Improve your ride! | Six of the best bike upgrades
Once you have a shiny new bike, you’ll probably be riding it for a bit and be blissfully happy. But at some point you’ll probably start something that you want to make faster or more comfortable or maybe better for the commute.
Here are six of the best upgrades you can make to your road bike.
The classic way to improve a production bike is to improve the wheels. It used to be about getting sophisticated carbon wheels, but nowadays many bikes come with carbon wheels, so it’s not that simple anymore. And carbon might not be the characteristic you should be looking for anyway.
Before you buy a set of wheels, think about what you want the wheels to do. If you’re buying wheels to make your bike a bit more comfortable, going for a wider rim on the inside is a great way to allow wider tires to sit with a nice profile. Likewise, for longevity, a higher number of spokes – that’s the number of spokes in the wheel – and careful component choices such as brass nipples are a great way to get a set of hoops that don’t. will never let you down.
You can also opt for a tubeless compatible wheelset. Tubeless has its drawbacks, but it is often very effective at preventing punctures and there is growing evidence that it is faster as well.
> 58 of the best road bike and gravel bike wheels of 2021
A deep wheelset is an ideal choice for most riders because it allows your bike to go faster on the flat. This will make your life easier when attacking the peloton or, in our case, allow us to hang onto the back of the group a bit longer.
With disc brakes pulling the braking surface away from the rim, a carbon wheelset can be used all year round these days without you having to chew on expensive rims. And disc brakes have made it possible to design rims with a wider internal channel, which means that if you want, you can buy a wheel set to swap between a road bike and a gravel bike.
It will certainly help offset some of the costs, but these days you can get good carbon wheels from around £ 600.
New / larger tires
The only thing that connects your bike to the tarmac are the tires, so choosing the right ones for your ride is crucial. With new tires, you can improve grip in bad weather, go a little faster, add much-needed comfort, or simply reduce the risk of a puncture.
Just like wheels, what you buy depends on how you are going to be riding. A roadie who likes to go fast and be comfortable will usually go for a tubeless-ready tire with a nice soft casing, lightweight rubber compound and it’ll have it in something like a 26mm width.
> 46 of the best road bike tires of 2021
But if you like flying over gravel sections, a smooth center tread, 36mm size, tubeless compatibility, and a bit of shoulder tread would be ideal for mixing road riding with those gravel sections. .
Bonus tip: If you are not convinced by tubeless, the best price for gaining speed on your bike is to go for latex tubes. They save a few watts for a few pounds and you can’t say the same for any other bike part.
They have their drawbacks such as the slight weight penalty, the extra bulk of the gear levers, and the seemingly complex bleeding procedure, but with the correct setup the disc brakes are brilliant.
You get more stopping power, the ability to control that power better, and as long as your setup is right, disc brakes require little to no maintenance.
> 8 reasons not to use disc brakes – find out the hassles before you switch
We were able to test different combinations of stirrups and rotors and what we’ve learned is that the lightest rotors aren’t always the best idea. Instead, using slightly heavier rotors is a good compromise. SwissStop, that of Shimano cheaper models and Campagnolo rotors are all good choices.
We don’t blame you if you stick to what you know about rim brakes, but we would say the extra control the rotors give you is great.
It’s one for new road cyclists and it can transform your cycling. Clipless pedals and the shoes that go with them are something we highly recommend you use.
At some point you’ll hit a crossroads, but they quickly become second nature and the increase in efficiency is amazing. This is because you are able to pull on the pedals rather than just push down like you do with flat pedals and running shoes.
It should also be remembered that clipless pedals are also much safer than pedals with toe straps or “clips” as they were once called. This creates a pretty confusing name. Because you get attached to your clipless pedals.
> 10 of the best clipless pedals – click from just £ 30
Far from the name, clipless pedals come in different forms. There are generally two types. Single-sided models are for road use and double-sided models are for mountain biking. But we say MTB pedals are ideal for a wide range of road cyclists.
The double-sided design makes it easy to clip on, which is convenient for daily commuting. The pedals allow your feet to twist which can help people with shady knees and the release tension can be set incredibly low. So why bother with road pedals?
The wider pedal body design helps distribute pedaling forces so they’re more comfortable. The stack height is lower which means you can pedal in tighter turns and also has some advantages for the fit of the bike. But the main reason for most road cyclists is the reduced weight and sleeker appearance of the road pedals.
One of the best upgrades you can make to a bike you’re going to ride in any weather is a set of fenders. Many chose their winter bike frame specifically for the ability to use full length protectors and we have to say that we rather enjoyed not being soaked by surface water.
Even clip-on guards will be an advantage if your frame does not have the space or attachment points for full guards. They might not be as safe, but they’re easily better than having a mile-long soaked rear in your ride.
> How to choose the right mudguards for your bike
Mudguards don’t just protect your rear. They can help keep your legs and feet dry, but we would always go for waterproof shoe covers when the roads are wet. Your bike will also thank you for using mudguards. They keep salt water out of the way from the frame, and the headset lower bearing and your bottom bracket will be especially grateful for the protection.
If you are going in a group in the winter, some clubs require mudguards. It might seem a bit too much and you might not care about getting wet. But we don’t want a face full of the spray from your rear wheel.
A power meter
The ultimate upgrade to your road bike for a performance-conscious rider is a power meter. They come in different forms nowadays and the price has dropped significantly, so they’re not the investment they once were.
A power meter is the most accurate way to gauge your effort and is a more reliable measurement than heart rate data because it is less affected by external factors. But it’s still just a tool and you will still need to take the training to get fitter and faster.
> 12 reasons why you should buy and use a power meter
Really annoying that your power meter doesn’t just propel you up the climbs! Aside from the performance gains, the power meter data is great if you like to compare yourself to pro runners or the fastest people on your local climb.
And they don’t just help to go fast. If you want to go far, power data can really help, as sticking to numbers that you know are within your capabilities can help you measure your effort during a ride.
Bonus tip: If you aren’t that bothered with actual performance and just want to stay in shape during the winter to make those sunny summer miles even sweeter, then a smart trainer would be a great buy instead of the power meter. .
They really help you do a solid workout on a weekday evening in January when the weather is freezing and it’s been dark since 4.30am.
> Cycling fitness: how to get the most out of your indoor training
Connect it to an app like Zwift or Rouvy and training can even be fun as you can ride with a group, keep up with faster runners, or easily pack intervals into a short amount of time.