We’ve asked Matt Gilliver, our staff trainer and in-house bike geek what are those easy wins you should consider when you want to upgrade your bike, what gets the most bang for your buck.
Riding bikes is always fun, and talking with friends about bikes and massive debate. So when it was put to me that I should write a piece about possible upgrades for road bikes I jumped at the chance, so please bear with me with this one please. When you talk to people about road cycling and sportive, the ‘feeling I get is that they want a fast reliable comfortable stylish bike. So I have to start somewhere with this and I’m going to start with a good set of road tyres.
There is nothing worse than going for a ride and getting a few punctures on route, especially when you’re limited to time and running late. So I would recommend to any one or a friend a set of Continental Gator tyres for commuting and sportive’ s, the gator skin is a durable bead that sits between the carcass and the outer skin of the tyre that acts as a puncture defence. Though it won’t fully stop nails or large sharp pieces of glass it does reduce the basic puncture, the tyre feels fairy supple on bumpy road or out in the country side narrow lanes. The gator skin tyres are fairly cheap and are fairly durable in winter and great commuting tyre. I have ridden with these tyres for a number of years now and they haven’t let me down yet, even in the cold weather and icy conditions recently.
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Having a good set of wheels on your bike can save you time and weight on the bike, though these can be on the costly side of the upgrade side of things. For the performance aspect of riding opt for a low weight set of wheel and they also have to be strong as well. A strong wheel will result in better performance, this will be noticed when cornering and sprinting out of corners or up steep climbs. Carbon fibre wheels are a nice choice but costly, for example a light weight, fast, durable wheel set, that have been road test for a yearlong are the Cole Rollen Elite. They are a great choice if you want an affordable but good quality wheel set. Though on the other hand if you want to upgrade to carbon fibre then you might want to consider the Cole C50 carbon clincher, they are fast responsive and low weight. Make sure that you keep your wheels in good condition and running well, check the spoke tensions regularly.
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This is a sore point or can be, excuse the pun. With saddles they should be comfortable & stylish. I have owned a few saddles over the years. When you are riding on the drops the front of the nose of the saddle should be well padded and comfortable in all the right areas, there should be good support on the rear as well, though there should be no flex in the saddle when riding generally. When setting up the saddle position you should always have the main body of the saddle horizontal, this will affect you when riding. You don’t want to be sliding around on the saddle. Make sure that you check the saddle size before purchasing it, if the saddle if fairy narrow it more than likely meant for a narrow behind. Though the wider the saddle the bigger seating area, whick will result in more comfort. There is no point in spending loads of money on a saddle, just make sure you get the right size width and set the position. The weight of the saddle will reduce the weight of the bike and will improve performance.
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This issue can improve performance and comfort just by setting up the bike. You can save weight on your bike but this will be a small weight saving, but then again, you will have to pay for this. The stem normally has two settings Facing downwards or upwards. By having it upwards, it gives you a better, more comfortable riding position on the bike. On a long sportive, this will benefit you, you won’t get back ache after a few hours riding because it raises the handlebars a slightly. However, by having the stem facing upwards, you might lose a small amount of performance because your body is in more of an upright position. Having the stem facing downwards, you are in a more aggressive riding position and will be able to put the power down when needed. Most road racing sprinters slam their stems as low as they can get it. By having the stem as low as possible you decrease your wind profile significantly, you go faster, you can pick up speed faster. A fairly lightweight stem won’t cost a lot but it will give a better riding position and also save a bit of weight. The best stems are made from carbon fibre or aluminium with titanium bolts.
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And for the last thing on the list of upgrades, GPS unit, like the Garmin Edge 810, is very helpful to track your performance and also finding out where you are going. When you get home at the end of a ride with your friends you can download your ride and see where you were struggling or going for gold. It will measure altitude, average speed, time, heart rate and many more data points. They are fairly costly but worth purchasing for the long run, over the course of a year you can track your mileage and also where you have ridden. If you are competitive you could download the strava app and start to race your mates, it gets competitive, trust me.
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