Reductio ad Absurdum

11.17.2009 | 8:37 am

200911171251.jpgA Mo of the Day Note from Fatty: Today’s Team Fatty Movember Mo comes to you courtesy of Michael in TN, who says:

“Just got around to manscaping my mo.”

“It’s struggling, I know. My hair is too light so it looks pretty thin.”

“The wife is not going to be happy when she sees this. Of course, if I could tell her I made it on Fatty’s blog – I’m sure that will take some of the heat off.”

Fatty’s Remark: Anything I can do to help, man.

Meet the Ibisss

I like my bikes light. I like them light, and I like them simple. A carbon fiber singlespeed, for example, is a simple, light bike.

On the dirt, the Superfly Singlespeed scratches this itch rather nicely.

But what about the road?


Some of you may recall that this summer I got an Orbea Orca with Shimano Di2 components. And some of you may remember that I already owned a really nice road bike — an Ibis Silk Carbon (the Silk SL didn’t come out ’til the following year). And really, two really beautiful carbon road bikes is more than I need.

Unless, that is, the Ibis became my singlespeed road bike.

Which it did.


Now, I’d love to be able to tell you I did the work on this myself. So I will: I did the work on this myself.

Sadly, my enjoyment of saying that is somewhat marred by the fact that it’s entirely untrue. In reality I went to Racer of Racer’s Cycle Service and said, “Make this into a light singlespeed. I don’t need or want drops. I don’t want a chain tensioner. Have fun!”

So, working with my incredibly precise directions, Racer removed the cassette, derailleurs and shifters, and found a magic gear that works with the vertical dropouts:


That’s a 42 x 17. Count ‘em. (You don’t have to really count them.)

Then he put on a CobraWing bar, with TT brake levers.


And how much does this bike weigh, complete with pedals and bottle cages (i.e., this is its actual riding weight)?

13.18 pounds.

Again, to be clear: thirteen point one eight pounds.

Sometimes, to impress other cyclists, I toss it thirty feet into the air and watch it lazily flutter to the ground. wafting lazily on the light breeze.

How it Rides

Any well-maintained bike is pretty quiet, but this bike – The Ibisss (hold the “s” for a long time when you pronounce it), I like to call it — is utterly silent.

And off the line, this bike fairly flies. You really can feel the negligibility of the bike’s weight during that initial surge.

Once in motion, the gearing is fine for flat (I’ll sometimes spin out, but only rarely) and climbing. The exception being that when I did my first ride on this bike, I climbed the North side of Suncrest, which is about as brutal a climb as I have easy access to.

I did manage the climb, but I suffered. Mightily.

Next Steps

Clearly, this is a very niche-specific bike. Really, I imagine it being really great for one thing: climbing the Alpine Loop.

Which got me thinking.

First of all, I currently have two bottle cages. Sure, they’re just little wisps of bottle cages, but there are two of them. For a climb up the Alpine Loop, I can get rid of one. Or both. Go thirsty on the climb, and beg something to drink off someone at the top.

Next, I know for a fact that with a tallish gear like what I’ve got, I’m going to do most of my climbing in a standing position. So why not just fully commit and get rid of the saddle and seat post?

You see where I’m going with this?

Finally, if this really is a climbing-specific machine (and thanks to the lack of saddle, I think I could say it is), do I really need brakes or their accompanying levers? Of course not. Sure, it might be a little risky to ride a freewheeled bike with no brakes, but I live for danger. Totally.

I estimate that with these modifications — no cages, saddle / seatpost, or brakes, this bike will come in at just about eleven pounds.

And once I sand the chrome off the spokes (rotating weight = bad!), it’ll weigh even less.


  1. Comment by Brandon | 11.17.2009 | 1:06 pm

    Impressive! So will you bring that next year to battle Kenny on the Nebo or AF climbs on the morning rides?

  2. Comment by Todd | 11.17.2009 | 1:24 pm

    where’s the rest of the post Fatty? I’m looking forward to reading about how it rides! ;)

  3. Comment by John | 11.17.2009 | 1:25 pm

    First?! Really?

    Pretty bike Fattie, very cool bars.

    Now my S-Works Langster, with Zipp 404s, weighs in at 15.1 pounds – and can be raced. With a better engine, it might even win races…

  4. Comment by VA Biker | 11.17.2009 | 1:26 pm

    That’s a nice ride. Maybe someday…

  5. Comment by mark | 11.17.2009 | 1:33 pm

    ad absurdum is right.

