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So far it’s a solo ride.

Making Weight: Optimizing Your Bike for a Hill Climb

Derek Yarra |

Here’s my “road bike” as I ride it for daily use. As you can see, I’m anything but a weight weenie, riding with big tires for frequent ventures into the dirt and essential tools in my saddle bag - plus my beloved Silca hand pump. But that’s because I like to keep my bikes optimized for their primary task. And as I just mentioned, my day in and day out “road” rides tend to lean more towards all-terrain, and I haven’t had many pure road races on my schedule lately. So for everyday riding and even certain races, this configuration has kept me quite happy.

bike check 1

However when the needs and demands of the bike change, I'm absolutely going to make sure to shift my set up to match and with our hill climb race on the horizon, it was high time to change things up. The Officially Serious Time Trial is a pretty specific type of effort, which means there’s a lot of room to fine-tune my bike for the race. Of course, the perfect scenario would be to build a dedicated climbing bike from the ground up. As fun as that would be, it’s a far more practical option to take my beloved Mosaic AR and configure it for the race!

Step One: Take off whatever you don’t need

For a race like this, flats or mechanicals are a pretty low likelihood, and if I do flat, fixing it roadside isn’t going to keep me in contention, so dropping the saddle bag and hand pump is an easy (and free) first step. Additionally, the race is hardly long enough to need more than one water bottle, if even that, so one of those bottle cages can go.

Another freebie is heave-hoeing surplus mass. I realized my seat post is far longer than necessary, and lopping off the excess could save some 20g. But if you’re now mentally sawing your bike in new and exciting places, don’t get too carried away, as going too short can cause issues and potentially damage your frame. Instead, leave at least enough length to cover the seatpost and the manufacturer’s minimum insertion requirements. And don’t forget the steerer tube! If your position is set and you’re sitting bella in sella, then slamming your stem can shave further grams.

hill climb weigh in 2

And finally, clean your bike! Not only will a freshly cleaned and lubed bike perform better, but collected dirt can really add up, so strip it all away.

Step Two: Quick and easy changes

On my bike, there are several target things that seem innocuous but are hiding a fair bit of weight. For example, I love my titanium King Cages, but I found a Tune carbon cage that shaved just about 20g.

Next up, the Thompson seat collar on my Mosaic is pretty but hardly a light option. At AC, we recently brought in some insanely light Darimo carbon collars. Seriously, the clamp weighs a mere 4g. This little swap took 24g off the bike. Staying in the seat zone, I realized my Most saddle is far from the lightest, so I figured I’d go all in and throw on a freakishly light Berk. These saddles are wild at just 87g, which is a whopping 145g lighter than my Most.

weight in seat post and collar

Another significant change is my pedals. I’ve been riding a set of the rare Pavé Speedplays, which you’d think would be pretty light given that their key feature is the absence of material, but they’ve still got steel spindles which carry some heft. Swapping out to the latest Nano models dropped 56g for the set.

weigh in pedals


Step Three: Wheels and Tires

At this point, we’ve made some significant changes. From the initial weigh-in at 20.04lbs, my bike is now at 17.86. That said, I’m sure you’re all thinking the same thing. What about those big thick tires? I grabbed a set of 28c Vittoria Corsas, but before mounting them up, I wanted to compare the weight to the René Herse 32c tires currently on my bike. Much to my surprise, the Vittorias were only 5g lighter per tire. At that point, I figured I might as well go all in. My custom set of Hed V4 rims with White Industries hubs have been a fantastic, durable, and versatile wheelset. However, they’re not the lightest and certainly not the quickest.

In my mind, for an uphill road effort, nothing can beat the Lightweight Obermayer Evos. Yes, Lightweights are expensive, and there are in fact lighter wheels out there, but the benefits of Lightweight are so much more than just sheer weight. There truly is no other wheelset that delivers the same snap and responsiveness as a Lightweight Obermayer. It's a sensation that you just have to experience to understand (Which is why we're actually preparing a Lightweight demo program. Get in touch to inquire!) and given any choice, there's no other wheelset I'd pick for a race like the OSTT.

tires wheels

Another easily overlooked piece to the wheel system is the inner tubes. Yes, tubeless is very popular right now, but clinchers with inner tubes can be preferable for light road tires in more traditional sizes (30c or smaller). And with that in mind, all tubes are not created equal. Lately, we’ve been big fans of the Pirelli PZero SmarTubes. These modern polyurethane tubes are not only frighteningly light but are quite durable and offer an improved ride quality over a traditional butyl tube. A generic bulk tube for a 28c tire weighs around 106g, whereas the comparable size Pirelli tube is a mere 37g! For reference, tubeless sealant for a road tire can be about 40–60g (depending on brand and how much you feel safe using). Clearly, these tubes can help shed some significant rotational weight.


The Final Weigh In

Drum roll, please. Our shavings have brought the bike down from a soupy 20.04lbs to a svelte 17.37lbs - not a light road bike in this day and age, but considering it’s a metal all-road bike with discs, that’s not too shabby! If I wanted to go even further, I’d consider changing out the alloy Zipp handlebar and swapping the Force level power meter/chainrings for the Red version, or maybe even a 1x, but at that point, the performance returns would be pretty minimal. The important thing to consider is how much better tailored the bike is for the OSTT!

 Are you making any key changes to your bike? Let us know in the comments and if you haven't ret, register for the Officially Serious Time Trial!

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