikeYoke 125 Dropper slashed 118g.
  • Shock. Losing the air can on the RockShox saved 102g.

And in a place gram-counters often fail to take into consideration, Moeschler saved 212g by using only one scoop of sealant instead of three.

The big chunks add up fast. But Moeschler also sweated the small stuff. He swapped conventional rotor bolts for ti, saving 8 grams. He subbed alloy valves for brass, a 6g reduction. Losing crank booties got him 10g.

ENVE Stem

An ENVE cockpit could knock off 50 grams or so.

But did he go too far? In transforming his bike from a romping trail masher to an XC flyer, Jason risked strength and durability.

Moeschler acknowledges flatting his front tire on a ride over the weekend — a possible penalty for narrow rims paired with XC tires on Tiger Mountain’s infamous gnar. Jason also admits he may want to go with beefier brakes. Either move could cost him half a pound or more.

For the rowdier rides, Moeschler has a plan. An all-mountain wheel set with burly tires, and a plus setup with 2.8s. With those in the arsenal, “I can pretty much make this bike do anything,” Moeschler says.

Moeschler Following

No air can = 102 gram savings. Photo courtesy of Jason Moeschler

Then again…

Analyzing Moeschler’s build, we’ve come up with a few places he could lose even more weight. (Note that these are actual weights from MTBR’s lab, not manufacturer’s listings.)

  1. Subbing a Selle Italia SLR Carbonio Flow saddle would save him 30 grams.
  2. An ENVE cockpit would save 50g, mainly on the 91g stem. And he’d gain ENVE’s stiff-but-damped payoff as well.
  3. Swapping over to 2.25 Nobby Nics might save as much as 100g (or not — tire weights vary wildly). We regularly run Snakeskin Nobbys on those routes without problems.
  4. Lighter pedals (Crank Brothers Eggbeater 11s at 178g or even Candy 11s at 251g) and grips (ESI Racers Edge at 39g) would weenie his build further.

From what we can tell, that’s about it for bringing down Jason’s numbers. Other than, of course, working on that waistline. Jason is seen here A/B testing with ZERO bike weight.

Jason is not exactly a heavyweight. Photo by Robert Lowe

Jason is not exactly a heavyweight. Photo by Robert Lowe

Perhaps setting all those PRs will burn off some flesh as well. That’s the great thing about a lighter bike. It not only rides mo’ better, it makes you want to go mo’ faster.

And then he quickly adds pounds to the bike as he rides in any weather in Seattle, WA.

Adding some weight to the bike and body

Adding some weight to the bike and body

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Paul Andrews

Dividing his time between Seattle and Santa Cruz, career journalist Paul Andrews has more than a quarter century of mountain biking under his belt, which he wishes had a few less notches.


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  • John Richter says:

    I’m bad at math – Bike Weight B-4 and After.

  • Chris Pincetich says:

    Check out WREN – their stem is even lighter than ENVE and been great after a year of abuse on my Giant Trance. The least expensive upgrade on my Trance to shed weight was replacing the lock-on grips for ESI, and I love their squish!

  • Sun says:

    Check out the KS Lev CF. It works very well and dropped 1/3# over my previous dropper.

    The extra speed was mostly the tires rolling better (unrideable tires imo), a bit the rims, and mostly the extra stoke provided with the new parts.

  • tedtoo says:

    I’m calling BS on this.

    “Taking 5 pounds off a bike is like losing 20 pounds off the body,” BS – if you actually lost 20 pounds you would definitely feel the difference! But 5 pounds on a bike is negligible. It is the total combined weight of rider and bike that matters. if anything, losing 5 pounds off the rider would be more effective – less dead weight means more energy for the system overall (this is not the same as 5 pounds off the bike either – the bike is suspended under the rider and does not circulate blood nutrients etc).

    “On his first ride out he set multiple PRs…. slashed 40 minutes total off his typical times” BS – based on 5 pounds of weight loss to a bike? To achieve anything like this, the rider would need to have been dragging a tractor tyre behind them on the pre-PR runs.

    All of this is quite apart form the fact that it is not even the same bike he started with.
    1) a Vigilante 2.3 tyre does not equal a Ranger 2.25, so no where near comparable
    2) WTB wheels to Sram Rise, different internal width means totally different ride.
    3) 140 fork to 120 travel changes the geometry of the bike

    If what he is really saying is “I have gone from a hefty trail bike to a reasonably svelt XC bike and it flys” then there may be something in this. But suggesting losing weight off a bike results in faster PRs per se is BS. Losing weight off the body is always more effective (for trail and xc – maybe not so much for chairlift DH).

    But, even going from trail/enduro/DH rig weight to xc changes the ride quality so much that you couldn’t drop in with the same confidence and thus times could even be slower rather than faster – unless of course you were riding you trail/enduro/DH rig on xc tracks in the first place!

  • Sun says:

    Dropping that sort of weight off the tires and wheels feels pretty different. Ride an enduro rig then jump on a XC rig. It’s not a subtle difference!

  • Neil Ross says:

    Reality check: Is it my imagination or in the second to last photo in this article–the one where Jason is running around some sort of course–is there a floating red motorcycle in the background just to the left of the center of the shot?

  • Swen says:

    What is this “air can” that was removed from the new shock? Both shocks are air sprung – its an extra oil reservoir that was lost.

  • LiquidSpin says:

    What happens if you weigh 143lbs and ride a 26.1 lbs trail/all mountain rig with 150mm full suspension travel? You’d think i’d be one hell of a fast rider….but alas it all comes down to how strong you are cardiovascular wise as well as how skilled you are as a rider. But if you’re just comparing yourself to yourself well then yeah you’re going to be faster :)

  • Dtimms says:

    Man, this is great! I can be a fat JERRY on a blinged out bike!

  • Xenocatalyst says:

    Its Cheaper and and easier to shed wait from your body.
    I’ve lost 15 kg through diet alone and it hasn’t cost me a thing.

  • Highway Star says:

    Imagine how much weight he could have saved with 26″ wheels.

  • Bryan says:

    I replaced my rear torque sleeve bearings with titanium for only $90 and saved an amazing three quarters of a gram. Now I can eat as much ice cream as I want!

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