Weight weenie

I am not a weight weenie. Never have been. If you’ve seen my bikes you might think my goal is to make them as heavy as possible. Racks, lights, fat tires, steel handlebars, GPS, panniers, saddle bags, frame pumps, 3 bottle cages, sprung saddles, steel fenders. Speed mo-sheen.

A few months ago I purchased a gently used Surly Pacer frame set and built it up a la English club bike. Down tube shifters, Nitto B115 bars, road gears, skinny tires and mudguards. This is not my typical bike build. I’ve actually argued against this sort of bike for practical purposes. But man, was it fun to ride!

That bike is currently undergoing a rather painful 650b conversion. (If you’ve never done a 650b conversion, and someone tells you that your frame is a good candidate, please understand that there are several definitions of “good”. In most 650b conversion cases “good” means that you can probably make it work if you hold your mouth right and wave a dead chicken over it.)

And this leaves me with most of the parts that used to make the Pacer fast and fun. What to do, what to do?

Road bike!

Specifically, a 1999 Schwinn Peloton, purchased a couple years ago from the Pedal Pusher in Harrisburg. These were among the last of pre-Pacific Schwinns. The Peloton has a few things in common with its big brother, the Paramount. The Paramount frames from 1998 through 2000 (or was it 2001) were designed and brazed at Match Cycles with 853 steel and hand-filed lugs. The Peloton used the same steel, the same geometry, the same curved stays, but was TIGged in Taiwan. Paramount-lite. This is a good, good frame (for more conventional definitions of “good”). I’ve built it up as a traditional road racing bike and will document the whole thing later, but right now I’m weighing saddles.

WTF are you smoking, Loveless?

In an effort to not spend money (Hi, Christie) I’ve decided to simply use the parts I have on hand. There were two saddles in the bin that aren’t completely inappropriate – a WTB Speed V and the infamous Velo Plush. The WTB set me back $10 from the take-off bin at the LBS a couple years ago. The Velo Plush came with the Long Haul Trucker. No one really ever understood why Surly spec’d this hatchet on a touring bike, but they did for a few years. Most people regarded it as a test ride saddle and swapped it for something functional before the bike ever left the shop. According to my opinion, it’s not that bad, so long as you don’t need to ride farther than 5 or 10 miles. But it’s skinny and light and looks like it belongs on a road bike, so that’s where it went.

From Instant Upload

See that? 345 grams. Not too terribly heavy for a cheapie take-off. But not too terribly comfy, either. After last night’s inaugural test ride the committee decided, unanimously, to find something else. Anything else. Please don’t make us sit on that damn thing any more. Ever. This morning I dug out the Speed V.

The Speed V is a “recreational” saddle. It has a plastic base, steel rails, gel something-or-other padding and a stitched leather cover. It’s actually not that bad. I’ve ridden 30 or 40 miles on it in one go without major discomfort. It’s wider, thicker and longer than the Velo Plush. It wasn’t my first choice because it was obviously heavier and road bikes need skinny and light. Compare.

From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload

See? Bigger, thicker, obeser. Right.

From Instant Upload

Scroll back up and look at the photo of the Plush on the scale.

Back to weight weenie-ism. From the urban dictionary.

1. weight weenie Road Bicycle enthusiast who becomes obsessed with subtracting weight from his bicycle at all costs, including overriding safety concerns and practicality. A Weight Weenie will always replace a 100 gram component with a 99 gram component regardless of all other factors, including cost, durability, and overall design and functionality. Materials that are commonly used in the pursuit of lightness include: aluminum, carbon fiber, composites, and titanium.

I am not a weight weenie. But when the chosen saddle is thicker, wider, longer (there’s some innuendo for you), more comfy and lighter, why not use it and revel in the fact that I shaved 15 grams from my road bike?

15 grams! And it didn’t cost me a dime. Take that, roadies.

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3 Responses to Weight weenie

  1. Apertome says:

    I don’t even have a fancy scale.

    Saddles should, IMO, be chosen based on comfort, and basically nothing else. Well .., obviously price has to be a factor unless you’re rich, and on some bikes, I require something durable that I can get wet without ending up with a sagging mess. I loved my Brooks, and will probably own one again someday, but it was definitely too much hassle for a daily commuter.

    Good luck with the 650B conversion. I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out.

    • the sloth says:

      Comfort? Why, you’re no roadie at all.

      My wife bought the scale a few years ago for weighing packages. My only indication that it’s accurate is that the post office has never returned anything to us for insufficient postage.

  2. I use Safari and can’t see half pages.