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Swapping out to a lightweight frame for the purpose of hill climbing?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Swapping out to a lightweight frame for the purpose of hill climbing?

Old 06-22-22, 11:33 AM
  #26  
Polaris OBark
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Tubeless might also be an inexpensive upgrade (depending on your current wheels) to help ride up grades, along with some low rolling-resistance tires.
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Old 06-22-22, 11:41 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by t2p View Post
...we often emptied our water bottles
Did this when I could see my friend's hillside house, the final push of a decent Vermont climb last month. I was pretty close to gassed and the psychology of dumping 20 ounces must have overwhelmed the physics of it, the bike felt so much lighter!
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Old 06-22-22, 12:23 PM
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In 2019 I bought a Wilier Zero6, their lightest bike specifically designed as a showcase for how light they could go at the time. The bike had an RRP of £11000 in the UK and I got it for £4900 new in the annual sales (due to its small size not selling)...it weighed 13lbs. Full carbon, sub-700g frameset and SRAM Red.

I've almost immediately increased the weight by adding ZIPP 303 wheels and more recently Wahoo Speedplay Powermeter pedals. I cancelled out the PM pedals additional weight over titanium by changing to Tubolito tubes. The bike is more aero than original thanks to the deeper wheel set and still only weighs in at 13.7lbs.

I also have a 17.5lb Trek Madone SLR.

The difference between them is very noticeable on climbs, especially steeper, longer climbs, obviously. The Wilier accelerates faster and is more agile, nimble. I also find it is more comfortable for longer rides.

The Trek carries its speed better on the flat due to being even more aero and I prefer it for sprinting.

The idea of a lightweight climber is a good one, in my opinion, since regardless of theory and what people who have not ridden very light bikes say, they actually do make a tangible difference to how you feel on a climb. My PR's for all my local long climbs are on my Wilier and my training partner has commented that I am faster on it than my Trek when we do a hills day; which is often, I live in a hilly area!


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Old 06-22-22, 12:38 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
How are TPU tubes for rolling resistance compared to their ~ 100 g butyl counterparts? (That is another 120 g weight reduction there for the pair, comparable to going from alloy to CF handlebar.)
I'm running 33g TPU tubes, they practically feel like tubeless. The perks is that they're easy to mount and swap out with decent clincher tires while being significantly lighter. Downside is that they're still tubes and don't have the potentially better puncture resistance of tubeless.
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Old 06-22-22, 12:44 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I'm running 33g TPU tubes, they practically feel like tubeless. The perks is that they're easy to mount and swap out with decent clincher tires while being significantly lighter. Downside is that they're still tubes and don't have the potentially better puncture resistance of tubeless.
Thanks. Several positive comments re: TPU tubes here and Latex tubes - Bike Forums. I am currently rolling the anecdotally more puncture prone Vittoria Corsa G+ tires, so I would stick to butyl for now, and go TPU when I switch back to GP 5000.

Sounds like you need a CF handlebar or a one-piece CF handlebar with stem!
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Old 06-22-22, 12:57 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by AlgarveCycling View Post
In 2019 I bought a Wilier Zero6, their lightest bike specifically designed as a showcase for how light they could go at the time. The bike had an RRP of £11000 in the UK and I got it for £4900 new in the annual sales (due to its small size not selling)...it weighed 13lbs. Full carbon, sub-700g frameset and SRAM Red.

I've almost immediately increased the weight by adding ZIPP 303 wheels and more recently Wahoo Speedplay Powermeter pedals. I cancelled out the PM pedals additional weight over titanium by changing to Tubolito tubes. The bike is more aero than original thanks to the deeper wheel set and still only weighs in at 13.7lbs.

I also have a 17.5lb Trek Madone SLR.

The difference between them is very noticeable on climbs, especially steeper, longer climbs, obviously. The Wilier accelerates faster and is more agile, nimble. I also find it is more comfortable for longer rides.

The Trek carries its speed better on the flat due to being even more aero and I prefer it for sprinting.

The idea of a lightweight climber is a good one, in my opinion, since regardless of theory and what people who have not ridden very light bikes say, they actually do make a tangible difference to how you feel on a climb. My PR's for all my local long climbs are on my Wilier and my training partner has commented that I am faster on it than my Trek when we do a hills day; which is often, I live in a hilly area!


