The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 that we reviewed here on road.cc weighed in at just 6.35kg (14lb), well below the UCI’s minimum weight limit for racing of 6.8kg (14.99lb), and that got us thinking about the other super-lightweight road bikes out there. Here are six that barely trouble the scales.
The Trek Emonda SLR 8 that we reviewed a while ago weighed in at 6.27kg, (13.8lb) but Trek’s Emonda SLR 9 lops almost a pound off that for a claimed 5.88kg (12.96lb). The frame is said to weigh just 690g. With the options available through Trek's Project One customisation you can lop off a few more grams by replacing the Shimano Dura-Ace transmission with SRAM's wireless Red eTap.
Trek says that the Emonda boasts the most sophisticated tube optimisation of any bike ever, with both the tube shape and the laminate being designed to produce the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio possible.
The Emonda SLR 9 comes Bontrager carbon bar and carbon wheels and saddle.
Of course, that little lot doesn’t come cheap. You’re looking at a price tag of over nine grand.
Trek does offer far cheaper Emondas, though, with carbon-fibre options costing from £1,500 and aluminium complete bikes from £1,000.
Making a superlight bike with loads of the most advanced space age composites is all very well, but what if you've a soft spot for steel, like Oregon, USA framebuilder Rob English and his customer Irvin? You build this:
The frame is a marriage of True Temper steel tubes, including an S3 aero down tube, and carbon tubes from Enve. The use of carbon has allowed the weight of the complete bike to tip the scales at a low 5.8kg (13lb).
This build, from a few years ago now, used Shimano Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 shifting. A switch (sorry) to the electronic group du jour, SRAM Red E-Tap, would shave some more grams.
The attention to detail is what's stunning about this bike, as shown by the head tube area, above, which features the top and down tubes welded to a steel super-lug that encloses a carbon fibre tube.
Back in 2015 Merida unexpectedly grabbed some ultralight bragging rights with the Scultura Superlite Ltd, at just 4.55kg (10.0lb) a serious contender for the title of the lightest production bike ever made.
How did Merida make the Scultura so light? It uses 400 prepreg pieces and alternative fibre materials to make each finished frame, putting the strength (and weight) only where it’s needed for performance. The wall thicknesses are as low as 0.4mm. Merida said the layup process was so complicated that it takes somewhere from 11 to 15 hours to produce each frame.
The Scultura Superlite Ltd is built up with a SRAM Red 22 groupset while the handlebar, stem, saddle and seatpost all come from German lightweight specialist AX Lightness.
The cheapest Scultura available in the UK is the Scultura 5000 at £1,700, but the most affordable with a lightweight frame (not quite as light as the Scultura Superlite Ltd's) is the £3,600 7000-E (above).
Canyon boasted that the version of the Ultimate CF EVO 10.0 displayed at Eurobike weighed just 4.85kg (10.7lb). The German direct-selling specialist showed this featherweight special at trade shows, and has now made a slightly heavier version available to purchasers with deep pockets. At a claimed 5.8kg it's still light.
To achieve that low weight, Canyon says that it has lightened the stock Ultimate frame by using ultra high modulus carbon-fibre in the construction, and integrated a carbon fibre front mech hanger to save a few more grams. That work has produced a 665g frame and a 290g fork.
“The Ultimate’s new seatpost clamp configuration reduces weight by 15g,” says Canyon. “A further 6g saving is made possible thanks to a titanium press screw.”
If you want to get down to these weights, every gram counts.
For its attention-grabbing show bike, Canyon included Lightweight Obermayer wheels with CeramicSpeed bearings, THM Fibula brake calipers and Clavicula SE chainset, a Tune saddle and a SRAM Red 22 groupset.
The production version, above, comes with the SRM power meter version of the Clavicula crank, SRAM Red eTap shifting and SRAM Red brakes. The Lightweight wheels and Continental tyres are clinchers; the show bike probably used tubulars to save a few more grams.
The most affordable Ultimate in Canyon’s range is the Ultimate CF SL 7.0 (above) at £1,449. It weighs a claimed 7.6kg.
This AX Lightness Vial Evo Ultra show bike weighed an amazing 4.4kg. That’s 9lb 11oz.
The frame is carbon fibre and weighs as little as 600g – that’s for the Di2 version of the small sized model. The proprietary THM Scapula CT-X fork adds just 265g. The bike uses coated CeramicSpeed bearings.
The Vial Evo Ultra is fitted with AX Lightness’ own U 24T wheels. Like the frame, these are handmade in Germany.
Many of the other components are AX Lightness’ own too, including the Europa seatpost, the minimalist Leaf Plus saddle, along with the carbon stem, brakes and bottle cage.
THM provides the cranks while the chainrings are Praxis Works.
The AX Lightness Vial Evo Ultra has a price tag of €15,000. There’s no UK price set, but that converts to £13,140 at today’s exchange rate.
That show bike was, as they often are, an exercise in just how light you can make a road bike by throwing money at it. But AX Lightness also offers a slightly less expensive version with SRAM Red E-Tap groupset including wireless shifters.
This incarnation weighs 4.8kg, which is unarguably still impressively light, and costs €11,899 (£10,420). That's not exactly cheap, but the fact that it costs nearly £3,000 to save another 400g demonstrates just how deep into diminishing returns you are when you get this fanatical about shaving grams.
Focus claims that its Izalco Max Disc Red is the world’s lightest production disc-brake road bike. It isn’t anywhere near as light as the rim brake bikes above, but it comes in at 6.8kg (14.99lb).
The Izalco Max Disc is built around a 745g frame – just 10g heavier than Focus claims for the regular Izalco Max – and a 320g fork.
The bike uses Shimano’s Flat Mount open disc brake calliper standard and Focus’s RAT quick-release thru axles at both the front and rear.
The Focus Izalco Max Disc Red eTap, above, with SRAM's wireless electronic shifting is priced at £5,999. If that's a bit spendy for you, the 'budget' model is the Izalco Max Disc Ultegra Di2, a snip at £4,299. Focus doesn’t yet produce a more affordable alternative, although we hope that the brand will offer lower specced options over time.
It’s possible to build the Focus Izalco Max Disc frameset into a lighter bike if you wanted to. Focus showed us a frame decked out with a SRAM Red groupset and finished with some high-end carbon fibre components from the likes of Tune and Schmolke. That bike tipped the scales at just 6kg (13.23lb).
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.