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Are climbing bikes still a thing?
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I bought my current summer bike back in 2014, it's a Cervelo R3 running Dura Ace 9000 and Fulcrum Zero wheels. I've not actually weighed it since the DA upgrade but I think it's in the region of 7.5 kg. I live in a hilly area, I don't race and I mostly ride alone, I have my TT for tris so aero bikes never really excited me.

It's a significant birthday this year so my wife suggested I get a new summer bike as I've essentially ridden my R3 through the winter this year, turbo training when it's icy out. I really love having the lightest/stiffest bike I can for the climbs but I know the new r5 has actually moved away from being as light as possible.

I've got a test ride on an Emonda SLR later in the week but I'm wondering if I've missed anything in my hunt for a new bike? I'm conscious that unless it's a decent upgrade on my R3 it may well be a bit pointless! (When I say I like climbs I have 4 cat 3s within 5 miles of my house, each over 9% average grade, so I'm talking about proper hills rather than long drags or undulations!

So, if you were in the market for a new bike and wanted to focus on the climbs where would you spend £4000-£4500? I am quite keen to end up with an additional bike to have different ones for summer/winter riding rather than upgrading my R3 wheels or going full weight weenie on the setup (the DA 9000 colours work great with my R3 at present!)

Or are climbing bikes dead?

Oh, and I really don't want to go disc just yet, everything I own is 11s rim brake so I'm keen to keep it that way for now.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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I don't know, but any wife who tells you to get a new "summer bike" is somewhere in the top first percentile of wives.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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The Vegan Cyclist in YouTube did a video on his climbing bike last year. He went with a Canyon that had rim brakes and mechanical shifting but I can’t recall any other specifics.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
I don't know, but any wife who tells you to get a new "summer bike" is somewhere in the top first percentile of wives.

Truest statement on the internet.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Parkland] [ In reply to ]
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I still have a climbing bike. It is a Moots, same as my other Moots but with a compact crank. As I age the compact cranks seem more and more like a good idea as the mountains don't age as fast as I do.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Parkland] [ In reply to ]
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Parkland wrote:
trail wrote:
I don't know, but any wife who tells you to get a new "summer bike" is somewhere in the top first percentile of wives.

Truest statement on the internet.

I wholeheartedly agree! I even vaguely protested that it was a bit much but she was set on the idea! I'm definitely not one of those that moans about his other half!!
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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If you dont race then it seems the answer would be whatever gets you excited.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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I think of them as "Joy Bikes." My road bike is built for light weight. I called it a "climbing bike" when I was collecting the parts. But in its simplest form, it is a bike that maximizes the pleasure of riding. The thing I found about my light bike is that it feels very different, especially at lower speeds <20 MPH. Those small accelerations away from stops that are frequent in road and group riding feel like you have electric assistance. The cornering with a light, aggressive fame and light wheels feel rail-assisted. The bike delivers total joy through all aspects of riding. It is definitely not as fast as my friend's Venge with 60mm wheels, but his doesn't feel like mine, and when I am training on the road bike, I do not care as much as how fast it is.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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exxxviii wrote:
I think of them as "Joy Bikes." My road bike is built for light weight. I called it a "climbing bike" when I was collecting the parts. But in its simplest form, it is a bike that maximizes the pleasure of riding. The thing I found about my light bike is that it feels very different, especially at lower speeds <20 MPH. Those small accelerations away from stops that are frequent in road and group riding feel like you have electric assistance. The cornering with a light, aggressive fame and light wheels feel rail-assisted. The bike delivers total joy through all aspects of riding. It is definitely not as fast as my friend's Venge with 60mm wheels, but his doesn't feel like mine, and when I am training on the road bike, I do not care as much as how fast it is.

I think you've summed it up perfectly! I still remember the first time I rode my R3, it felt exactly like you describe, that's what has me leaning towards the SLR at the moment. Just picking up a 6.5 kilo bike feels exciting!
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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Seems to me any higher-end, non-aero, rim-brake "performance" or "race" bike is a candidate. Sub-1000g frames, which used to be high end, are ordinary these days. Some of the super light stuff is knocking on the door of 700g. Even aero-bike frames have gotten under a kilo; the weight penalty for choosing to be slippery, as well as the "stiffness gap," has diminished. Much of the final weight outcome comes down to component selection. Long story short, find any rim-brake frame you like, and you can mostly likely build it out to be at least as light as, and probably lighter than, what you have now.