My favorite type of climbs are hitting those final uphill segment sprints while everyone is spinning their low gears. I'm probably not going full weight weenie, but I was thinking I could probably cut a few more grams going to a dedicated lightweight road frame as opposed to using my bulkier gravel frame as a road bike. I doubt I'll have the funds to go down to 13 lbs., but I was thinking going down to the 16 lbs. range might be doable. I also live in a hilly area which requires me to climb in every direction I ride. Even when I'm in the gym, I warm up on the cycle machine just to practice my out of saddle riding. All I think about are hills!
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Old 06-22-22, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I'm running 33g TPU tubes, they practically feel like tubeless. The perks is that they're easy to mount and swap out with decent clincher tires while being significantly lighter. Downside is that they're still tubes and don't have the potentially better puncture resistance of tubeless.
which TPU tubes are you running? i experimented with both aerothan and tubolitos on my climbing machine and it was a flat-fest. four in a couple weeks, after none for 1,500 miles. coincidence or not?!?
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Old 06-22-22, 07:12 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
For the purposes of hill climbing, weight matters but tire rolling resistance matters a lot, too. Good tires/tubes and proper inflation can be worth a fair bit of weight, and is often cheaper.
Mass and rolling resistance drag by slope.
I would think that anyone with 17 lb bike would have low rolling resistance tires on them already.

Otherwise, I completely agree with you. Anything to reduce the effort on climbs can help significantly, even better aero (in case of headwinds)

It can only take a few watts difference at the lactate threshold to mean the difference between bonking or sustaining power without great difficulty. Of course, you can also get a few more watts with training or simply improved technique or even fit. But I doubt you'll get a big difference in feel between different performance-oriented tires unless you're changing from a touring or gravel tire into low resistance road or race tires.
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Old 06-22-22, 11:02 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
get another/compatible wheel set with '23's.
I used to save weight on freewheel teeth. Found the fewer teeth I was burdened with, the faster I went uphill. 78 teeth on a 5 speed FW worked out pretty well when the hills were hills, not mountains. (I burdened myself with 89 teeth for Smuggler's Notch.)

Smuggler's Notch and my "23". 14, 15, 17, 20, 23. Added up = 89. The rest of the time: 13, 14, 15, 17, 19 = 78. Much of hill climbing is in the head. Stay away from those comfortable gears and you know you have to go faster or that hill's gonna be a drag. Can't do that now; I'm 45 years older but I still limit my gearing. Smuggler's Notch on the 14-23 because the shop's Winner board didn't have a 23. Knew others would be on 24s. Wanted to be a tooth higher and didn't care about the downhills. 54-14 meant nobody was going to ask me to work!
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Old 06-23-22, 12:42 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
I'm currently using a carbon gravel/endurance type frame as my road bike. It's not the lightest, but with almost full carbon components except alloy stem and drop bar, it weighs-in around the 17-18 lbs. range. I don't have many complaints about the frame and I have the option of going with wider tires if I choose, but I'm currently using 28-30c road tires (frame accommodates 45c tires). Though I do like road climbing and I've been entertaining the thought of getting a dedicated carbon road frame especially for hills. I don't do any competitive racing and I do alright keeping up on group rides. I would most likely do a parts swap to the new frame and use the older carbon frame as a dedicated gravel bike (my current gravel bike is alloy). Another option I was thinking was doing more weight cutting on the current frame maybe going with an integrated carbon stem/drop bar combination plus other weight cut measures, but I'm not sure it would make that much of a difference.

Anyways, just looking to get opinions if getting a lighter road frame would make sense for my intended purpose. Also I would do the work myself and I think the swap would be fairly straight forward. Thanks!
Just off hand, take it for what it's worth.... you know what I'd do with that bike? It's a pretty darn light bike as-is, and is absolutely capable of being a "gravel bike" with the 45mm tire spec. But would be a nice light weight full-on road bike too.

Maybe a second set of wheels with skinnier (i.e. 25mm), lighter tires and tubes. You probably have nice wheels already, but maybe can get even lighter wheels as a second set. Depending on what you have, you can also save some weight in tires, tubes, handlebars, saddle and seat post - maybe a half pound or more combined - without getting into a whole new groupset, for example.

The second set of wheels, even if they dont differ radically in weight from what you have, are a vehicle for lighter, road-specific tires and tubes and the combination will be lighter and subjectively (maybe even slightely objecively) faster. Two wheels means you have full-on road bike with the right tires and tubes, and a full-on gravel bike if you put 35-40mm on one set of wheels.

