Lack of Updates

Since the last update, I’ve purchased and tested over a dozen products, and written drafts for several articles, but have not had it in me to complete them. I have soured trying to find the best deals, had issues with several vendors, and in the year 2020, the weightweenies site may as well be called wattweenies. Sub-15-lb bikes and counting grams are no longer in vogue and I don’t have the equipment nor money to seriously pursue testing aero and frictional losses. There’s not much left for me to do on my personal non-carbon weightweenie project until I can get a cheap XG-1190 to push it below 14 pounds. Just some bad experiences off the top of my head.

Manufacturer “S” is a major manufacturer of tires of which I purchased their premium top tier tires, used in the pro peloton, in various sizes. The company advertises “+/- 8%” tolerances in terms of weight. I weighed about a dozen of these top shelf tires in various sizes from various production batches. From memory it was more like -0%/+16%. Upon contacting the company, they essentially told me that they could not be expected to maintain their advertised +/-8% tolerances, and I was being unreasonable by not allowing for an additional tolerance for their tolerance. It was not that manufacturing tolerances meant that the weight wasn’t the same as the nominal weight down to the gram. The company had clearly advertised tolerances, which were pretty generous at +/-8%. The company decided that the upper bound of +8% should be their average weight and that there should be an additional +/-x% allowable tolerance on top of that. For reference, 8% is over a pound on a 15 pound bike, 8% is the difference between R8000 and R7000, it might be marginal, but it’s not nothing. Of course the most infuriating thing was that they thought it was only reasonable there should be an additional tolerance on top of their advertised tolerance. Bicycle Rolling Resistance also shows that the tires for this company tend to be falsely advertised and come in overweight despite otherwise performing well. Fudging numbers isn’t unique to manufacturer “S” but tolerances for tolerances was really really dumb conversation from one of the premier companies manufacturing cycling tires.

Mail order shop “N” now only exists in name, formerly being the mail order wing of major chain shop “P” which went bankrupt and shut down all retail locations. I had previously suggested that their carbon fiber was safe, and probably had decent QC as they would be legally liable for any defective products, and at the very least if the carbon exploded, you or your surviving loved ones had someone to sue and collect damages from (no longer the case, being that they went bankrupt and out of business). I had purchased a frame to build up for an economy example build for a family member. They had legal boilerplate saying that they couldn’t be held liable for anything, but it probably would not have stood up in court. The frame I purchased had an obviously de-laminating fork, which is a major safety concern. This should have been caught in QC and was not merely cosmetic. Even worse, this frame was then put up on their returned items page, meaning it should have gone through some QC not just from the factory, but their US based warehouse staff as their returns were supposed to be guaranteed to be inspected. I found this extremely upsetting, got heated under the collar and tried to demand an apology and an explanation why the company showed such blatant disregard for the safety of their customers. I did not get either, probably in part because they were hurting financially at this point, and in part because they did not want to admit fault for legal reasons (even though no damages had been claimed or suffered except wanting a replacement frame, which they refused). Instead I received a letter from a high ranking executive saying I was banned from purchasing there ever again for some unrelated bogus reason that didn’t even make sense.

Manufacturer “T” makes various accessories like bottle cages which are used in the pro peloton. I had purchased bottle cages advertised to be in the range of 20-30g from memory. It was even advertised as such on the packaging. There are in fact plastic cages in this weight range, so it is not an unrealistic weight, but it was on the light side. From memory, it turned out to be in the range of half again as much to twice the weight, a major difference. I contacted the manufacturer, they confirmed the weight was not as advertised, would not take responsibility, and told me to return it to the seller. I wanted the manufacturer attempt to take responsibility somehow because it was clearly their fault. I had no use for these cages which I thought were going to be weightweenie cages but turned out to be heavy with no redeeming features. The shop unfortunately ate the cost of this transaction even though it was no fault of their own (or fault of mine) because of the manufacturer’s error.

eBay seller that starts with “J” and ends with “L” that I had purchased and tested multiple products from sold me a defective item that was out of spec. The outer-diameter of one part was larger than the inner-diameter of the other part, so the part would not fit inside like it was supposed to. The vendor insisted it was because I didn’t know how to use the product (it was literally supposed to be fitting one part inside the other with a loose slip fit, hardly rocket science). Eventually the vendor agreed to a return even though I demanded the vendor pay for return shipping because it was obviously a manufacturing defect. The cost of return shipping was a significant portion of the cost, which should have been a red flag. The vendor sent me funds via PayPal for shipping and told me to use a specific mail service which appeared to have tracking, but the seller knew it stopped tracking in China. The vendor then pretended he did not receive the package. The tracking number could only prove I shipped it, but could not prove delivery because I used the postal service he selected and paid for. So he refused to refund. Then after receiving the returned item, he opened a PayPal case to get the shipping funds he sent back, which is why he had no problem paying the majority of the value of the item in postage, as he never actually intended to pay for postage. Thus, I ended up with no item, no refund, and return postage coming out of pocket.

