The big debate, should I reduce weight or reduce drag on my bike, and which will have the biggest impact on performance?

Last year was my first year taking on a long distance, statewide bicycle rides, first doing BRAN, then RAGBRAI.  My training had been on mostly flat terrain here in Omaha and I regrettably neglected to consider what impact the daily (hourly) hills of Nebraska and Iowa would do to my riding performance and, quite honestly, my ability to finish the rides (I sagged out 40 miles of BRAN, exhausted and fearful of an accident).

Now, I ride a recumbent and not a light one at that.  From the factory it should weigh 33 pounds.  I’ve added a rear bike rack, a rack bag, a seat bag, seat struts and two water bottles.  Not sure how much my Kevlar tires add to the weight, but every little bit adds up and checking on the scale I came to a shocking 45 pounds.  What on earth am I carrying in those bags?  Well, for the statewide rides I do one needs to carry nutrition, cold and rainy weather gear, sunscreen, etc.

If I could lose 10 p0unds off the bike I could see a real difference, but that’s not going to happen.  Instead, from what I have researched, adding a fairing, even though it adds weight, can have a significant difference.  I’ve read on various biking forums this can actually give one 1-3 mph more in speed, but one needs to be doing above 15 mph to see a difference.  However, if you are heading into the wind, the mph is less of an issue and one can see big improvements.

This will be my second year riding on the Bike Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) and after the struggle I had last year I decided to do whatever I can to make the ride easier and more enjoyable.  I’m planning to add a fairing to help reduce wind drag, to increase speed and reduce effort.

Keep an eye out for a future post where I show how I make my own custom fairing mount.

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