Lightening an Upright 3 Speed?

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Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:48 pm

by wildtangent1

So I've been a commuter for many years, and found through working at co-ops that the upright 3 is a very good 'around town' bike that is ergonomically good and is practical. The downside of my beast was that it was made entirely of steel. That thing weighed about 17kg stock- 'pretty bad,' but not the worst in the world, considering it had a locking fork, dynamo hub, and lights and I had done nothing to upgrade any of its steel components to alloy.

I thought with all the alloy parts that modern 3 speeds would be much lighter weight, but they're not. Even ones that are "chromoly" with all alloy parts are far heavier than if I took an old Hi-Tensile Raleigh and lightened it by replacing the rims/crank/stem/seatpost with alloy or carbon components.

This is borderline unforgiveable and is giving credence to that tired old line: "they just don't build 'em the way they used to." Heck, even ones claiming to be "Chromoly" with all the lightened parts were heavier when compared to this one after I'd started some upgrades for it, which had features the new ones didn't.

The hunt began to find something with a steep rake/trail, like the old Raleigh Tourists or Raleigh Sports, but those were rare in Aus. America at least has 26 x 1 3/8ths ISO 590 size rims made by Sun (not the lightest rims on the market by any stretch but much lighter than steelies, plus way better braking, and stronger. A straight upgrade, as far as I'm concerned.).

I wanted it to be made of Chromoly steel, just to push my luck. There weren't many good options. Eventually I stumbled across an Australian brand called "Chappelli." The brand promised that it was made of full Chromoly and the weight specs overall looked 'okay.' A bit heavy, but likely held back by its cheap steel components, much like a Raleigh Sports. If I replaced those, I theorised, I'd get a lighter weight commuter.

I snagged a cheap carbon seatpost, a cheap used carbon front rim, slapped some alloy steering cups on it, put a ridiculously tall alloy stem to give it handling closer to a Raleigh's steering that has zero forward reach (making it far more nimble than it has any right to be at low speed, but thanks to the rake/trail, quite stable when at speed or on a downhill), some north road alloy bars, alloy crank, some cheap Chinese platforms, some 32mm flat-resistant tires (it IS a commuter, after all), and a rack (which was attached via some copper fittings). Results? Way lighter than anything else upright on the market right now that I can find. I'll come up with exact specs when I get it weighed properly soon. (That's with lights, rack, big MTB alloy platform pedals, bell, rack, etc., all attached.)

Right now I think the rear rim and chain are holding me back from getting further weight savings, but I'd love to hear your thoughts about how to make it even lighter while keeping its functionality as a 'daily grocery go-getter/commuter.' Unfortunately due to the rear being Sturmey Archer there's no way to easily lighten that. I don't think the genuine Velocity Deep V rims are any lighter weight than the knockoffs, which means my spokes will need to change as well, which is a whole lot of mess. I'm considering going for a Sun CR18 rim, as I know they're very tough, but I figured this was a place to come for good advice on very tough rear rims (that are certain to take a beating) which would also be very lightweight.

The bike is already far lighter than anything 'on the market' thanks especially to that front rim, but the tendency is to take this weight-weenie-ing as far as it can go.


Has: Track dropouts (got anodised alloys to replace the rusted steel tensioners)
Has: Lighter weight chainring bolts (Anodised ebay junk. Stripped one on install a year ago.)
Has: Lighter weight crank bolts (Anodised ebay junk)
Has: Alloy stem (gigantic but forms the 'upright' aspect)
Has: Carbon front rim (since that doesn't carry much weight)

Looking into: Changing rear rim, chain, rear cog, could shave some weight off the rack (has some extraneous bits and pieces), and different brake callipers/levers. (The Tektros on there now are hefty).


by Weenie

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by froze

First off let me say what a cool looking bike you have!

Secondly 37 1/2 pounds for a bike while on the heavy side it isn't crazy heavy.

Thirdly, some of that stuff you did to lighten the bike was not necessarily worthwhile, like the crank and chainring bolts, that sort of stuff isn't significant enough weight reduction to even make it noticeable.

The other thing you have to consider is long term reliability since this is a commuter bike and not a racing bike where long term reliability weight reduction is not a worry. Your bike is far from a racing bike so I think you're going overboard, but it's your bike. I almost wonder if the cost of all the stuff you've done to the bike if you could have spent that money on a used bike and have a bike that weighs 24 pounds or so now instead of a 37 1/2 pound bike that you took off maybe a pound or so of weight so you still have a 36 1/2 pound bike, and how much money did you spend to get that pound or so off? For $300 or so you could have found a vintage road bike, heck even a vintage touring bike like the Schwinn Voyageur weighs about 25 pounds and you could put your rack on it and commute with it, probably would have cost around $400, or a Schwinn Le Tour Luxe for $250 that weighs around 26 pounds.

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by Butcher

My first weight weenie build was a Schwinn Varsity. If it was steel, it was swapped out. At one point, I was left with a frame and crank. Then I bought a new frame and started over.

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