Are you really fat and too lazy to do anything about it? Does the thought of going to the gym fill you with dread? Perhaps you prefer the taste of a cheeseburger to a nice healthy salad. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to worry about it these days. It’s 2021 and fat-shaming has been practically outlawed. You’re well within your rights to be as grotesquely obese as you want, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; although it’s not going to help the performance of your bike. But to combat the issue, there are a handful of easy tricks you can do to shed a few kilos off your bike, rather than your gut. It’s the easy way to lose weight. All you need to do is spend some cash…
Euro5 emissions legislation has led to bigger, uglier and crucially, heavier exhaust pipes on modern bikes. It’s a sorry state of affairs, but it’s the way of the world and it’s not going to get any better any time soon. So there isn’t much point in complaining about it. But what it does mean, is that it’s now dead easy to shed serious weight. A standard system on a modern superbike can easily weigh upwards of 10kg. It’ll be full of cats and valves and servos and all that guff you need to get the emissions down. But if you don’t care about the emissions (sorry Greta, love), you can bin all that shit off. For a grand or two, you’d be able to pick up a straight-through, stainless steel jobby weighing half as much. Or, for two or three grand, get a full titanium system, that’s half as heavy again.
I know it’s not cheap, but think how much you’d have to sweat to loose 6 or 7kg off your gut.
This is another dear one. Lightweight wheels have never been cheap, but these days stock wheels are that light, that to get the proper gains, you need to be looking at carbon fibre. If your bike is a decade or two old, you’ll almost certainly be able to lose a bit of unsprung, rotating weight with some circa £2k forged aluminium Dymags. And not only will they be lighter, they’ll look trick as fuck. If you’ve got a new bike though, you’re looking at the thick end of £3k if you want to go for carbon. Don’t get me wrong, you could get some aluminium or magnesium wheels, for your two year old superbike, but you’re probably not going to be dropping that much weight.
1kg saved on your wheels will be way more noticeable anywhere else on your bike though. The reduced rotating mass will make the bike easier to turn, and the fact that it’s the ‘tarmac’ side of the suspension, means you can’t control what happens with that weight using your setup. So the less weight there is there, the better. It’s very important.
If you’re anything like me, the first time you picked up a lithium ion battery, you probably thought it was empty. That it was some sort of sick joke. Well it’s not. They’re absolutely brilliant. Now, whenever I get a new bike, it’s one of the first things I buy. A standard lead-acid bike battery can easily weigh over 3kg. An equivalent lithium ion replacement might be 500g. It’ll cost you between £50 and £100, and you’ll save 2 or 3kg. Just like that.
You do need a special charger for lithium ion batteries, by the way. And if you like charging your phone up, running your heated grips 24/7 and powering a hungry alarm system off your bikes battery, than you might run into issues with lithium ion. But if you don’t, you probably won’t.
I know we are straying dangerously close towards building a race bike here, but oh well. If you want to lose some serious weight, getting rid of your road bodywork is a good way to do it. Of course that would mean loosing your lights, indicators, mirrors and all that nonsense, but you don’t really need that stuff, do you? You could always put a ‘daytime MOT’ on it. Or just use it on the track.
It’ll entirely depend on what bike you’ve got, but a normal sportsbike might have 10 to 15kg’s worth of ‘road kit’. A fibreglass ‘race kit’ will be nearer 5kg, and cost you about £500. And you’d save even more weight if you went for a carbon fibre kit, but it’d cost you more than double.
Again, this is probably more relevant to the people that are heading towards the track, but these days (on modern bikes) it’s a bloody good way to lose weight. ABS systems aren’t simple. Most bikes have a specific computer to run the ABS, and for it to work, all the brake lines have got to run through an ABS pump before running back to the calliper. If you decide you want to kick the ABS into touch, you can bin off all the extra brake-lines, pumps, servos and anything else associated with it, and quite easily save yourself a couple of kilos. Or more.
And not only that, having one short brake line directly from your master cylinder to your calliper dramatically reduces the amount of fluid you need in your lines. That’ll save you money when you refresh it, and it’ll probably improve the feeling of your brake lever, too.