  6. Comment by rich | 11.17.2009 | 1:37 pm

    wow, that thing is pretty sweet. I have a Raleigh 925 steel SS road bike that I ride a lot. Unlike yours though, it’s not ridiculously light(actually not at all light – probably weighs as much as most people’s geared bikes)

    I’m digging the cool bars. I went with the on-one Mungo bars instead of drops.

  7. Comment by GenghisKhan | 11.17.2009 | 1:38 pm

    If I had a nickel for every bike I own that weighs 13.Notverymuch pounds, I’d have, well, nothing. Hmmm… Wait, if I learn to ride nothing but wheelies, I could drop the front wheel and for, right? Let’s see that’d still be… carry the one… add a zero… Yep, still have nothing! ;o)

  8. Comment by AngieG | 11.17.2009 | 1:50 pm

    I asked Santa for a new carbon bike for Christmas. I think I have been good, however I have learned that my perception doesn’t generally reflect that of the populace.

    Alas I believe it will be coal again. Although a form of carbon, not really carbon in the form of an incredibly sexy bike.

    That sexy, dangerous, black bike will go awesomely with your sexy, danergous Mo. Well done!

  9. Comment by John | 11.17.2009 | 1:51 pm

    But can you climb an 8..9..10% grade with it??

  10. Comment by Aaron | 11.17.2009 | 1:52 pm

    Nice! So how did they do it without a tensioner? Ecentric BB? Do they even make an eccentric BB with external bearings? Eccentric rear hub? I’m lookin’ this up….

  11. Comment by graisseux | 11.17.2009 | 1:53 pm

    Didn’t you at some point have a Langster?

  12. Comment by Doug | 11.17.2009 | 1:55 pm

    68 gear inches seems workable.

  13. Comment by Jenny-Jenny | 11.17.2009 | 1:55 pm


  14. Comment by Matt | 11.17.2009 | 2:03 pm

    I assume you store this bike on the garage ceiling.

    I also assume it floats into that position naturally.

  15. Comment by Eufemiano Fuentes | 11.17.2009 | 2:06 pm

    you need obermayer III’s on that thing!!

  16. Comment by Frank F | 11.17.2009 | 2:07 pm

    What’s with the obsession over not having gears? As a fat cyclist I love my gears! I use every one of them. I want more so I can use them too! Gears let me go where I wouldn’t normally be able to go … up hills are a good example.

    That said, it’s a very pretty bike. I’m hugely envious.

  17. Comment by Weiland | 11.17.2009 | 2:11 pm

    Finally a bike you can ride with your capri pants. Plus it will accentuate your Mo quite well.

  18. Comment by geraldatwork | 11.17.2009 | 2:25 pm

    Nice bike. The only way you can ride it guilt free is if Bike Snob approves of it.

  19. Comment by Jared | 11.17.2009 | 2:27 pm

    It seems that if you really wanted to lighten it up you could also get some shorter cranks and even get rid of some stickers! Plus those cable bosses for the shifters are really only adding weight and a LOT of drag!

    Not to mention that looks like an aluminum stem…tisk tisk!

  20. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 11.17.2009 | 2:35 pm

    And if you drill out the water bottle and used a Baggie for a liner, you might save another couple dozen grams.
    (btw, it works; I saw this once on TOSRV back in the late ’70s)
    Reductio ad absurdum, indeed.


  21. Comment by Ian | 11.17.2009 | 2:36 pm

    It appears this mustache thing is seeping into your brain… Next thing we know you’ll slap a lockring on there, and ride it around in tight jorts, while drinking your PBR…. In conclusion, I’m jealous.

  22. Comment by Mikeonhisbike | 11.17.2009 | 2:37 pm

    The color and style will go perfectly with your manpris. You’re set.

  23. Comment by Jeff L. | 11.17.2009 | 2:43 pm

    I once broke my seatpost, 10 miles into a ride on the way up a long climb. I rode home without a saddle. I recommend against it. It was probably the worst 10 miles I have ever experienced. You really taking sitting down for granted when it comes to cycling.

    For you to remove these parts purposely is insane…and rather beautiful and awe inspiring at the same time.

