When it comes to road bikes, the list of features is as long as it gets. Whether it’s a super light carbon bike, or a race-ready bike for world champs, there’s a mountain of options to choose from. But with so many choices, how can you narrow it down to just three?
The best climbing bikes are the ones that are light and agile and let you move quickly, which also means you can go fast on the road. If you want to take your riding to the next level, you should start with your road bike. These days, there are many options available on the market, all with different features and price tags. Here is a list of the best climbing bikes of the year for your consideration.
The best climbing bikes are currently the best bikes for a wide range of conditions, from everything from night climbing to mixed-terrain terrain. Read more about best road bikes 2023 and let us know what you think.
It’s common knowledge that the bragging rights for any given ride are earned on the hills, particularly while climbing them. After all, the King/Queen of the Mountain receives Strava awards, and the most prestigious parts are climbs.
So, you’ll need the finest climbing bike if you want to be the best climber, right? Everything makes sense.
Now that we’ve established that, what are the most essential features to look for in a climbing bike?
What to Look for in the Best Climbing Bikes
Gravity is constantly attempting to draw you back down while you’re riding uphill, which may go without saying.
Less energy (or power, in cycling terminology) is needed to maintain a certain pace when climbing when the entire rider plus bike system weight is reduced.
As a result, whether you want to ride uphill quicker or just make the hills easier for yourself, investing in a lightweight bike is a no-brainer.
It’s for this reason that hill-climb aficionados hack and change virtually every component on their bikes in order to reduce their total bike weight to the bare minimum.
The only problem is that high-end, lightweight bikes and components may be prohibitively costly, and once you’ve caught the weight-weenie bug, it’s difficult to get rid of. Don’t try to claim that we didn’t warn you.
Climbing bikes did not make any aerodynamic compromises until recently. This has all changed with the advent of computer modeling, on-bike aero sensors, and other sophisticated testing methods.
Even specialized climbing bikes are now available, boasting impressive aerodynamic performance.
Take, for example, Trek’s 2023 Emonda, which was just released. Trek claims it was built to withstand the rigors of famous Tour de France peaks like Alpe d’Huez (a 13.85-kilometer monster in the French Alps), yet it still has significant aero treatment.
We won’t dispute that aero features typically come with a small weight penalty, but manufacturers have obviously determined that it’s worth it on balance.
Keep reading after you’ve read all of the reviews because we’ll go over this topic in more depth in our buyer’s guide at the conclusion of the post.
Now let’s take a look at the finest climbing bikes for 2023.
Our team of professional testers has ranked the finest climbing bikes for 2023.
- £9,000 / $11,500 / €10,499 / AU$12,999 Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Disc Dura-Ace Di2 Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Disc Dura-Ace Di2 Cannondale SuperSix E
- £5,699 / €6,199 / AU$8,999 for the Izalco Max 9.7 AXS by Focus
- £9,699 / $11,000 / AU$13,499 TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc by Giant
- Orbea Orca OMX M10i LTD D Orbea Orca OMX M10i LTD D Orbea Orca OM: £7,899 / $9,299 / €8,999 / AU$12,999 Orbea Orca OMX M10i LTD D: £7,899 / $9,299 / €8,999 / AU$12,999
- £9,800 / $10,999 / €10,499 Two BMC Teammachine SLR 01
- £3,749 / €3,999 / AU$5,299 Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 Aero Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 Aero Canyon Ultimate CF SL
- £2,999 / €3,100 / $5,199 TCR Advanced Pro 2 Disc by Giant
- £10,500 / $12,000 / €11,499 / AU$18,000 S-Works Tarmac SL7 is a specialized S-Works Tarmac.
- £3,350 / $3,799 / €3,799 / AU$5,499 for the Emonda SL 6 Pro Trek in 2023.
- £3,699.99 / $4,499.99 / €4,199.99 / AU$6,399.99 Vitus Vitesse EVO CRS Di2 Vitus Vitesse EVO CRS Di2 Vitus Vitesse EVO C
- £10,500 / $12,500 / AU$18,500 Aethos Specialized S-Works
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Disc Dura-Ace Di2
A bike virtuoso who can ride uphill and downhill at high speeds. Immediate Media / David Caudery
- Fast, comfortable road bike with great handling and a great specification.
