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Reducing Total Climbing Weight For Faster Ascents

Please see Total Climbing Weight: Reduction in Ascent Time For Steep Climbs for why total weight has a large influence on ascent time.

Ways to reduce total riding weight

Weight savings can be expensive or not so expensive:

  • The cheapest way to reduce total riding weight is to lose body fat.
  • The most expensive way to reduce riding weight is to get a lighter bike or wheels.
  • The clothing, shoes and stuff you carry can be lightened cost-effectively in most cases.
  • Rotating weight carries a double penalty: its static weight as well as rotating weight. Lighter wheels feel great and make the most difference of any weight savings.
  • Tires and tubes can save quite a bit of rotating weight at reasonable cost.

Let’s look at where we might save weight for faster ascents. I’ll use myself as an example with the table below.

One thing should be clear: shedding body fat is the #1 priority.

Gains of perhaps 2-3 pounds might accrue with careful attention to clothing, helmet, shoes, etc. But for most riders, the bike and wheels offer ripe areas for weight reduction, though at considerable expense.

Item Currently Target Savings Comments
Body fat 192 178 14 pounds Reduce body weight from 192 pounds to 178 pounds, stretch goal of 172 pounds
Bike/seat/pedals     ? I configured my bike superbly from the start, but possible to drop 3-4 pounds for many bicycles
Shoes (pair) 806g 385 g 421g Savings of 1 pound!
Wheels 1000g 1000g 0 Most riders can save at least a pound with a quality wheelset
Tires 400g 360g 40g Most riders can save several hundred grams on tires and tubes
Helmet 351g 265g 86g A lighter helmet always feels better. Lazer Genesis to Lazer Helium
Water bottles (2) 170 (2) 64g 106g Evian bottles instead of standard biking bottles, save aa whopping 106 (1/4 pound) plus bonus of better taste and more capacity.
Gloves     20g Keep 'em light
Clothing     ? Keep it minimal, skip the jacket
Sunglasses     20g Lightweight glasses
Socks 38g 30g 8g Skip the ankle coverage
Pump       I use a mini pump of about 60 g instead of a full size pump
Spare tire     50g I carry a pre-glued Veloflex Record tubular tire
Phone and car keys     196g Stash 'em, don't carry them

Total potential non-body reduction: 1007 grams, or about 2.1 pounds.

Most riders can save much more if they haven’t yet studied the options.

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