When I was developing my hill climbing bike, I used to spend hours working out the best way to save weight on a bike. I developed a system for calculating the cost per gram saved. Among the best things to change was buying a lightweight saddle and seat post. This offered the best way to save weight for the least money. The most expensive way to save weight would be to do something like upgrade from an Ultegra groupset to a Dura Ace groupset. Here the cost is very high and the weight saving low. Make sure you prioritise and remember to do the most efficient changes first.
Hill climb bike = 5.7 kg
Deda Elementi Ultra Seatpillar weight 260g only £23.99
Selle Italia SLR XP £53.99 weight 190 grams link
My favourite low weight saddle, is this Tune Kor Vumm. It only weighs 85 grams, and costs £200. However, it is surprisingly comfortable for an 85 gram saddle. So comfortable, I use it for seven hour rides! This was a good value weight saving – 200grams lighter than many standard saddles. See: Tune saddles
A good clincher pair of lightweight wheels. Mavic Ksyrium SL Wheel Set £527.40 weight 1485g link
Wheels are an excellent way to save weight. It is argued that saving weight on wheels count as double. This is due to the fact that when you accelerate rotating weight counts as double. If you can save 1kg from your wheels, it will really make a difference.
For my hill climb bike, I went for a Zipp 202 rear and Lightweight rim / hope hub (350grams). However, this did become quite expensive. Both super-light weight wheels ended up costing a total of £2,000.
Another good wheelset to consider is Zipp 404 – it is a very lightweight wheelset, but very versatile and can be used in time trials / road races.
See further reading on: Lightest road wheels
Tyres / Tubulars
Another good way to reduce weight is through careful choice of tyres / tubulars. The only drawback to getting a super-light weight tyre is that this usually means greater risk of punctures. I use Vittoria Evo Corsa tubs for racing. They only weigh 165 grams, but are more susceptible to punctures. If it’s really wet or gritty I’d rather be using the slightly heavier Continental Competition. Best road cycling tyres
Shimano Ultegra offer best value. Shimano Dura Ace will save a few more grams but is comparatively more expensive. To get Dura Ace can be several hundred pounds more.
The lightest pedals are Speedplay pedals. Speedplay Titanium come in at 205 grams cost about £125 link
Other companies have been catching up with Speedplay – Look produce some pedals which are only slightly heavier than Speedplay now.
Carbon Fibre offer a lightweight range of frames, but, some Aluminium and Scandium frames are not much heavier and are generally cheaper. Having said that carbon fibre frames seem to be coming down in price.
Low weight Cables.
Nice and easy way to reduce weight. Use specific low weight cables which save a few grams
Carbon Stems / Handlebars
If you are running basic aluminium handlebars and stems, switching to light carbon fibre components, can help save considerable weight (at least 300grams) for a relatively good value trade.
Free ways to reduce weight on a bike
- Run single chain ring (see pic above) – or even use Fixed bike with no gears.
- Remove handlebar tape
- Drill holes (like 1970s riders used to do) Note: not advisable with carbon fibre!
- Cut down stems (making sure you keep minimum height in frame to prevent stress.
- Make your clothing lighter (not really bike, but it is same difference. (e.g. cutting off excess straps on your cycle shoes)
- Make sure cables are not unnecessarily long.
- You can always go on a diet!
How Important is saving weight on a bike?
- Alpe D’Huez 14 km distance
- average gradient of 8.1% (max gradient 10.6%)
- Height gain 1071 metres
- power 400 watts
- 1Kg saved = 24.16 seconds.
- Save 2.2 kg off your bike and you will go up Alpe d’Huez about a minute faster!