Lightening the Load: An Unexpected Journey

When I wrote that first article on shaving weight off the bike I had only a vague idea that I could take a few hundred grams, lightening both the bike and my wallet (in quite unequal measures) at the same time. Well, those days of innocence are long gone and we’ve moved on. I now have a goal. Suddenly, this amusing game has become a serious quest for precious grams.


700 grams of gold, which I’ll probably need to buy all this stuff.

As you all are undoubtedly aware, the (seemingly outdated) legal limit for pro bikes, imposed by the UCI, is 6.8 kg (15 lbs). A helpful coach suggested last night on the phone that maybe I should shoot for that. Why not, I thought. How hard could it be? My bike weighs in at 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs) already, so I’d only need to take off 700 grams to get near illegality.

Turns out, it’s not as simple as it seemed last night. Here’s a rundown of upgrades I might…maybe…possibly be able to afford.

  1. Pedals: 30 grams
  2. Saddle: 124 grams
  3. Shoes: 150 grams
  4. handlebars: 100 grams
  5. Seatpost: 50 grams
  6. Stem: 50 grams
  7. Tires: 60 grams
  8. Tubes: 50 grams

stem-e1352216287611Total savings: 614 grams. Still legal and therefore unacceptable. I will continue to look at the most cost effective way to get the Infinito to fighting weight, but in the meantime, if any of you have suggestions, I am quite impressionable and naive still. Shoot!.

25 thoughts on “Lightening the Load: An Unexpected Journey

  1. Have you looked at bottle cages? Mine are 22g. Headset, etc. carbon and titanium.. I assume you’ve already got titanium gears. What about computers. While they’re great units like the Garmins are fairly weighty when we’re trying to cut weight. Lighter bar tape? Last thing I can think of is stripping the paint off the frame 😉

    • I was just looking at a photo of Rasmussen. That guy did NOT need to reduce bike weight! I don’t have a titanium cassette, by the way. I was looking at them this morning and they aren’t cheap, but then again, not much is. Good recommendations, thanks.

      A little on the psychology of justifications, Doc: One of the benefits of upgrading, I’ve decided, is that I can keep what I’m not going to use, then transfer them back to the Infinito when I make my next frame upgrade and build my next bike. Because I’m sure that won’t be too far off…

      • Just a note on the cassette. I’ve been running a Record unit but I’m switching to Chorus just because it’s all steel and this is more durable, so better for training. Maybe if the budget allows you could drop in a super-light casette when you do your pre-Haute service.

        • Another great suggestion, and since I just got the tools to take my cassette off (and have done it…and it’s easy) it’ll be an simple swap. Now I need to go and price those Record cassettes again…gulp.

  2. Welcome to the slippery slope Gerry. Here’s how you do it. I actually have to add weight to make my bike legal. If I used carbon tubulars, this bike would weigh (6.19g (13.6lbs), but who needs the hassle. To get a bike around 15lbs, you have to start with light Frame/Fork/Wheels/Groupo and then work on individual components. Although this bike is light I’ve used the very best components that don’t compromise safety and stability. Every component of this bike has been hand picked specifically for Haute Route, taking into consideration the extreme mountain environment. Good luck! Enjoy the Ride.

    Wheel Set: 2Quik 38mm Carbon – 1,512g (light, aero and stable in high mountain cross winds)
    Rim Tape Velox Cloth Rim Tape – 32g
    Rossetti tapered Carbon Fork – 310g (very stable)
    Rossetti Murcielago Frame – 57cm – 1,101g (extremely stiff)
    Rossetti Carbon Fiber – Seat Post – 153g
    Rossetti Seat Post Clamp – 48g
    3T Compact Ergosum Team Carbon Handlebar (44mm) – 201g
    FSA Carbon Stem – 130mm – 140g
    Bottom Bracket – CAMPAGNOLO BB30 Ceramic ULTRA TORQUE – 29g
    Shifters – CAMPAGNOLO SUPER RECORD – 330g
    Cables & Housing – CAMPAGNOLO SUPER RECORD – 210g
    F Derrailleur – CAMPAGNOLO SUPER RECORD – 72g
    R Derrailleur – CAMPAGNOLO SUPER RECORD – 155g
    Cassette – CAMPAGNOLO SUPER RECORD (Titanium) – 194g
    Fizik Arione Saddle (Carbon Rails) – 169g
    Head set VP-A62ACM2 – 75g
    Handle bar tape Cork – 60g
    BONTRAGER PRESTA TUBES (2 x 65g) – 130g
    MICHELIN PRO4 Tires (2 x 200g) – 400g
    FSA – Top Cap – 40g
    Carbon Headset Spacer .5 cm – 10g
    Speedplay Zero TI Pedals – Red – 167g
    Token Ti Axle Quick Release Skewer (set) – 37g
    ZIPP – Black Rubber Brake blocks for Carbon Braking Surface – n/a (included in brake weight)
    BONTRANGER Carbon Cage (2) – 50g

    TOTAL WEIGHT – 6.704 Grams (14.75lbs)

    • That’s a great list to have at my disposal. Thanks, Rob! I’m slightly surprised that you are just under the limit, though, but I guess you weren’t shooting necessarily for ‘light’ but for the proper component. Still, with your lighter gruppo and frame I would have expected it to be far lighter somehow. At least you’re illegal, and that’s all that counts!

