Weapon X: 9lb Light Bike Build
article & images by Nick Salazar
Apr 4, 2019  hits 29,244

Custom bits from tip to tail were required to hit our 9-pound goal. Our mascot, Oscar, looks on approvingly.

The Frame

The first question anyone would want to ask about a custom build like this is likely to be "what frame is that?" I'm reminded of the Architect from The Matrix Reloaded, who tells a bewildered Neo that "while your first question may be the most pertinent, you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant." This frame is a generic open mold frame from a chinese trading company. Just a quick search on Alibaba (or eBay, I can't remember which) yielded this 740g beauty.

At the outset, let's acknowledge that building up a no-name bike is not something that I'd recommend in every circumstance, especially for the uninitiated. If you run into a problem and can't develop a creative solution on your own, you'll find there's no real customer service to rely on. But at TriRig, we're no strangers to very custom builds, and solving unique problems with fickle bikes. But we got very lucky with this particular frame - it's the first no-name frame we've bought that really didn't have a single issue out of the box. It's not particularly narrow at the head tube - the front-on view is a bit bloated compared to something really high-end like a Cervelo RCA. But it makes its claimed weight of 740g (I think it was 744g on our scale), the carbon walls were uniform in thickness, and well-formed. No weird delamination, nothing out of spec - all the bearings fit nicely.

Further, we understand that opinions on generic open-mold frames vary widely among our readership. Without a doubt, the company that made this frame had the benefit of lots of engineering knowledge developed by larger companies that came before it. For the frame in question, I don't think there is any intellectual property theft at work, and no attempt to pass the frame off as a forgery of another brand. So I don't have any sense of foul play. It's a factory showing off its ability to make a light frame, based on the (freely available) knowledge that the industry has developed as a whole. And at this point, the "ultralight road frame" has been done to death, and it's no longer really the avant-garde. That said, some people feel that it's always better to support the brands who use their dollars to innovate, we can certainly respect that position.

In short, I feel like this is a great frame for our particular purpose, given our needs and our expertise here at TriRig. If you have a different position, or an insight to offer, hit us up in the comments section. Ok, everybody cool now? I hope so. Let's move on.

Cockpit + Drivetrain + Brakes

We have a lot of interests here at TriRig, but you might say that the cockpit and front end are a particular obsession of ours. The goal of this bike was to be, above all, light in weight. Going under 10 lbs was the first design constraint. But, we have certain sensibilities that we can't ignore. Among these are cleanliness of cable routing, minimizing frontal area, and eliminating all unnecessary components. I think our front end satisfies these tenets adequately.



  • The complete front end, as slick as we could make it under the weight constraint.


  • A look at the brake, bars, and shifting system.


  • This entire shifter/brake combo weighs only about 40g.


  • The ultralight Omega SL brake, just for this project (sorry, not for sale).

As we did with our last light build, Project Liberty, we went for a 1x drivetrain, with a flat pursuit-position bar, aero brake levers, and no drops. This is a very specific choice, and one that I personally love, but may not be ideal for everyone. In any event, the similarities between Weapon X and Project Liberty are many. They are essentially brothers who both love to be light AND aero, but in different orders. Liberty wants to be as light as possible, but rarely at the expense of being aero. Weapon X wants to be as aero as possible, but rarely at the expense of being light weight. Make sense? No? Well, maybe not. But this is our project, and we love it.

Wheels + Details

When building any light bike project, choosing the right wheels is one of the most important decisions you'll make. For this project, we went with virtually the lightest production wheelset around, the FSE 23T. Technically, the AX 25T can beat this set, but after the overwhelmingly-positive experience we had with FSE's aero wheels, we figured their unbelievably-light 880g 23T wheels would be the ideal set for our build, combining ultralight weight with robust and reliable performance. We weren't wrong. This set is AWESOME. Paired with the Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 23mm tubular tires, which boast world-class low rolling resistance, this was undeniably the right choice for the build.



  • FSE 23T front wheel


  • FSE 23T rear wheel


  • FSE brake track with the Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 23mm Tubular.


  • Prototype TriRig Styx skewers are aero and VERY light. Coming soon for sale!


  • Dash Tri.7 saddle and combo post. The ONLY way to go for this build.


  • Carbone cage adds just 8g and works brilliantly.


  • TriRig Mercury pedals seal the deal for the drivetrain.


  • Prototype TriRig Styx skewers are aero and VERY light. Coming soon for sale!

Elsewhere in the build, we rely on some stalwart choices, while branching out a bit as well. Saddle duties go, of course, to Dash Cycles, the first and last name on our list. They're our favorite choice for comfort, and also the lightest saddles around. The entire saddle + post combo came in at just 162g, including saddle, seatpost, and all hardware. For comparison, the bike's stock seatpost WITHOUT saddle or hardware was 184g. That's several hundred grams of weight savings, with one stop to the good folks at Dash. And for those who don't want to go all-out with the post combos, Dash now has a line of much more budget-friendly saddles that deliver all their comfort and nearly all the weight savings, for a very pallatable price. We have no financial ties to Dash, or any incentive to plug them ... we just love their stuff.

A couple of other details - the Mercury pedals and the Carbone cage. The Mercury pedals are a now-discontinued TriRig product that, despite the pleas of some of our previous customers, we aren't planning to reintroduce just yet. They keep the weight extremely low while providing the ergonomic performance we want out of the bike. Namely, they eliminate float, which we like. Of course, not everyone likes fixed-angle pedals, but we do. The Carbone bottle cage is an 8g wonder, a continuous band of carbon fiber that is never interrupted, and forms a singular shape that weighs virtually nothing while providing more than ample grip force on the bottle. I wouldn't use this cage in the behind-the-saddle or even a BTA position (you want a Kappa for those applications), but on the downtube of a road bike, it works well.