What you have is plenty light for staying with a group ride, imho. but instead of the middle ground of 28-30 mm tires, get a set of wheels with really nice road tires and tubes and some actual gravel tires on the other set.

Last edited by Camilo; 06-23-22 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 06-23-22, 04:17 AM
  #36  
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Don't stop at a hill climbing bike. You'll also need a TT bike for those long flat sections.
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Old 06-23-22, 05:08 AM
  #37  
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What frame are you using now? A 17-18 pound frame that fits 45c tires feels quite unique.
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Old 06-23-22, 05:32 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
which TPU tubes are you running? i experimented with both aerothan and tubolitos on my climbing machine and it was a flat-fest. four in a couple weeks, after none for 1,500 miles. coincidence or not?!?
I've been using Aerothan tubes since last summer with no issues

but I'm using the Endurance (700x28-35) and Allround (700x35-40) tubes -- maybe you are using different size tube and there are issues ?

gotta be careful with the valve stem / cores though

and due to the valve stem - had to upgrade one of my Silca pumps with a Hiro head ($)

Last edited by t2p; 06-23-22 at 05:36 AM.
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Old 06-23-22, 05:43 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
I used to save weight on freewheel teeth. Found the fewer teeth I was burdened with, the faster I went uphill. 78 teeth on a 5 speed FW worked out pretty well when the hills were hills, not mountains. (I burdened myself with 89 teeth for Smuggler's Notch.)

Smuggler's Notch and my "23". 14, 15, 17, 20, 23. Added up = 89. The rest of the time: 13, 14, 15, 17, 19 = 78. Much of hill climbing is in the head. Stay away from those comfortable gears and you know you have to go faster or that hill's gonna be a drag. Can't do that now; I'm 45 years older but I still limit my gearing. Smuggler's Notch on the 14-23 because the shop's Winner board didn't have a 23. Knew others would be on 24s. Wanted to be a tooth higher and didn't care about the downhills. 54-14 meant nobody was going to ask me to work!
Giovanni Battaglin said in an interview in the 1980s that to preserve his legs on long climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees, he would look at the sprocket size his competitors were using on the climb and go one tooth larger.
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Old 06-23-22, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
My favorite type of climbs are hitting those final uphill segment sprints while everyone is spinning their low gears. I'm probably not going full weight weenie, but I was thinking I could probably cut a few more grams going to a dedicated lightweight road frame as opposed to using my bulkier gravel frame as a road bike. I doubt I'll have the funds to go down to 13 lbs., but I was thinking going down to the 16 lbs. range might be doable. I also live in a hilly area which requires me to climb in every direction I ride. Even when I'm in the gym, I warm up on the cycle machine just to practice my out of saddle riding. All I think about are hills!
if you are discussing dropping down to 13 lbs (!) - you *are* going full weight weenie lol

back in the early 90's full weight weenie barely got you to 18 lbs or so (!) ... carbon frame, ti bb spindle, ti cogs, 15/16 butted spokes w/alloy nipples, ti post, flite saddle
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Old 06-23-22, 05:48 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Giovanni Battaglin said in an interview in the 1980s that to preserve his legs on long climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees, he would look at the sprocket size his competitors were using on the climb and go one tooth larger.
before Lance Armstrong discovered EPO (?) and whatever else - he 'discovered' the advantage of spinning ... (and lean body mass etc)

Last edited by t2p; 06-23-22 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 06-23-22, 05:54 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
I used to save weight on freewheel teeth. Found the fewer teeth I was burdened with, the faster I went uphill.

Stay away from those comfortable gears and you know you have to go faster or that hill's gonna be a drag. Can't do that now; I'm 45 years older but I still limit my gearing.
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Old 06-23-22, 06:04 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
My favorite type of climbs are hitting those final uphill segment sprints while everyone is spinning their low gears. I'm probably not going full weight weenie, but I was thinking I could probably cut a few more grams going to a dedicated lightweight road frame as opposed to using my bulkier gravel frame as a road bike. I doubt I'll have the funds to go down to 13 lbs., but I was thinking going down to the 16 lbs. range might be doable. I also live in a hilly area which requires me to climb in every direction I ride. Even when I'm in the gym, I warm up on the cycle machine just to practice my out of saddle riding. All I think about are hills!
So you are talking about a saving of 1-2 lbs max over your current rig. That's going to be more of a psychological gain than an objective one. It amounts to a saving of around 20-40 secs per hour of sustained climbing on a decent pitch. If you were racing competitively then it might well make a tangible difference, but otherwise pffff.....

