Does a Light Carbon Bike Really Make a Difference Compared to a Heavier Steel Bike?

Steel Bike vs. Carbon Bike Does weight matter for a road bike

I’ve been contemplating building a Bianchi Oltre carbon frame that I have or selling it and buying a complete steel frame bike to have for fun. I’ve been going back and forth on the issue of weight. The paradigm that is ingrained in my head, as probably with most bike racing/riding enthusiasts, is lighter is better. Truth to that answer is dependent on the terrain that you are riding. If you are going to be doing a lot of climbing it probably matters a lot, if you are going to be riding on the flats probably not as much.

This morning I was reading a post on our forum from a fellow member of my bike club who did an experiment. He is 10lbs over racing weight and did our club ride on his steel bike and then did the ride the same week on his carbon bike that is about 4-5lbs lighter. Outcome for him, he got dropped the first group ride and finished in the top on the second. His take away, the bike matters. Not all that scientific because of all the other variables, was his sleep, eating, hydration, motivation etc… all consistent or not. Who knows, but it’s interesting. There is something to be said around having more of your energy transferred to the back wheel and the stiffer carbon bike definitely facilitates much more energy or watts to be transferred into forward motion.

I then came across a “scientific” study that attempted to answer the question if a carbon bike really is faster then a stell bike, or rather does weight or much does bike weight matter.. Check it out over a cup of coffee if you want a good read. If you do not have the time to read it, the summary is that in the study it made little to no difference when comparing the two bikes.

What’s your take? Post below. I’m still on the fence, although given my riding terrain and the fact that generally in the first 7 miles of my weekly training rides I’m covering 800+ vertical feet of climbing and averaging about 2900+ ft a ride, a lighter bike might be a better fit. The Bianchi just might see some road time.