As Eddy Merckx allegedly once said: “don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.” Here at BikeRadar though, we’re of the opinion that one should first buy upgrades, then ride up grades… slightly faster.
Not quite as catchy, but you get the gist.
Here are five of the best reasonably priced upgrades you can make to your road bike.
Bike manufacturers will often spec down certain parts of a complete build in order to hit a particular price point. Despite being one of the most important parts of your bike, tyres are considered a prime target for cost cutting.
Investing in an upgraded set can make a real difference to how comfortable and fast your ride is. Anything with a high TPI is a good place to start and we’d always recommend going for wider 25s instead of 23s.
2. Bottom bracket
Hands up who loves press fit bottom brackets? Anyone? No? Just as we thought. They’re harder to remove and install and often end up creaking for no obvious reason. Problem is, most high-end bikes comes with a press fit BB nowadays, no doubt down to the cheaper manufacturing costs for bike companies.
Fortunately, there are a few aftermarket options to help with your press-fit woes.
If you want the best money can buy then check out Enduro Bearings' TorqTite series. These bottom brackets thread themselves into a press fit shell, saving time and quite a lot of swearing. If they perform like the rest of Enduro’s range they’ll be incredibly durable too. Anything that manages that is a winner in our book.
3. Full re-cable
Deeply unsexy, gear and brake cables are an oft-overlooked part of your trusty steed. But if you’ve been putting the hard miles in over winter, or just haven’t considered them for a while, a full re-cable will make a real difference to the overall feel and performance of your bike.
Thanks to internal cable routing this is now more faff than ever, but trust us, your brakes and gears will feel so much better when the job is done.
4. Long cage rear mech and compact crank
If you own a relatively old bike it might have a big 53/39 double chainring and a small 11-25 cassette. If you’re a World Tour pro then this probably sounds alright, but the rest of us want a bigger range and/or lower gearing.
Running a compact 50/34 crank is a great place to start. You might lose out on a bit of top-end speed, but you’ll have a much lighter gear for climbing. If you want to improve your range ever further, try upgrading to a long cage rear mech and bigger cassette. Perfect if you’re planning an epic summer trip to ride in the mountains.
5. Going tubeless
Here’s a controversial one to finish with. There’s nothing that riles certain road cyclists more than technologies that challenge the status quo, especially ones that come from our off-road cousins. Case in point: tubeless tyres.
They’ve been available for a while, but have yet to enjoy the widespread acceptance that exists in the off-road market. They might be a bit more faff to set up, but when you get it right it’s a game changer, with lower rolling resistance and improved grip.
Short of a nail, chances are you won’t be puncturing anytime soon, due to the sealant floating around in your tubeless tyres. All these benefits add up to a relatively inexpensive upgrade that can really make a difference to the feel of your ride.
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