Previously I had run into the occasional defective item, and admittedly, I’m a pickier (and less profitable) customer than most. I expect exactly what is advertised, and if it isn’t that way it shouldn’t be advertised that way, even though many sellers and buyers have the attitude that if it’s cheap or discounted, defects and false advertising are acceptable. I’ve spotted non-cosmetic defects on most carbon frames that have passed through my hands that most people would not have noticed, and most reluctant manufacturers would probably try to argue that they did not seriously impair function. Previously, much of the time, good deals turned out to actually be really good deals. However, I had been running into a number of falsely advertised, defective, poorly manufactured, dangerous products and the manufacturers were unwilling to own up or take responsibility. I had started this blog to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it has been an increasingly frustrating process, even from major name brand manufacturers I thought were reputable.

Shimano 105 R7000 goes fantastic plastic! (Ultegra R8000 too! and more than you want to know about Shimano derailers)

tl;dr it’s plastic

In 1962 Simplex introduced the Simplex Prestige, state-of-the-art and one of the most technologically advanced derailers of the time with dual sprung pivots (the pivot at the hanger is sprung in addition to the cage being sprung), one of the most prolific derailers of the bike-boom era. Using brand new state-of-the-art synthetic materials, it was significantly lighter than its steel predecessor, the Juy 61. That state-of-the-art material was Delrin, a plastic.

Five years later, Shimano introduced the Sky Lark, their first dual-sprung derailer, with what Shimano would dub their ‘servo-pantograph’ technology, but in fact a copy of the Simplex design. Unlike the Simplex Prestige however, the Shimano opted for heavier chromed steel of the discontinued Juy 61. This would become the quintessential Shimano derailer, with many variants, and manufactured continuously in one form or another to the present day. The modern derivative is still in production under the Shimano Tourney label and it is the design the SunRace M2T and many others are based on.

simplex
Left to right by age. Late Simplex Prestige, this one strengthened and weighed down by metal reinforcements. Early Shimano Lark, a Skylark with a sprung cable anchor, also known as a cable-saver or pre-selector. Later Shimano Lark-W, a Skylark with no return spring but instead actuated by pull-pull dual-cables. Late Shimano Skylark, made in Singapore with the cable anchor moved to the outer linkage. Modern Sunrace M2T, an index compatible Skylark clone.

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A Theory on Gearing: Part 2

Part 2: Rolling Resistance

Some astute readers might note there’s another factor besides drag to consider, and that’s rolling resistance from the tires.

The formula for rolling resistance is:

F = Crr*N

Coefficient of rolling resistance (Crr) and normal force (N) are both essentially constant for the point of this exercise, unless you plan on riding to the moon or losing quite a bit of weight during your ride or getting a new wheel with a new tire from the team car. If you recall from earlier:

p = F*V

Let us again, be lazy, and assign arbitrary values of 1 mystery units to Crr and N, so that simply:

p = V

Note that power here is denoted by p, because I don’t know where subscripts are. P from the previous post and p here are both power, but in different arbitrary units. In order to convert p to P, I’ll introduce a new conversion factor, constant a.

P = ap

Adding in the aerodynamic drag component, substitute V for p, we get:

P = aV + V^3

Where a is our conversion factor, V is speed in whatever units, and P is our arbitrary power units that are definitely not watts.

Now we need to determine the value of a to establish the relative relationship between the rolling resistance component (aV) and aerodynamic drag (V^3). We can do so by determining they they intersect and solving for a.

aV = V^3

a = V^2

Now we just need to know V where rolling resistance is equal to aerodynamic drag, and we can skip all the other math and estimating we would have had to do. There’s a few numbers thrown out for when tire rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag are even, oft repeated seems to be 15mph. I can only assume this is because someone misread a graph without unit labels that actually said 15km/h. Schwalbe puts it at around 18km/h (11.2mph). BikeCalculator seems to put it at around 15.1km/h (9.4mph) using default values. Both of these may be right, as the relationship between drag and rolling resistance depends on the bike, rider and tires. But they give a good ballpark figure.

