I am fortunate to have a few great bikes, and when I add or replace one, I’m also lucky to have some serious bike nerds for friends, people who help me make the right decisions, rather than just the right-now decisions, if you know what I mean. The result is that I have been over-the-moon happy with the last four bikes I’ve built for myself, and yet…
The best bike you can build today will be supplanted by something better, cooler, newer tomorrow. And even though I have custom frames, so that no improvement can reasonably made to them, the urge to upgrade pieces and parts persists. The trick, I have found, is in those initial decisions, when you make fundamental choices that won’t box you in later. Avoid the lure of non-standard parts. Choose things that will leave your options open.
Wheels are the obvious and best place to upgrade, I think. The emergence of disc brakes has made choosing carbon hoops less sketchy that it used to feel, although there are some awfully light, stiff alloy wheels on the market now, too. And don’t forget the tires. There is a mind-bending array of widths, treads and casings available now, and even these low cost changes can have a big effect on your ride experience.
Cockpit parts, bars, stems and posts, can be fun to play with also, particularly if you’re inclined to experiment with your fit. I like to swap for cockpit parts with my friends, so I can try different things without plowing my retirement savings into my parts bin.
This week’s Group Ride asks, are you an upgrader? If so, what do you think is the best upgrade you can make? What changes have you made that surprised you with their impact? Or, are you the sort who buys a bike and leaves it as it is in perpetuity?