  24. Comment by Fin | 11.17.2009 | 2:50 pm

    Hmmm… I have found my opposite. I am a weedy cyclist who can’t grow proper facial hair, that likes complex, fat bikes. I laugh at your carbon fiber.
    PS Can I have a test ride?

  25. Comment by JB | 11.17.2009 | 3:18 pm

    13 lbs!??!!??!
    Good lookin’ bike!
    I’m thinking that the front rack on my LHT weighs that much by itself.
    You had me Fatty, until the sanding of the spokes. heh.

  26. Comment by axel in texas | 11.17.2009 | 3:33 pm

    after yesterday’s post I thought you would teach us how to turn the two wheels of your spare bike into a set of snowshoes.

  27. Comment by rokrider | 11.17.2009 | 3:40 pm

    You know, you could just strip everything off and just carry the frame up Alpine Loop.

  28. Comment by Pants Yabbies | 11.17.2009 | 3:49 pm

    I don’t know whether to drool or shake my head!

  29. Comment by The Trout Underground | 11.17.2009 | 3:52 pm

    A ride that light doesn’t really even need a rider, cutting literally tons (no offense) off the climbing weight.

    And I offer this blinding insight free of charge

  30. Comment by Spiff | 11.17.2009 | 3:53 pm

    Ibisss (with the long “ssss”), black, fangs – it’s a Dracula bike! Or cobra bike, if you prefer snakes to the undead.

    Did Racer just throw some spacers on the freehub or is that a flip/flop back there? When are you going to do the Alpine climb fixed?

  31. Comment by Erik | 11.17.2009 | 3:54 pm

    I agree with Rokrider. I mean, if you strip it down any more, what’s the point?

    Why not raffle it off for LIVESTRONG?

  32. Comment by Fritz | 11.17.2009 | 4:04 pm

    Nice bike. You could save a few more grams by cutting off the derailleur hanger. Then it would be a real IbisSS.

  33. Comment by Charlie | 11.17.2009 | 4:09 pm

    Here’s your next step in absurd reductionism… I think you should take up skiing instead though – otherwise your obsession could get you in trouble!

  34. Comment by Jim | 11.17.2009 | 4:22 pm

    Nice bike, but total half-measures. You could shave another 1.5 pounds by cutting off the left side of the fork, and the right seat stay. You could also replace the downtube with a length of 70 pound test fishing line, and save another .75 pounds. Sure, it wouldn’t corner, and it would flex just looking at it, but think about how light it would be to throw in the back of the ambulance the first time you tried to descend on it.

  35. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.17.2009 | 4:33 pm

    Bike plus rider will weigh even less…

    When you ditch the MO!

  36. Comment by monkeywebb | 11.17.2009 | 4:36 pm

    If my eyes don’t deceive me you still have the little valve stem lock rings on there. If you drop those and two of the five chainring bolts you’ll probably go down another 2 grams.

    And if you think that thing rides like silk now, wait ’till you lop off one of the fork legs at the crown. Guaranteed to increase conversation value by 2.8 times while dropping weight below 13 pounds. (Your concern is unfounded. My friend has one of those Cannondale Lefty jobbies and it works like a champ.)

  37. Comment by Kenny | 11.17.2009 | 5:10 pm

    42×17? come on. are you a man or a muffin?

  38. Comment by bigease | 11.17.2009 | 5:30 pm

    I agree with Kenny 42×17 seems a little weedy. I ride 42×14 fixed……

    Although I do live in a totally flat part of the UK. What is a Hill anyway??!!??

  39. Comment by Philthy in Oz | 11.17.2009 | 5:38 pm

    that’s 66 gear inches. Too low. No wonder you’re spinning out. Try a 16 tooth cog which will give you a respectable 71 inches. With your massive quads even a decent hill will be no problem for you. I usually ride 94.5 inches myself (but that’s on the velodrome;-))

  40. Comment by Philthy in Oz | 11.17.2009 | 5:40 pm

    Try a 16 tooth cog. That’ll give you 71 gear inches. A much nicer gear for general use and OK for your massive quads even on a big hill.

  41. Comment by Andrew | 11.17.2009 | 6:18 pm

    you might want to check out the forward components EBB, when you wear out your cups. It would make swapping gears possible.

    Sweet bike:!.