A few other options you might want to look at:

-Specialized Tarmac SL6 rim brake. The S-Works is out of your stated budget, but I've seen a sub-7kg build on the "Pro" frame with Ultegra. And while it's not a full-on "aero" bike, it has a bit more aero optimization than the typical stick-tube climber. (FWIW, in a test I recently saw that compared aero race bikes to their non-aero counterparts, the Emonda was the least aero bike in the test, while the Tarmac was the lowest drag "non-aero" bike.)

-Orbea Orca OMR. The Orca still has plenty of rim brake offerings. The highest-level frame (OMR) is sub 800g. The excellent MyO program allows you to customize the paint colors for no charge, and make some component substitutions. (Pro-tip: if you prefer a particular aftermarket wheel set, you can usually sub out the spec premium wheels on a high end Orbea build for a set of mid-range alloys for a fairly substantial discount). Or you can MyO just a frame and build to suit.

-Cannondale SuperSix Evo. The "Hi-mod" is pricey, but there are some nice, presumably pretty light builds (Dura Ace, Red eTap) in the second tier frame at reasonable prices.

"They're made of latex, not nitroglycerin"
Last edited by: gary p: Feb 10, 19 10:06
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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Pb wrote:
Just picking up a 6.5 kilo bike feels exciting!
Yeah, I need to weigh mine. It is a very stiff frame marketed as a climbing frame, and it is also light. I think my bike is under 6.8kg, and it could be below 6.5kg.

I just upgraded my wheels from a very light ~1,400g set of wheels. I debated getting HED Jet 4 Black wheels because they look cool and are more aero. But, I went with the lighter Ardennes Black, because I loved how my original set felt at their feather weight.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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Having a light bike is a lot of fun. Sourcing parts, building it, and especially riding it. I built a sub 5.7kg bike about 10 years ago. Planet X frame. I also have a 7k Colnago C59 that's right at 7kg. We have a roughly 7 mile hillclimb about an hour away from me. 7.1% average grade. The Colnago is faster up it. The Planet X wasn't a noodle, but it didn't ride like the Colnago. This was especially true on descents.

What I learned (at least anecdotally) was that for climbing, a stiffer frame was worth more that 1.3kg.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [FatandSlow] [ In reply to ]
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I am also looking for a light bike, favouring the rose x-lite rim brake at the moment with mechanical sram force
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [parfi1959] [ In reply to ]
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I built my current TCR SL up with SRAM Red etap, Fulcrum Racing 0 wheels and other “lightish” parts was around 6.1 kg! I actually ended up adding a heavier cassette and deeper rims to add a little meat to it!!! The Rear Fulcrum wheel started flexing a bit on longer sustained climbs.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [ctree] [ In reply to ]
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ctree wrote:
The Vegan Cyclist in YouTube did a video on his climbing bike last year. He went with a Canyon that had rim brakes and mechanical shifting but I can’t recall any other specifics.

There was an interesting GCN video on group weights. Basically electronic s as light or lighter than mechanical when you add up all the little bits. Now disc vs rim is another matter and you can get some really light rim brakes, but basic drivetrain weight is a wash.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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Hi

Keep the bike get a stupid light Wheelset.
All Carbon, Latex tubs and top of the line tires.
Wheels make the bike
JB
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [ctree] [ In reply to ]
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ctree wrote:
The Vegan Cyclist in YouTube did a video on his climbing bike last year. He went with a Canyon that had rim brakes and mechanical shifting but I can’t recall any other specifics.

Wanna say he went with the Ultimate CF SLX with rim brakes and mech shifting. That would be Canyon's climbing bike. He did mech to make it more reasonably priced if I remember right, and because the EVO is stupid expensive. Think that in the EU the SLX can be done for 5200 Euros at it's absolute entry level, but I don't think they offer it in anything less than Di2 anymore.

The difference between the CF and the CF SLX is roughly 0.8 kg, which for me wasn't enough to pay the extra sticker price. Plus I bought without Di2, and I'm gonna use the money savings to upgrade the wheelset.

Another climbing bike that is above that 5k range by a tad is the Factor O2 - wish I could have just blown my budget and gotten that bike.

