Lance Armstrong's bike weighs less than a horseshoe. What?!

I’ve been watching some Discovery Channel this weekend, and they keep pimping their new show “The Science of Lance Armstrong,” set to air all week long.

One of the first things they mention in the spot, as a secret to his success, is (paraphrasing) “a bike that weighs less than a horseshoe.” According to the NHPA, a pitching horseshoe is no more than 2 lb, 10 oz. And “real” horseshoes are considerably smaller than the kind you throw in the back yard.

The UCI rules say that the bicycle can weigh no less than 6.8 kg. Even if this rule were not in place, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a 2 lb road bike any time soon.

So what could they possibly mean by that statement? I’ve heard it a half a dozen times, so I’m pretty sure I’m not hearing it wrong. Did someone not do their fact checking? Or am I misinterpreting the message?

And this, from the channel that brough us Mythbusters. Shame on them for spreading lies.

That’s probably the weight of a bare bike frame. Two pounds is about right for a high end carbon frame.

That is the weight of the frame, botched as usual by the discovery channel.

Or, they’re talking about one humungous horseshoe!

A Trek OCLV55 frame (56cm) weighs exactly 2lbs. That frame was developed for stage 16 of the 2004 Tour de France.

I wouldn’t say that Discovery Channel spreads lies, but they do have a tendency to “dumb down” their factoids so much that not even smart people can understand them. Like, on a recent episode of Extreme Engineering: “While building Hong Kong’s new airport, enough dirt and rock were removed to fill up two hundred Roman Colosseums.” WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?!?!?

That factoid, at least, seems fairly straightforward. The Colosseum is shaped like a giant bowl, so however much dirt and rock it would take to fill it, multiplied by 200, is how much material they removed.

Yeah, but it’s one of those sort of random comparisons that most people have no basis of reference to imagine anyway. It’s like when you hear things like, “Every year, Americans eat enough spaghetti to stretch from Akron, Ohio to a small cinnamon farm on Sri Lanka and back 6.3 times.” They’re just sort of meaningless and stupid.

That’s better than “They removed enough dirt to fill the Grand Canyon 1/10th full… but remember, it’s a big canyon.”

I always thought that the unit of large irregular measurements was the Belgium.

Enough stone to build a 3 foot wall around Belgium,


Rainforest enough to cover Belgium is destroyed every three years.


You can fit every person in the world on a space less than a tenth the size of Belgium.

I hate it when someone tries to use differant measurements when there is a perfectly good standard.

Do people in England really have a good grasp on the size of Belgium? I’m sure veterans of the Great War would’ve, but I think there are only about a dozen still living.

For land areas, we use states. Japan is somewhat smaller than California, France is 4/5 of Texas, etc. Of course that presumes that people have the foggiest idea of how big different states are (which I doubt), but at least there’s a metric.

Otherwise, I expect it’s the same everywhere - just pick a couple of cities. “New York City’s subway tracks stretch a total of 722 miles - enough to reach Chicago…”

So…Lance Armstrong’s bike weighs about the size of a small stone in Belgium?

They have a smaller standard for the stone in Belgium so the frame weighs something other than 1/7 stone there?

I don’t know, 200 Roman Coliseums seems pretty helpful to me. I mean, if you’re going to use a measurement that most people are familiar with, or can at least conceptualize (cubic feet or cubic meters) then the number of units is beyond our grasp. For example “10 million cubic feet”, well truthfully, 10 million of something is not a group I can visualize very well. Similarly, if you get the number of units down to something manageable, then the unit is not something most of us are familiar with. “200 cubic hectares.” Well, I can’t visualize a 2-dimensional hectare, much less a 3-dimensional one, so that doesn’t help much. Conversely, the Roman Coliseum is something most of us have seen or seen pictures of and are familiar with its size, and 200 of something is easy to work with. The two together work pretty well to me.

I don’t know - I’ve seen several pictures of it, but always against a back drop of other things I don’t know the size of. I’ve never seen it in person, which may be hindering me, but of the 270 million or so people that would watch this channel in the USA, I think I’m in the majority in not having seen it in person. What if I said 200 Silverdomes? That’s meaningful to me, but probably not most of the country.

Ergo I think 200 Coliseums is a rather pointless or abritrary measurement. And a complex measurement to boot. What’s the volume of a single Coliseum? You have to look that up, and divide the total volume into the volume of the original earth moved. If they were to say that the total earth moved would fill a cube one mile by one mile by one mile (yeah, I know “cube” and “x by x by x” are redudant; I’ll give some allowance for TV), that would be impressive. I mean, damn, one cubic mile? Is that not impressive? Or if it’s not that much, kilometers? Heck, I think a cube measured by football fields (recent thread) may be better than friggin’ Coliseums.

A bad anology is like a like a set of speakers.

Therefore, he’s a witch?

Even smaller if you chop 'em up just right! :smiley:

I’ll stick by my earlier position.

While I think the Coliseum is a good choice as far as trying to hit as wide an audience as possible, I’ll grant that Silverdomes, Astrodomes, Superdomes, RCA Domes, Tropicana Fields, Yankee Stadia, Madison Square (Cube) Gardens, or whatever would work for me. And yes, it is arbitrary, but then again, so is the entire exercise. They don’t really know how much dirt was moved other than maybe by knowing how many truckfulls were removed, if that was even tracked. Even then, you still have to look up the volume of a truck, make the assumption that all loads contained an equal volume, and then multiply volume by number of loads. As for a cubic mile, that falls into my cubic hectare argument: too big to be accuratley grasped.

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with Lance, horseshoes, or Belgium. What I’m more curious about is the punchline to the analogy/speakers joke.

The frame weighs that much - then the components, computer…

Watch some of the time trials - when the bike weighs less than the requirement, they add a lead weight on the bottom bracket to make sure the total bike isn’t less than the miminum weight.

I think very few people can grasp a cubic hectare.

What we really need is a Belgian Colosseum. That would work.

Um, are you being Whooshed, or am I?