  42. Comment by curtis | 11.17.2009 | 8:30 pm

    I love some of the Easton wheels… but looking at the ones you have on there, I’m guessing you could upgrade them and shave another .3 or .4 pounds… unless of course you need a special rear wheel to work with the SS setup that you’ve got there…

  43. Comment by R A N T W I C K | 11.17.2009 | 9:54 pm

    Hey muffin man: whatever works for you and your terrain is “respectable”. Everybody’s different and people ride in such varied terrain… besides, if they didn’t use an eccentric BB, you can’t just go switching cogs and chainrings with those vertical dropouts – it’s cool they found any reasonable combination that allowed for good chain tension.

  44. Comment by El Negro | 11.18.2009 | 9:57 am

    One word… unicycle

    Think about it…get rid of that pesky frame, chain, and climb away…

  45. Comment by Road Divit | 11.18.2009 | 10:56 am

    Since you won’t be seated you can peel off the clothes during your summer climbs

  46. Comment by bee$ | 11.18.2009 | 11:25 am

    I did the same thing with my fuji team issue. not as light as the Ibiss, but under 17 lbs. is good for me. with some puny little wheels I mught get lower, but I ride this all through upstate new york winters. 42-16 until the snow flies.

    another beautifull bike Fatty!!

  47. Comment by Dan O | 11.18.2009 | 6:30 pm

    I own the same bike and dig it. I do however run a complete drivetrain with multiple gears. I’m a whimp. Ibis makes some nice stuff.

    How are you adjusting the chain tension? Or does it magically fit as is?

    My lunch weighed more then 13 pounds (burp)…..

  48. Comment by the weak link | 11.18.2009 | 6:44 pm

    brakes are for woosies

  49. Comment by jake | 11.18.2009 | 9:29 pm

    Do you need a freewheel? If no seat then no coasting so no need for the absence of pedaling. By the time you get to the top you’ll have stretched some slack into that chain.

  50. Pingback by Texas Bicycling Blog and News Roundup for November 18th « | 11.18.2009 | 11:10 pm

    [...] Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Reductio ad Absurdum by fatty I have a Raleigh 925 steel SS road bike that I ride a lot. Unlike yours though, it’s not ridiculously light(actually not at all light – probably weighs as much as most people’s geared bikes). I’m digging the cool bars. I went with the on- one Mungo … Comment by Bicycle Bill | 11.17.2009 | 2:35 pm. And if you drill out the water bottle and used a Baggie for a liner, you might save another couple dozen grams. (btw, it works; I saw this once on TOSRV back in the late ’70s) … [...]

  51. Comment by m Burdge | 11.18.2009 | 11:28 pm

    so why does my Ibis ss weigh 27.5 lbs? Oh yeah, right–it is a 1991 steel mountain bike with drop bars. Still lovely to ride, though.
    m burdge

  52. Comment by diamondjim | 11.19.2009 | 12:47 am

    I’m confused. Why have a freewheel? Surely a fixed cog is lighter, and very much lighter once you’ve removed that redundant rear brake (and lever and cable). Gets you well into sub-13lb territory, nil absurdum.

  53. Comment by Fuzzy | 11.19.2009 | 6:23 am

    Fatty. The Ibissssssssss is one ssssssssssssssexy bike! I do howvere see the fault in your plan. Once you have climbed the mountain pass on the brakeless, saddle and seatpostless ssssssssssuper ssssssssssteed, how the hell are you gonna stop on the way down?

    A solve to the problem- go fixed dude, leg breaking.

  54. Comment by Darien | 11.19.2009 | 6:26 am

    Chain stretch is likely to become a problem. You may be better off putting in an eccentric rear hub. I personally like a 90 (50×15) inch gear. Makes those long downhills tolerable.

  55. Comment by Powerful Pete | 11.19.2009 | 7:21 am

    I like it. But if you are serious about it being a light bike, not only do you need to take off the bottle cages, seatpost and seat, but you should go the whole way:

    1. Why two brakes (or rather, go fixed with no brakes); and

    2. Get a set of Lightweights. Who cares if you spend all the disposable cash and the kids can’t go to college anyway…


    Just kidding, no really… Lightweights…

  56. Comment by Ka_Jun | 11.19.2009 | 4:03 pm

    Sick, that’s lighter than my 18 month old, and probably cries less.

  57. Comment by Mike Roadie | 11.20.2009 | 7:13 am



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