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Old 01-05-2010, 05:22 PM   #1
oldturtle OP
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Why do so many road riders make such a big deal over motorcycle weight.

Riders are constantly complaining about weight and wishing for a lighter selection of motorcycles. IMO the is often an unfounded obsession that has little relationship to actual motorcycle function. Granted that heavy weight and especially tall and heavy bikes like a loaded Kawi Concours with full fuel load feel very heavy in parking lot. Once underway the heavy feeling disappears. Many riders mistake weight induced handling characteristics from geometry induced handling characteristics. I believe the best set-up is for a nice balance between low effort steering, straight line stability, ease of bending into corner, ease of holding a cornering line, and easy side to side flicking. So the most important factor for these traits is not motorcycle weight but instead is steering geometry, weight distribution, and tire selection.
A major factor in suspension performance is ratio of sprung to unsprung weight. The heavier the weight of chassis and motor relative to weight of tires, wheels, and portion of suspension then the better potential for good suspension compliance. A Cadillac is usually smoother than a VW. Thank you Issac Newton.
No doubt that horsepower to weight ratio is important for race bikes and for extreme sport riders but when you strap on luggage and accessories and especially with heaviest riders and passengers then HP to weight looses most of its importance.
I believe reliability is more important than performance for most riders and reliability should be easier to obtain without worrying about every fraction of an ounce.
And the main loss of being paranoid about weight is that many riders miss out on the opportunity to own a highly satisfying motorcycle for all the wrong reasons.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:57 PM   #2
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Power to weight is the obvious one and you touched on low speed maneuverability.

Perhaps gas mileage and tire wear will be affected.

A lighter bike may stop in a shorter distance than a heavier one with the same sized tires.

A lighter bike may be able to carry more weight per pound without exceeding the GVW.

I don't know anything about dirt riding, but I suspect lighter is far better for unpaved travel.

But I'm just grasping at straws and I doubt these are serious considerations from a buyer's point of view (except maybe for motorcycles intended for off road use).
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:09 PM   #3
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Hassle factor. Over time, a heavy bike becomes something of a nuisance in little ways, especially at slow speeds and when entering/exiting garage, parking on soft ground, etc. The older/weaker we get the more this seems important.
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:11 PM   #4
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Picking it back up off the ground is easier.
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:22 PM   #5
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Less is less.

At some point you buy stuff by the pound - the bigger, & heavier anybike is, the larger it's tires, chain, brakes, & fuel appetite.

Some folks are just smaller, too (especially those curvy ones I'm so fond of, youknow, the ones that smell good...) and lighter and lower to stand over makes for lots of confidence in gravel lots, etc.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:37 PM   #6
Guy Jinbaiquerre
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A heavy bike is good if you are riding in strong wind. I was on a light bike in some strong winds recently and almost got blown off the road...
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:14 AM   #7
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The real problem is that for every pound you add, you wind up having to add even stuff more to support that, which in turn requires you to add even more stuff to support that. It’s a vicious cycle.

For example:
Increasing weight requires larger and increasingly sophisticated suspensions, brakes, and powertrains to effectively manage it; resulting in increased cost and complexity. Now your heavier bike needs a larger fuel tank capacity to get the same range with the same performance. This adds even more weight. So now you need bigger brakes and more engine output. So now you need a larger fuel tank. Etc.

Don’t forget that a smaller bike can use smaller wheels, tires, forks, swingarms, brakes, and chains – all of which decreases unsprung weight.

The laws of physics can’t be cheated, every pound you add to a bike is a pound that will have to be managed when accelerating, turning or stopping. You can easily see the effect of added mass by comparing the same bike with and without luggage. The geometry and components don’t change, but the additional weight absolutely impacts the riding experience.

Personally, I find light, simple vehicles to be more fun and more rewarding than heavy, complex ones; as the riding experience is purer and more direct without a bunch of weight and features to smother out the inputs and feedback. I don’t want to tapdance in combat boots, even if they’re very well-made.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

gmiguy screwed with this post 01-06-2010 at 08:17 AM
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:32 AM   #8
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Same as always it depends.
It depends on what you are going to do with the bike.
On the slab or similar road a heavy GL1800 would be hard to beat.
On other types of roads or trails a KDX 220 would be perfect.
Also have not seen very many caddy dune buggies. Just too heavy for the job.


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Old 01-06-2010, 07:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldturtle
Riders are constantly complaining about weight and wishing for a lighter selection of motorcycles. IMO the is often an unfounded obsession that has little relationship to actual motorcycle function.
F=ma
a=F/m

So given the same F more m means less a

And it works the same for a both braking and accelerating.

Since I ride for entertainment it really is as simple as that for me.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:02 AM   #10
gmiguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pappy541
On the slab or similar road a heavy GL1800 would be hard to beat.
True, but that same bike only 100 pounds lighter would be even better - Faster, more efficient, improved handling, etc.

Outside of a few limited circumstances (heavy winds, towing) additional weight is never a good thing. There may be features or designs that are worth the required weight penalty, but dumb mass doesn't do you many favors.

A Cadillac may ride smoother than a VW, which is not necessarily better if a driver wants to actually know whats going on at the wheels. But that same Cadillac with less weight could ride smoother still, or ride just as smooth while also delivering improved handling. Less weight means less compromises.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:38 AM   #11
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I don't buy the idea that whatever a bike does well, taking off a few pounds will make it do it better.

For highway riding I like the feeling of stability that comes with a little extra weight. It helps the bike cope better - not just with side winds but with the buffeting you get when you're passing a semi. Weight shouldn't affect stopping distance as long as you have adequate brakes, and as long as I can get the wheel up in first the power/weight ratio is good enough.

Loading up a bike will affect its handling in ways which have nothing to do with the added weight itself. It is the redistribution of weight and changed CoG which affects the steering geometry.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:43 AM   #12
jonathonbarton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldturtle
Riders are constantly complaining about weight and wishing for a lighter selection of motorcycles.
Because this is ADVRider, and we *all* know that we're going to have to pick that sumbich up someday.
In the dark.
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Both ways.
When it's snowing.
When I was your age.
Get off my lawn!
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:46 AM   #13
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A lighter bike may stop in a shorter distance than a heavier one with the same sized tires.
Nah. More weight on a given tire provides more traction for better braking, but offset by the higher energy that must be dissipated by the brakes.
http://www.msgroup.org/Tip.aspx?Num=125&Set=

Is it safe to say that this discussion is about functional weight and not just bloat? If those heavier parts are making the bike more fun or more reliable, I'm all for them. If they're just chrome-that-don't-get-me-home, I don't need it.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:30 AM   #14
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Granted that heavy weight and especially tall and heavy bikes like a loaded Kawi Concours with full fuel load feel very heavy in parking lot. Once underway the heavy feeling disappears.

Well that's kind of the whole point. Slow speed maneuverability IS a big issue for a lot of us who who ride every day, especially in town. If you ride in city traffic at all, or even commute to work in the suburbs, you're constantly hitting stoplights, passing around buses, making U-turns, parking in tight spots, lane splitting, etc.

Weight matters!
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:36 AM   #15
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Most people that complain about a bikes weight either cant ride well or they are spending too much time reading motorcycle mags and nor riding at all.

If they would have picked the right bike in the first place then it would not be an issue.
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