Lightening the Load

Coach Rob and I have been talking ‘shoes’ recently, after he bought a new pair for the Haute Route next summer.


If you think these are red, wait till you see his bike! Anyway, these shoes are only 221 grams each, a ‘full’ 79 grams lighter than mine. It got me thinking of implementing yet another fun and expensive weight-loss program for my Bianchi and me.

So, to start with, it’s obvious I’ve got around 150 grams to gain in footwear. I can probably get these shoes (or something similar) for €300, so €2/gram.

The shoes I’ll think more about, but the saddle is changing, no question. I’m still riding the stock seat that came with the Infinito, which is unacceptable and far too cushy for an elite event like the Haute Route. I haven’t decided on the saddle yet, but here’s one I’ve got my eye on: the Fi’zi:k Antares 00, in the future to be known as ‘the thing that makes my ass hurt all the time’. Damage = €235. Savings = 124 grams, or €1.90/gram.


The most obvious ways to lose weight on a bike are:

  1. Change the frame itself (I can’t do this yet without risking marital harmony significantly).
  2. Upgrade the wheel set (done this year)
  3. Ditto for the transmission (accomplished with the wheels)

So I need to look more closely for those extra grams I’m carrying around.


This pedal (Look KEO Blade Ti) would save a whopping 80 grams, but more importantly, I think, give me a much large surface area for more efficient transfer of power (notice the justifications starting to come out already…), not to mention more stiffness than my Look Classics have. €245. €3/gram.

I’d be curious to hear what anyone else has to say on the matter (as long as you keep the ‘lose weight, fatty’ comments to yourselves). Weight weenies, shower us with your knowledge!

24 thoughts on “Lightening the Load

  1. What about switching all those random bolts in various places to titanium if they aren’t already. But I’d be weighing up the cost / benefit – these weights will be much more easily and cheaply dropped as your training progresses. You might even find it beneficial to be able to exercise weight saving options just before or during the ride, so you’ll train with more weight but appreciate the difference when it’s most needed.

    • That’s a great comment, Dr. James, and I’ve often thought about that as being beneficial (i.e. training with extra weight). But if it’s a saddle, for example, I’m sure I’d like several months on it before hitting that race.

      And bolts…now we’re talking!

      • If you find a good supplier let me know. I’ve had a little bit of a look but my technical knowledge is very limited. Seat and shoes definitely need to be well worn in. Might even be worth budgeting for a second pair of shoes so you have a backup in the event of really wet weather.

        • I suppose I could bring along the Mavics that I now ride with as my back-ups. They are actually still in very good condition, even after 20,000 km. Great idea again.

  2. The world of being a cycling weight weenie is a very slippery slope indeed. Whenever a bike weighs at or below 15lbs, if you’re not careful you may start to compromise other important characteristics, like stability, braking power and overall reliability, to mention a few. Having the lightest bike that doesn’t get you to the finish line is of no use to anyone. Also, a bike doesn’t move unless there’s a rider onboard and the overall weight combination of rider and machine is what counts. Besides, attention to what you eat will probably save significantly more than those titanium water bottom cage screws I recently purchased. That’s why I say, cyclists are more weight conscience than international supermodels.

    The biggest myth about bike weight is that rotating weight makes a bigger difference than static weight. So things like Wheels, Cranks, Pedals, Shoes are the obvious areas to lighten up the bike because they all rotate where angular momentum comes into play, and stem, bars, bottom bracket, saddle, freewheel are all secondary considerations. The fact is, angular momentum only has an advantage when you accelerate. And when you’re doing a steady tempo climb up hill and riding your own cadence the physics doesn’t really care if the weight savings are found in the wheels, frame, bars or saddle. It’s only when you’re riding in a pack and someone jumps that there is a very small advantage to the guy with the lighter wheels. No matter how hard the advocates for lightweight rotating components argue, the physics tells the truth and total weight of bike and rider is all that really counts. In fact, it’s been found that wheels with ceramic bearings will make a bigger difference than the same wheels with standard stock steel bearings. So my recommendation before buying a lightweight saddle is to upgrade the bearings in your wheels and bottom bracket with ceramic to reduce the rolling friction. It’s not as sexy, but certainly better bang for the buck.

    Another thing I see which is confusing and doesn’t apply directly to you, but a consideration when you change your frame. 1000 gram and lighter frames are everywhere now, and I find most cyclists pay an unnecessary and in some cases a significant premium to ride one of a popular brands, when in fact you can purchase a little known brand for ¼ of the price, thereby allowing you to justify the very best lightweight and reliable components.

