Best/Cheapest Upgrade for my bike?



jaysamson

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Jun 28, 2006
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I'm a new roadie, been riding only since last summer. After a brief winter hiatus I'm back on my bike about 3-4 hours per week. Longest rides I do are 35-40 miles , in which I average anywhere from 16-18 mph.

Anyway my question as the thread title states is which is the cheapest/best upgrade I can purchase to improve my bike's performance? Since I was on a very very limited budget I only spent about $500 bucks on my new road bike. Did I mention I was on a very limted budget?

I ended up with a motobecane record. The specs are as follows in the link below.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/motobecane_record.htm


I recently upgraded to spd-sl clipless pedals. So what do you guys think? It seems like the Kenda Kontender tires may need to go. They just feel a little too fat when I ride and if so, which wheelset should I buy? Again I don't have much of a budget. Thanks in advance.

*edit - it seems like they changed the specs on the bike, when I purchased mine they came with Kenda Kontender tires
 

gclark8

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Apr 13, 2004
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1. Tyres: Buy some 23mm Michelin Pro Race or Continntal GP 4000 tyres.

2. Gearing: Consider a close ratio cassette, say 11-23.
 

hd reynolds

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Nov 15, 2005
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Wheels department will see the biggest improvement in terms of performance and looks. On a limited budget go for Mavic Aksiums.
 

John M

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Jun 21, 2005
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jaysamson said:
I'm a new roadie, been riding only since last summer. After a brief winter hiatus I'm back on my bike about 3-4 hours per week. Longest rides I do are 35-40 miles , in which I average anywhere from 16-18 mph.

Anyway my question as the thread title states is which is the cheapest/best upgrade I can purchase to improve my bike's performance? Since I was on a very very limited budget I only spent about $500 bucks on my new road bike. Did I mention I was on a very limted budget?

I ended up with a motobecane record. The specs are as follows in the link below.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/motobecane_record.htm


I recently upgraded to spd-sl clipless pedals. So what do you guys think? It seems like the Kenda Kontender tires may need to go. They just feel a little too fat when I ride and if so, which wheelset should I buy? Again I don't have much of a budget. Thanks in advance.

*edit - it seems like they changed the specs on the bike, when I purchased mine they came with Kenda Kontender tires

I would vote with George about the tires and a close range cassette. You won't really feel the difference that much with Aksium wheels. I think that you would need to drop at least $400-500 to get wheels that would be appreciably different. And at your level, you will get more performance increase out of becoming a more efficient rider. You can probably gain more speed by learning to stay in the drops and riding more aero than even a $5000 bicycle upgrade would provide--and that is free.
 

benkoostra

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Mar 7, 2006
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Good tires will make the ride much better. Oh, and good gloves too. I like the Specialized BG Pro. Very comfortable. go for quality on 'comfort' items.
 

Animator

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Mar 17, 2007
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On a limited budget, a good pair of tires will make the biggest difference to your ride. It's your contact point with the road, eh? Michelin Pros and Vittorias are tops on my list. The next best upgrade for you is a pair of good wheels, which you need not spend a fortune on. Some shops still have good wheel builders. Ask them for advice. Unless the gears you like to ride aren't available or are inconvenient to shift to, changing out your cassette would be a waste of money. One last suggestion is to find a saddle that fits you well if your current one is uncomfortable.
 

hd reynolds

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Nov 15, 2005
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John M said:
I would vote with George about the tires and a close range cassette. You won't really feel the difference that much with Aksium wheels. I think that you would need to drop at least $400-500 to get wheels that would be appreciably different. And at your level, you will get more performance increase out of becoming a more efficient rider. You can probably gain more speed by learning to stay in the drops and riding more aero than even a $5000 bicycle upgrade would provide--and that is free.
A new cassette won't do much good nor would new tires compared to what he's got (check the link he supplied to begin with). It's the same engine anyhow and those legs won't know the difference with those mods - he'll still be pedaling almost the same gears.

Tires? can you honestly feel the difference between a Maxxis 700x23c tire and a Mich Pro Race? - You'll feel it in your pocket for sure.

