Best bike upgrades you can make

Let’s say you have a modest bike that was originally around $2000: High-end aluminum frame (or entry level carbon), 105 drivetrain, stock wheels.

What are the best upgrades you can make? Which ones make the most sense? I know how I personally feel about upgrades, but I thought it would be interesting to poll the TR community as well, and potentially helpful to anyone considering upgrades to their current roadie.

  • Carbon wheelset
  • Upgraded drivetrain
  • Better frame/New Bike
  • Power meter
  • Something else (note it in the comments!)

0 voters

It really depends on what you’re trying to get from your upgrade. If you want to go faster on your bike, wheelset upgrade for sure. Stock wheels on a $2,000 bike are notoriously junk. If you want to be a better athlete, then a power meter makes a word of difference to train better.

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I voted PM but, tires are probably the best upgrade you can make for increased performance and/or feel for the money (depending on the tire you’re on now).

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Also, for anyone thinking about this, I’d go for high end aluminum (like CAAD12) over entry level carbon.

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Couldn’t agree more. High-end aluminum like a CAAD12 (anything from Cannondale, really) or Spec Allez Sprint is incomparable for the money.

All depends on how much money you want to spend, and what you want to achieve. I’d generally agree that wheels are the best upgrade.

Power meter will make the most improvement to how fast you are, but nice carbon wheels are the best looking upgrade you can buy so it’s impossible to say which is better.

Power meter is so powerful as a training tool, especially if you are doing indoor training that it really should be near the top of the list. Especially at the $300-500 entry point that is possible now. As far bike going faster on the bike tires as way up there in bang for the buck.

Yea, I wouldn’t go carbon over aluminum until the ~$3000 price point (Tarmac Comp and friends).

My list of monies to spend after getting your frame for going faster:

  1. Tires (GP5000 or bust)
  2. Speed suit (Sanremo or some such)
  3. Aero Helmet (Evade or some such)
  4. Aero Road bars (SL-70 Aero, Aerofly, or similar)
  5. Carbon Wheels
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I can’t argue that. I voted PM but just wanted to add that if you can’t afford one tires are just the most noticeable piece of equipment you can upgrade with speed in mind. JMO/E

Regarding a PM…if you’re going to pay that much money for one I’d echo what Frank Overton and and Colby Pearce recommend: buy either an SRM, Quarq or PT. Take a listen around the 30 minute mark below…

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I love my P1 pedals. Sometimes I wish I had a crank or spider power meter so I could use shimano cleats, but they work super well.

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A hand built wheelset with a good set of hubs. They hold value, are easy to sell if needed, and make the experience of riding so much better compared to a stock wheelset.

It doesn’t always have to be carbon rims either. There are plenty of great aluminum rims out there that you can build a killer wheelset around.

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Man, you’re right there. I have a set of H Plus Son Archtypes on DT Swiss hubs that I’ve been riding for years. They’re my gravel wheels now, but they’re absolutely bombproof. One of the best investments I’ve ever made.

if you are reading this, you don’t have a power meter, and you have money in your possession go buy one right now.

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I didn’t vote for powermeter because you can get the exact same gains in fitness using virtual power, but on race day those lightweight climbing wheels or aero rims will be faster.

What this doesn’t say is what the bike is for, of course. If it’s for riding around and fun, I’d get a shallow wheelset with a wide rim and tubeless tyres for grip and comfort. Maybe a really good pair of shorts would have as big an impact as anything you can do to the bike.

If it’s for racing, you’d get a pair of deep sections, or a skin suit, or an aero helmet.

What I don’t understand is doing social group rides with all the marginal gains. I’d rather train harder than go faster for less effort.

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True, but there’s something special about deep section wheels. They look fast, they sound fast, they feel fast and they are fast!

Just having a wheelset built up: DT Swiss 240 hubs and Kinlin XR22T rims. Wide internal width and tubeless ready, so getting the GP5000 tubeless in there. Only slightly heavier than my Dura Ace C24s and good enough for a British winter too.

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That’s true for indoor rides, but if you ever want to take your training outside on a nice day you’re stuck. The benefits for helping to pace a long ride shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Agree, but if you were to buy just one upgrade then I’d still go for wheels first over a powermeter.

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In order:

  1. custom wheels (not necessarily carbon). Be willing to pay even more than what you paid for the rest of the bike combined. If nothing else, do this.
  2. power meter
  3. head unit/bike computer
  4. Upgrade drivetrain as stuff wears out. It’s 105, so maybe never upgrade. I run recent 105 and it’s fantastic.
1 Like