Neither of these models includes drive train losses, but calculating them doesn’t really change the conclusion so I’ll skip it.

The equation for arbitrary power units for Schwalbe is:

a = (11.2)^2 = 125.44

P = 125.44V + V^3

The equation for arbitrary power units for default values for BikeCalculator is:

a = (9.4)^2 = 88.36

P = 88.36V + V^3

And since bike calculator gives us a speed of approximately 15mph for 100w, we can actually come up with a conversion factor to turn our arbitrary power units P into watts.

W ~= (V*9.4^2 + V^3)/47

Which should come within a watt of BikeCalculator with default values.

On flat land with no wind, at a speed of 7.5mph, which is equivalent to 34×32 at 90rpm, about the lowest gear you will find on a road bike, if you increase the gear ratio at a given cadence by 10% you require an additional 19.0% power. At 33.9mph, equivalent to 53×11 at 90rpm, if you increase the gear ratio by 10% you require 31.9% more power. This might be closer to the result you were expecting from the previous post on drag. That seems like quite the difference at first glance, until you realize these speeds are much slower and faster than most people will go on windless flats.

If we narrow it down to normal cruising speeds of amateur recreational riders to 15-20mph and run the same calculations with 15mph and 20mph, we get 26.6% and 28.9% respectively. Much much closer together.

Consider again, that our cog choices must be in integers and often times a limited selection of integers, and we can not arbitrarily increase gear ratio by 10% in real life unless you have a NuVinci.

A Theory on Gearing: Part 1

Part 1: Drag

You’ve probably heard that drag increases exponentially with speed, which is why aerodynamics only matter at fast speeds. Fast speeds variably starting anywhere from 15mph to 25mph. Some people treat it as a magical barrier that only kicks in once you’ve passed a certain speed threshold, then suddenly it takes exponentially more power to increase your speed because of aerodynamic drag. Indeed, anyone who has tried to go as fast as they can can attest to the effects of drag. Some people will say this applies to gearing, and this exponential drag increase is why cogs need to be clustered closely together at the high/small end of the cassette.

NASA provides us with the equation to calculate drag:

One way to deal with complex dependencies is to characterize the dependence by a single variable. For drag, this variable is called the drag coefficient, designated “Cd.” This allows us to collect all the effects, simple and complex, into a single equation. The drag equation states that drag D is equal to the drag coefficient Cd times the density r times half of the velocity V squared times the reference area A.

D = Cd * A * .5 * r * V^2

Cd is called a variable, and it is indeed variable and influenced by a host of variables, but your Cd but for a given rider, for given equipment, in a given position, for the purpose of calculating drag here it’s constant. You will see people doing aerodynamics tests calculating the Cd of a certain part and so on. r is also essentially a constant, given that you cycle at reasonable altitudes in reasonable temperatures, and so on, we can also treat r as a constant for the purpose of this exercise. A will also be constant for this exercise, as the hypothetical bicycle and rider in this example won’t change in area.

Don’t worry, I’ll skip the calculus and present this in simple algebra.

So we will represent the product of these factors as the constant c.

c = Cd * A * .5 * r

Now we simplify to:

D = c * V^2

Now I’m going to just assign arbitrary values to the factors so that

c = 1

and

D = V^2

because they really don’t matter for this exercise. If it really bothers you, you can multiple our arbitrary drag units (D) by c. We’re just focusing on the relation of an increase in velocity on the increase in drag.

So we begin by calculating our arbitrary drag units (D) for an arbitrary velocity (V) of 15 arbitrary velocity units that are not miles per hour.

D = (15)^2 = 225

We can do this again for 16 and so on.

D = (15)^2 = 225

D = (16)^2 = 256

D = (17)^2 = 289

D = (18)^2 = 324

D = (19)^2 = 361

D = (20)^2 = 400

When we increase V from 15 to 16, D is increased by 31, from 16 to 17, and increase of 33. Then 35, 37 and finally 39. Each additional unit of V results an increasing amount of D. This is the common understanding of drag be proportional to velocity squared. From this, some come to the conclusion, you need smaller gaps between gears to compensate for this non-linearity, so each increase in speed is proportional to a certain amount of power.

However, we can rephrase the problem into a question of gearing. Let’s assume out cassette isn’t bound by the fact that the number of teeth have to be integers. Each gear results in a 10% greater gear ratio, and therefore a 10% increase in speed at a given cadence. That is after all, how we look at gearing when examining gear calculators.

