How Joe Norledge built his 5.1kg hill climb bike

The anatomy of Joe's ultra-light racer for the British Hill Climb Champs

If you haven’t heard of hill climb racing before, it’s a slightly eccentric British tradition in which riders race up steep and usually short hills as fast as humanly possible.

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It’s a time trial format and you can easily race four times on any weekend during the September to October season. If there’s a more intense/painful season in cycling, I’m yet to find it.

Each year, the season gives me the chance to build a brutally climbing-focussed bike, which needs to be as light as possible without turning into a spindly noodle. 2018 was no different, and I believe I ended up with the best hill climb bike I’ve ever ridden. Here’s the run-down of how I did it.

Joe Norledge’s 5.1kg Trek Emonda Hill Climb build

  • Frameset: Trek Emonda Project One, 58cm
  • Front brake: Cane Creek EE Brake (direct mount)
  • Rear brake: Cane Creek EE Brake (direct mount)
  • Brake/shift levers: SRAM Red 22 cable
  • Front derailleur: N/A
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM Red 22
  • Cassette: SRAM Red 22, 11-28T
  • Chain: KMC 11-speed
  • Crankset: SRM Origin power meter
  • Wheelset: Schmolke TLO 30 tubular
  • Tyres: Vittroia Corsa Speed (25c) Tubular
  • Handlebars: Schmolke TLO
  • Tape/grips: N/A
  • Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Saddle: Bontrager XXX
  • Seatpost: N/A
  • Bottle cages: N/A
  • Computer: N/A

Frame and fork

The 58cm Emonda frame weighs exactly 750g
Oli Woodman / Immediate Media

There are plenty of lightweight frames and forks out there, but perhaps none are as synonymous with weight weenie(ism) as Trek’s Emonda. The most recent iteration was released in 2017 and represents all Trek’s know-how in building a featherweight bike, all while retaining the stiffness needed for WorldTour racing.

I ordered a red Project One Emonda with Trek’s more aggressive H1 fit and rim brakes. Even though I’d be mostly using it for thrashing up short sharp hills, I still wanted the racier geometry, and rim brakes to keep the weight as low as possible.

My size 58cm weighed exactly 750g on the nose, without the fork. For a painted frame, that’s about as light as they come.

Schmolke’s TLO tubular wheels