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Weight weenie fever hits Ridley as they put an already light bike on a diet

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.

12 comments

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themartincox [545 posts] 4 years ago
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I am looking at making a 5kg weight saving, 4.3 from me and then just carrying one water bottle instead of 2 nearly 800 grams there alone!

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Gero [18 posts] 4 years ago
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I usually manage to take a 1kg sh1t before a ride. Then I chuck a shed load of cash at the LBS and they change all the components for the most expensive available.
All I need to do now is stop drinking beer and eating food and I can get myself down to 70kg's and ride like a god.

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notfastenough [3719 posts] 4 years ago
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I've shed 3kg from me, and about 600kg from my wheels. Noticeable difference.

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Lungsofa74yearold [293 posts] 4 years ago
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Gero wrote:

I usually manage to take a 1kg sh1t before a ride. Then I chuck a shed load of cash at the LBS and they change all the components for the most expensive available.
All I need to do now is stop drinking beer and eating food and I can get myself down to 70kg's and ride like a god.

Very droll.  4 1kg sh1ts - you must be on first name terms with dynorod - scary  19

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PowerPedal [1 post] 4 years ago
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Give it the 'fixie' treatment, should save another kilo. 4.5Kg, thats more like it. Any why not fill the frame, tubes, post and bars with helium!

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zagatosam [59 posts] 4 years ago
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I like to lighten up my wheels. Rotating weight etc etc. but not with latex inner tubes which seem to have a nasty habit of exploding at unsociable times. My neighbours thought I was doing an Oscar Pistorius on my girlfriend the other night and only just avoided calling the cops :-O Butyl next time. And you can repair them

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Paul J [926 posts] 4 years ago
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You say this bike makes a "mockery" of the UCI minimum-weight rule, but then you also say "Okay so the parts they used are eye-wateringly expensive, but light bikes come with heavy price tags, as we all know". Which makes it clear why this bike does *not* make a mockery of that rule at all - indeed, it proves why the rule *exists*.

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yocto [20 posts] 4 years ago
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Paul J wrote:

You say this bike makes a "mockery" of the UCI minimum-weight rule, but then you also say "Okay so the parts they used are eye-wateringly expensive, but light bikes come with heavy price tags, as we all know". Which makes it clear why this bike does *not* make a mockery of that rule at all - indeed, it proves why the rule *exists*.

I understood the weight limit rule existed so that bike companies don’t start making risks on safety in the name of lightness (also to create a level playing field). We don’t want the frame snapping on Cavendish now! It’s got nothing to do with how expensive the components/frame/wheels/etc are.

As people want to buy the same bike as Wiggins and co, making a bike lighter than his will not sell as well so are generally not made. Most people would not understand why the ‘top of the range’ bike (lighter than the UCI minimum) is not being ridden in the TdF/ Giro/ Olympics etc. If the UCI were to reduce the limit to 5.5kg, watch how every bicycle in the pro peloton would now weigh this, regardless of cost.

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WolfieSmith [1380 posts] 4 years ago
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Boring. I thought from the title actual helium played a part. If you made the frame tubes airtight and you replaced the air in the tubes with helium surely the bike would be a weensier bit lighter?

And if you rode naked as well..? Marginal gains and all that..

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Chris S [44 posts] 4 years ago
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From a simple structural engineer's standpoint, the best way to save weight on any of today's 'light' bikes would be to make them bespoke, that is, remove all the joints that allow them to be adjusted to fit individuals' physical (or psychological) needs or preferences. So integrate the seat frame with the tube, integrate the seat tube with the frame, integrate the handlebar with the steering head. That way you save the weight of several nuts and bolts, and areas with double-thickness carbon composite. Now that would be a way to make your bike seriously expensive, and you might even save another half a kilo. And it'd not be worth too much to a thief, as it'd take a hacksaw and a carbon repair kit to make it fit anyone but the original owner. But practical? No.

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road ronin [52 posts] 4 years ago
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chrisS love this idea my be a big waiting list for any new bikes as well but would start a frame builders boom putting the country back on it feet and restoring our AAA world status
 4 4 4 4

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Paul J [926 posts] 4 years ago
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yocto: That was one justification, yes. Another was to keep costs of competitive equipment in check. The general principle for the rule is the Lugano charter, that cycling should primarily be a human, physical competition:

http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/12/bikes-and-tech/the-torqued-wrench...