How to improve your road bike that will help you reach your goals faster. Find out how you can do this without spending too much money. Let’s take the following case: you have a nice road bike, bought 3 years ago and in perfect condition.
You maintain it like the first day. You clean and pamper it every day, and despite the many miles traveled, it does not live up to your expectations. You need to go further; you need a machine with better specs, but you love your bike and don’t want to buy another one.
That’s why I’m writing this article for you to think about how to improve your road bike without spending a lot of money (or so).
In this case, we are talking about a road bike, say a 2016 Canyon Endurace 7.0 CF, with a full Shimano 105 drivetrain, aluminum Mavic Aksium wheels with a 25mm profile, and aluminum components (handlebars, stem, and saddle stem).
Where to start to improve the bike? Well, the most economical: with peripheral components.
Table of Contents
How to Improve Your Road Bike Without Spending too Much Money? A Comprehensive Guide
A Carbon Handlebar, and Stem
It’s probably the first thing any recreational cyclist improves on their road bike. Not only to save a few grams on the scale but also for aesthetics. But let’s take things to step by step.
The handlebar and stem assembly, integrated or not – are what we call a cockpit – in carbon, with a slightly aero touch, make all the difference. The bike changes its look, and we are more in love with it than ever.
In my experience, I would not recommend a flat handlebar but rather a slightly flattened handlebar. When it comes to the stem, you need to consider your length needs, as you won’t be able to adjust it if you buy a handlebar with an integrated stem.
On the other hand, there is the problem of the flat handlebar for installing the GPS support, the light, etc. That’s okay, as there are mounts that go straight to the bottom of the handlebars, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Perhaps the smartest thing to do is buy a handlebar + stem combo, but it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing, in my opinion.
Speaking of price, there are integrated cockpits or separate sets of handlebars and stems that range from $150 to $600.
Upgrade Your Bike With a Carbon Seatpost
One of the strong points of carbon is the absorption of vibrations; as with the handlebars, a carbon Seatpost offers greater comfort.
Remember that we need special grease to assemble peripheral carbon components. The grease used for aluminum components is not suitable. Oh, and the spanner set should be the one recommended by the manufacturer; no need to do it by hand. The recommended clearance is usually indicated in a small vinyl on each component.
A carbon seat post could cost us around $80, although we could go up to $200 depending on the brand and the type of carbon (stronger, lighter, etc.).
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It’s a pleasure, and once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to return. Also, today, with the appearance of 2×12 groupsets from SRAM for the road and soon from Shimano, I would say that one could find a complete Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset quite inexpensively. We are talking about less than $500 for a user group since the new one costs around &750. It’s not a bad investment.
Platters and Cassette
If we can’t afford the cost of a complete groupset, we can always upgrade the gear ratios. Going from a 50-34 / 11-28 compact group to a 52-36 / 11-32 is a complete success, not only because we will have a better valuation of the bike on the used market if we sell it to the future, but also because we will benefit from a wider range of gear ratios. We will descend faster and ascend with a higher cadence.
The cost can range from $150 to $400 depending on whether you are looking for used or new equipment. In the drivetrain market, it’s really interesting to delve into the second-hand market, as many components are sold unused, from dismantled bikes (the type of person who buys a bike to keep the frame ).
Carbon Wheels With Profile
It is probably the best upgrade you can make to a bike, whether a road bike or a mountain bike. The wheels are a differentiator. Good bearings, carbon, and a profile will make our bike look new.
For the Canyon Endurace I was talking about earlier; I would look for carbon wheels with a 45mm profile and quality hubs, like DT Swiss.
Of course, you won’t find anything decent for less than $500 on the used market and $900 for new equipment, but the investment is worth it.
Change brake pads for disc brakes.
Have you ever considered fitting disc brakes to your road bike with conventional brakes? Well, that’s a mistake. Although there are ways to attach disc brake calipers to almost any frame designed for brake pads, this is not recommended.
These are always bizarre inventions, and in no case will the frame warranty be preserved since holes must be drilled in the frame.
If you want to switch to disc brakes, sell your bike and buy another one. That’s all there is to it.
Other Inexpensive Upgrades for Your Bike
We are often looking simply to renew our love for our machine, as I indicated at the beginning of this article, and it does not have to be a very expensive adventure.
If what you want is to improve the image and give your bike a facelift, in addition to increasing its performance, you can make the following improvements:
- Change the handlebar tape (about $20)
- Installation of new stickers with the brand logo (approximately $15)
- Change of the saddle (from $30 to $100 approximately)
- Install a rear light (between 20 and 150 dollars approximately)
Change the tires for others with a caramel color profile (about 40 dollars each).
These are just a few examples of how we can get to work on our bikes and thus renew the illusion we had when buying them.
Seeing all the improvements, we can make to our bike reinforces the reason for that specific advice from our friend, the Pro: buy a bike with a good frame and at a good price, and you can improve everything else bit by bit.