Once you get the "less is more" monkey on your back, it's very hard to shift him. Yes, a lighter bike will help you go faster and ride longer under MOST circumstances, however, weight saving is conditional on a lot of other factors... and since we can't meet each and every one of you individually we are going to give you what we think is the best "bang for buck," plus a few added extras in there for good measure.
The first thing to remember with bikes is that you get what you pay for. (Read: the lighter your bike is the lighter your wallet becomes.) Stock bikes often come with heavier, sturdier, more robust parts. Upgrading them can get expensive.
Secondly, but probably most importantly from a technical standpoint, is that when looking to shed a few hundred grams, remember that rotating weight should be the primary focus:
OK, so this might be a big category because it includes rims, spokes, hubs, nipples, and tires, but it's also going to be the most noticeable and effective upgrade you can make. Not only are more expensive wheels lighter (hopefully), but they will also be stiffer - making them more responsive which leads to faster acceleration, better climbing and descending.
If a new bike actually comes with pedals at all, most of the time they will be basic SPD-SL compatible pedals. They do the job but have heavy axles and bodies. As a good place to start, look for pedals with a carbon body and/or titanium axles, either new or second hand.
3. Cranks / Cranksets
Your cranks can vary wildly in weight depending on the materials involved. Some lower end bikes still run three-piece cranks and can add more than 700g on a modern two-piece crankset. Your best bet is to search for hollow cranks (makes sense, right?), with carbon being amongst the lightest.
Seems strange at first, but your shoes are also rotating weight - weight you have to push forward and pull up. It's important to get good shoes that fit you well and you enjoy wearing, why not add lightweight into that too? Be careful though, this can get expensive! Easy to get carried away, but look for a carbon sole and a one piece upper as a minimum.
Our Pick: Tough to advise on brands as dependant on your fit of shoe as well. Shimano and Specialized are known to be a great fit, value and consistent sizing.
5. Novelty / Other
This article wouldn't be as much fun if we didn't include a few novelty items, now would it?
- Stem Headset Top cap - As hilarious as it sounds, you can actually save up to 10grams and you'll only need to spend $30!.
- Skewers - Ditch those steel axles for fancy carbon, alloy, or titanium - spend up to $300 to save 200g.
- Saddle - Feel like your tush has enough cush? Seats don't need padding right!? Get a full carbon, non-padded seat for $400. Reduce weight by 300g!
- Handlebars - A whole world of choice here! Depending on the purpose, you have a range of dozens of lighter (primarily carbon) bars. Think 4-figure $$$$, but you'll look like a bad-ass.
- Water Bottle (Bidon) Cages - Your average alloy 70g cage could be holding you back from that KOM. Think about a Tune cage, only 17g and $90 and a KOM away!
And if you think these are good - hell, you may as well upgrade your whole bike. Check out the world's lightest production road bike: Trek's Émonda SLR 10 weighing in at a ridiculous 4.65kg / 10.25lbs and nothing to upgrade... but it will set you back $15,000 and you mustn't weight over 90kg / 200lbs!