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How to Lighten My Wife's Road Bike

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

How to Lighten My Wife's Road Bike

Old 07-28-17, 12:10 PM
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rd48sec
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How to Lighten My Wife's Road Bike

My wife has a 53cm Cannondale R500 Caad5 frame road bike with all original group and wheel set. Where would I begin to make it lighter and easier to climb hills? Wheels? Group?

My first thought is groupset. I ride a Caad8 with SRAM Force and I love the way it shifts. Would a used SRAM Rival or Force groupset be a big improvement over the truvative/shimano triple setup that is on there now?

Thanks for any input.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:12 PM
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I don't know how fit your wife is but the best way to lighten your wife's bike is to have her lose weight. I am not sure how that conversation would go with here to go there at your own risk.

That being said. Gearing can certainly help with climbing so maybe changing the cassette to a 11-32 could make a difference if your back derailleur can handle that.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:16 PM
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Old 07-28-17, 12:32 PM
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I suggest you take the wheels off of her bike and weight them including tires. Compare that to known wheelset weights, plus tires plus cassette. That would give you an idea of the cheapest and easiest way to lighten her bike, the cost and the amount of weight to be cut.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by rd48sec View Post
My wife has a 53cm Cannondale R500 Caad5 frame road bike with all original group and wheel set. Where would I begin to make it lighter and easier to climb hills? Wheels? Group?

My first thought is groupset. I ride a Caad8 with SRAM Force and I love the way it shifts. Would a used SRAM Rival or Force groupset be a big improvement over the truvative/shimano triple setup that is on there now?

Thanks for any input.
Easiest way, and likely the cheapest in the end, is to just buy a whole new, lighter bike. Is there a reason why you want to keep the same frame?

For the groupset, you seem to have answered your own question, unless you are asking us what your wife thinks about Rival/Force vs. Shimano triple. If the latter, I'll go call her and see what she has to say

Apparently SRAM 10 speed Red groups are some of the best weight weenie value around.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:35 PM
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What's the problem she's having on hills? Is she bottoming out the gearing, or does she just want to be faster?

If she's bottoming out the gearing, the simplest thing would be to alter the gearing. You're already at the "official" edge of your rear derailleur capacities, so you might want to replace the Tiagra derailleur with a 9-speed Shimano MTB derailleur like an Altus. Then, you could do something like replace the 30T small chainring with a 24T 74mm BCD or whatever. Or you could look into a wider-range cassette.

If the issue is simply speed, then yeah, losing weight from the bike helps. It would be worth weighing the wheelset.

Last edited by HTupolev; 07-28-17 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Symtex View Post
I don't know how fit your wife is but the best way to lighten your wife's bike is to have her lose weight. I am not sure how that conversation would go with here to go there at your own risk.

That being said. Gearing can certainly help with climbing so maybe changing the cassette to a 11-32 could make a difference if your back derailleur can handle that.
If we never hear back from the OP we have this post to blame for it!
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Old 07-28-17, 12:39 PM
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What year is the CAAD 5 and what parts does it have?

Changing the group wouldn't save you anything you would notice. Wheels? How much do the current wheels weigh? Unless they are carved from wood or solid steel discs ... you can probably get wheels that way 1500 grams for #300-$500 or so .... how much weight that would save, you can calculate.

You can probably save some grams on the saddle, maybe the seat post ... but really surprised if you could save 400 grams combined.

So ... you might take a pound off for a $500 investment.

If the bike has a triple crank then you could drop a little weight going to a double ... but the triple will help with the climbing.

How much do you want to spend? I'd say buy a Worskswell frame, get a really light set of wheels, get a llightweight seat post, saddle, and stem and bars, swap everything else and for under $1500 probably have a 125-lb bike.

For that matter ... how much does the whole bike weigh now.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Symtex View Post
I don't know how fit your wife is but the best way to lighten your wife's bike is to have her lose weight. I am not sure how that conversation would go with here to go there at your own risk.
My first draft of my response started with "Ask your wife to step off the bike," but that is sort of a duck-and-run line.

So is asking her to lose weight.

Definitely emphasize "improving conditioning." Never say "lose weight" unless you want to be dealing with that for the next 30 years ... And don't say 'getting in shape" or even "getting in better shape." "Improving conditioning" is probably safe.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
My first draft of my response started with "Ask your wife to step off the bike," but that is sort of a duck-and-run line.

So is asking her to lose weight.

Definitely emphasize "improving conditioning." Never say "lose weight" unless you want to be dealing with that for the next 30 years ... And don't say 'getting in shape" or even "getting in better shape." "Improving conditioning" is probably safe.

We spend way to much money trying to lighten our bikes but the return on investment to save a few grams is not that great. it's a lot easier to lose a pound or two than to gain the same gain on our bike. Someone had to say it.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Symtex View Post
I don't know how fit your wife is but the best way to lighten your wife's bike is to have her lose weight. I am not sure how that conversation would go with here to go there at your own risk.

That being said. Gearing can certainly help with climbing so maybe changing the cassette to a 11-32 could make a difference if your back derailleur can handle that.
My first thought when I saw the OP title was, "No, no one will go there, will they?" but I'll be darned if it wasn't the first reply.

