Fixed gear bikes have historically been favored for British hill climbs, thanks to their simplicity, direct drivetrain, and low weight.
Selecting the right gear can be a challenge on hills with multiple gradient changes or gusting winds. And when riding a fixed gear, you soon learn to resist the urge to stop pedaling the instant you cross the finish line.
As modern geared bikes have become lighter and more efficient, the use of fixed gear bikes has drastically reduced. Robert Borek’s special Cannondale is a study in obsessive weight-shedding, resulting in a bike that weighs under 4.5kg (9.9lbs), and is completely dedicated to climbing hills fast.
A Cannondale Capo CAAD5 brushed aluminum frame — originally from an urban single-speed bike — is at the heart of this hill climber.
Cannondale’s carbon track fork has been replaced by an ENVE Road Fork 2.0, and the handlebar is a simple carbon time trial base bar.
The single front brake is a carbon fiber THM Fibula, with its cable cut as short as possible, and what looks like lightweight Fish Bones modular alloy outer casing.
The unbranded all carbon fiber saddle has been customized with the addition of a central cutout and has been extensively filed down, especially at the rear.
THM’s Clavicula SE crankset is all-carbon, extremely stiff, and in its compact size is claimed to weigh just 293g (or 302g in standard size). Here, it’s fitted with a skinny, 40-tooth chainring.
This is about as simple as a bike’s rear end can get.
Vittoria tubulars are very popular on the British hill climbing scene, and when the majority of road riders have accepted the benefits of larger volume, wider road tires, plenty of serious hill climbers still prefer ultralight tubulars like the Crono Evo CS, in widths of around 20mm.
The 25mm tall rims are Farsports carbon tubulars, claimed to weigh around 250g each. The front wheel has 20 radial J-bend spokes, and the rear has 24 spokes laced in a two-cross pattern.
In possibly the most extreme weight-saving measure, the headset’s top cover has been omitted (note the blue upper bearing). Once its preload has been set, and the stem clamp bolts tightened, the compression bung is removed.
There’s clearly no top cap on the steerer either. All of the torsional load produced by climbing hard, out of the saddle, relies on the stem/steerer interface.