For big mountainous rides I try to look at the bigger picture for weight reduction. Think about clothing weight, helmet, shoes, saddle packs, tools etc. Those can vary by as much or more than frame weights. Of course they are not mutually exclusive savings, but I wouldn't focus on any one particular component - especially a very expensive one! For a major mountainous event I focus mostly on reducing my own bodyweight. I can typically lose 10 lbs over a couple of months if I really want to perform better on the climbs. My bike is in the 16-17 lb range and I don't worry about it. At major expense I could lose maybe 1lb at best, or maybe 3 lbs with a dedicated climbing bike and even more expense. Just not worth it unless competing at a high level.
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Old 06-23-22, 06:11 AM
  #44  
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Two full Camelbak 24 ounce water bottles are 1600 grams. It would be interesting to use opaque bottles in a blind test climb, either empty or full. Is it immediately obvious, or extremely subtle?

But don't let that stop you from getting a dream bike!
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Old 06-23-22, 06:19 AM
  #45  
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1600 gms ?

600 would be obvious
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Old 06-23-22, 09:00 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
I would think that anyone with 17 lb bike would have low rolling resistance tires on them already.
That chart was made a few years ago, comparing the very good Conti 4000 with the (then new) even slightly better Conti 5000. The moral of that chart is that even small improvements in Crr can matter more than weight on fairly steep climbs -- you have to get to really steep before 100g in mass savings matters more than even the tiny improvement between the Conti 400 and 5000.

Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Two full Camelbak 24 ounce water bottles are 1600 grams. It would be interesting to use opaque bottles in a blind test climb, either empty or full. Is it immediately obvious, or extremely subtle?
I've done a test like that to validate measurements of Crr. I'm sort of a perceptual dullard: some changes I can feel, others I can't. Doing blind tests sometimes helps me sort through when and whether my perceptions are off. That said, for me, I can measure the difference in drag from an additional kg of mass but I'm not sure I could feel it during the test--often during tests, I have so many other things on my mind that perceived exertion is kind of blunted.

[Edited to add] "Can you feel the difference?" is often not as reliable a metric as we'd want. Years ago I used to ride on stiff frame skinny tire bikes, and they felt fast fast fast. However, stopwatches and speedometers are pretty reliable, and they reliably showed that a bike and tires that "felt" slower was actually faster. I had been perceiving "chatter" as fast and "smooth" as slow.

Not that smooth is always faster: sometimes smooth turns out to be slow. So I try to measure rather than rely on feelings. As I said, I'm a perceptual dullard.

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Old 06-23-22, 09:30 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
As I said, I'm a perceptual dullard.
"Perceptual Dullard" sounds like a snazzy custom user title.
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Old 06-23-22, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
"Perceptual Dullard" sounds like a snazzy custom user title.
Good idea.
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Old 06-23-22, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Giovanni Battaglin said in an interview in the 1980s that to preserve his legs on long climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees, he would look at the sprocket size his competitors were using on the climb and go one tooth larger.
New England simply doesn't have the climbs of the Alps and Pyrenees except the big one in NH. The one time i did that in competition, while everyone else put their 28s in back, I put it in front. (I love TA cranksets. Erector sets, yes. Flexy, yes. But you can make up anything. A 28 tooth single? Easy.) Saved weight in back (and maybe a little in front. I didn't take the FD off.) 85 teeth; 13-21. And a shorter chain.

Giovanni's tactic wouldn't have worked for me unless everyone else was overgeared. I climbed best doing a lot of standing and riding higher gears. Spinning was never my forte. Yes, I paid the price but I made "the cut" in my hardest race where losing 2 feet to the wheel in front of my would have cost me 10 minutes. I could not have stayed on in a 21 tooth cog.
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Old 06-23-22, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
...it isn't really the bike frame that needs to lose weight.
Got my ridding gear on...
Pre-flight Check List is done...
RATS!
Gotta go inside and make a deposit...
Leaving the Loo and readjusting my Helmet and Gear I realize...
I just lightened my load by at least a half pound or more....
Happy Happy... Joy Joy...
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