Throughout the Tour's mountain stages (like Stage 12's ascent of Mount Ventoux), you will see the majority of the peloton switch their focus from ‘Aero' to ‘Lightweight' equipment. What does this mean?
Lightweight kit is exactly that, lightweight! It prioritises reducing mass over all else; so that you, and your bike, have the best possible power to weight ratio.
Lightweight kit isn't just for those with pro contracts, though. Whether powering up your local hill, or racing up Alpine passes; choosing the right lightweight equipment, will make your climbing easier, more comfortable and faster!
In this guide, we take a look at the most effective ways to save weight from your bike and kit; and the real effect that this can have on your riding!
Lightweight cycle clothing and accessories
Your clothing is important, no matter what the season; but in summer, people tend to relegate it to the back of their upgrade list. Clothing is an important tool though, especially when you take into account all the different materials, fits and weights that brands have to offer.
Made famous by Team Sky's Chris Froome, mesh materials are quickly becoming a popular summer option. Although a full-mesh aero suit is probably too much for most recreational riders; many jerseys are now using mesh fabrics to maximise breathability and reduce weight. A good example is the new dhb ASV Race Hyper Light Short Sleeve Jersey - it is superlight, but also aerodynamic; whilst the Hydrofit moisture management technology will keep you cooler, drier and faster - A great summer upgrade!
Helmets and cycling shoes are another area that weight is often stripped from. The Giro Empire SLX Road Shoe are well known for their feathery weight; at just 175g, they are over half the mass of lower end shoes!
For your head, the Kask Mojito Sport Road Helmet is a super popular option, and weighs in at a mere 220g; but with great ventilation and an awesome range of colours!
When it comes to stripping weight from your ride, your wheels are often the most effective upgrade you can make! We all know that reducing rotational weight makes acceleration easier (more so than reducing static weight); but when climbing, a focus on lightweight wheels, tyres and inner tubes, will save you energy whether your climbing at a steady pace, or putting in those late attacks!
Simple changes to tyres and inner tubes can save almost 160g from your bike; which might not sound that much, but remember that rotational weight has an amplified effect! Light tyres don't always mean sacrifice, our best selling Continental Grand Prix 4000S II Folding Road Tyre Twin Pack offers great puncture resistance, low rolling resistance and world famous grip, all in a super lightweight package.
If you are really serious about improving your climbing times, a new wheelset should be your go-to upgrade. It's a cliché that your wheels make the biggest difference to your bike, because it's true! Tubular wheelsets have been the racers choice for many years; not only because are they lighter, but they also offer better all-round performance!
This Fast Forward F2R Carbon Tubular 240s Wheelset weighs only 1125g!
When a brand sponsors a professional team, they not only get exposure in the media, but they also get a constant feedback from the team - which helps to aid product development and evolution. This is particularly noticeable in componentry, where Pros are constantly looking for lighter, stronger and more comfortable options.
Carbon components, such as stems, seatposts and handlebars, offer a greater strength-to-weight than aluminium; but they also have unique qualities like vibration dampening, which can make them more comfortable for prolonged rides.
Carbon components are expensive, but they offer good value in terms of weight saving; for example, if you take the setup of a FSA OS - 99 CSI Stem, matched with a Fizik Cyrano 00 Carbon Road Handlebar, and a ULTIMATE USE Evo Seat Post; then you can save over 300g over their aluminium cousins. You could pay thousands of pounds on saving that from your frameset!
Not only do they make your bike look fantastic, but lightweight carbon components can also be moulded in unique ways; producing more ergonomic and aerodynamic shapes, whilst maintaining the low weight!
It's worth checking out our range of carbon cycling components, if you're looking to upgrade!
Most World Tour teams will have a selection of bikes to choose from; usually consisting of an aero and a lightweight model. Interestingly though, many GC riders will often just ride their lightweight bikes throughout the whole Tour; this is because they often 'feel' better, and they can be easier for the mechanics to work on.
The UCI weight limit for bikes is set at 6.8kg, and you will often find GC riders attempting to get as close to that figure as possible. In fact, it is common for mechanics to have to add weights to rider's bikes, to keep them above the 6.8 limit! Riders will run the same frame, but often change the depth of wheels depending on the stage profile.
Any bike, for amateur riders, that is below 7.5kg is a seriously lightweight! The Eastway Emitter R1 (Ultegra Di2 - 2016) weighs around 7.2kg; meaning it is a Professional level weight, even with Shimano Ultegra Di2 gears!
A lightweight bike will be faster uphill - that's basic physics; but it will feel faster than a heavier bike too; making climbing far more enjoyable and helping you push even harder!
If you ride anything other than just flat time trials, then lightweight equipment will likely make your ride faster, and more enjoyable!