If you had to choose a bike for a mountain stage, which one would you go for? Probably the lightest one possible, right? This is what we’ll tackle in this blog post: the best lightweight climbing bikes in 2023. We had been waiting to publish this article until we were able to present some of the newest, most anticipated models on the market. And yes, you know the rule of thumb: the lighter the better! However, just like the famous engineer Keith Bontrager once said: “Strong, light, cheap: pick two” – getting a lightweight bike might be a bit pricey. The models on our list are premium quality, and won’t suit every pocket. But who said we can’t dream a little. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at them:
We have to begin with one of the three bikes Jonas Vingegaard rode to win the second Tour de France: a Cervélo r5 with a Sram Red Etap AXS groupset. The full price of this bike rounds up to €13,550. In a size 54 with 40/44 mm wheels, pedals and bottle cage it weighs 7.07 kg. This same model but with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and 30/37 mm wheels is a little cheaper and around 240 grams lighter.
Now that we have kickstarted this list with a Tour winning bike, we proceed with the next in line. This is Tadej Pogačar’s bike, and not one you can purchase in a store in its full setting. This bike is an exclusive combination of components made for the Slovenian team. Built-in handlebars and Enve 4.5 wheels (this brand has even lighter wheels available on the market), chainrings and brake discs from Carbon-Ti and seatpost from the Spanish brand Darimo. This is a dream bike that, in a size 48.5, with pedals and bottle cage, weighs 6.99 kg, at a price of €15,260.
Specialized S-Works sl8 and Aethos
Talking about new bikes on the market, this is the very first and most important one of the year. We’re talking about one of the most wanted bikes, the sl8 Tarmac. It’s slightly more aero, but also lighter than its previous model. The full price with a Shimano Dura-Ace 12s groupset is €14,000. A size 56 without pedals and no bottle cage weighs 6.62 kg. You can find this data on the Specialized website, but it is always good to compare different sources. The following video shows a size 52 that weighs 6.63 kg.
Now, if you want to go lighter and quite below the legal limit marked by the Union Cycliste Internationale (the current rule states that the weight of the bicycle cannot be less than 6.8 kg), the Specialized S-Works Aethos is the bike for you. With a Shimano Dura-Ace 12s groupset and in a size 52, no pedals and no bottle cage, this bike weighs just a little bit more than 6 kg, but the price stays the same: €14,000.
Factor O2 VAM 2023
Next in new arrivals this year, we have the O2 VAM model by Factor. This is a bike that weighs exactly 6.32 kg in a size 56, without pedals and no bottle cage. Cyclists from the Israel Premier Tech team will have to use thicker and heavier wheels with this bike to reach the minimum of 6.8 kg required by the UCI. The rest of us mortals will “just” have to worry about the price, that’s also around €14,000.
Orbea Orca 2024
This Basque Country brand is back to the origins of their model Orca, after having played around with aerodynamics with their previous bike design. This new bike has a traditional structure that prioritizes weight and rigidity. The premium version of this bike, with a Dura-Ace groupset and in a size 53 without pedals, weighs 6.7 kg for a full price of €10,999.
Giant TCR Advanced SL 0
This bike is not a newly introduced model, as this design has been on the market since 2020. But why change a winning horse? There’s no doubt that the TCR model from this Taiwanese brand is an all-terrain bike that shines when the road gets steep. Its premium model has been increasing in price in the last few years and now, with a Shimano Dura-Ace 12s groupset, it costs €11,499. In a size S, no pedals and no bottle cage, it weighs 6.7 kg.
Canyon Ultimate CFR
The German brand presented this bike in 2022 and it still offers the best price/kg ratio. The premium model, with a Shimano Dura-Ace 12s groupset, has a full price of €9,999. It weighs 6.64 kg in size M, no pedals and no bottle cage, and with quite heavy wheels. Changing these wheels for a lighter pair will make this bike even more illegal, as you can see in the following video:
Trek Emonda SLR 9
This climbing bike from the American brand really stands out thanks to its lightness and unmistakable design. The premium model has a retail price of €12,999 and in size 56, no pedals and no bottle cage, weighs 6.6 kg. In smaller sizes, like the one used by Frenchman Kenny Elissonde, it would need a heavier bottom bracket in order to reach the legal requirements.
Cannondale Supersix Evo LAB71
This brand from Connecticut presented the new SuperSix at the beginning of 2023, adding a new level above the model Hi-MOD, their previous premium bike. Now, the crème de la crème in carbon fiber is the LAB71 for an extra €1000, reaching a full price of €14,999. Size 54, with pedals and bottle cage, weighs below 7 kg.
Van Rysel RCR Pro
Here’s a bike that isn’t available on the market yet, but that will be revealed as soon as the French team AG2R Citroën confirms to be using Van Rysel bikes in 2024. The team will most likely choose a RCR Pro frame with groupsets from Campagnolo or Shimano. Taking into account that this bike model with a Shimano Ultegra groupset in a size M weighs 7.2 kg, we can expect a Van Rysel with a Shimano Dura-Ace weighing less than 7 kg, for a similar price or below when compared to the aforementioned Canyon model.