Try changing stock 14 inch steel rims on a new car with lighter 15 inch magnesium wheels and you'll notice the difference right away even with the same rubber brand and model.

The Aksiums cost $145-$150 and look better and ride lighter than those stock rims.
 

Animator

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Mar 17, 2007
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hd reynolds said:
Tires? can you honestly feel the difference between a Maxxis 700x23c tire and a Mich Pro Race? - You'll feel it in your pocket for sure.
Good point. I'm not at all familiar with Maxxis tires. I know I felt a big difference between Contis and Michelins when I first switched, but then I already had a good set of wheels. I agree that new wheels are the way to go if he can afford them.

To the original poster: Good luck with whatever you decide to do and have fun!
 

Animator

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Mar 17, 2007
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Albert 50 said:
Fill us in please :)
I just remember when I first rode Michelins I felt like the tires were flat even when fully inflated. Same experience going from Michelins to Vittorias. In both cases, after getting used to this disconcerting feeling, I realized they rolled just as well but stuck to the road better. I have no way of objectively measuring an increase in performance but they sure feel a lot better on the almost exclusively bumpy chip-seal roads that I ride on, and that's what matters to me. YMMV. However, the very cheapest way to improve the feel of your tires is to run them with less pressure. There's obviously a limit to how far you can take this though. :)

I hope I'm not unwittingly reopening a contentious old argument here...
 

artemidorus

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Mar 10, 2004
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Keep working on the engine, position as well as fitness and weight. This is by far the best upgrade.
Tyres are the next best affordable upgrade - but wear out the originals first!! (Good incentive to ride).
Good saddle, knicks, shoes and gloves (roughly in that order) make a difference.
You cannot make a major wheel upgrade without spending big bucks. In terms of wheel performance, the only things that make a big difference are deep profile rims with a low count of thin spokes (NOT Ksyrium-type fat alloy ones). Wheel weight is relatively unimportant, as is lateral stiffness (provided that the rim stays off the brake pads) and rotational inertia - along with bling value, these count more in the perception of the rider than in real performance terms. Check out other threads for the arguments. Realistically, all you might achieve within a reasonable budget is going for a slightly deeper profile alloy rim, acknowledging that you have to go deeper than 35mm to really make a difference.
Whether or not you want a narrow cassette range depends on the terrain on which you cycle, and your fitness.
 

autom8ed

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Mar 25, 2007
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If the tires are already new, i wouldn't bother changing them out.. I would invest what I have to improve the comfort of your ride to get the most enjoyment out of your bike.. sit on a few new saddles and see which one your butt likes best.. you can always transfer them over to your new bike should you decide to upgrade...

in short.. saddle, shoes, pedals, shorts.. all the things you keep. :D
 

rwinthenorth

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Aug 27, 2006
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jaysamson said:
I'm a new roadie, been riding only since last summer. After a brief winter hiatus I'm back on my bike about 3-4 hours per week. Longest rides I do are 35-40 miles , in which I average anywhere from 16-18 mph.

Anyway my question as the thread title states is which is the cheapest/best upgrade I can purchase to improve my bike's performance? Since I was on a very very limited budget I only spent about $500 bucks on my new road bike. Did I mention I was on a very limted budget?

I ended up with a motobecane record. The specs are as follows in the link below.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/motobecane_record.htm


I recently upgraded to spd-sl clipless pedals. So what do you guys think? It seems like the Kenda Kontender tires may need to go. They just feel a little too fat when I ride and if so, which wheelset should I buy? Again I don't have much of a budget. Thanks in advance.

*edit - it seems like they changed the specs on the bike, when I purchased mine they came with Kenda Kontender tires

I'll jump in as a relative (2yrs year rounder, older) newbie. Here's what I've found: 1. How hard do you push it? I push myself hard but I don't race. Tires are important in that realm only because you don't want flats> Conti Gators are great. Haven't had one in over a year! I'll probably upgrade to 4000's for the next set, though. 2. Saddle? Amen, I've found mine. Rule of thumb: less, is more. I'm using a Specialized Avatar. Not the best, but on a budget, great. 3. I never gave it much thought until I bought a great pair of shorts that have the pad that matches the shape of the seat. Halellujah! Best upgrades I could of ever made! Now I ride with more comfort = better form= faster engine!
 