Starting again with 15.

D = (15)^2 = 225

For our next gear

V = 15*1.1 = 16.5

D = (16.5)^2 = 272.25

And again

V = 16.5*1.1 = 18.15

D = (18.15)^2 = 329.4225

We’ll stop there. Maybe you noticed a pattern in the way it increments?

272.5/225 = 329.4225/272.25 = 1.21

That is, every time we change gearing and therefore speed by 10%, the amount of drag is increased by 21%. In fact, plugging in our relative change in gearing results in the relative change in drag.

D = (1.1)^2 = 1.21

Let’s not stop there though. The equation to calculate the power needed to counteract a drag is

P = D*V

D = V^2

P = V^2*V = V^3

Now calculating arbitrary power units (P) that definitely aren’t watts if V is measured in mph, which it isn’t.

P = (15)^3 = 3375

P = (16.5)^3 = 4492.125

P = (18.15)^3 = 5979.018375

Do you notice the relationship this time?

P = (1.1)^3 = 1.331

Conclusions:

An increase of 10% gearing increases drag by 21% and requires 33.1% more power, or force at a given cadence to counteract that drag, at any speed, fast or slow. Or decreasing the gear by 9.1% (the same gears, the change just measured from a different point of reference, 1-1/1.1) is 24.9% easier, at least the power component to counteract the increased drag.

 

 

GUB SI Seatpost

gub si
GUB SI Seatpost (27.2 x 240mm)

This seatpost weighs only 146g when cut down to 240mm, saving up to 128g over a generic 300mm seatpost. In the original form at 350mm, it weighed 188g. It resembles numberous light weight seatposts and some of the lightest seatposts share the cross-pin design. The yokes are flat, making them easier to align with the rails. It has an oval bore to save weight and the cross-pin has a flange to prevent slipping and is also angled to keep the screws straighter. However, it does not have spherical screw-heads although the need is lessened because the cross-pin is angled. The clamp design offers less support to rails, imparts a bending load instead of a clamping load to grip them, and is very wide offering little adjustment, features common to this design. Larger riders and riders with lightweight rail materials should exercise caution when using this post. For each centimeter removed, the weight will be reduced about 3.8g, but remember to leave enough post for safe usage.  In stock form, at $12 and saving 8.8g per dollar, it represents an excellent value, moderate cost upgrade. This increases to an exceptional 10.7g per dollar when cut down. It can be found on eBay.

generic sp
Generic Seatpost (27.2 x 300mm)

 

Overview:

Price: $12 [Moderate Cost]

Value: 8.8g/$ ($0.09/g) [Exceptional Value]

✔ Recommended with caveats

These seatposts are zero setback and offer even less adjustment range than the GUB GS Seatpost, so they are not for everyone. These are both cheaper and lighter, but the clamp design is also less friendly to exotic rail materials. There is little to lose by cutting them down for further weight savings.

UNO ASA-105 Stem (31.8)

uno steel
UNO ASA-105 100mm

This 100mm stem weighs only 107g, saving up to 53g over an OEM stem. They are made by Kalloy, a major OEM supplier of components like stems, seatposts and bars. Fit and finish are good, they meet CEN standards. UNO is their own house brand, but you can also find these rebranded for much more money. Comes in a wide variety of lengths 80-130mm, in both 7° and 17° versions. While not the best value if replacing purely for weight reduction, if you need to change stems for fitting purposes, you will most likely end up paying more for a heavier stem buying anything else. They come with different logos depending on year. There is another version of the stem that looks almost identical, but is slightly heavier and made from 6061, the ASA-025. At $21, and saving 2.5g per dollar, it represents a good value, moderate cost upgrade. They can be found on eBay. If you can’t wait for overseas shipping you can pay a premium for a similar OS stem made by Kalloy from Nashbar or Performance Bike.

stem
Stock Stem

 

Overview:

Price: $21 [Moderate Cost]

Value: 2.5g/$ ($0.40/g) [Good Value]

✔ Recommended

 

Example Bike Build Spreadsheet

If you want to build a light weight bike on a budget, you have to keep track of every part to figure out upgrading which parts saves you the most weight for the least money. You should budget $10 for a cheap kitchen gram scale to verify weights as well.

I’ve done most of the hard work for you, and modified and simplified one of my personal spreadsheets for your use. Attached is a spreadsheet with two examples. One is an example build on a $1,500 $1,400 budget that weighs 16 lbs with pedals and cages. The other is is an example of a sub-UCI build for less than $2,000 $1,900.

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