Video: Neko Mulally Tests if a Lighter Bike is Faster for Racing

Apr 4, 2021
by Daniel Sapp  

Does 3lbs make a difference?


125 Comments

  • 72 1
 I'm just gonna say that the first song is great. The first time I heard it was in this video, which is of bats hanging upside down, but filmed upside down, so it looks like a goth dance club

www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9A8PFlqM4U
  • 7 0
 The is the best thing I've seen in a while. Thanks!
  • 12 0
 @pmhobson

Thank you, thank you so much for that
  • 2 1
 Amazing song. Bauhaus right?
  • 7 0
 @DirtbagMatt: That's what I thought too. youtu.be/HR5zpFs7YpY
  • 3 0
 This is amazing
  • 1 0
 Yee, such a great band
  • 1 0
 hahahahaha awesomee
  • 2 0
 Could be Molchat Doma. Not sure if that's the right band, but it sounds so close.
  • 2 0
 @mobiller: damn thanks for the link, sick song!
  • 75 30
 LOL, next up, Neko „tests“ if round wheels actually do roll better than square ones...
  • 22 5
 Well the answer was no, so
  • 3 1
 Consensus: doesn’t matter if your bike is heavy or light if only matters who’s riding it.
  • 29 4
 I want to see Cathro strap some lead weights to his downtube and give us some timed runs. I appreciate water does the same kinda thing, but it'd be nice to see the results presented a little clearer in Cathro style. Neko is great, but didn't feel like I learnt anything from this!
  • 19 0
 Yeah, the issue was that Neko mostly swapped in light parts that "reduced capability" and he didn't feel the tradeoff was worth it. He complained about the prototype frame being heavy. So it would have been more interesting if he tested a lighter frame with the same geo/kinematics. He tested adding weight to the frame but it's possible that a lighter frame (than his proto) would have made a difference but a slightly heavier frame wouldn't. A lot of things in mtb follow a tipping point scenario. For example lowering tire pressure is usually better right up until the point it's not.
  • 127 0
 I'm on it. Fort Bill's just been cancelled so might as well do something interesting instead. More reply's on @torstenfrost's comment for any methodology suggestions or extra relevant things to try at the same time.
  • 4 0
 @ben-cathro extra weight around bb vs no extra weight. Also extra weight in the wheels. I’ve no idea how you test that with the same rims other than layering it up with miles of gorilla tape. Adding lead weights to the rim unevenly is going to make her handle weirdly.
  • 8 0
 @stingmered: you can apply lead weights evenly. Also lead tape.
  • 18 0
 @ben-cathro: before and after hair cut should be a good weight difference.
  • 6 0
 @ben-cathro: Fixed frame weight, unsprung weight, and rotating weight are all worthy questions, but that's four different tests when you throw in the control bike that doesn't have extra weight. At the very least I think your question should be the effect of extra mass added where a battery and motor would be.
  • 1 0
 @ben-cathro: Sprung/Unsprung mass ratio numbers would be interesting, arguably that's more relevant than saying "+1 water bottle" like Neko did. Also adding that unsprung mass component as a rotating mass (lead weights on rims as stingmered said) versus fixed masses on rear swingarm or fork lowers would be interesting.

