When one talks about upgrading the bike, the usual number one reason is to decrease its weight as it is human nature to equate the weight of the bike as having an adverse effect with riding performance. That same mentality fuels the bike industry that is why light materials such as carbon and titanium came about. But the problem with weight reduction is that not only it has its limits. But as you further reduce weight, the more costly is will be and the least amount you can reduce. If I can show you a graph of this, it would be something like this:
It just basically means that the initial upgrades will cost little (not really little as in the case of big ticket items like frames and forks but what this means is the cost per grams reduced or the ratio) with big weight reduction but as you move further or after reducing the obvious, the next steps or upgrades will be of little weight reductions that would cost you so much like buying titanium bolts at so much cost only to reduce a gram or two.
But before I continue, some tips on prioritizing weight reduction. Much has been written about this but as a review, the biggest impact to performance in terms of weight reduction is the weight of the wheels due to its effect to the rolling resistance of the wheels- the one that you excert effort to move. That is why the first advice I give to those who are asking about performance is to upgrade the wheel set. Further dissecting this, the most impact can be attained on the outer part of the wheels which are tires, tubes and rims due to centrifugal action. The other two areas where you can attain big weight gain is of course, the bulk component of the bike which is the fork and the frame. For group sets- the graph pretty much apply as the cost difference between the lowest ends models to the highest end models of group sets exponentially grows as you move up the ladder while the weight difference decreases. That is why for some, XT (in the case of Shimano) seems to be the most reasonable.
Going back, the real, as in REAL, weight reduction that would affect performance, but which is often neglected, usually by choice is the rider’s own weight! For example in my case, there was a time I reached around 177 Ibs. My ideal weight should be around 150 and a racing weight of 140 would be the best. Looking at this, achieving 150 Ibs would mean I have shed one entire mountain bike weighing 27 Ibs! After I have reached 160, there is big noticeable improvement in performance. And it’s not just about feeling lighter, but a feeling of more energy, more efficient movement and better breathing. Plus the great feeling of knowing how you look wearing the tight bike apparels adds up to your confidence all the more.
So the next upgrade does not always mean you have to spend thousands and thousands of pesos. The next upgrade would be way beyond your riding as it would even affect your quality of life.
Think about it.
(As I worte this, just noticed that the April issue of MTBAction has an article on loosing weight- what a coinsidence)