The lighter your bike is, the faster it will accelerate. Whether you’re using it for racing or group riding with friends, a lightweight road bike almost always feels nice to ride.
That’s why there’s a subculture within the cycling enthusiasts who are obsessed with bike weight: the weight weenies. Some people become a weight weenie because they want to go faster on uphill races, some people become one because tinkering with your bike is almost as fun as riding it.
So, if you are a weight weenie wannabe, what are some upgrades you can make to get started? That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this article.
Cutting the weight on your bike to an extreme level can be dangerous. So while we try to recommend to you the safer product available on the market, ultimately do this at your own risk.
Carbon Bottle Cages
When trying to cut as much weight off your bike as possible, the first few components you want to remove or replace should be those that don’t alter the bike’s performance and safety. With that in mind, the best place to get started is the bottle cages.
You can shave anywhere between 15 to 50 grams off most bikes by replacing a pair of plastic or metal bottle cages.
RXL SL Carbon Fiber Water Bottle
The RXL SL is highly similar to the very popular Bontrager XXX water bottle cage (okay, it’s likely a carbon copy). However, it costs significantly less while still having the same weight and, in my experience, build quality.
There are many Chinese carbon water bottle cages like this one, but I find the Bontrager-shaped to be the most reliable out of all Chinese carbon bottle cages. They will scratch your bidons a bit more than other cages, but they hold bidons really well.
The RXL SL bottle cage costs around $10 a piece and weighs 20 g ± 2 g. A great value for the gram savings.
Alpitude Superleggero Bottle Cage
While the Superleggero is not the cheapest on the market, it is essential to remember that you are getting what you paid for, a high-quality, very lightweight water bottle cage. The Alpitude Superleggero weighs a mere 9.5 g, half the Bontrager copies from earlier.
If you are obsessed with the weight of your bike to the point where every gram counts, this bottle cage is perfect for you.
Keep in mind that these cages probably won’t hold your bottle as securely as normal bottle cages, especially if you go off-road. Also, you could technically find cages as light as the Alpitude Superleggero for a fifth of the price on AliExpress, but they are much easier to break, so I don’t recommend using them.
Unpadded Carbon Saddles
The second component that you want to replace is your saddle. Most people typically go for the most comfortable saddle, especially those that use their bikes to commute. However, for a weight weenie, comfort is secondary to weight.
A high-end racing saddle weighs between 100 to 170 grams. A cheap, entry-level saddle can weigh anywhere above 200 grams. To reduce weight, unpadded saddles can be one of the biggest gram savings you can make.
Just make sure to wear high-quality padded bibs with these saddles.
Berk Lupina Saddle
Berk-Composites makes some of the lightest saddles in the world. Their Berk Lupina lineup might be holding the company in 1st place. At 79 g, I cannot find a more lightweight saddle, and you will also struggle. The 84 g 150 mm saddle is still incredibly light for larger people.
Fortunately for many weight weenies, they find these saddles comfortable even for long rides. So, while you are cutting as much weight off your bike, you are not making significant sacrifices in those regards.
If you’re not looking to cut that much weight, you can choose a Berk Lupina with thin padding for an additional 11 grams.
EC90 Unpadded Carbon Saddle
A cheaper alternative to the Berk Lupina, the China-made saddle sits just below the 100-gram threshold. The shape looks a bit like a copy of the PRO Stealth saddle, so if you like the PRO Stealth, you might want to try this one.
At approximately 90 grams, You are cutting around 100 grams off the bike if you use it to replace a traditional saddle.
Your bike stem plays a massive role in how your bike feels while on the road or trail. Lightweight stems are usually less stiff than beefier ones, so they are not suited for sprinting. However, you might like stems that are less stiff because they are more comfortable.
UNO Ultralight Stem
At 90 g to 122 g depending on the length, these aluminum stem is much lighter than even most high-end carbon fiber stems. This is great because aluminum as a material is much cheaper and can be stronger than carbon when used as a bike stem.
The UNO stem is available in many different lengths from 60-130 mm and 7º or 17º. Available with and without decals, if you prefer a plain-looking stem.
There are lighter stems out there, but this is the absolute best lightweight stem for the price. You can make it even lighter by replacing the bolts with titanium ones, this will save about 6 grams.
The MCFK stem delivers in terms of stiffness, aesthetics, and durability. The weight is approximately 79 grams, depending on which length you get. It’s much more expensive than the Chinese-made one, but not the most expensive carbon fiber stem on the market for its weight.
Everything about this stem is premium, including the titanium screws used to secure it to your bike. You won’t have to worry about something going wrong while on the trail or the road. The stem is best suited to road bikes with oversized handlebars.
Unlike stem, aluminum handlebars weigh quite a lot compared to carbon. So, buying a carbon handlebar can save you quite a bit of weight. That, however, comes with a higher price tag.