Getting into lots of variables here but testing different terrain would be another interesting avenue, different mass ratios on a bermed bike park track versus on a rough rocky track etc. Look forward to seeing what you can come up with!
  • 33 1
 back to back laps with Bieber blazing through your headphones versus Slayer
  • 2 0
 @ben-cathro: weren't you doing this under Chris Porter?
  • 2 2
 I think bike weight is too big to fail, and that has to be taken into account when designing these experiments. What other fairly objective fairly accessible measure of bike performance is there, that isn't confounded by who is riding or on which trails? Reducing bike weight is something supposedly every rider benefits from, almost every component and family of components and complete bike and lineup of complete bikes is sorted by. Everyone wants (and some businesses need) reductions in bike weight to represent pretty linear gram for 'performance' relationships and pretty universal pro-to-noob-to-geezer-to-strider applicability. If all your work results in evidence to the contrary, will many people really believe it? Cheers
  • 2 0
 The Abus Bordo Granit 6500 folding lock weighs about 5 lbs with the holder. Has rubberized velcro straps to secure it to the frame tubes. Maybe consider multiple of them?
  • 1 1
 @ben-cathro: get a custom frame made up to see if enduro angles have there place on xc bikes. Which is quicker
  • 1 0
 @ben-cathro: ideal sag, along the lines of bottoming out every run versus stiff enough to not unless something wild goes wrong?
  • 4 0
 Y'all are looking for this youtu.be/myFJTO8mdtw
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: Well there we go. Seems like faster riders don’t benefit as much from the weight. I think there’s a more few variables I can play with and also do it over multiple days to try and get more data points. Good starting point though.
  • 41 0
 @ben-cathro: Seb here - I made the video posted above by @hamncheez. It's something I've been meaning to revisit and improve upon for some time.

The critical thing in my view (and I didn't realize this when I made the video) is actually the ratio of the rigid sprung mass (the frame) to the total sprung mass (the frame plus the rider). Because the rigid sprung mass of a bike is so light (around 9Kg), it accelerates upward rapidly when the bike hits a bump. This acceleration continues until the rider's body weight gets involved, which is only after the bike is moving upward towards him/her. This disconnect and lag is what causes MTB suspension to perform so poorly compared to motorcycle suspension. The suspension needs to be stiff enough to support the total sprung mass of bike plus rider (perhaps around 90Kg), but when the bike first hits the bump, the rider is too loosely connected to the frame to provide much resistance. So the 9Kg rigid sprung mass starts to accelerates upwards rapidly, without much suspension movement, until this lag is overcome and the rider starts to accelerate with the frame and create resistance. Increasing the weight of the frame reduces this initial acceleration and forces the suspension to move earlier, and so decreases vibration experienced by the rider. This is why ebikes are more comfortable on rough, fast tracks.

So, I propose you test riding with 3Kg on your back vs 3Kg on your frame. If the weight of the rigid sprung mass on your DH bike is around 9Kg or so, the 3Kg will increase this by a third. That makes a significant difference to how the bike feels to ride. The 3Kg on your back will ensure your sag and total mass is the same, but it's not so much you couldn't fit it in a regular riding pack.

Let me know what you think - I'd be happy to work with you on this.
  • 12 0
 @seb-stott: very interesting indeed. Probably the single most useful thing I've read regarding suspension behaviour and helps me understand what's going on with suspension under activity.
  • 2 0
 @ben-cathro: Got to try putting a running motor down by bb, not connected to the drive just for gyroscopic effect?
  • 2 1
 @ben-cathro: You can do your own "study", but consider @seb-stott's work as a "literature review" haha
  • 3 0
 @seb-stott: The two of you nerding out on bike suspension etc would make for an awesome article/video. I hope it happens!
  • 4 0
 @seb-stott: So, what you're saying is that I am right to strap several water bottles to my frame rather than wearing a backpack?
  • 4 0
 @ben-cathro: I’d say keep adding weight until the bike gets slower (or dangerous to ride). Add outlandish amounts of weight and see what happens. Could you add 10, 20Kg to a DH bike??? It seems impossible that this basic question is not answered.
  • 2 0
 @MonsterTruck: that's an ebike
  • 2 0
 @Snfoilhat: bike weight is not a good measure of performance at all, as evidenced by this video, and we as bikers should stop propagating this myth.
Bikes have hardly gotten lighter in the past decade, but they did get a whole lot better!
  • 3 0
 @chachmonkey: Well maybe, that's the point of doing the experiment.
  • 1 0
 @ben-cathro: Rider with weights versus rider without weights (more than just a massive dump); say 2kg strapped around your waist (dive belt plus weights).
  • 1 0
 @ben-cathro, Sick, and great video @seb-stott.