- It is expensive, and the additional money required to activate the power meter is inconvenient.
- AU$12,999 / £9,000 / $11,500 / €10,499 / £9,000
Cannondale’s newest version of the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod, the successor to one of the most famous carbon climbing bikes, broke with convention and incorporated features such as aerodynamic tube forms and components, as well as disc brakes.
Yes, these features have added some weight, but with a frame and fork weighing 866g (56cm) and 389g, respectively, this top-end design is still competitive in terms of weight.
With aero wheels, 25mm tyres, an aero cockpit, and a spider-based power meter, our size 58cm test bike weighed 7.51kg.
The apparent disadvantage is the cost, but those who aren’t prepared to pay such high prices can choose the Cannondale SuperSix EVO Carbon Disc Ultegra, which is a third of the price and only weights about 800g more.
Three women’s-specific models are also available, based on the less expensive, non-Hi-Mod frameset.
- 7.51 kilograms (58cm)
- 52/36, 11-30 gearing
Focus Izalco Max 9.7 AXS
The ride is fantastic – it’s firm yet forgiving. Immediate Media / David Caudery
- Handling agility and a sense of speed bicycle for the road
- When compared to the competition, this is a good deal.
- Price: £5,699 (€6,199) / $8,999 (AU$)
Focus’ Izalco platform has grown to be more well-rounded, similar to many other bikes in its category.
The newest version considers both weight and aerodynamics, but not to the exclusion of practicality — the aero cockpit, for example, utilizes a conventional stem and handlebar set-up to facilitate fit modification and maintenance.
It’s not the lightest bike we’ve ever tried at 7.9kg (size big), but it does come with 50mm deep aero wheels and, with a frame weight of only 890g (claimed), it could be much lighter with a few weight-weenie tweaks.
The Izalco Max Disc 8.8 is a little less expensive variant with Ultegra R8000 mechanical gears that worked equally well in our tests.
- 7.9 kilograms (large)
- 48/36, 10-28 gearing
Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc
The TCR 2023 simply adds to the model’s already enviable status as a race-bike leader. Immediate Media / Russell Burton
- Race bike that is light, stiff, and responsive.
- £9,699 / $11,000 / $13,499 AU$
The TCR has long been a racing bike standard, and the new-for-2023 ninth version of the bike continues to be a top performance.
While the TCR is available in a variety of configurations to meet a variety of budgets, the Advanced SL 0 model is unashamedly high-end, featuring an integrated seatpost with a topper rather than a traditional seatpost.
It’s ready to race right out of the box, with a complete SRAM Red eTap AXS wireless groupset and carbon wheels from Giant’s in-house brand Cadex.
- 6.7 kilograms (L)
- Gearing is 48/35, with a 10-28 ratio.
Orbea Orca OMX M10i LTD D
The OMX is a beautiful machine in general. Immediate Media / David Caudery
- Excellent all-around performance and enough tyre clearance
- It’s a simple design with clever component integration.
- AU$12,999 / £7,899 / $9,299 / €8,999 / £7,899
The new Orca OMX is an absolute pleasure to ride because to its low weight, strong pedaling rigidity, excellent aero characteristics, and confident handling.
We particularly admire Orbea’s attention to detail in integrating the wires. It results in a stunningly clean front end with no sacrifices in fit, and it’s also not too difficult to put together.
The bike we tested weighed 7.5kg (size big) and had aero wheels. Although it does not exceed the UCI weight restriction, with an 833g frame and 370g fork (claimed weights), it may easily be made lower if desired.
Orbea also sells the Orca M25 Team-D, which is somewhat less expensive.
- 7.5 kilograms (large)
- 50/34, 11-30, 50/34, 11-30, 50/34, 11-30, 50/34,
BMC Teammachine SLR 01 Two
The 2023 BMC Teammachine SLR 01 Two has relatively few flaws, but it is very costly. BMC
- It’s lighter and quicker than it’s ever been.
- There are few flaws, but it comes at a hefty cost.
- £9,800 / $10,999 / €10,499 / €10,499 / €10,499 / €10,499 / €10,4
The newest version of BMC’s outstanding Teammachine incorporates lessons learned from the Timemachine (BMC’s aero road bike) to enhance aerodynamic efficiency without adding too much weight.
