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

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

Old 06-21-22, 08:56 PM
  #1  
jonathanf2
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Swapping out to a lightweight frame for the purpose of hill climbing?

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!
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Old 06-21-22, 09:01 PM
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Polaris OBark
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I have a similar situation, except my gravel/all-road bike is steel, and when I have it loaded up with tools, water bottles, etc, it is pushing 24 lbs. Every time I think about buying an Emonda or something, I just jump on the scale and remind myself that it isn't really the bike frame that needs to lose weight.
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Old 06-21-22, 09:06 PM
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If your bike is currently 17-18 lbs, a frame upgrade will mostly lighten your wallet.

Unless you are often in contention for a podium spot in hilly races and/or hillclimb competitions, I don't see the point. 'Course, I road raced on a steel frame and now race gravel on a steel frame with 32h alloy wheels.
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Old 06-21-22, 09:17 PM
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jonathanf2
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
I have a similar situation, except my gravel/all-road bike is steel, and when I have it loaded up with tools, water bottles, etc, it is pushing 24 lbs. Every time I think about buying an Emonda or something, I just jump on the scale and remind myself that it isn't really the bike frame that needs to lose weight.
I think I'm at a decent weight right now for my height, I did one of those weight calculators for cycling and if I did some serious weight cutting I would just need to cut about 10-13 lbs. of weight to be at peak race weight. I've done weight cutting before, but since I'm not doing anything competitive at the moment, I'm not looking to suffer! Though I also do consistent strength train with deadlifts and barbell squats, so i presume much of my current weight is concentrated in my lower body.

Also in climbs I'm usually several minutes ahead on segment checkpoints when riding with my friends, especially doing fast sprint climbs for short segments. Where I'm lacking though are on more drawn out low gear climbs where I can't immediately rely on my out of saddle strength. It's one area I'm looking to improve.
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Old 06-21-22, 09:17 PM
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How heavy is your current frame, and what road frame would you be looking at?

For instance, a Giant Revolt frameset versus an S-Works Aethos frameset is around a pound. For a 170lb road rider doing 300W on a 7% climb, the change in speed from such a weight difference will be very roughly in the ballpark of half a percent. So for instance, if the climb was an hour long, the rider would reach the top maybe 15-20 seconds sooner on the climbing frameset versus the gravel frameset.
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Old 06-21-22, 09:32 PM
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Yeah, most decent cf frames are going to be under 3 pounds and the expensive ones are under 2 pounds, so you could save a pound with the swap. That S-Works Aethos frameset is $5500.
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Old 06-21-22, 09:35 PM
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How much weight could you save on the frame by not bringing water along for the ride?
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Old 06-21-22, 10:33 PM
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If you want to go nuts on saving weight, there's an online forum called Weight Weenies where you'll find enthusiasts who spend a lot of money chasing minimal bike weight. Over here, I'm with the rest of the posters who are saying that it's definitely not going to be cost effective, or likely very noticeable in terms of time savings.
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Old 06-21-22, 11:30 PM
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in a more extreme situation, i went from a 29lb bike to a 14lb bike, and my times on the exact same climbing segments decreased by just a tiny bit more than you'd mathematically expect - the difference between 200lb total weight and 215lb total weight, or around 7%. the difference "feels" more significant than that, but we're talking about a bike that's literally half the weight.

the pound or two in the frame by itself is really not going to show up in much else than the feel of the bike, IMO.... but if you can find a pound or two in 5 places, plus a bit of your own weight, big difference. i started those climbs at 200lb myself, and the bike was 30+ initially, plus way heavier gear, and the wrong cassette. 240lb total weight with longer gears vs 200lb total weight today, it's night and day. but the frame is only a very small part of that big proportional jump.
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Old 06-22-22, 12:31 AM
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I have a steel framed, hydro disc bike. The goal is a UCI illegal sub 15 pound daily rider. I'm into it around about $12,000. It is purely a vanity project. I may not even succeed. But if I come in under 16 pounds as ridden, it'll be "good enough."

Losing 10 to 20 pounds to reach 175 pounds was also a goal of mine. I achieved the desired weight loss in about 3 months. It didn't cost me anything.

The bike so far, is about a year in progress, 14 pounds exactly & the THM Clavicula SE crankset is still on back order.

It was a lot easier & faster to lose the weight off myself than it was to earn $12k for the bike.

The bike? It will not make me faster. It may, but probably won't have a meaningful impact on any hill climb, ever. But it has succeeded in making my wallet lighter. The unwanted secondary effect will probably be unwanted curiosity, praise, & bike centric conversation amongst my peers. I don't plan on mentioning anything about "new bike." It looks enough like another bike I owned, I genuinely hope they won't notice.

For me: My actual goal was to explore what is possible on an abandoned branch of the evolutionary tree; To engage in the hunt; To satisfy personal curiosity about the limits of steel. To that end I set an unconventional path & Sallied Forth. $3200 is not an unreasonable price for a premium bike frame. Though the likes of Rob English did not escape scrutiny.

With the same parts collection & $800 more I could've bought an Extralite SC-580, 860 gram frame set & saved 1.1 kilos. For 25% more cost I could've bought a Benotti Vial Evo and have a 12-ish pound carbon, delivered. If the goal was to simply buy status, that would be easy.

