My wife enjoys road biking, so when I first got into mountain biking one thing that I was initially worried about was how heavy my mountain bike was going to be. But does weight really matter in mountain biking?
Just how heavy are mountain bikes?
The average modern mountain bike weighs 29 pounds (13.2 kg). For most riders, a heavier bike will not negatively impact their mountain biking experience. However, it can be important for cross-country racers or those wanting to maximize pedal performance.
Manufacturers spent years trying to create the lightest possible mountain bikes until they realized that it didn’t create the best (or safest) experience for riders.
Funny enough, as bike technology advanced with things like disc brakes, dropper seats, and larger wheels the bikes actually got heavier instead of lighter!
The average weight of mountain bikes
Using data from mountain bike manufacturers and large online retailers, I took the time to crunch the numbers and find the average weight of modern mountain bikes.
The bikes included in the survey spanned multiple manufacturers including Trek, Cannondale, Yeti, Orbea, Santa Cruz, and Niner.
Rather than sorting by their intended use, I lumped together data from all-mountain, enduro, cross-country, trail, downhill, and gravity bikes to better represent the overall average weight.
After reviewing 345 mountain bikes, I found the average weight to be 29.0 pounds (13.2 kg). The lightest mountain bike on the list weighed in at 21.1 pounds (9.6 kg), while the heaviest bike was 37.5 pounds (17.0 kg).
It’s worth pointing out that some manufacturers don’t publish the weights of their bikes. Others choose to only omit the weight of their lower-end (price) bikes.
However, because I was still able to obtain a relatively large sample set from several companies I feel that the numbers still fairly represent the industry as a whole.
Rather than fill the page with every single bike weight, below is a small sample of mountain bikes and their respective weights.
- Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SL AXS – 22.7 lbs (10.3 kg)
- Cannondale F-SI Carbon 4 – 23.8 lbs (10.8 kg)
- Yeti SB100 Turq X01 Race Bike 2019 – 25.8 lbs (11.7 kg)
- Orbea Alma M30 29″ Bike 2019 – 26 lbs (11.8 kg)
- Yeti Beti SB100 Carbon GX Comp Bike 2019 – 27.72 lbs (12.6 kg)
- Santa Cruz Hightower LT CC X01 Bike 2019 – 28.97 lbs (13.1 kg)
- Intense Tracer Pro Bike 2019 – 29.19 lbs (13.2 kg)
- Trek X-Caliber 8 – 29.6 lbs (13.4 kg)
- Devinci Troy Carbon 27.5 GX 2019 – 30.6 lbs (13.9 kg)
- Santa Cruz 5010 Aluminum R Bike 2019 – 32.39 lbs (14.7 kg)
- Trek Roscoe 6 Women’s – 33.48 lbs (15.2 kg)
- Banshee Darkside Zee Jenson Bike – 36.7 lbs (16.6 kg)
Even with the gap from some manufacturers, the calculated average weight still passes the eye test.
Walk into any bike shop, lift up a few mountain bikes and have a guess at the weight.
Roughly thirty pounds seems like a safe bet! Guess I should have called it the “hand test” instead 😉
Weight differences for different intended uses and why weight doesn’t matter
Not surprisingly, cross-country mountain bikes accounted for the 15 lightest bikes. The average weight of XC bikes came to 25.9 pounds (11.8 kg).
Cross-country bikes are built for maximum efficiency and have the most in common with road bikes. This means wasting as little energy as possible and getting places faster!
Weight aside, there are many other ways to make your bike run raster, and I cover all of them in my dedicated article here.
While weight is not the only difference that cross-country bikes have with other types of mountain bikes, it is certainly an important factor for efficiency.
With the same amount of pedal power, a lighter bike will travel further than a heavier one. Therefore making them more efficient for climbing and endurance.
This is one of the few situations in which a lighter bike can directly result in improved performance. That being said, there’s always a trade-off when it comes to weight savings.
Shaving off the last few pounds or ounces can come at the cost of thousands of dollars. If you’ve got a few pounds to spare on your own frame, it’s both cheaper and healthier to try tackling that front first.
While there were some mixed uses listed, trail bikes trended as the next lightest after cross-country. The average weight of trail bikes came to 29.7 pounds (13.5 kg). I say trend because there were a few all-mountain and enduro bikes mixed into the list, but largely it was dominated by trail bikes.
Logically, it makes sense that trail bikes all into the unofficial category of “second-lightest” because they’re built to be equally adept at climbing and descending. While climbing is still required for enduro and downhillers, descending is more important to them.
Not surprisingly, downhillers and gravity bikes were the heaviest on the list. They’re built to handle steep terrain, big drops, and jumps, and need that extra weight to make the bike more robust.
For downhill bikes, heavier weights can actually help a rider to accelerate faster making it an advantage rather than a disadvantage. This was supported by the fact that the average weight of downhill bikes came out to 34.5 pounds (15.7 kg).
What accounts for the weight differences between mountain bikes?
If you really must compare the weights of bikes then it’s best to focus on the items that weigh the most on a mountain bike.
To borrow from the in-depth analysis done by mbaction.com, the components that account for the largest portions of the overall bike’s weight are the back wheel, front wheel, fork, and frame triangle.
These components alone represent 59.8% of the bike’s total weight!
Not surprisingly, these components can also be upgraded to make them lighter.
With the knowledge in hand as to which components account for the most weight, we now know where upgrades will have the largest impact on overall bike weight. Sure, you could get a lighter saddle.
But at 1.94% of the bike’s overall weight, it doesn’t lead to much room for improvement. By comparison, the front and back wheels account for 33.6% of the overall weight. This is an area where it pays to save weight!
Why weight comparisons are tricky
From a buyer’s standpoint, trying to compare mountain bikes on the basis of weight can be very tricky. The same bike model can have a variety of options that affect its final weight.
From different frame and wheel sizes, dropper seats, and component upgrades they all affect weight. You could even choose to convert to tubeless tires and save several hundred grams.
Even if you are able to gather all of this information – does the difference of a few ounces between bikes really make a difference?
What matters far more is how the bike rides for YOU out on the trail. That is the true test.
How did mountain bikes get heavier instead of lighter over time?
With most technology advances we expect things to get lighter, stronger, faster, etc… So how did mountain bikes end up getting heavier instead of lighter?
It started with suspension forks, then came disk brakes. 26-inch tires used to be the norm, nowadays many of us are riding around on 29-inch tires. Add in dropper seat posts, and wider handlebars and we’ve got a fantastic modern-day mountain bike.
But wait – it’s heavier than before!
While all of these enhancements may have created a heavier bike, it’s also a better bike. Better not just in the sense for how it feels to ride, but safer as well.
If you still think that this logic sounds a bit far-fetched, consider the market economics. Sure, manufacturers could trick a few riders to try out their latest and greatest “heavy tech”. But if it didn’t perform well then word would get out and other riders would stop buying it.
- Will a lighter bike make me faster? Theoretically, a lighter mountain bike could make you faster during climbs. However, unless you’re a professional racer it’s usually not worth the added cost. Nor would you likely see a noticeable difference in the marginal weight savings from switching bikes.
- What is the weight limit on a mountain bike? Most mountain bikes have a top-end weight limit of 300 pounds. This number often refers to total weight – meaning the combined weight of the bike, rider, and cargo. While the frame is the most important factor to initially consider, you may also need to consider upgrading the bike’s tires and components. For more info, take a look at my article here.
- How much does a fat bike weigh? The average fat bike weighs 34 pounds. Their large tires and rims account for the increased weight, with the wheels alone accounting for roughly half of the bike’s overall weight.