One thing is undisputed in cycling technology: light bikes come with a huge number of benefits.
The most significant of these is that a lighter bike lends itself to faster acceleration and deceleration. If you’re tackling a climb, you simply have less weight to drag up the hill, and it makes it easier to fight gravity.
If you’re trying to slow down, you’re carrying less mass, and therefore less momentum, so can decelerate more sharply.
Having a lighter bike is clearly a benefit. But what are the lightest road, mountain, and electric bikes available to the public?
We’ll give you the lowdown on the lightest bikes money can buy today – plus some that are so experimental you can’t even buy them! We’ll be covering:
- The UCI Weight Limit
- The Lightest Road Bike In Production
- The Lightest Gravel Bike In Production
- The Lightest Mountain Bike In Production
- The Lightest Electric Bike In Production
- The Lightest Non-Production Bikes
Let’s get started!
The UCI Weight Limit
Lighter bikes are desirable in the professional cycling world.
You may be surprised to learn, however, that in professional UCI-organized cycling events, there is a minimum bicycle weight permitted – and it’s not as low as you might think.
The UCI weight limit is 6.8 kg (15 lbs). All professional cyclists must adhere to this rule in UCI-organized events and are not allowed to enter the race on any bike lighter than 6.8 kg.
This rule has been controversial in the cycling world, and for good reason. There are many production bikes available to buy for amateur cyclists that are deemed to be UCI-illegal.
Why should professional cyclists have to use bikes that are intentionally made to be heavier so that they can adhere to an arbitrary minimum weight when even amateur cyclists are riding around on lighter bikes than them?
However controversial this rule is, it still holds, and so you’ll never see anyone in the pro-peloton riding a bike that weighs less than 6.8 kg.
- Want to know more about the UCI weight limit and its controversy? Check out What Is The UCI Weight Limit – And Why Does It Exist?
The Lightest Production Road bike
Many production road bikes attempt to adhere to the UCI’s weight limit in an attempt to be available for professional riders to use in UCI-organized events. This results in a huge amount of production bikes weighing around the 6.8 kg mark.
However, there remain a significant number of production bikes – available to buy for the public – that are UCI-illegal as they weigh in at less than 6.8 kg.
The lightest production road bike available to buy in 2023 is the AX Lightness Vial Evo Ultra, weighing in at an astonishingly low 4.4 kg. That’s 2.4 kg less than the lightest permitted bikes in the pro peloton!
The bike is, of course, completely made from carbon fiber, and the frame weighs just 600 g – that’s around the weight of a pint of milk!
Many of the components, including the wheels, seatpost, saddle, stem, brakes, and bottle cage, have been custom-made by AX Lightness themselves in order to ensure that as many grams are shaved off the weight as possible.
THM made the proprietary 265 g forks and the ultra-light carbon cranks, whilst Praxis made the chainrings. Everything on this bike is carbon fiber – except the chain, of course, and although the bearings are carbon, they are ceramic-coated to ensure smooth rolling.
This bike is available to the public for purchase. However, it will set you back a cool $11,000 for the Dura-Ace Di2 version.
There is also a disc brake version available, though it comes with a not-so-insignificant weight penalty, considering this bike’s main allure is its weight.
The Lightest Production Gravel Bike
Gravel bikes are generally heavier than road bikes.
They need to support more weight, absorb more impact on uneven ground, and simply need more material to allow for wider tires and flared handlebars, for example.
There’s a cruel irony in this fact though: gravel bikes would benefit far more from being light than road bikes.
The additional nippiness and agility are far more of a strength when you regularly need to avoid obstacles, traverse super-tight off-road corners, and get up ridiculously steep banks.
However, the lightest gravel bike in the world isn’t exactly heavy – in fact, at just 6.9 kg, the S-Works Crux is only 100 g heavier than the UCI weight limit.
Equipped with SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset, (with XPLR derailleur for compatibility with bigger cassettes), carbon fiber frame, forks, cockpit, and seatpost, and even a SRAM Red AXS power meter in the cranks – the Crux really is a top-of-the-line gravel grinder.
It’s not cheap, though, and will set you back over $12,000!
The Lightest Production Mountain Bike
By the nature of mountain bikes, they are necessarily heavier.
Suspension, huge, chunky wheels, flat handlebars, and the need to take huge impacts means that they just have to weigh more than a road or gravel bike.
The lightest production mountain bike, however, would still be considered relatively light for a road bike, at just 7.8 kg.
With a SRAM XX1 Eagle groupset, fully carbon frame, RockShox 100mm travel forks, Mavic Crossmax Carbon rims, and Maxxis tires, the Mondraker Podium once again comes with flagship components across the board.
A pattern seems to be emerging here (ultra-light bikes are extremely expensive!), and this bike will set you back a small fortune, retailing at around $10,000.
The lightest production Electric Bike
Electric bikes are much heavier because of the batteries.
Even with an extremely lightweight frame and components, there is just a minimum weight of Lithium required for a battery of sufficient capacity to provide 200W+ of assistance.
This means that even the very lightest electric bikes in the world still come in at over 10 kg. The lightest of the bunch is – unsurprisingly – a road bike. As you may have noticed from the other categories, road bikes require the least material and are usually the lightest.
The lightest production electric bike is the Ribble Endurance SL e Hero, weighing in at just 10.5 kg.
The full carbon machine is kitted out with superlight carbon LEVEL (Ribble’s own component brand) wheels, stem, seatpost, and handlebars.
Equipped with nothing but the best in terms of components, the Ribble Endurance SL e Hero comes within Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace Di2 2×12 groupset, providing extremely smooth and reliable shifting, lightweight components, and a sleek aesthetic.
It may be a surprise to many then that this bike is actually the cheapest on the list, even though it makes no compromises in terms of build quality, componentry, and aesthetic.
At $7000, it’s certainly not affordable either though.
The lightest non-production bikes
So, these are the lightest possible bikes that the public is able to buy, but are there any custom bikes that are lighter?
The cycling community is always making alterations to their bikes in an attempt to gain something from it – it’s how the whole discipline of fat biking came to be.
One area in which this is particularly common is hill climb racing. In hill climb racing, you want your bike to be as light as you can possibly make it in order to reduce the gravitational resistive force to your motion as you go up the hill.
For this reason, many hill climb racers make consumer-level alterations to their bikes in order to shave some grams. Some common ploys here include drilling your handlebars, shortening handlebars, drilling your frame, cranks, forks, pedals, axles, and anywhere else!
Drilling holes in components removes material, reducing the weight, and, if done correctly, shouldn’t compromise the structural integrity of the bike.
Some of the most extreme examples of this can lead to already extremely lightweight production bikes being customized to weigh in at even less than 4 kg.
The lightest bike in existence, though, is even more impressive.
Borrowing parts and technology from all over the place – including the previous lightest bike in the world, non-production materials from F1, and customized parts produced by top-end suppliers, the lightest bike in the world is a ridiculous 2.7 kg.
It’s difficult to fathom how light this really is. It is 10% lighter than two standard bags of flour. Holding an object so large with such utility that weighs so little must be a bizarre experience.
To make this bike, the creator commissioned many different manufacturers to make custom parts, such as the proprietary Dash hubs. But additionally, it borrowed the technology for the carbon fiber from F1, and this type of carbon isn’t even available to buy for manufacturers.
It’s clear that such a bike is unattainable for the average amateur cyclist such as you or me, but it really does highlight the possibilities of cycling manufacturing.
The fact that a bike like this is even possible makes you wonder what the future holds for the production of ultra-light bikes.