In fact, the BMC Teammachine SLR 01 Two is one of the lightest bikes on our list, weighing just 7.09kg despite having aero wheels, disc brakes, and a plethora of other aero characteristics.
The lack of a Dura-Ace crankset is perhaps the only small complaint we have for a bike that is otherwise difficult to criticize. However, there’s no disputing that it comes at a hefty price.
- 7.09 kilograms (56cm, including two bottle cages)
- 52/36, 11-30 gearing
Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 Aero
Canyon deserves praise for the Ultimate, which has a specification that rivals superbikes. Immediate Media / David Caudery
- Although it is lightweight and aerodynamically optimized, the abrupt handling may not be for everyone.
- Excellent construction for the money.
- £3,749 (€3,999) / $5,299 (AU$)
Canyon, as usual, offers a great bargain and a race-ready kit straight out of the box.
The back-end is still comfy despite the absence of lowered seatstays. So much so that the aggressive front-end handling seems out of sync with the rear at first, but this is a racing bike, after all.
It’s a lightweight bike for a bike of its size, with disc brakes and aero wheels, and three women’s-specific versions are also available.
- 7.54 kilograms (large)
- 52/36, 11-30 gearing
Giant TCR Advanced Pro 2 Disc
For 2023, the Giant TCR has finally gone aero. Immediate Media / Simon Bromley
- A good all-around package with a dynamic ride.
- There is a lot of tyre clearance.
- £2,999 / €3,100 / $5,199 / €3,100 / $5,199 / €3,100 / $5,199 / €3,
The famous TCR has finally gone aero for 2023, but thankfully this does not imply a significant weight gain.
It’s not the lightest bike on the list at 7.87kg, but it’s extremely competitive in its price bracket and could be much lighter with some component improvements.
It also has a notably smooth ride, competent handling, and room for up to 32mm tyres, which is a nice feature.
The Langma Advanced Pro Disc from Giant’s subsidiary business Liv is a women’s-specific variant.
- 7.87kg (medium/large) weight
- 52/36, 11-30 gearing
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
The SRAM Red eTap AXS Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 is a significant piece of equipment. Immediate Media / Matthew Loveridge
- Peter Sagan’s championship racing bike.
- Stiff, quick, and well-finished
- £10,500 / $12,000 / €11,499 / $18,000 AU$
When the new Tarmac was released in 2023, it generated a lot of buzz.
This new flagship combined Specialized’s aero and lightweight platforms into one, boasting significant aero improvements over its predecessor and a frameset weighing 800g for a 56cm.
The Tarmac SL7 is a disc-only bike with 32mm tyre clearance. It’s a fast, no-holds-barred racing bike that’ll excite riders who can put down huge power figures.
This bike is costly in its halo S-Works form, but there are more cheap variants available, with the second-tier frame claiming to weigh 920g.
Trek Emonda SL 6 Pro
The 2023 Emonda, according to Trek, was inspired by the famous Tour de France climb Alpe d’Huez. Immediate Media / Felix Smith
- Ride quality is stiff and thrilling.
- Exceptional components
- £3,350 / $3,799 / €3,799 / $5,499 / AU$5,499
Trek has changed the design specifications of the Emonda to accommodate a wider, all-around riding style, with the necessary disc brakes and aero optimisation, in accordance with market trends.
This means that final constructions won’t be able to match the positively feathery lows of earlier models, but Trek is certain that they will be quicker the vast majority of the time. Our tester mostly agrees with this assessment, praising it for its speed and stiffness.
Trek’s lovely Emonda ALR is also worth consideration. That frame is not only available with rim and disc brakes (at the time of writing), but it is also much less expensive. It’s an absolute dream of a bike, in our opinion.
Trek claims the Emonda is now a unisex bike for 2023, and it comes in a wide variety of sizes (from 47cm to 65cm) to accommodate all types of riders.
- 8.13 kilograms (56cm)
- 52/36, 11-30 gearing
Vitus Vitesse EVO CRS Di2
For the money, the Vitesse offers a lot of features. Immediate Media / Matthew Loveridge
- Spec is very competitive.
- Low weight and a racy personality
- £3,699.99 / $4,499.99 / €4,199.99 / AU$6,399.99 Price: £3,699.99 / $4,499.99 / €4,199.99 / AU$6,399.99
The Vitesse has been updated for 2023 and is now a disc-only racer that is raced by professional cyclists. The frame is said to weigh 910g and has extremely modern appearance, with all wiring running through the non-driveside.
