Our choice: The trails we ride most frequently are a mix
of hardpack and loose-over-hardpack terrain. We can get
away with running “cheater” tires, which have lots of air
volume and lightweight sidewalls. If you ride in harsher
conditions, you need more meat on the bone.
The payola: Dropping a pound off your bike’s total weight: $1000.
Dropping your buddies on a grinder of a climb: Priceless.
H Save Weight
Don’t choose tires that give you more flats.
Even though gravity tires offer tons of traction, if most
of your riding is on smooth singletrack, you probably don’t
need a tire that says “downhill-specific” on the side.
“Cheater” tires, which are lightweight and high volume,
feel amazing on the trail. Be sure that your tire choice
matches your riding style and terrain. The rocky descents
of Moab’s Porcupine Rim Trail require a much different
tire from the buttery-smooth ribbons in Bend, Oregon.
Don’t use titanium where you shouldn’t
Never use titanium bolts on a part that bears heavy
loads, such as the bolts that hold a direct-mount stem to
the fork of a downhill bike, unless it’s been designed to use
them. We’ve seen horrific broken-bike photos from riders
who cheat the system here.
Don’t waste your upgrade dollars
Switching bars, stems and seatposts usually doesn’t
yield big weight savings over the stock parts. The top-end
versions of these upgrades that will offer the weight
savings are exceptionally expensive. Your upgrade dollars
are usually better spent elsewhere.
Don’t remove frame material
Engineers spend huge amounts of time designing frames.
Don’t second-guess them by trying to redesign your bike in
the garage with a hacksaw, file or Dremel tool. We actually
saw this happening firsthand when we walked into a race
trailer where a professional cross-country rider was filing
material from a carbon frame because he deemed it
“unnecessary.” His mechanic was appalled and put a stop
to the backdoor engineering job immediately.
Switch to lighter tires
Rotating mass is the best weight to remove from a bike,
since you not only have to carry the heft to the top of the
hill, but you also have to use energy to accelerate and decelerate it. Coincidentally, tires and tubes are probably the most
cost-effective place to shed weight from your bike. Most bikes
come spec’d with inexpensive tires. When the first pair wears
out, upgrade to the lightest and fastest-rolling pair that will
still give you adequate protection and traction.
Upgrade to titanium bolts
Nearly every pro bike has titanium bolts somewhere.
They’re not the cheapest upgrade out there and not a great
suggestion for an entry-level bike, but they can save some
serious weight from one that’s already featherlight. Rear-shock mount bolts, rotor bolts and brake-mounting bolts are
all good candidates for this upgrade.
Save weight on rotating mass
Focusing on rotating weight yields greater gains from your
weight savings. Focus on wheels, cranks and anything else
that rotates on the bike.
Remove the ballast
Removing the excess is a no-brainer. Things like reflectors,
(only needed for road riding) light mounts, lock mounts,
unused bottle cages or the seat bag that contains an expired
Powerbar should be removed for trail riding. This weight
savings is free and will probably make your bike look and
THE DOS THE DON’TS