And finally, we are really happy to debut the new TriRig Styx skewers on this build. The ultralight, all-titanium skewers are the most aerodynamic skewers around, ready to cut easily 100g of weight from your bike compared to standard skewers, and easily 3-4 Watts of drag. These will be hitting the store in the next couple months, so keep your eyes peeled.

There are still some details we haven't written about on these pages, but each image in the gallery below will provide "1000 words" of additional information, as they say. Check out the Carbonice seatpost clamp, the RED 22 WiFli rear derailleur, and more. Or just hit the jump to hear our final impressions and conclusions on this build.


Tags » lightenup,  rigs,  servicecourse,  tririg,  weaponx

Complete Bike 

  • Weapon X, in all its glory. Just 9.9 lbs, complete as pictured including pedals and bottle cage.
  • Weapon X, in all its glory. Just 9.9 lbs, complete as pictured including pedals and bottle cage.
  • Weapon X, with the TriRig mascot, our pet named Oscar. He's helping with a bit of a pun here about 'featherweight' things.
  • Weapon X, with the TriRig mascot, our pet named Oscar. He's helping with a bit of a pun here about 'featherweight' things.
  • Weapon X, with the TriRig mascot, our pet named Oscar. He's helping with a bit of a pun here about 'featherweight' things.
  • Weapon X, with the TriRig mascot, our pet named Oscar. He's helping with a bit of a pun here about 'featherweight' things.

Cockpit + Drivetrain 

  • A look at our custom front end, including a handlebar with custom fiber hand grip extensions by Broken Carbon of Colorado.
  • A look at our custom front end, including a handlebar with custom fiber hand grip extensions by Broken Carbon of Colorado.
  • Shifting duties are provided by BTP carbon downtube shifters, mated onto a set of 3T aero levers with several pieces of custom hardware. Here on the non-drive side, it's just sitting there for looks, since this is a 1x drivetrain.
  • Shifting duties are provided by BTP carbon downtube shifters, mated onto a set of 3T aero levers with several pieces of custom hardware. It works as a friction shifter, and is actually pretty much flawless.
  • Custom top tube cable routing added on our end. The frame came with downtube ports, so we added this one to help hide all the cables from the wind.
  • Full housing to the rear brake gave up a few grams of weight, but helps ensure flawless performance.
  • This frontal profile is better than even a lot of so-called aero bikes, even this was meant as a climbing rig.
  • This frontal profile is better than even a lot of so-called aero bikes, even this was meant as a climbing rig.
  • This crank is something very special. It's a 3T Torno, which saves 50g over our usual build-preferred Lightning cranks. The four-bolt chainring circle is really wacky, so it took a lot of very careful measurement to deliver good dimensions to Fibre-Lyte, who provided this 1x carbon chainring, I believe the first ever on a Torno crank. KMC X11SL chain.
  • This crank is something very special. It's a 3T Torno, which saves 50g over our usual build-preferred Lightning cranks. The four-bolt chainring circle is really wacky, so it took a lot of very careful measurement to deliver good dimensions to Fibre-Lyte, who provided this 1x carbon chainring, I believe the first ever on a Torno crank. KMC X11SL chain.
  • Red 22 medium-cage rear derailleur helps find our gear. No room for electronic gear on this bike, which aimed for a very low weight.
  • The Extralite Hyperstem seemed the best choice for this project. There are stems that can save another 10g or so, but those stems tend to have astronomical price points. At 80g, this is about as light as it gets anyway. We made a little custom mod to allow the front brake cable to route through the stem and stop there, sending just bare wire down to the front brake for the cleanest possible look.

Brakes + Wheels 

  • Now here are some special bits. A custom one-off version of our brakes, which we call Omega SL for this project. Not a lot of adjustment, but they do shave a lot of weight.
  • Now here are some special bits. A custom one-off version of our brakes, which we call Omega SL for this project. Not a lot of adjustment, but they do shave a lot of weight.
  • Now here are some special bits. A custom one-off version of our brakes, which we call Omega SL for this project. Not a lot of adjustment, but they do shave a lot of weight.
  • Now here are some special bits. A custom one-off version of our brakes, which we call Omega SL for this project. Not a lot of adjustment, but they do shave a lot of weight.
  • Vittoria Corsa G+ Speed Tubulars are some of the fastest-rolling tires on the planet, and a lovely match for the FSE 23T ultralight rims.
  • The gorgeous FSE 23T ultralight wheels a wonderful ride and insanely low weight.
  • The gorgeous FSE 23T ultralight wheels a wonderful ride and insanely low weight.
  • The gorgeous FSE 23T ultralight wheels a wonderful ride and insanely low weight.
  • The gorgeous FSE 23T ultralight wheels a wonderful ride and insanely low weight.

Details 

  • Of course, our own (discontinued) Mercury pedals handle the rider interface while keeping things light.
  • Dash provided an absolutely gorgeous, perfectly-laid-up Tri.7 saddle and post combo, which weighed less than the stock seatpost by itself, even without hardware.
  • This Carbone bottle cage is a paltry 8 grams (!!!) but does a very good job of holding bottles. The entire structure is made of one continuous run of carbon thread. It's absolutely beautiful.
  • Another custom bit for this bike - a set of ultralight aero skewers. But unlike the other custom bits in the article, these will be available to purchase soon! More details to follow. Keep your eyes peeled!
  • Another custom bit for this bike - a set of ultralight aero skewers. But unlike the other custom bits in the article, these will be available to purchase soon! More details to follow. Keep your eyes peeled!
  • Another custom bit for this bike - a set of ultralight aero skewers. But unlike the other custom bits in the article, these will be available to purchase soon! More details to follow. Keep your eyes peeled!

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