      • There’s lots of lighter components out there, but I don’t want to compromise relaibility, stability and possibliy safety. Also, I don’t want to be too much under the 15lbs minimum. It is afterall the rule.

  3. Guys, pls don´t overdo it. you still have to get down from the alps in one peace. Especially, if you are not well expierenced in descending: be carefull with too light Wheels. And use Rimtape with any non-tubular. Your tubes will last longer.

    Robert, what do you think of an Powermeter for better pacing instead less 300 gr?

    And did anyone think of an 30/48 or tripple crankset?

    • Thanks Carsten. Good comment about the wheels. I can’t afford to get really light ones, so no worries about that! I used to have a triple, but really – and this is just my opinion – if you are going to do the Haute Route you should be strong enough to push a compact. Since shifting over I haven’t found the need for any more gears and I’ve done some massive climbs. Then again, I haven’t done 7 days in a row of them!

      • Gerry, I agree. I was just thinking about day six and seven. As I remember my Pyrenees Tripp (with 6 kg Equipment) I was longing for lower gear the last days. Later I will check the cols. Depending on the real percentages I will decide between 110mm, 94mm or triple. The crankset ist anyway an open issue of update on my Bike. right now it is an SRAM Force on an campy Bike. no-go

    • Hi Carsten – you’re so right. Going too light generally compromses reliability and stablity at high speed. 1500gm wheels with a lower profile rim are very stable in the high Alp mountains where the winds can be very high. As for Powermeters, the extra 300gm is a non-issue. I looked into SRM last month and the Campy Super Record crank set was $5000. Even the Power Tap solution would cost around $1000. I’ve been racing for over 30 years without it, so it’s hard to justify the high cost to have real time Power. Regarding gearing, everyone is different and most riders can generally handle compact gears (50/34) with a slightly wider range of gears in their cassette. I guess the best peice of advice is to target your bike weight close to 15lbs with reliable components that have been ridden in all conditions and terrains.

  4. have been following your blog for some time and have been enjoying the journey. I’m not totally convinced on the weight saving obsession as your current set up is already very light. Personally given the choice i’d rather spend the money on some yoga classes or a TRX kit. Get a good core and you’ll fly up and down the mountains. That said as you’re in France have you checked out You’ll possibly find what you’re looking for second hand at a fraction of the retail price.
    I recently picked up a carbon Arione saddle for €30 that normally retails around €200. I don’t know that i’d ever buy any bike kit new again since i discovered the site. I’ve bought a number of bikes and accessories there including wheels and sold stuff on using it as well.

    Good luck with the training.

    • Great comment, Phil. My friend John uses Troc Velo (but to sell things), so I’ve at least heard of it. I usually never buy 2nd hand, but there’s really no philosophical reason behind it. I’ll take a look and see what I can find, thanks. And yes, of course there’s more I can do with the body that could, as you said, get me up the hill faster. But hey, where’s the fun in that!?

      Do you live in Paris, by the way? Your moniker seems to suggest it…

      • Hi Gerry,

        yes I’m a Brit in Paris. I’d really encourage you to do the core work over anything once you’ve got a decent set up on the bike dialled in.The riding part of training is fairly easy because thats what we want to do. Be out on the bike. But in my opinion it’s the stuff ‘autour de ca’ that really makes a difference. Diet and decent rest included.
        I usually do 3 rides a year. One hill climb, a standard sportive and a cyclo cross race. I put a lot into all three and they demand different kinds of training but at the heart of it for me is the core work and a lot of stretching. I’m a bit older than you at 52 and I just can’t function without it. Give it a go for a month just using workouts off ‘you tube’. A stability ball and decent medicine ball is all you need. And I find it more fun than using the trainer.

        • Thanks again, Philip. I’ve done a few core exercises from YouTube and they almost killed me, i.e. they must be good for me. I’ll see about working some into the program next season.

  5. I spent most of the morning think about this and I’m just going to add a couple of things after which ‘je ne t’embetrais plus’
    In fact you’ve hit it on the head by saying some work outs killed you. if you stick with it the gains will be huge. Your goals next year especially with the consecutive days of mega climbs will demand a very strong lower back. The demands of instant recovery so you can do it day after day will benefit from a good core program. The Haute Route event sounds like something pro riders would do ( my 3 rides a year are mickey mouse compared to that ) and I don’t know of any modern day pro who doesn’t incorporate core work into his training. I don’t know if you caught the great documentary “A year in Yellow” ? But what did I see in the corner of Bradley Wiggins home gym ? A kettle bell. For his core ! Voila je t’embetrais plus !

    Good luck with 2013. I’ll be tuning in.

    • ‘Bother’ me all you want, Phil! I used to do a lot of dragonboating when I lived in Singapore, which requires a very strong core (all the power comes from it), so I at least think I know how to go about getting there. I’ve totally neglected this for the past 4 years, apart from the occasional crunch. It can’t hurt (in a bad way..) to throw in a few workouts here and there, I’m sure, so thanks again for the comment.

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