It'd be interesting to see whether hardtails respond similarly to extra weight on the downtube as for fully suspended bikes.

And if it turned out that extra weight was helpful on the downhills for us average riders, it'd be cool to see enduro bikes have extra SWAT-style frame storage in their down tubes near the BB with some integrated weight plates. That way we could add a few kilos for the uplift/downhill days and remove them for all day trail riding. If your conclusion points to this being a good idea, it'd be cool to get some bike industry views on this.

Looking forward to the video if you do give this a go! Cheers
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott: Finally some profound physics there! If you guys want to dive deep with your test and get some fairly statistically relevant outcomes I am happy to help with some Design of Experiments and Response Surface methodolgy and help you run the numbers Smile It would be cool to maybe run extra weight in different places over a trail with different sections for which you have split times.

I also find it interesting that other then Alutech most production bikes do heavy (metal) swingarms and carbon mainframes. Whilst the opposite would make more sense really.
  • 1 0
 @torstenfrost: Not going to make much difference using dead weight but added gyroscopic effect could give you better cornering as well as just added gravity effect
Try filling you tyres with water would have similar extra gyroscopic effect, but would compromise tyre grip?
  • 19 5
 Makes sense to me. Similar to skis. Super light skis get bounced around when you're trying to charge. Heavier skis blast through the rough stuff with much more stability. The bike world is so annoying with people tirelessly trying to shave grams off their bike. Unless you're trying to crush strava uphill records then who cares?
  • 13 4
 It becomes even more annoying when the demand for low weight forks leads manufacturers to put far too little oil in them to make them reliable. Consumers aren't always the brightest bunch.
  • 2 0
 Is that due to weight or length though?
  • 5 0
 @kram: I agree. I’ve taken new forks apart from more than one manufacturer and had literally nothing drip out of the lowers! f*ck their volume charts. I’m putting my fork back together with at least 20ml of oil in there. Warranty be damned. Creaky f*cking crowns is the only problem I’ve had so far.
  • 3 0
 I’ll also add that while I’m voiding my warranty I’ll do it with Maxima or Spectro oil bought from the moto shop that costs a 1/4 the price and performs every bit as good or better.
  • 7 3
 I don't think so. You're forgetting that this is a DH race bike and as such an extremely niche application that concerns about 1% of riders. For casual riding, lightweight is generally favourable. Setups that work well in racing don't necessarily work well for everyday riding.
  • 1 0
 @rideone62: depending on the fork, Maxima isn’t a good choice. They have additives in there to swell the seals. DVO specifically states not to use Maxima because of this.
  • 1 0
 @kram: Also to do with obsolescence, manufacturers do not want forks to last forever, look what happened to Marzocchi?
  • 2 0
 Not always true though skis performance is mostly due to design and material, a light stiff ski with the right camber/rocker will do much better than a soft heavy sko. Same with bike a light well design stiff frame and components makes the difference.
  • 15 1
 question: Lighter Bike is Faster for Racing?
answer: Подушка, тумбочка, кровать... Smile
  • 12 4
 Inserts make a massive difference. To weight and ride characteristics. Worth it 100%. My bikes lighter with out them but doesn't ride as well and is not as reliable. My bikes lighter with out a coil shock also. But doesn't ride as well. So again 100% worth it. Weight vs reliability I'll always choose reliable. If your bikes a bit heavy. Get stronger.
  • 10 3
 Do you have data or is this just based on your feelings?
  • 23 2
 @z-man: r feels not realz?
  • 7 0
 @z-man: If you're just out to enjoy the ride, then feelings are the data
  • 4 0
 @z-man: feelings. Riding the same tracks with and with out over and over. I use inserts front and back. In the rear I had to run higher psi with out an insert to not rim out a lot. The lower pressure allows more traction. But rolls a bit slower on the flat areas. That's just how she goes. I found Inserts in the front dull the rebound from the air in the tire, so make it less jittery when hammering over sharp impacts. And save the rim and has more traction due to lower psi. I'm 80kg and run 21-24psi.
Coil shock I didn't like at first coming off a db air. But put a spring 1 over my weight to get it lively and not too bottomy out and it's pretty nice. Only data I have is srava. Haha. And that's so reliable I'd argue to the end it's correct. Hahaha. But no. Times got faster and more constant with coil and inserts. But just my opinion I guess.
  • 6 0
 So, Neko’s bike doesn’t get faster when it gets lighter because it already has the best parts on it.

