High or low: Find the right upgrade for your bike
Whether you have a big budget or a more modest one, you can improve the aesthetics and quality of your ride with the right purchase
There is always an upgrade you want to make to your bike. Whether it’s a small modification for better comfort or a blingy purchase to drastically up the speed of your machine, you can make a variety of improvements depending on your budget and desires. So whether there’s a lust-worthy upgrade you’ve been saving for for months or a little touch that can make a big difference, here are bike upgrades you can make depending on if you have a high or low budget:
High – The sky is the limit
Lighter wheels will help you accelerate faster. Smooth as silk hubs will allow you to keep your speed even better and a more aerodynamic rim profile will slice through the wind. Well built carbon wheels will also feel different unearth you, improving your comfort and the ride quality. A new wheelset may cost a pretty penny but they are definitely one of, if not, the most substantial upgrade you can make to your bike.
Handlebar and stem
While you can go budget on your handlebar and stem or even keep the stock ones if you really want to bling out your bike seek out a light cockpit to finish off your ride. An integrated bar and stem will be stiffer when you are riding hard and will help you save additional weight. Aesthetically, an integrated cockpit will also look very clean especially if the cables can be routed internally.
The most useful training tool you can add to your arsenal is a power meter and the knowledge of how to use it effectively. Power meters are more accessible than ever reaching lower and lower price points while becoming jam-packed with useful training features. While still a big expense, a power meter can help make you faster on your bike as long as you are willing to put in the work.
To really keep track of your riding, it’s essential to have a bike computer. During rides, you can monitor your metrics. Training metrics like heart rate, cadence and power are very useful to gauge efforts and analyze performances. Speed, distance, elevation gain and other more basic metrics can help understand how tough your ride is or just give you engaging data to look at every so often out on the road. Add in features like navigation and you really can expand what you are able to do on your bike.
Custom paint job
To take your bike to the next level aesthetically, a custom paint job will go a long way. You are guaranteed to have a bike that perfectly suits your style and personality. This is one of the most complicated upgrades to make because it will involve stripping your frame of all it’s components and sending it off to a specialized paint studio like Toronto’s VéloColour. You could do something a little bit more basic and just have the fork and stem custom painted.
Low – Small changes that can make a big difference
A fresh set of tires may not seem like a major upgrade but can change your bikes ride quality and expand the surfaces you can ride. Race tires will be light and fast rolling so you can optimize speed. Maybe you prioritize puncture resistance and want a sturdy tire you can ride hard on any surface. If you have clearance on your bike, try a wider tire to see how it changes the comfort of your bike. If your rims are compatible, a tubeless tire can allow you to run lower tire pressure.
You know what isn’t comfortable to ride? Grimmy old worn-out bar tape. Find a bar tape that feels nice to the touch, is grippy enough for your preference and has enough padding to suit the type riding you do. A well wrapped bar will aesthetically look beautiful and will improve your ride experience.
If your undercarriage isn’t jiving so well with your current saddle, finding one that really suits you will be night and day for your ride comfort. You will want and be able to spend so much more time in the saddle. It may take some time to find the perfect one but it’s definitely worth trying to find the perfect one.
Chainrings and cassette
Expanding your gear ratio to better suit your riding can allow you to tackle harder or more varied terrain. Try a cassette with a 30T cog and you will be able to spin up tougher climbs. Go to a 1x setup for siplicity or if you are feeling a need for speed, put on a bigger chainring so you don’t spin out at 60 km/h.
Small hand pumps or Co2 can be a bit of a hassle and a little frusterating to use at times, especially once the weather gets colder and you just want to get back on the road as fast as possible. A frame pump has a large chamber and will make getting back on the road so much faster. Now that’s an improvement any cyclist can get behind and you are sure to be popular on the group ride.
Hate cleaning a dirty drive train? Maybe it’s time to change to a dry lube. Making your bike’s drivetrain run just right in the conditions you most often ride in will make a huge difference to component longevity and you might even get a few free watts too.
Saddle and bar bag
Being able to carry everything you want and need on your rides can allow you to ride more confidently. If you hate having stuffed pockets, the right saddle bag and bar bag combo will allow you to more efficiently pack your essentials with space to spare for a camera or that extra pastry.
New bike day
Of course, if none of these upgrades seem sufficient, maybe it’s time for #newbikeday!