FreeHueco

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Sep 9, 2003
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If you're riding 3-4 hours per week, just riding more will do you a lot more good than any money you could throw into the bike.

But if you must throw money at it (and I know I'm guilty of this a lot of the time)... You might start with a more comfortable saddle that actually makes you want to ride more hours during the week. Number two would be the wheels and/or tires (my recommendation if you want good rolling resistance would be Vredestein Fortezzas, as they offer great puncture resistance to go with the lower rolling resistance). Stiffer shoes will also do you some good...
 

SlowestCat3

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Mar 26, 2007
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I would try and save some dough and opt for a new wheelset. Reducing your "rotating" weight is one of the best upgrades you can make - even if it is one of the most expensive. I would check out eBay for some new or even slightly used wheels. Purchasing from a reputable seller can definitely save you big bucks over retail.

Good luck!
 

artemidorus

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Mar 10, 2004
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SlowestCat3 said:
I would try and save some dough and opt for a new wheelset. Reducing your "rotating" weight is one of the best upgrades you can make - even if it is one of the most expensive. I would check out eBay for some new or even slightly used wheels. Purchasing from a reputable seller can definitely save you big bucks over retail.

Good luck!
Sorry, but not so. Moment of inertia has been shown elegantly to have a trivial effect on acceleration, and while total wheel weight is not irrelevant, 500g saving gains you 18cm over a 100m sprint. You decide if that is worth it.
It's worth forking out big bucks for a deeper profile and lower spoke count, but I won't pay triple the price for a wheel that offers no real advantage, such as Ksyrium SL or ES.
The classical wisdom is that you need a rim with a profile deeper than 35mm, but in fact much shallower rims, such as Shimano R-550/560, at 24mm, offer a major drag advantage over inferior rims such as Ksyrium or Open Pro. A lot of this advantage would be from the low count of thin spokes of the 550, but the rim probably counts for some of it. Of course, there are other reasons for avoiding the 550....
 

FreeHueco

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Sep 9, 2003
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Calling the Open Pro an inferior rim invalidates whatever drivel you put in the rest of your post. Paired with some decent hubs (Chris King, etc...), they make about the best wheel you can build...
 

artemidorus

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Mar 10, 2004
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FreeHueco said:
Calling the Open Pro an inferior rim invalidates whatever drivel you put in the rest of your post. Paired with some decent hubs (Chris King, etc...), they make about the best wheel you can build...
Sorry, I must confess to a little bit of stirring. There is no doubt about the robust qualities and light weight of rhe OP, and I have advised more than one friend to have wheels built with them in the past. But it's an old-fashioned, high drag, box-section rim, typically built with lots of spokes, and the theme of my post was "low-drag is good".
 

SlowestCat3

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Mar 26, 2007
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FreeHueco said:
Calling the Open Pro an inferior rim invalidates whatever drivel you put in the rest of your post. Paired with some decent hubs (Chris King, etc...), they make about the best wheel you can build...
Great point....so, Artemidorous, why don't you make a suggestion for the guy? If I'm making an upgrade on the bike he described, I'm getting wheels.

Is there where I'm supposed to list all my bikes at the end of my post? :D

BMC SL01
Trek OCLV
Eddy Merckx Team 7-11 (kickin' old school sled)

...all with Campy, of course.
 

artemidorus

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Mar 10, 2004
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SlowestCat3 said:
Great point....so, Artemidorous, why don't you make a suggestion for the guy? If I'm making an upgrade on the bike he described, I'm getting wheels.

Is there where I'm supposed to list all my bikes at the end of my post? :D

BMC SL01
Trek OCLV
Eddy Merckx Team 7-11 (kickin' old school sled)

...all with Campy, of course.

OK - not so expensive: R560. More expensive: Easton Vista SL. Expensive: Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL.