This spring you might hop on your bike and think it’s missing a little something. While the excitement of riding never gets old, it can feel you and your bike are just ready for an upgrade. While you may be tempted to head to the nearest bike shop and buy something new, taking a few steps to freshen up your bike might bring back the excitement that was missing the first time you hopped into the saddle this spring.
Here are some small improvements you can make to your bike to make it feel almost new again:
Fresh handlebar tape can make an old bike feel wicked
Grimy old bar tape is nasty. Whether you noticed it or not, improving one of your primary points of contact with the bike can make a huge difference. New bar tape won’t set you back much and will make your ride feel nearly new, at least in your hands.
A more suitable saddle for your behind
While the saddle on your bike does the job, you may experience some discomfort or get saddle sores on occasion. In the perfect world, this never happens. Apart from taking sensible precautions to avoid future saddle issues, a new perch might just be what you need to make your bike feel entirely different. Before selecting a new saddle it’s a good idea to try a few out if possible. Consider your sit bone width, the saddle shape and the amount of cushioning before purchasing. A new saddle can make your bike feel like new for your backside.
New handle bar and stem
Improving the stiffness and comfort of your cockpit can make your bike feel very different. A new stem and handlebars can help you get into a position you didn’t have before or just make your ride feel a little faster. Consider the geometry and bend of the handlebars, their width and the material they are made from. Slamming your stem can help you get real low while its angle and length can put you in a better position on the bike. With good carbon and alloy options to choose from the weight and feel of your cockpit can be customized to suit your riding style.
Change the gearing ratio with new chainrings and cassette
If you aren’t satisfied with your bike’s gearing ratio, replacing the chainrings and cassette can do wonders. If you need some easier gears for leg burning climbs or desire smaller jumps between cogs, consider a chainring or cassette replacement. With wider cassettes you can go to a 32 small cog which will help on the toughest of climbs, just make sure the cage of your derailleur is long enough.
Regular and thorough maintenance
If you aren’t properly maintaining your bike you very well could be adversely affecting its performance. Start with a very deep cleaning of every component. Replace worn brake pads, your chain, replace your cables for better shifting and don’t forget to slap on some new cleats. Additionally, you can grease bolts, springs and other moving components that may not be moving smoothly to ensure they are in good shape. When you get out on the road, a properly tuned up bike, whether done yourself or bike your mechanic, will feel drastically different.
Finally, the improvement that can make the biggest difference while also leaving the biggest dent in your wallet is a wheel upgrade. While the frame and groupset play a huge role in how your bike rides and feels, a new wheelset can drastically impact the ride quality and weight of your bike. This is especially true if you are going from an entry-level set of alloy rims to a more performance oriented wheelset with a smooth as silk hub. A set of stiff carbon rims can help you get up to speed more effortlessly, keep you there longer all while changing the esthetic of your ride.
If none of the above does the trick and you still feel the need for something shiny and new, at least you tried to get a bit more out of your current ride.