Go ahead, do what you want. Just be true to yourself about your real motivations.
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Old 06-22-22, 12:39 AM
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A nice CF handlebar is about a 120 g weight reduction over a decent alloy handlebar, whereas a CF stem might not save you any weight at all. At 18 lbs. and nearly all CF components, you are definitely on the steep end of the diminishing returns curve. Other than the CF handlebar and TPU tubes, it is hard to think of any component which would bring a 3 digit weight reduction.

Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
How much weight could you save on the frame by not bringing water along for the ride?
Come on, not bringing water "on more drawn out low gear climbs"?

Last edited by SoSmellyAir; 06-22-22 at 12:48 AM.
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Old 06-22-22, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
Come on, not bringing water "on more drawn out low gear climbs"?
I'm not suggesting that. In fact, I am suggesting the opposite. One would not hesitate to bring water, even though the added weight is greater than the difference between my steel frame and a carbon frame on a lightweight "climbing" bike. I've also never heard anyone complain that their bottle of water was slowing them down climbing hills.
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Old 06-22-22, 02:02 AM
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get another/compatible wheel set with '23's.
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Old 06-22-22, 05:54 AM
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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!
Of course, weight is your worst enemy when your main purpose is to climb (thanks to our friend Newton!). Consider getting a bigger cassette as well.

Air resistance is your worst enemy when your main purpose is to TT - go fast.
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Old 06-22-22, 06:36 AM
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If your wheels are deeper, with a gravel friendly cassette and tires, a switch to lower profile rims, an 11-30 cassette, and Vittoria Corsas could net you similar weight savings, with much less work involved than a frame swap.

I have an 18 lbs, semi-weenie-ish bike, and a nearly 21 lbs bike. The 18 pounder is definitely more fun when I’m slicing through traffic - the lighter bike, and lighter wheels make short sprints easier. However, on the limited climbing that I do (nothing more than about 1/3 mile on my normal routes, sadly), the 18 lbs bike only holds the KOM for one of those climbs. Granted, these are short, 1-3 min climbs, but the difference in either direction is only 1-2 seconds between the best time on one bike vs the other.

Not saying you shouldn’t go for the lighter bike - it’s definitely fun to have something feel more tossable. I just wouldn’t want to do a full component swap (read: lots of work), expecting performance gains, only to find them to be marginal.
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Old 06-22-22, 06:41 AM
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As already noted, if your bike is in the 17-18 pound range, there's very little to be gained with a lighter frame. Most of the lightest weight frames cost about $5000. That's a lot to pay to take seconds off your ride time. My frames weight about 1000 grams and my total bike weight is is the 17-18 pound range, depending on which wheels I have on. Paying big bucks won't save even a pound. If you have body weight to lose, that's where to start.

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Old 06-22-22, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
How much weight could you save on the frame by not bringing water along for the ride?
I would not lug full water bottle(s) up a long steep climb if I could fill them not long after the climb

before we hit the base of long / steep climbs and knew there was a spot where we could fill water bottles - we often emptied our water bottles
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Old 06-22-22, 07:59 AM
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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).
What is the frameset?
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Old 06-22-22, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by t2p View Post
I would not lug full water bottle(s) up a long steep climb if I could fill them not long after the climb

before we hit the base of long / steep climbs and knew there was a spot where we could fill water bottles - we often emptied our water bottles
Riding in the mountains on a hot day I sometimes start with around a gallon of water. A 70 oz Camelbak and 2 large bottles. When on the mtb I use a 100 oz Camelbak and I have paired that with one bottle.
I've drank over 220 ounces on a hot climbing ride. Hell, I used to drink 200 ounces at work when it was hot.
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Old 06-22-22, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
I have a similar situation, except my gravel/all-road bike is steel, and when I have it loaded up with tools, water bottles, etc, it is pushing 24 lbs. Every time I think about buying an Emonda or something, I just jump on the scale and remind myself that it isn't really the bike frame that needs to lose weight.
While I'll agree that there's little to gain for the OP (via the clock, at least), let's put this dog to bed (for this thread, at least): shedding equipment weight and shedding body weight are not mutually exclusive.
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Old 06-22-22, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2 View Post
Though I also do consistent strength train with deadlifts and barbell squats, so i presume much of my current weight is concentrated in my lower body.

Also in climbs I'm usually several minutes ahead on segment checkpoints when riding with my friends, especially doing fast sprint climbs for short segments. Where I'm lacking though are on more drawn out low gear climbs where I can't immediately rely on my out of saddle strength. It's one area I'm looking to improve.
If most of your training is strength-oriented than endurance-oriented, then your performance in long climbs will suffer.

There's no way around that, not even shaving 2 lbs off your already super light ~17 lbs bike most of us can only dream of. Get your endurance training with focus on climbing or FTP, it's the only way.
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Old 06-22-22, 10:48 AM
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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.

Last edited by RChung; 06-22-22 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 06-22-22, 11:06 AM
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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.
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.)
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Old 06-22-22, 11:29 AM
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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.)
TPU tubes appear to be better than lightweight butyl tubes in terms of Crr, but the best latex tubes are still better than that. However, TPU tubes are lighter than latex, and hold air longer. They're also (currently) more expensive than latex.

Some tubeless tires have lower Crr than their equivalent "tubed" version with a latex tube.

Old-style tubulars with latex inner tubes (not all tubulars did) can have very low Crr, and the combined wheel/tire can be lower. Most of them have worse aero, but that's not so much of an issue for hill-climbing.
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Old 06-22-22, 11:31 AM
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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.)
TPU tubes are lighter and roll better (less resistance) than butyl - but I believe latex tubes roll a little better than TPU
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