Replacing your handlebars is not the easiest upgrade to make. A lot of thought needs to go into it because a handlebar change will affect your bike fit. The upgrade is also not the cheapest, as carbon handlebars can cost quite a lot. I’ve selected two handlebars that I believe strike the perfect balance between weight, price, performance, and reliability:
Schmolke Oversize Evo TLO
The Schmolke Evo TLO is one of the lightest road bike handlebars on the market. They are light, durable, ergonomic, and stiff. Whether you like ICR (Internal Cable Routing) or not, the option is there. At roughly 135-155 g, you are cutting a significant amount of weight by upgrading to these.
MCFK Road Handlebar
These handlebars offer a similar design as a cheaper alternative to the Schmolke, though they weigh slightly more at 147 g.
There are lightweight Chinese carbon handlebars that are much cheaper compared to the two above, but handlebars are a component that can be very dangerous when it breaks so I wouldn’t cheap out on them.
If you really want to use Chinese carbon handlebars, I recommend the ones that weigh more than 200 grams. Although at that point, they are not any lighter than high-end aluminum bars.
Seatpost is another easy upgrade to make. They can save you upwards of 100 grams and are not very dangerous even if they break on you—unlike handlebars and stems. However, modern bikes come with proprietary seatpost designs, making your options very limited if you have a non-round seatpost on your bike.
Darimo is a Spain company that makes ultra-lightweight seatposts that are far lighter than anything else on the market. They have a non-round/aero option if you have a non-standard round seatpost like most carbon bikes today.
At 90g, the T1 Loop can save you more than 100 grams if your frame has a round seatpost. The downside? The “Loop’s” saddle rail is hard to install and adjust. If you prefer a more standard two-bolt clamp adjustment, the T2 seatpost is also available with an additional 30 g.
Elita One Seatpost
Elita One is the best-value lightweight seatpost from China. The Elita One is available in many diameters and lengths, but they don’t make non-round shapes. If you have a frame with a round seatpost, this is the best seatpost upgrade for the money.
Headset Expander And Top Cap
Unlike the stem and handlebar, these small parts won’t save you too much weight, and you don’t have too many options as they are a critical component.
Carbon Ti X-Plug
At only 16 grams, you are saving roughly 10 to 40 grams by upgrading to this plug. They aren’t the cheapest, but Carbon Ti is a reputable company among weight weenies, and since an expander is a very important bike component I wouldn’t recommend a no-name Chinese item.
Carbon Top Cap with Titanium Bolt
A carbon top cap and a titanium bolt won’t likely save you more than 10 grams, but these are super cheap and not likely to have any negative impact. A no-brainer upgrade.
Quick Release Skewers Or Thru Axles
For those who don’t know the difference, in a nutshell, quick releases are for rim brake frames and thru axles are for disc brake frames. Get the right one depending on which braking system you have.
If you have a standard steel QR or TA, you can save up to 100 grams by upgrading to lightweight ones. If you have high-end bikes and wheels, you will probably save less than 50 grams.
Extralite Streeters QR
These Streeters tick all the boxes, in my opinion. They look great in each of the five available colors and are also made from highly durable titanium. Together a pair weighs only 29 grams.
The best part about the Streeters is the lever. Most lightweight QRs have a very thin lever that can be frustrating to open if you’re stranded on the road with a flat tire. Extralite Streeters’ lever is big and ergonomic in comparison.
Extralite Black Lock TA
The Extralite Black Lock comes in many different sizes. You need to order the right one for your bike. You can use the link to check what size is right for you and your bike. Upgrading to these thru-axles can save you 50 grams per pair.
Risk Titanium Ti Skewer
The Risk Ti Skewer is a cheaper alternative to the Extralite Streeter. It is heavier than the Extralite option by approximately 15 grams, but it is also much cheaper. The only downside is the non-ergonomic lever.
The inner tubes of your bike are another area where you can save a lot of weight. Instead of using a traditional butyl tube weighing anywhere between 90 to 120 grams, you could get a TPU one weighing from 23 grams.
If your bike has disc brakes, you can go for Tubolito’s lightest offering: S-Road tubes. There are three options available for different valve lengths. The lightest option is 23 grams, which saves you almost 200 grams per pair in the most extreme case.
For rim brake users, the Tubo-Road is available (without S in the title) for an extra 15 grams. Rim brake bikes need the additional weight for extra safety when braking to avoid a blowout.
Keep in mind that these are not standard butyl tubes that most bikes have. They are thinner and can be a bit tricky to install.
RideNow Ultralight Bike Inner Tube
Another TPU tube made for rim brake and disc brake weighs in at 36 g. A bit lighter than the normal Tubolito, but far cheaper. In my opinion, you can’t feel the difference between these tubes and the more premium Tubolitos, making it the better value-for-money upgrade.