    Or as my wife says as she looks on with amusement as I fuss over every extra gram on my bike, “Why don’t you just take a big dump before you ride”. She has a pont.

    • See, this is why I blog. It’s too hard to learn all these things on my own. I remember you talking to me recently about upgrading to ceramic bearings on your wheels, was it? Sounds like a sensible decision and I’m looking the Campagnolo site right now to see if/how to do this with my wheelset and Crankset. But I’ll still upgrade the saddle!

      Thanks for the great info.

  3. Sounding to me like a Titanium frame will solve all your problems…..mmmmm titanium!
    On another point, have you considered centre of gravity? The higher your centre of gravity the more unstable you will be, think of a high sided van and a sports car going over the same winding road, and you will get the picture. The answer is a lighter helmet! Oh yes indeedy, there are some very tasty looking carbon fibre helmets out there at the moment, and the best part is that they are expensive! But there will be some grams to be shaved in this area as well.
    Just on ceramic bearings, be careful with the installation, as they have been known to crack if not properly installed. They tend not to spin too well when they’re not spherical!
    But I think that the final piece of advice must indeed go to Mrs Coach. Very sage advice 🙂

    • Thanks, Steve. Good tip on the installation. I just watched a video of changing the bearings and it seems I need a new tool or two, to boot! And ‘helmet’ – check.

  4. Once you start fussing over the minutiae it’s a slippery slope to bike geekdom! Having said that, I wish I had the funds to make all the mods that I dream about. I updated my wheel set last year to the Campy Eurus which was a huge improvement over the FSA wheels I had before and I am convinced I am faster as a result. My pedals are the next thing to change, but only because they are Shimano and the rest of my bike is Campy (Chorus)…..don’t know how that happened but there we are!

    • James, you’re spot on. My original wish list has doubled since yesterday. I have Eurus wheels now, too (and Chorus), and am now (thanks, Coach..) considering upgrading the bearings in them to Campy’s ceramic ones, which, of course, requires at least two special tools.

      Like you, my wheel upgrade was well worth it and I noticed the difference immediately. I’m not convinced that’ll be the same for the little ones that are coming…inevitably. What pedals are you going to upgrade to, by the way?

  5. Not to the point of the post, but their photo did lead off this story. Really, really cool looking shoes. Very sharp. And they’d look great on my bike. And I’ve been ogling them in ads this fall. But never, ever, will I have an excuse to actually buy them. So I’m glad you did, Rob!

  6. Hello everybody! Found this blog via Haute route Facebook. I`will be one of the MAMILs who will ride the Haute Route Alps the first time in 2013. I´m 44 and the 10 days of will be my familiys present for my 45th birthday.
    Living in Hamburg, Germany I rarly see ayn Mountains, so the haute route will be a real adventure. What gives me confidence is an ride allong the Pyrenees 4 yeaers ago. Togetter with an friend we went from east to west selforganized and with additional 8 kg of equipment.

    In the last 12 month I mad some real improvements in my cycling, which I like to share with you. First I lost several kg weight. Tis issue was discussed here already. Second: I went to a real good bike fitter. I,m riding for over 20 years, but this gave me a blast!!
    Third: I got some very fine insoles made. Less problems with knees and back and I check on an powermeter at the bike fitter: it really makes a diffrence of several watts.

    All this together increased my ability to train longer, more often and with more comfort. A long distance Team Time trial (280 km) was no big deal anymore.

    For 2013 I investet in an Powertap. It will put more Weight on the Bike, but I hope to learn a lot…

    • Welcome to the discussion, Carsten! We are the same age, so maybe I will call next year’s race a ‘birthday present’ for myself, too 😉

      I nearly did a race in Hamburg last year, but just didn’t have the money or time to get up there (Vattenfall). I hear it’s pretty flat where you are, so I’m sure climbing in the Pyrenees was a great experience for you. I don’t think there is any real substitute for the high mountains…than the high mountains.

      Great advice on the bike fit. I’ve been thinking about that recently, but not sure if I could find somebody nearby who I would want to trust to do it. I have heard great things about getting it done properly, so maybe I should take a closer look. Where did you have yours done? Hamburg?

      I’m eager to hear more about the Powertap, too, so let me know how it helps your training.

      • Yes, there are just a few moderate climbs around. But like you know, the riders make a race hard. I´ve been riding the Vattenfall Cyclassics the last 12 years. If you go for 100 oder 150km with an average of 40 Km/h you have to do your Homework… But to be true, weight is an minor problem. So this is my main objectiv this winter…

        The Bikefitter I know is near hamburg. The Recommondation ist to look for the Serotta or Specialized guys
        Or look for an
        Specialized BodyGeometry Fit Center on there website

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