Your Bike Can Be Lighter than a TDF Bike: Here's How

Because of UCI rules, regular riders can actually ride bikes that are lighter than the pro bikes of the Tour de France. If you want the ultimate lightweight road bike, here's what you need to look for.

Your Bike Can Be Lighter than a TDF Bike: Here's How

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Road

There’s a magic number in cycling — 14.99lbs (6.8kg) — the minimum bike weight as dictated by the UCI rules. Get a bike under this, and you can brag that it’s lighter than what the pros ride. While those poor sods are forced to slog up massive Tour de France climbs aboard 15+ pound porkers, we mortals have the freedom to ride sub-15-pound featherweights. 

There’s something undeniably cool about a bike that you can lift with just a pinky finger. The fact that it’s “illegal” in the eyes of the UCI just makes it even cooler. Here’s how you can get a bike lighter than any Tour de France-winning machine.  

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How to get the lightest road bike

If you have an extra $15,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can just buy a brand-new carbon superbike that’s under 15 pounds out of the box. But if you’re willing to look at some older, used bikes, it’s possible to get a sub-15-pound bike for a shockingly affordable price. Here at The Pro’s Closet, we weigh every single bike we sell and list the weight in the specifications. So, you can be 100% certain that the bike you’re buying will shirk the UCI's arbitrary rules. 

However, bikes that come under 15 pounds from the manufacturer are actually quite rare. Most lightweight road bikes will fall within the 15-17 pound range. This is because bike designers have to consider other important factors like aerodynamics, ride quality, durability, and cost. If you’re hunting the used market for a bike lighter than what the pros ride, here’s what you need to look for:

Carbon fiber

Sorry to disappoint the “steel is real” crowd or the Aluminati, but the best frame material for building ultra-light bikes is carbon fiber. No other frame material matches carbon’s strength to weight ratio. Metal bikes have managed to go under 15 pounds (a great example is Charlie Cunningham’s 1974 Alan), but these bikes usually end up incredibly flexy and flimsy. 

Skinny round tubes

Who needs aerodynamics? Not weight weenies. If your primary goal is shedding grams, then frames using the classic round tube shape are the way to go because they use the least amount of material. They won’t be able to slice through the wind as easily, but you can just draft your rivals until you reach the climbs. 

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Rim brakes

Sometimes we must look back to move forward. (Or upward?) Disc brakes provide more power, modulation, and consistency in bad weather, but add extra weight. Rim brakes are simpler and thus lighter. It is possible to get a disc brake bike under the threshold, but it will cost a lot more.  

Small sizing 

Smaller frames, of course, are lighter. If you’re tall though, all hope is not lost. Optimize everything else, and size down your frame as much as possible. Downsized bikes might not be comfortable, but breaking the rules rarely is. That being said, a good bike fit is often a better upgrade than a lighter bike. This is only for the most committed of weight weenies. 

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Lightweight road bikes under 15lbs

Want an “illegally” light bike right out of the box? Take a look at these feathery machines. The carbon frames are designed to be among the lightest available, and they’re already kitted out with the best lightweight components. 

Specialized S-Works Aethos

Specialized S-works aethos

[product-block handle="2022-specialized-s-works-aethos-l"/]

Weight: 14lbs 8oz 

When it comes to superbikes that weigh less than 15 pounds, the Specialized S-Works Aethos is definitely at the top of the list. With a frame weight of 588g (56cm), it’s the lightest disc brake frame ever made. Even large sizes easily come in under 15 pounds. 

Trek Emonda SLR 8

Trek Emonda SLR

[product-block handle="2015-trek-emonda-slr-8-m"/]

Weight: 14lbs 6oz 

The Trek Emonda SLR was designed from the get-go to be one of the lightest bikes ever, and some early builds came in under 14 pounds. The disc brake version released in 2018 even claims to be 25 grams lighter than the first-gen rim brake version. For under $3,000, this Emonda is an absolute steal. 

Cannondale SuperSix Evo

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Black Inc.

[product-block handle="2015-cannondale-supersix-evo-black-inc-m-1"/]

Weight: 14lbs 7oz

The older SuperSix Evo has been a longtime favorite of weight weenies because the Hi-Mod frames only weighed 639 grams, making them some of the lightest bikes for the money. The limited edition Black Inc. models like this one took things to the next level with special paint and top-spec builds. 

Lightweight road bikes close to 15lbs

For most riders, the easiest way to get a bike under 15 pounds is to buy an already lightweight bike, then add a few mods to trim grams. The best place to start is a bike in the 15-16 pound range but built with some lower-end components. It will already have a lightweight carbon frame, and it’ll be much easier and cheaper to shed that last pound. Here are a few great options to consider.   