Many people overlook the bar tape when trying to shave weight off their bikes. It is understandable because it doesn’t look like it weighs much, and it doesn’t, at roughly 45 grams. You can save more than 20 grams by using ultra-lightweight bar tape.
Extreme weight weenies don’t use bar tape at all, but if you don’t want to sacrifice comfort, these are the best bar tape to get.
Deda Elementi Traforato
There is not much to say about this bar tape except that it weighs only 29 grams, looks excellent, and is easy to install. It ticks all boxes.
Lizard Skins DSP V2 1.8
The thinnest and lightest bar tape from Lizard Skins, a very prominent bar tape maker in the industry. These are not as light as Deda Traforato, but they definitely feel better and more durable.
A set of wheels can weigh anything from 1 to 2 kilograms. This gives you a lot of leeway in how much weight you want to take off the bike when you upgrade it to a lighter set.
I have written a recent article discussing everything you need to know about the best lightweight wheels. I highly recommend that you give that article a read, and by the end of it, you should know exactly which wheels you should get when trying to cut weight from your bike.
Disk Brake Rotors
Disc brakes are heavier than rim brakes. So, it is understandable that you would want to take as much weight off them as possible, and the best way to do this is to upgrade the rotors; some great options are available.
Carbon Ti X-ROTOR Steel Carbon 2
The X-Rotor SC 2 Is one of the lightest rotors on the market. You can save 100 grams or more when used to replace your Shimano/SRAM/Campagnolo rotors. Great braking performance. The only downside of these rotors is their lifespan, especially considering the steep price tag.
Worth noting that these are six-bolt only, and using centerlock adapters will negate the weight benefit.
Ashima ARO-09 or ARO-10 Rotor
Both the Ashima ARO-09 and ARO-10 weigh roughly 65 grams for the smallest size. The ARO-09 is much cheaper and also lighter than the Carbon Ti but has worse braking and heat dissipating performance because of its minimal surface area and steel spider. The ARO-10, on the other hand, is much more expensive but made with of alloy spider with better heat dissipation technology.
Crank and Chainrings
A crankset is one of your bike’s heaviest components; upgrading this area can save you significant weight. If you use a Shimano groupset, which is known to have a very heavy crankset, you can save upwards of 200 grams by choosing the much lighter option.
THM Clavicula SE
The absolute lightest crankset on the market, THM Clavicula SE is made from full carbon construction and is roughly 293 grams for the compact size (110 BCD). It’s also available in an integrated power meter model, making it the lightest crankset with a power meter.
The secret to its weight lies in the crank spindle. Most carbon cranks use a steel spindle because they are cheaper, stiffer, and more durable—Clavicula SE’s spindle is made of carbon fiber, allowing them to have the same level of stiffness with much lighter weight.
Extralite OctaRamp Chainrings
If you want the absolute lightest chainrings, Extralite OctaRamp might be the one you’re looking for. The medium compact set of OctaRamp weighs only 109 grams. That’s more or less 40 grams lighter than a set of Shimano Dura-Ace chainrings.
On the other hand, if you’re not looking for the lightest chainrings and instead want something that looks really good paired with the Clavicula SE crankset, check out Carbon Ti chainrings. They both have the raw carbon look that I think looks amazing together.
Ciamillo Gravitas Gen 13
The Gravitas Gen 13 is a relatively new crankset that came out in March 2022. It has carbon arms and spindle. The set weighs 299 grams, not far off of the THM Clavicula SE. The biggest advantage over the Clavicula SE crankset is the removable spindle, which will reduce your replacement cost in case something happens to it.
More Tips For Weight Weenies To Reduce Bike Weight
We have almost got through almost everything a weight weenie can do to upgrade their bike and shave as much weight as possible. But, I want this to be the most extensive resource you can find, so you don’t have to look elsewhere.
I have seven more tips that you can use to reduce as much weight from your bike as possible. Some of these can save you a lot of weight, but they are pretty straightforward, so I grouped them together:
- Use Veloplugs instead of rim tape
- Use a smaller cassette. An 11-28 is more than 100 grams lighter than an 11-34.
- Sigeyi Direct-Mount Derailleur Hanger can save you about 20 grams and give you a faster shifting performance.
- Use the outgoing SRAM Red 22 mechanical groupset model, the lightest groupset ever released on the market
- Replace all your steel bolts with Titanium bolts. Each bolt can save you 1 gram, not much but add them together and you’re looking at more than 10 grams of saving. Also, titanium alloy is stronger and rust-free.
- If you are using rim brakes, I recommend upgrading to either the EEbrakes or Ciamillo L8 Ultra. They are expensive and give you less braking power, but they are more than 100 grams lighter as a pair
- Use Speedplay Nano Pedals, the lightest pedal on the market. Although, if you weigh including the cleats, Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic Ti is an overall lighter system.