There are more cheap builds than this one, but even with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and low-profile Reynolds carbon clinchers, it’s a good deal.
The Vitesse has a hard and concentrated ride that will appeal to racers, but it may be too much for casual riders.
What we’ve included (and what we haven’t) is a list of what we’ve included (and what we haven’t).
This buyer’s guide highlights lightweight bikes in a variety of price ranges that have been evaluated by BikeRadar and received at least four stars in our tests.
While lighter motorcycles are available (including custom builds and alternative models within a manufacturer’s range), we have tried and tested these bikes and can definitely recommend them.
Take into account…
Specialized S-Works Aethos
It has not yet been rated.
Specialized S-Works Aethos is a bike with a more conventional appearance. Specialized / Chris Sansom
- The lightest disc frame on the market.
- With a price tag to match, this is a stunning ride.
- £10,500 / $12,500 / $18,500 AU$
The Aethos avoids aero and concentrates on being the greatest riding bike, while the Tarmac is Specialized’s elite racing bike.
Its frameset blends conventional characteristics (non-dropped seatstays, a threaded bottom bracket, internal but not completely internal cables) with cutting-edge carbon construction and a large feature set. The claimed weight for a 56cm frame is just 585g, which is an incredible number.
We haven’t given it a rating yet, but it’s fair to say that this incredible machine belongs among the finest climbing bikes.
Climbing bike buyer’s guide
Aluminium vs. carbon
We’ve spoken about this previously, but with carbon fiber frames and components still fetching a higher price than aluminum ones, it’s worth mentioning again.
Carbon fiber of the highest grade is valued for its remarkable stiffness to weight ratio, which is why it’s utilized in Formula One. The lightest bikes and components will almost always be constructed of high-end carbon fiber if you can afford it.
However, at the low end, excellent aluminum is on par with, if not better than, inexpensive carbon fiber. This is true not just in terms of weight and stiffness, but also in terms of riding quality and strength.
Joe Norledge, a former BikeRadar employee, constructed this 5.1kg aluminum hill climb bike for the 2016 British hill climb season. www.mattgrayson.co.uk / Matt Grayson
The last of these qualities is a major concern for ultra-lightweight carbon fiber frames and components in general. It’s crucial to adhere to the specified weight, torque, and clamping specifications, otherwise these delicate components may easily shatter.
Climbing: Aero vs. weight
It’s tempting to believe that weight is the only factor that counts while climbing a hill. It is, without a doubt, critical. All other factors being equal, a 5kg decrease in total rider plus bike weight will cut approximately 39 seconds off a 2km, 10% climb.
However, based on our combined experience, we’ve discovered that body weight is much more important than bike weight. Besides, no matter how deep your pockets, you’re not going to be able to shave anything near 5kg off your bike’s total weight unless you can get your hands on something like Berk’s 3.9kg bike.
Furthermore, an increasing number of companies are realizing that aerodynamics are still essential while riding uphill and for conserving energy on the way down.
Even Cannondale, which used to manufacture the definitive ultra-lightweight hill climb bike, thinks that their full-on aero bike, the SystemSix, is quicker on slopes up to 6% than its own lightweight bike (the SuperSix) — even at the slower rates that ordinary mortals like us ride.
Regardless of the weight penalty, Cannondale claims that their beefy SystemSix aero bike is its quickest bike on slopes up to 6%. Immediate Media / Aoife Glass
True hill climb enthusiasts will most likely be ripping their hair out at this point, screaming, “Anything under 10% isn’t even a genuine hill anyway!” But, regardless of the gradient, if you want to ride quickly, aero always counts.
True, when slopes grow more severe, aerodynamic drag becomes a smaller component of the equation, but the amount of air resistance you feel stays constant at any given speed.
Furthermore, the force required to overcome any increase in air resistance is proportional to the speed cube. So, unless you can decrease your aerodynamic drag, if you want to ride your bicycle twice as fast, you’ll need eight times more power to combat the additional drag force.
In a perfect world, you’d want a bike that’s both light and aero for slicing through the hills.
