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Lighten Your Bicycle

Updated on March 14, 2011

Prioritized Weight Reduction

Power and weight are the two most important factors in a cyclist's ability to climb. Assuming two cyclists are able to produce equal amount of power, the cyclist with less total body and bicycle weight will climb the grade in shorter time. Focusing on the weight of the bicycle, it should be noted that there are two categories of components that make-up the total bike.   

The components in the first category are the stationary components which are generally not a part of the drive train of the. Example are: the frame, saddle, handlebar, etc. 

The components in the second category are generally dynamic or rotating parts. The reduction in the weight of the rotating parts contributes significantly more to a cyclist's climbing speed than the weight of the parts that are stationary. As a rule of thumb, gram-for-gram, weight reduction in rotating parts is three times more effective than the stationary parts in one's climbing speed. Examples of the dynamic or rotating parts are the wheels, cranks, pedals, chain, etc. 

Competitive bicycle components are usually expensive. In addition, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the price of a bicycle component and its weight, the lower the weight, the higher the price! Therefore it is important to prioritize the list of the components, being considered, by their net contribution to the rider's ability to climb faster.

The following is a list, in order of priority, representing the components on a bicycle which, based on their relative weights, contribute the most toward a cyclist's climbing speed.

1. Tires, 2. Tubes, 3. Rims, 4. Spokes, 5. Shoes, 6. Pedals, 7. Chain, 8. Cranks, 9. Cassettes, 10. Hubs, 11. Bottom Bracket, 12. Frame, 13. Forks, 14. Brakes, 15. Handlebar, 16. Saddle, 17. Stem, 18. Seatpost, 19. Skewers, 20. Rear derailleur, 21. Bottle cages, 22. Headset, 23. Front Derailleurs.


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    • vic profile image

      vic 9 years ago

      You are right. The tubes count too. As for the shifters, I would group them with all the remaining parts as weight saving opportunities. Thanks for your comments.

    • davidbelden profile image

      davidbelden 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Makes sense. Clearly those parts with rotational weight should be the first to go, since not only do you have to haul their weight up hill, but you also have to turn it, which makes the impact even greater. But I would think that at least on a road bike, it easier to save weight with lighter tubes rather than tires. However on a mountain bike, lighter tires definitely can save a full pound. You also didn't mention shifters. If you're truely doing a hill climb race, where uphill is all that counts, you could switch your front shifter from an integrated STI shifter/break lever to just a brake lever, then use a down-tube shifter. That can save a bunch of weight if you can find a light, pure break lever. Happy climbing!

    • profile image

      Coach Levi 10 years ago from Boston

      That's a great page for weight weenies to "build" their perfect bike!