Aerodynamics might rule on the flat but superlight bikes kick ass on the climbs and here are some of the most interesting that we spotted at last weekend’s National Hill Climb Championships on the Old Shoe climb out of Llangollen, North Wales.
As well as selecting their equipment carefully, riders frequently modify components to shave off those vital grams. Function is all important here with comfort just a minor concern in an event that lasts just a few minutes.
Andrew Feather won the men's event with Illi Gardner the fastest woman.
All pics James Clarke, Just James Media www.justjamesmedia.com
Andrew Feather won the men’s event on a Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod frame (2019) in a super-lightweight build. The complete bike is just 5.3kg.
Like many hill climb specialists, Feather goes for a rim brake bike for weight saving over a disc brake setup. He uses Hunt Hill Climb carbon wheels – which we told you about here – with a claimed weight of under 1,000g, fitted with Vittoria Crono tyres, and Rotor Aldhu cranks with an INspider power meter.
Feather’s bike is fitted with a 38T chainring and an 11-28T cassette, alongside a SRAM Red rear derailleur.
Like many hill climbers, Feather forgoes bar tape for the most marginal of marginal gains.
Ed Laverack got a top-5 finish aboard this Factor O2 VAM disc brake bike – read our review here – fitted with Black Inc’s Twenty climbing wheelset. He has a 23mm Pirelli P Zero Velo TT tyre up front and a 28mm Hutchinson Fusion 5 at the rear for extra grip, both fitted with Tubolito’s superlight tubes – check out our review.
The tapeless handlebar/stem is from Black Inc too and has a 320g claimed weight (420 mm x 110 mm).
Like many hill climbers, he does without a padded saddle in favour of a pared-down carbon shell. This is a Selle Italia SLR Tekno pushed as far forward as possible on the seatpost.
Laverack’s complete bike is 6.1kg.
Jude Taylor finished 14th in the men’s event on this Cipollini Bond 2 that comes in at just under 6.5kg with Cane Creek EE brakes in a limited edition matching colour.
Taylor says that he has applied Molten Speed Wax to the Shimano Dura-Ace chain in his slow cooker and that the lights cost £1 each.
Richard Stoodley says that his Dream Crusher bike currently weighs around 5.1kg although it has been as low as 4.85kg previously.
It is built around a Trigon RCQ29 HM-Carbon frame in bare carbon and stripped of anything like badges to save weight.
Rather than going for a drop handlebar, Stoodley prefers a cutdown Trigon Cero Aero integral bar with SRAM’s eTap Blips & BlipBox taking care of the shifting. The SRAM Rival shifters aren’t really shifters anymore because the internal gear mechanisms have been removed.
He has saved weight by dremelling the SRAM Rival brake levers, and drilling material out of the Trigon carbon seatpost, the seatpost clamp, and the plastic saddle.
Stoodley uses a Rotor 3D+ CX1 chainset and used a 34T chainring with a 14-29T cassette that you'd usually find being used for junior racing.
Richardson not only goes without handlebar tape, she even chooses to ditch the hoods on her levers and substitute a little tape.
The complete bike weighs just 5.0kg!
The rear derailleur is Shimano R6800 Ultegra while the other drivetrain components are next level down Shimano 105. That’s a 38T chainring matched up to an 11-28T cassette.
The chopped-down handlebar is fitted with a right-hand shifter to operate the rear derailleur, but no shifter on the right – just a brake lever.
The lights are 3D printed and are about as minimalist as it’s possible to be. The complete bike comes in at 5.4kg.
Leon Newton rode on a classic Berry steel frame with a fixed gear and a single brake up front. Check out those skinny tubes. Loads of style points here!
Adam Kenway’s bike is fitted with Lightweight’s superlight – and super-expensive – Gipfelsturm Weiss wheelset with white spokes and a claimed weight of 1,025g.
Unusually, there’s a Campagnolo SuperRecord crankset paired with a Shimano Dura-Ace rear derailleur.
Kenway has chopped the drops off his handlebar and removed the bottle cage bolts, front derailleur mount, and cable ports. It all counts.
This Cannondale belongs to Fran Eades of Islington CC. Check out the wheels...
They’re Enve SES 2.2 rims with Extralite Cyber hubs, Extralite Streeters skewers, and Berd’s superlight polymer spokes. Said to be the world's lightest, these can save over 150g per wheel. The complete wheelset weight is 960g.
Which super lightweight bike is your favourite? Let us know which one you'd choose in the comments section below...
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 over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.