Last edited by BKE; 07-28-17 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 07-28-17, 01:02 PM
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Remove the seat and seat post.
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Old 07-28-17, 01:20 PM
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Bicycle Bluebook has value at less than $200.

Upgrading groupset from 9speed not worth it IMO.

You should be able to get a considerably lighter wheelset (& tires too)

for not too much $.
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Old 07-28-17, 02:44 PM
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Those sound like pretty expensive changes for a difference that may not even be noticeable. I currently ride a similar Tiagra-spec bike from that era and looked into upgrades and they were prohibitively expensive and way more than the bike is currently worth.

For the price of a wheel and groupset replacement along with anything else that could make a perceptible difference, I bet you could nearly afford a similar new bike that is lighter. I’m guessing the bike is probably nearly 10 kg / 22 pounds with pedals, which is perfectly fine for the bike’s age and specification. I’d be surprised if you could get more than a couple of pounds off that weight without spending a small fortune (relative to the bike’s original price and current resale value).

I second the recommendation of taking a look at gearing to see if that is a potential fix for making hills less painful. Getting one or two more gears at the bottom end can make a massive difference in comfort while climbing.
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Old 07-28-17, 02:57 PM
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Serious answer: I'd get some inexpensive light Veulta wheels off Nashbar.com.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:01 PM
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I just glanced at prices for SRAM Rival or Force: ~$500-1000 (maybe there are cheaper options out there if you don’t get all of the parts)

Let’s say you can find a set of significantly lighter wheels for ~$300-500.

For perspective, you can get a new CAAD Optimo Tiagra for ~$1100 which is the same weight but probably a way better bike, or a new CAAD 12 105 for ~$1700 which is a far better bike and likely noticeably lighter.

Before you make an upgrade, take a look at how much it might cost relative to a new bike, since the upgrades you mentioned are approaching the same price range.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:21 PM
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What's in the saddle bag? My wife had 5 lbs. of stuff in there (4 lbs. of which she didn't need) so that was as easy, inexpensive fix!
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Old 07-28-17, 05:01 PM
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I have a 58 CM CAAD 5 Stars and Stripes with Ultegra 6501 triple, Mavic SSCs, EC 70 bars and seatpost, Shimano 520 pedals, and a Serfas saddle. The bike weighs 17.6 without bottles and the seat pack.
How much lighter do you want to go? Wheels would be the best place to start though.
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Old 07-28-17, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by rd48sec View Post
My wife has a 53cm Cannondale R500 Caad5 frame road bike with all original group and wheel set. Where would I begin to make it lighter and easier to climb hills? Wheels? Group?

My first thought is groupset. I ride a Caad8 with SRAM Force and I love the way it shifts. Would a used SRAM Rival or Force groupset be a big improvement over the truvative/shimano triple setup that is on there now?

Thanks for any input.
Is this something "she" has asked you to do?
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Old 07-28-17, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Symtex View Post
I don't know how fit your wife is but the best way to lighten your wife's bike is to have her lose weight. I am not sure how that conversation would go with here to go there at your own risk.
Very likely that the OP will end up with more time for riding. His bike anyway.
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Old 07-28-17, 07:26 PM
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It has to be said, "It never gets easier to climb, you just get faster". Though the guy who said that was a bid of a nut-case, and a physical freak of nature ... it does get easier, but the unfortunate fact is that it gets easier by working at it, by climbing more hills. Changing the bike isn't really going to help much with that.
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Old 07-28-17, 07:27 PM
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Hills are hard, regardless of how light your bike is.
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Old 07-28-17, 07:38 PM
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When you ride up hills with her, act like you are working much harder and suffering much more than you actually are. Maybe she will think she is getting stronger.
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Old 07-30-17, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Symtex View Post
I don't know how fit your wife is but the best way to lighten your wife's bike is to have her lose weight. I am not sure how that conversation would go with here to go there at your own risk.

That being said. Gearing can certainly help with climbing so maybe changing the cassette to a 11-32 could make a difference if your back derailleur can handle that.
This^^^^. I have a lot of experience with this--I was fairly fit five years ago, dinking with the bike to save an ounce here and there to make myself faster, when I was hospitalized for almost three months and lost 30 pounds (I'm a big guy; it wasn't like a 120-pounder losing 30 pounds). When I got back on the bike, even after several weeks of almost complete idleness, I was nearly as fast as, and a better climber than, I'd been before. In two months I was stronger than I'd been in 20 years. She has a decent bike already. Work on the motor.
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Old 07-30-17, 11:04 AM
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It seems the prevailing assumption is that people want lighter, faster, easier bikes because performance is the priority. What if the priority is to "upgrade" the bike for its own sake? If one wants a new or improved bike, just to have something fresh, better, or to keep things interesting, normally they wouldn't want one that was more challenging any more than they'd want one that was uglier.
Maybe people should consider their real motivations and fundamental goals, but I don't think we can do that for them. I think the best advice so far is to consider whether upgrades that would make an appreciable difference in performance are worthwhile - if an all new bike may be a better deal. If not, maybe if they are really attached to the bike, some new lighter, more supple tires and some fresh bar tape would be sufficient.
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