Hill Climbing in Britain.

October 19, 2017

Hill Climbing in Britain.

Hill Climbing in Britain.


As the road racing season comes to a close for another year, a British tradition begins, The Hill Climb season.

 Photos courtesy of Velouk

A discipline that pits individual riders against gravity and the clock. Many local cycling clubs and organisations will hold events throughout September and October, this culminates in the National Hill Climb Championships that are held annually in different locations. Hill climbs include everything from a city centre event in London, the consistent gradients of Hartside Pass near Penrith, to the steep climbs on The Rake at Ramsbottom in Lancashire. the latter has statistics coming in at a Length of 0.9km, average gradient 12% and maximum gradient of 23%. Spectators will often line the courses to cheer on the riders as they push themselves to the limit. This year’s National Hill Climb championship will be held at Hedley Hill in Stocksfield, Northumberland. With statistics that read as 1.7km in length at average gradient of 7.5% and a maximum of 16.9%. With all these events in mind, some lasting as little four minutes (for the winner) power to weight is crucial. “do you really need bar tape for four minutes??”. This in mind competitors will put their bikes through a radical weight loss program.

Starting with a Lightweight frame and wheelset, then a less is more attitude towards components. This can include many of the following:

  • Handlebar drops sawn off
  • No handlebar tape
  • Running a single chainring with size being determined by the specifics of the climb.
  • No front derailleur
  • Padding removed from saddle if it had any to start with, also it has been known for competitors to drill holes in the saddle to reduce the weight even more.
  • Brake Pads filed and cut down
  • Excess seatpost removed
  • Tyre and innertubes lightest they can get or tubular. For example, some standard butyl can weigh around 95g with their lightweight counterparts being nearer half that.
  • No saddlebag
  • Top cap removed
  • Titanium bolts where possible
  • Titanium cables and link housing
  • Quick release skewers changed to titanium and carbon weighing in at as little as 22g per set, compare this to a standard set which can weigh 125g.

The new Tifosi Mons frameset available to pre order

These steps could be seen as taking things to the extreme. However it does make you think, next time you head out for a hilly day on the bike, maybe some changes are worth making… especially if you’re a rider that likes a KOM.