Trek was one of the first companies to utilize kammtail tubes. It was found that a cut-off airfoil shape maintained some of the advantages of a complete airfoil, but in a lighter, stronger, and UCI-compliant form. BikeRadar/James Huang
“Weight weenies should be Crr weenies,” says the author.
According to Robert Chung, a University of California-Berkeley Professor and Theoretical Mathematical Demographer. Chung is well known for inventing the “Chung Method” for estimating aerodynamic drag, but he also emphasizes the significance of not overlooking rolling resistance.
He demonstrated that even a little variation in rolling resistance (Crr stands for “coefficient of rolling resistance”) may be worth as much as significant changes in weight, especially on steep slopes, using a power equation for wheeled vehicles (like the one available at www.kreuzotter.de).
Crr weenies should be used instead of weight weenies. Discrepancies in Crr may be converted to “equivalent” mass differences. On steep slopes, even minor variations in Crr are equivalent to hundreds of grams of mass difference. pic.twitter.com/YSASEisid0
April 28, 2019 — Dr. Anti-social Social Scientist (@therealrchung)
The difference in Crr between Continental’s GP4000S II and GP5000 tyres is shown in Chung’s graph in terms of comparable efficiency determined via weight loss on various slopes.
On a level road, even a modest reduction in rolling resistance is clearly worth more than virtually any gain in weight. What’s more intriguing is that even on a 10% slope, upgrading from a GP4000 to a GP5000 adds more than 500g of bulk.
Yes, even on a 10% slope, the difference in rolling resistance between two good tyres may have a larger impact on your efficiency than 500g of additional weight, and the comparable mass penalty only becomes worse as the gradient goes shorter. The difference is equal to a kilogram of additional mass on a 6% slope.
The main lesson is that when buying for tyres, you shouldn’t simply look at the weight numbers. Variances in rolling resistance between tyres will affect your climbing pace much more than small weight differences.
When climbing, gearing and cadence are important.
For climbing hills, some cyclists reportedly prefer singlespeed or even fixed gear bikes! However, the majority of people will desire gears.
For a long time, though, ratios like 4221 were deemed sufficient for climbing mountains when cyclists only had five or six cogs on their cassette to select from.
Thankfully, technology has progressed, and we now have compact/sub-compact chainsets, long-cage rear derailleurs, and considerably bigger cassettes to choose from. When combined, they can enable almost anybody to spin up steep hills instead of doing a series of leg presses.
On steep slopes, smaller gear ratios, like as this Shimano 105 R7000 chainset’s 52/36t, allow for greater cadences. Immediate Media / Simon Bromley
As anybody with a power meter will testify, muscling up a steep hill in a big gear may seem heroic, but it’s definitely slower and costs you more energy. Even the professionals these days understand the need of lowering your gear as the road rises.
Disc or rim brakes
Another vexing problem. There are two solutions to this, in our opinion: a simple one and a complex one.
The short answer is that rim brakes are lighter in general and therefore better for climbing bikes.
Many weight weenies favor rim brakes and wheels because they are still a bit lighter than hydraulic disc braking systems. Bromley, Simon
The more nuanced answer is that, while disc brake-equipped bikes are generally heavier than equivalent rim brake bikes (though this is becoming more difficult to measure because, despite what we wrote in 2017, new high-end rim brake bikes are becoming increasingly rare), the benefit of better braking will be felt most acutely on the way down the hills.
Rim brakes may still be the best option if all you care about is riding uphill as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the benefits of disc brakes in a broader sense may tip the scales.
The best mountain bikes for 2019 are lightweight, durable, and incredibly versatile. They have to be if you are to conquer the hills and trails of the world’s best climbs. And, if you want to keep your wheels spinning for many years to come, you’ll also need a bike that can stand up to the punishment of the world’s most rugged terrain.. Read more about lightweight bikes and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What road bike is good for climbing?
That really depends on what youre looking for. If you want a road bike thats good for climbing, then I would recommend the Specialized Roubaix.
What bikes are best for climbing?
The best bikes for climbing are mountain bikes.
What is a good lightweight road bike?
A good lightweight road bike is a bicycle that weighs less than 18 pounds.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- best road bikes 2023
- the lightest climbing bike 2023
- best climbing bikes 2023
- lightest road bike frame 2023
- lightest road bike 2023