However, for the rest of us when we get lighter parts, we’re also getting better parts, upgrades, at the same time. So I would think lighter is better for the average rider, if they’re upgrading at the same time.
  • 5 0
 Conclusion:
1) it’s all based the rider when it comes to the rider for downhill riding. Case in point: Sam Hill.

2) For uphill riding, a lightweight rigid frame reign supreme.

3) For components that differ in grams and milligram, it’s all psychological.
  • 2 0
 Your nr 2 is only true on flat surfaces.
  • 1 1
 @Ido83: Ever tried riding up a steep mountain with a downhill bike that weighs 50lbs?
  • 47 43
 @mikelevy is going: Oh I like what I am hearing... water bottles everywhere...

Also, here’s the proof from Neko! All DH bikes run gearboxes for 2025! One water bottle worth of weight off the rear and 2 near the bottom bracket.
  • 10 6
 youre back
  • 27 1
 Or is he? Is he just an imposter?
  • 6 3
 @ridingrascal: I'm thinking imposter. His name before was designs, not designed. I know it's easily changed but...
  • 33 11
 If this is Waki (and who knows if it is) I’m happy he is back. While he occasionally said dumb stuff, he also added a manic enthusiasm that I appreciate.
  • 12 0
 @ridingrascal: He is pretty sus ngl.
  • 3 1
 @shittybill: his other account was banned, so maybe that username is banned too? that could be why it's changed.
  • 8 0
 @ridingrascal: has to be an imposter. This guy writes comments differently. Unless he changed his meds?
  • 3 8
flag justwaki (Apr 4, 2021 at 10:02) (Below Threshold)
 @makripper: imposter? are you into playing Among Us now?
  • 8 0
 @makripper: Well it is Easter. Waki would appreciate the irony of this date for his resurrection.
  • 5 0
 @wakidesigned: then what county is waki originally from and what bike does he have a hard on for and what company does he constantly name drop every 3 seconds?
  • 3 4
 @makripper put your finger into my side Thomas hahahahha
  • 6 1
 Coming next: Which is faster climbing, a rider on an 22 pound hardtail, or 50 pound Specialized Turbo Levo?
  • 1 0
 This, but like a somewhat experienced noob on the turbo and a veteran rider (weekend warrior/semi pro) on the hardtail.
  • 2 0
 Like anything else, weight just seems like a balance that will depend on riding conditions and style. Seems like suspension may perform better and a bike may be more stable with extra weight, but it’s also going to me less maneuverable, possible making it harder to pick apart certain lines, gap a section, clear a jump, etc..So is it more beneficial to have a better performing suspension at the expense of being able to pick the perfect line? I don’t think that answer will be the same for everyone. It may even change for the same rider depending on the track and conditions.
  • 3 1
 I never ever feel a difference at the end of a ride when the 1 Liter bottle is empty vs when it's full at the start...it just doesn't matter for almost any application, really.
  • 6 5
 Every sport in the world has found lighter is better, thats why many of them have minimum weights not maximum. Why does DH mountain biking think they are different and dont match any other gravity sport? If I was being cynical its because it take more engineering skill to design a light bike for a given strength and stiffness than an heavy one.
  • 3 7
flag goldrush781 (Apr 4, 2021 at 18:24) (Below Threshold)
 Gravity racing sports are the opposite. Heavier is better and they have maximum weights.
  • 5 1
 Look at downhill skis. They’re much heavier than regular skis, and it helps with stability. Ski reviewers often suggest buying heavy skis unless you’re trying to do tricks because they go through variable choppy snow much better
  • 3 0
 @goldrush781: which sports have a maximum weight?
  • 2 0
 @CM999: boxing trololol
  • 2 0
 @goldrush781: People are coming around in mountain biking... a lot of the lightweight trend is driven from having to pedal... and after so many years, its become psychological... if you believe a little excess weight on the bike is better, then it is. If you think you're bike is a heavy pig, then it is.
  • 3 0
 Olympic bobsled.
  • 2 0
 @CM999:
Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton.
  • 1 0
 Sounded like he went slower with an Air shock on the bike and an insert helped on the rear too, up front the insert didnt make any real difference.
For a rocky track with lots of square edges this makes complete sense!
The best setup for Fort William too which is rocky and has square edges (not that as a Joey racer I have ever tested anything looking for those missing seconds).
  • 4 0
 музычка гоночная)))
  • 1 0
 I think the course makes a difference on whether a lighter or heavier bike would be faster. A heavier bike is definitely more stable in the super technical stuff, but may not be necessarily faster.
  • 4 0
 For sure, lighter bikes makes lighter wallet's
  • 1 1
 Orange made a DH bike that had a bottle mount or something like that under the down tube just above the bb shell. They attached any number of lead plates to add or remove weight from the frame. I think it was Vouilloz that preferred a heavier bike as he found it more stable.
  • 3 0
 Absolutely not, Vouilloz had the lightest bike with heavier tires. But you're right about the lead testing on the downtube:
m.pinkbike.com/news/pinkbike-poll-weight-a-minute.html
Jack Leading's Nicolai
  • 2 0
 Bruni says he prefers a DH bike around 40 pounds and runs aluminum everything.
  • 3 0
 What song is that? That was classic
  • 4 0
 molchat doma - sudno

