Aerodynamics may be the modern science of road bikes, but it will never replace the age-old battle against weight when it comes to competitive cycling.
Right from the very first time that cyclists came up with the idea of racing each other, the importance of having as light a machine as possible to maximise every revolution of the pedals has been key.
The battle against the gram has been a constant one.
But, what is unusual when it comes to lightweight machinery is that the pros will actually envy some of the machines that the rest of us can simply walk into our local bikes shops and purhcase. Why? Well, back in 2000, the UCI announced that it was instigating a minimum weight limit of 6.8kg on the machinery of the pro peloton.
The ultimate lightweight
When the ranks of the pro peloton are strapping lead weights to their Tour de France race machinery they will be thinking about this bike, the AX Lightness VIAL evo Ultra, and turning green with envy.
At its heart is a carbon fibre frame produced in Germany, with as little resin used as possible to help sheer the mass down to just 660g. Prior to the Vial, AX Lightness have some pedigree with super-light componentry, with their U24 Tubular wheels tipping the scales at a scarcely believable 800g for the pair! In total, the bike weighs a claimed 4.4kg.
When it comes to nibbling grams off of a bike, there are few places that the obsessives won't turn to to reduce mass. The Vial is designed to offer minimum mass in a reliable package.
Full custom goodness
The bragging rights to the ultimate lightest road bike belongs to Fairwheel Bikes in the US with this fully-custom Spin-framed Light Bike (above) which weighs just 2.7kg. This road bike is a one-off and was originally put together by a German man by the name of Gunter Mai, with Fairwheel then acquiring the bike to see if they could further reduce the weight of the bike.
Is weight everything?
Well, being able to produce carbon fibre frames with tube thicknesses down to a fraction of a millimetre in a safe fashion does represent some opportunities for teams. Components such as disc brakes and electronic drivetrains can be used more extensively and developed in racing applications.