Should You Upgrade Your Road Bike?
3rd April 2017.As both an exercise and an activity, road cycling offers its participants an enormous amount of diversity in experience. From different types of terrain, like punishing uphills and undulating roadways, to the many sights and sounds of the world around you, there's lots to love. How long have you been using the same bicycle, though? If you're starting to notice performance problems, it's time to face an important question for every cyclist: should you upgrade your current bike, or just buy a brand new one? One of the fun things about a road bike is the ability to customise it not just in appearance but in function as well. You can change practically every major operating component on the bike in a variety of ways to yield different results. If your bike isn't producing the performance you need any more; changing parts can be a viable option. However, in some cases, it can turn quite expensive based on what you want from the cycle. When that happens, it's worth considering whether it?s best to spend the money on a new bike instead. Before we give you an overview of the potential upgrades, let's first look at the "whys" behind purchasing these parts and what to consider when choosing an area to upgrade. Then we'll weigh the pros and cons of each option. Ultimately, you should have plenty of things to consider when it comes to the decision ahead.
Why should you upgrade at all?
There are reasons to consider upgrades beyond squeezing better performance out of your bike. For example, perhaps you have a particular fondness for the frame you use. It might be particularly comfortable or well suited to your body type. Finding another bike that meets the same standards might be difficult. In such a case, changing the old parts out for newer and better options is a superior choice. At other times, you may want to upgrade to make a good bike into an even better one for an event. Do you have a big race coming up soon? Changing out the brakes or adding new, lightweight wheels could give you the edge necessary to put in a personal best. There's no reason to replace your bike outright when you already enjoy riding it; making improvements is the way to go. Other times, though, your bike might simply be too old to upgrade easily. If it isn't, though, you should think carefully before stripping parts off the frame.
What's important to consider in an upgrade
When upgrading, it's helpful to think about exactly what you want from your improvements. Is it better speed? Improved handling during downhill sections or tough corners? What about an overall more comfortable experience in the saddle? Determining what you want is crucial, particularly since it can allow you to look at different bikes. It may be that the upgrades you desire already exist together in another manufacturer's model at a price below all the upgrades. If not, a purchase of new parts might be in your future. Also, consider the level of expertise you have regarding bicycle maintenance. Unless you can change the parts yourself, you'll need to pay someone else to do it; creating another added expense. If you're handy with your maintenance kit, though, it can be faster and cheaper to upgrade your own cycle.
What are the options for your bike's equipment?
If you've ever felt like you're fighting against the weight of your bike for forward momentum, looking for ways to reduce its mass can be a smart move. Are you still using the stock wheels that came with your bike? You could choose to ditch them for an upgraded set. Custom wheels are often made of more lightweight materials, allowing you to spin faster and achieve your top speed more quickly. However, beware that lightweight wheels can be more susceptible to damage in rough conditions. They can also be quite pricey, sometimes making up a large percentage of the cost of a new bike. While you can gain better performance, a bike with a lighter overall frame may be a better choice.
Every individual rides their bicycle a little differently with their own preferences or style. As a result, the wear and tear experienced by components like the tyres can vary a lot too. Upgrading your tyres can allow you to create a more comfortable riding experience. Tubular tyres, for example, provide a better cushion with more grip, allowing you to improve the handling of your bike. On the other hand, you might choose to switch to a different type of "clincher" tyre for better grip. Prices vary considerably, and tyres can be a reasonably inexpensive upgrade for a noticeable difference in performance.
At the heart of every bicycle is the chainset, the gears, sprockets, and chains that transform the power of your legs into the mechanical movement of the bike. As the "engine" of the cycle, upgrading your chainset offers you the opportunity to change its performance drastically. Higher quality parts will perform better under load, allowing smoother, faster shifting while transferring more of your energy to the wheels. However, keep in mind that this is another potentially pricey upgrade. High-end chainsets feature lightweight materials and precision engineering. In combination with wheel upgrades, you could already be looking at a large price tag.
Brakes don't exist just to slow down or stop your bike; they're there to enable you to gain greater control over your movements, too. Think of your cornering ability especially. The ability to quickly shed speed when you need to go around a bend is essential. There are many types of brake upgrades for road bikes, but all of them centre around added power and sensitivity. Brakes tend to fall mid-range regarding expense. While you may find better brakes on a newer bike, the best performance gains will always come from actual aftermarket parts. Therefore, it's worth considering brake upgrades regardless.
So: should you update parts or buy a new bike?
With so many available options, making the decision about changing parts or changing bikes can feel even more complicated. However, if you break the situation down into a few simple questions, finding the right answer becomes easier. First, ask yourself about the scope of what you want to change. If you only need small changes in functionality or you want to tweak your bike's performance, upgraded parts are a better option. They're also the best choice if you just want to replace old or failing parts. Next, ask: "What is my overall budget?" If it is cheaper to upgrade many parts on your current bike rather than choosing a new model, choose that route. However, you should also consider the potential value of a new and modern bike that you could upgrade in the future. It may make more sense to opt for a better bike to improve it even more later on. Of course, how much technical knowledge you have and how much time you have to spend tinkering should also factor into the equation. Overall, weigh the financial considerations carefully against what you need to feel comfortable. If you want additional advice or guidance, why not pay a visit to your local cycling shop? Chatting with another experienced cyclist can help you uncover options you might not have known about otherwise, and also provides the opportunity to price out a parts list and look at new bikes at the same time. When you can compare the options right in front of you, you can find the right way forward.
Choose the path friendly to your budget & body
Clearly, there are many decisions to make when considering changes to your current road bike setup. Remember that the most important question to ask is whether you feel satisfied with the current way that you ride. If you aren't, you'll need to consider all your options. Some of the less pricey upgrades can be an ideal way to extend the life of an old bike before you can afford a whole new one. Whatever equipment you ultimately choose, make sure it meshes well with your overall fitness goals. Before making any changes, always consider the impact it will have on your cycling routine. The best choice will always be the one that makes your workout more enjoyable. Follow @SportNessUK