Master of the bicycle

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It’s not unusual for cyclists to walk into John Grenier’s bicycle shop, buy a $4,000 bike and eventually add another $5,000 worth of high-performance carbon and titanium components.

That’s because a cyclist’s enemies are weight and wind, said Grenier, owner of Rainbow Bicycle and Fitness. The minimum competitive weight set by the World Cycling Federation is 6.8 kilograms – about 15 pounds.

The starting point is a composite carbon-fiber frame weighing 2 pounds.

Add a carbon-fiber wheel upgrade, carbon-fiber handle bars, titanium pedals, a super-light saddle and seat post and composite crank arms, and you get the idea of what it takes to make a race-worthy bike. But such upgrades can make your wallet $5,000 lighter.

For the typical rider, Grenier advises that simple weight loss is the best way to become faster, enjoy cycling more and avoid breaking the bank on a dream bike. A super-light bike will most benefit riders who are already down to 4- or 5-percent body fat.

“Six-time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong can take any one of the $700 bikes off the shelf and kick all of our butts,” Grenier said.

Still, in the elite circles in which Grenier competes, it’s not unusual to show up at a race and see a dozen $10,000 bicycles circling the starting area to warm up for a race, he said, proving that competitive cyclists are willing to spend big bucks for a bit more speed.

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