Scott Addict SL

Scott Addict SL

[product-block handle="2016-scott-addict-sl-m-1"/]

Weight: 15lbs 1oz

This Scott Addict is only an ounce away from dipping under 15 pounds! You could save a lot of money by keeping the alloy wheels because swapping the Thomson Elite alloy seatpost for a lighter carbon post will probably be enough. Or go crazy with the carbon wheels and end up with a 14-pound featherweight. 

Cervelo Rca

Cervelo RCA

[product-block handle="2014-cervelo-rca-l"/]

Weight: 15lbs 11oz

When it came out, the Cervelo Rca was a superbike with a $10,000 frame that weighed only 667g. At that weight, we know for sure this frame can be built below the limit. It just needs to ditch the budget alloy wheels for carbon, and swap to a lightweight crankset to match the rest of the Dura-Ace drivetrain. 

Bianchi Specialissima

Bianchi Specialissima

[product-block handle="2018-bianchi-specialissima-pantani-20th-anniversary-xs"/]

Weight: 15lbs 6oz

Need some Italian zest in your diet plan? This Bianchi Specialissima just needs to drop 6 ounces. Sell the Zipp 303 carbon wheels and put that money toward a shallower, lighter wheelset to make it under the weight limit. If that’s not quite enough, swapping the steel Ultegra cassette to a titanium Dura-Ace cassette should do the trick. 

Giant TCR Advanced

Giant TCR Advanced

[product-block handle="2017-giant-tcr-advanced-pro-1-m-1"/]

Weight: 15lbs 8oz

This sub-$3,000 Giant TCR is super affordable and only half a pound above the weight limit. A set of carbon wheels will get you most of the way there. Adding carbon bars, a lighter crankset, and maybe a lighter cassette will finish it off. 

The best lightweight carbon road bike wheels

For the bikes above, I suggested swapping to lightweight carbon wheels. Other than the frame, wheels are the biggest contributor to your bike’s overall weight. Not only that, wheels are rotating weight. Shedding grams here will make the most noticeable difference in your acceleration and performance. Start with wheel upgrades before you look at drivetrain components like cranksets and cassettes, cockpit components like bars, saddles, and seatposts, or ultra-weenie mods like titanium bolts. 

The average road wheelset is around 1,600-2,000 grams, so any carbon wheelset that weighs under that is exceptionally light. If you want the best of the best, then look at sub-1,400 gram wheels. You could save up to a couple of pounds just by upgrading wheels! Here are some super-light wheelsets to put on your wish list.  

ENVE SES 2.3

ENVE SES 2.3

[product-block handle="2022-enve-ses-2-3c-tubeless-carbon-wheel-set-xdr"/]

Weight: 1,197 grams

ENVE has returned to the weight weenie game with its brand new SES 2.3. It comes in under 1,200 grams, but it’s tough enough for all-around riding. I tested these wheels earlier this year and loved how stiff they felt despite their incredibly low weight. 

Roval Alpinist CLX

[product-block handle="roval-alpinist-clx-disc-xdr"/]

Weight: 1,270 grams

The Alpinist CLX is Roval’s lightest wheel, and it’s the wheel you’ll see used on big Tour de France climbs by Specialized-sponsored teams like Quick-Step, Bora, and TotalEnergies. If you’re on a budget, the cheaper Alipinst CL is still under 1,400 grams and is a great alternative.   

Lightweight Meilenstein Obermayer

[product-block handle="lightweight-obermeyer-carbon-tubular-700c-wheelset"/]

Weight: 1010 grams

As the name implies, Lightweight wheels are absurdly lightweight. Ineos Grenadiers, one of the top Tour de France teams, made waves when its riders swapped to Lightweight Meilenstein Obermayers for big mountain stages. 

Schmolke TLO

[product-block handle="schmolke-tlo-30"/]

Weight: 1050 grams

I’m a big fan of Gustav Gullholm, a.k.a. Dangerholm because he’s the ultimate weight weenie. His go-to component brand is Schmolke Carbon. Engineered in Germany, these feathery TLO 30 wheels are competitive with Lightweights. 

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Final thoughts

Tadej Pogacar Tour de France bike weightTwo-time Tour de France winner, Tadej Pogačar, rides a bike over 15lbs. It doesn't stop him from dominating climbs. 

To be clear, I’ve always said that bike weight doesn't matter as much as people like to think. The rider plays the biggest role in performance. If you want to go fast, focusing on aerodynamics is often a better place to spend your money. And to be real, any road bike in the 15-17 pound range will feel exceptionally light. For the average rider, there’s really no need to go lighter than that. But if you’re a tinkerer, it can be incredibly satisfying to optimize the weight of your bike. That’s part of the fun of cycling. Just don’t expect to climb like a pro even if your bike is lighter than a pro’s! 

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