Chasing PB Podcast Latest interview with Eli Hemming on Targeting a US MTR spot in Tokyo
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [parfi1959] [ In reply to ]
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parfi1959 wrote:
I am also looking for a light bike, favouring the rose x-lite rim brake at the moment with mechanical sram force

I have a 2016 X-lite team. Ultegra Di2 with Ksyrium exalith pro wheels. That bike in the hills is excellent, nothing short. Weighed 6.75kg out the box. You'd be under 6.5kg easily with SRAM Force I would imagine.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Jere B] [ In reply to ]
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Jere B wrote:
Hi

Keep the bike get a stupid light Wheelset.
All Carbon, Latex tubs and top of the line tires.
Wheels make the bike
JB
No chance I'd get all carbon wheels if was looking for something to ride regularly on 9% average hills.
Braking power, and reliability, matter a lot on steep hills. I'm assuming he descends them after climbing!
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Ai_1] [ In reply to ]
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Hi

18% plus hills here thousands of miles.
Have ever owned Top end super light wheels?
Apparently not
JB
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Jere B] [ In reply to ]
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What do you weigh?

And I'm not especially interested in anecdotes. I'll stick with engineering when topic at hand.
Carbon is not a great material for rim brake tracks. It can be made work, but it's a compromise.
I'm well aware that the cycling community is obsessed with carbon and think it's got magical, universal superiority qualities. That doesn't make it true. If I was buying a set of wheels specifically for flat TTs I might consider carbon wheels IF I knew they were going to be more aerodynamic, but to be honest I can't see it ever being a terribly significant benefit. However, I do a mix of riding and don't want to own numerous several wheel-sets. As such, and especially when weighing over 80kg and doing a lot of fast descending, aluminium alloys are superior material for the job IMO. Alloy only rims are fine if you're not worried about aerodynamics or they can be paired with bonded carbon fairings at a fairly small weight penalty if you want a deeper rim section (e.g. HED Jet 6). Carbon wheels look pretty and can be lighter, especially if tubular, but as a mechanical engineer and an aerodynamicist, I don't think they are clearly superior. Certainly not enough to justify the cost. The choice of material is often a matter of marketing over good engineering IMO.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Ai_1] [ In reply to ]
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Hi

PB asked if he should get a new bike I suggested new wheels.
He has a great bike and Components but could use a wheel up grade.
And thanks for saving my life riding 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year on Carbon.
For sale
Light weight Standerd 3
Reynold RZR
Mavic Ultmates
Mad Fiber Clincher
Just kidding I like my unsafe wheels
JB
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Pb] [ In reply to ]
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Most of your weight savings in a "climbing bike" is with the components. You can get an aluminum frame down to 13.5 pounds as a complete bike if you select all the components with weight in mind. Maybe even a lot lower if it's a small frame and you go real weight weenie with things like a carbon saddle and super light and narrow tubulars. The difference between the lightest carbon frame and something like a CAAD12 aluminum frame is maybe 600 grams max...or just over a pound.

But unless you're actually trying to compete in hill climbing races, I'd rather buy a bike that's more fun to ride. I'd much rather have a solid 16 pound bike that's plenty stiff for sprints and diving into corners while accommodating the newer trend in wider rims/tires. Having some aero properties built in doesn't hurt either.

I think that's where most of the road market is going these days. The "value" of lightweight has been debunked, so buyers are looking for more value in aerodynamics, comfort, and practicality. It's why people are also more open to pay for electronic shifting even though it weighs more...and disc brakes if that's you're thing.
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Jason N] [ In reply to ]
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I know what you are saying about carbon wheels, but as has been said by others I do prefer alloy braking. I'm really keen to get an additional bike to be honest. Im 6 foot and 65kg so I don't suppose carbon would be too bad for braking. Maybe you're right about components, I decided a while back that I wouldn't go full weight weenie with the cervelo, I prefer mechanical so went for the DA 9000 after having Ultegra di2 for a while. I think the idea of a joy bike is definitely the way to go. I'll swing a leg over a few later this week and see what gets me excited!
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Re: Are climbing bikes still a thing? [Jere B] [ In reply to ]
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Jere B wrote:
Hi

PB asked if he should get a new bike I suggested new wheels.
He has a great bike and Components but could use a wheel up grade.
And thanks for saving my life riding 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year on Carbon.
For sale
Light weight Standerd 3
Reynold RZR
Mavic Ultmates
Mad Fiber Clincher
Just kidding I like my unsafe wheels
JB
No idea why you're continuing with this adversarial attitude but whatever.
You've clearly no intention if havinf a constructive discussion.

Did you answer my question about your weight? No

Did I say your wheels were dangerous? No, but you pretended I did.

Did you address any of the points I actually made? No
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