lol
The dancing bats did it even better @pmhobson
  • 3 0
 Never remove the coil shock. NEVER.
  • 1 0
 I wonder if a viscoset would show benefits on the clock? It's an easy upgrade and small.

canecreek.com/product/viscoset
  • 2 0
 Levy was right, we need those water bottle mounts! Razz
  • 1 0
 I remember jack reading did something similar lacung some weight on the lower part of the frame
  • 1 0
 Orange could be much better with a decent suspension platform that Durante turn the bike into a hardtail s spin as you touch the rear brake
  • 1 0
 but seriously though, does anyone else notice when they've drank all their bottle the bike actually feels lighter?
  • 1 3
 Everybody who rode a capable Enduro emtb over the last years knows that weight helps traction and stability on most rough tracks. When I switch back to a normal bike I have to adjust to how lively it feels. A heavier bike feels just planted on the ground. But there are downsides on tight corners and jumps.
  • 2 0
 They really don't know this yet?
  • 1 0
 We see it in the ski industry. There's light weight versus the right weight.
  • 1 0
 Nobody cares about what bike, it doesn't matter when someone wins without a chain or flat tires! Good choice of song though!
  • 1 0
 If you like this sound, google new wave/new romatics as a genre and dig around. You wont be disappointed.
  • 3 1
 БУЕРАК ))
  • 7 8
 Guess who’s back, back again... would the real slim Waki please stand up, please stand up... we’re gonna have a problem here...
  • 2 1
 Was this article supposed to be published 3 days ago?
  • 1 1
 Wouldn't a bit of weight help with momentum and getting through rough stuff?
  • 1 0
 At 3:02, did he grind that rock into dust or burp his tire?
  • 1 0
 I think Neko Mullaly is going to go fast no matter what.
  • 3 2
 so no actual figures?
  • 1 1
 the only figure required is the date of the vid.
  • 2 1
 Wakisbaki ??
  • 1 0
 This song is great.
  • 1 0
 No.
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