Most top-end bikes easily make a mockery of the UCI’s imposed minimum weight limit of 6.8kg and this week Ridley revealed their lightest ever Helium SL at an incredible 5.52kg (12.16lbs). Don’t all go rushing to your nearest Ridley dealer with a charged credit card though; this is strictly a one-off.
Last year, the company launched a limited edition Helium SL 58 that you can buy weighing just 5.8kg. That’s a size medium with pedals, a SRAM Red groupset, Zipp 202 wheels and 4ZA Cirrus Pro finishing kit. The claimed weight for the frame is just 750g, putting it in the company of some extremely light frames like Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo and Cervelo’s R5. It's right up there.
Ridley though reckoned they could skim a bit more weight from the build and so set themselves a challenge. All good challenges need a few rules, so they decided it had to rely on WorldTour approved components, the wheels had to be the same 202s and they didn’t want to compromise stiffness and strength.
With these goalposts in place, they set about putting commercial director Anthony Kumpen’s bike on a very strict diet. His bike is a size small, so they’re cheating a little bit there. They did, however, manage to strip the weight down from 5.74kg to 5.52kg, a 220g saving. Yes it’s only a couple of hundred grams, but on a bike that was already so light, that’s impressive.
And they managed it without resorting to any crazy one-off machined parts that you or I can’t buy. Okay so the parts they used are eye-wateringly expensive, but light bikes come with heavy price tags, as we all know.
So where did they save the weight? They replaced the bog standard bottom bracket and hub bearings with full ceramic bearings, they fitted lighter jockey wheels and they swapped the saddle for a San Marco Aspide Carbon FX. Ridley readily admit they could have saved more weight with the saddle, but they didn’t want to sacrifice comfort. A good call, we’d say.
A full carbon seatpost is used. Titanium bolts are used in the stem and they fitted a 10.5g seatpost clamp.
On went a set of Look Keo Blade Carbon Titanium pedals (94.7g each).
And the final touch was a set of Nokon cables.
There you go, a bunch of marginal changes that contribute to a reasonable weight saving, all while using off-the-shelf parts.
Who hasn’t looked at their bike and eyed up a few changes here and there that could shed some weight. Are you planning any weight saving upgrades? Let’s hear about them. I’m eyeing up some lighter wheels for race season myself, and perhaps a lighter seatpost while I’m at it.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.