Road bike upgrades can be a challenging action if you don’t know which components to focus on or the effects from making such upgrades. The goals of upgrading vary as some riders seek a faster bike and some a lighter bike. With all these issues in mind we created a visual guide to help inform you!
Cycling is extremely satisfying but comes with its challenges so whether you just enjoy cycling with friends or race in competitions it’s only fair that every cyclist deserves a treat every now and then.
- When upgrading your saddle put comfort before weight saving
- Narrow and firm saddles are better as it gives more support on longer rides
- Wider saddles with lots of padding is ok for short rides but is uncomfortable on longer rides
- Upgrade a seatpost to save weight & make your ride more comfortable
- Carbon seatposts can be lighter and soak up lots of road vibration – some have elastomer inserts and go further to give a smoother ride
- Aluminium posts sock up less but last longer than carbon and are also less expensive
- Always check the correct size seatpost for your frame
- Upgrade tyres when the tread has gone or splits/tears in the tread
- In the summer upgrade to a lighter tyre and winter a heavier tyre
- In terms of sizes 700*23c is the most common used size but 700*25c is used for training and 700*28c for rougher roads
- Narrower tyres give less rolling resistance on the road and make for faster rides but give less comfort
- Wider tyres offer more comfort and tend to have more puncture resistance but don’t roll as well due to being slightly heavier
- Upgrading your wheels will have a massive effect on your ride quality
- Wheels that are better quality will generally be lighter and have less rolling resistance than your old ones.
- Upgrade when the bearings on the original wheels are starting to wear and become noisy or the rims are worn
- Most upgrades these days are with factory built wheels which come with bladed spokes for a better aerodynamic performance and sealed hubs to prevent water and dirt getting in. The bearings will be of better quality so they’ll last longer and roll better.
Handlebars and Stem
- If the stem’s too long & the bars too wide you’ll get neck & back pain. Too short & too narrow will also be uncomfortable & the bike won’t handle correctly
- Aluminium or carbon? Aluminium lasts and unless you damage them should last forever. Carbon can be lighter and as it absorbs “road buzz” can give a smoother ride
- The simplest way to work out which bar width is by the width of your shoulders. As for the stem length, your elbows should have a slight bend whilst riding
- The most common pedal upgrade is making the switch from standard pedals, to clipless pedals
- Why clipless pedals: It’s one of the easiest ways to improve your riding. They’re lighter and far more efficient. As your feet are clipped into the pedals there’s more power being transmitted through the drivetrain
- If you go down the clipless route you’ll also have to consider which cycling shoes you’ll need so you can fit correct cleat for your pedal
- If you want more gears you certainly have to change the whole drivetrain. This will mean at least new shifters, crankset, chain, rear cassette, front and rear derailleurs
- A cheaper option to make climbing easier is to change the rear cassette so it has sprockets with more teeth. This will give you lower gears but you have to fit a new rear gear mechanism with a long cage so it will accommodate the larger sprockets
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