Frankenbike CX/Gravel Upgrade

Looking for some advice on upgrades for a 2013 Saracen Hack 1, which has been used as a winter road bike or for going to the shops since I bought it. The parameters of the upgrade include the fact that the bike has post mounts and an 8/9/10 speed freehub. I want to upgrade from the truly horrible cable disc brakes (160mm rotors) and Sora 2x9 gears to something I could use for CX races, gravel riding or winter road. I won’t be troubling any podiums so it’s really a ‘get it done’ upgrade rather than high performance. If I suggest buying a new bike my wife will leave me but upgrades are a viable discussion.

I appreciate the post mounts limit my options significantly, but from a Shimano perspective I have looked at the Tiagra ST-4720 2x10 levers, but start to get really confused when it comes to calipers. Would the Deore M6000 work with this for a budget option, or would the more expensive BR-RS785 calipers be a better option? I’m fairly clear about what would be required in terms of cassette and rear derailleur.

I know nothing about SRAM but I am open-minded about different component manufacturers. I am open to 1x, but concerned that I might lose some gearing options when the smooth tires come out for this to be used as a winter road bike.

Am I looking for something that doesn’t exist or can people suggest some options? Cheers!

What about a 1x setup with a mtb cassette and mtb rear derailleur using something like a shiftmate to keep road shifters and give you some range?
Would you miss the gearing of a 2x on a winter hack?

I think the idea of missing range is probably more in my head than a reality, and having checked on Sheldon Brown I would lose a little on the high end and gain a little at the low end with a 42T chainring and an 11-36 on the back. Haven’t heard of a Shiftmate but that’s really handy to know they exist…

Where would your suggestion leave me with brakes?

You could also look at the new Shimano GRX range for a 1 x setup using the brakes, shifter and rear derailleur with no need for a shiftmate.

Brake wise hydraulic will be best but on a budget new cable options will be better than what you have

You can check out for a better comparison of Shimano and Tiagra.

Upgrading a full drivetrain is pricey, and probably best done by buying a new bike, which can also be a new used bike. I have a 2013 CAADX which has been a perfect do-it-all bike, and you can probably get a good deal on a 2019 model since they’re rolling out the 2020s now. If your biggest gripe is the brakes, a good bang-for-the-buck upgrade is pads and rotors; my CAADX’s brakes were crappy until I replaced the pads with Jagwires and the rotors with SRAM Centerlines. You could also look at a higher-end cable-actuated caliper, such as offered by TRP.

If you’re going to go up to hydro disc brakes, you’ll be springing for a set of new shifters, which are the real pricey bit. They’ll also likely require new derailleurs and a new cassette, and you might also need a new rear hub (though some of the wider-range Shimano cassettes work on 10-speed road hubs). The new GRX range from Shimano has a Tiagra-level 400 series that could be right up your alley. Note, too, that new drivetrains will come with flat-mount brake calipers, and I don’t think you can put those on your post-mount frame (there are adapters for going the other way).

Good luck

@swgregg if you do decide to go the hydraulic brake route, the Shimano BR-RS785 calipers are a great option for post mount and are compatible with the Tiagra level ST-4720 shfiter/lever. I don’t have experience/knowledge about the Deore M6000.

Have you had a look at the very detailed Shimano Compatibility info here?:

ST = shifter+lever, BH = Brake hose, BR = Brake caliper

+1 with @pkwell on the TRP Spyre mechanical disc idea though. Lots of people swear by those. Your existing mechanical levers, or an upgrade, should work fine with them. Biggest thing would be getting new compressionless brake housing to make them work their best.

Hydraulic brakes are nice for sure, but if you’re wrenching yourself (?) and unfamiliar they can also be a whole new, big can of worms. The TRP Spyres have the simplicity of cable pull, but because both pistons actuate they’re much better than most mechanical discs and easier to tune.


My suggestion would be to go 1x10 with SRAM parts. I think you can really get a good bang for your buck there. Here’s how I would do it:

Left lever: SRAM S500 ($39 new or use a broken shift lever for almost free)
Right lever: SRAM Apex 10sp ($117 new, or an old 10sp right lever used, commonly about $50)
Chainring: Raceface N/W - 40t ($65 new)
Rear Derailleur: SRAM GX 10sp mid-cage ($66 new, has a clutch)
Cassette: SunRace RS1 11-32 ($35 new)
Brakes: TRP Spyre ($130 new for a pair)

It would be possible to build a cheaper drivetrain with microshift parts if you like those ergonomics, but I think SRAM is a good way to go for compatibility and versatility. The Spyre brakes are the best option out there, as others here have suggested - especially paired with good compressionless brake housing. That being said, this is still a ~$500 upgrade if you buy everything new, and that’s most of the way to a nice used bike that would come with that level of parts or better. So I guess maybe it comes down to the optics of the situation with your wife? Or how much you love your bike. But the cool thing is that pretty much anything you put on there from the last few years will be a great upgrade, and make the bike that much better to ride. It’s pretty hard to go wrong.

Good luck!

That is a really handy diagram - does that exist for all Shimano component groups?

In the end, I went with:

Upgrade to 11-34T cassette (£25) and a new chain (£15) (gives me 1:1 gearing for climbs)
Upgrade to TRP Hy/Rd as I got them new but half price (£100 for the pair) on eBay.
New TRP compressionless housing (£15).

I had the same initial problems most people did with the TRP Hy/Rd in that the lever throw was huge. However, there are a couple of hacks available online and at cyclocross practice on Sunday I was really impressed with how they performed. I also did a long gravel ride after installing the new bits and found the broader gear range really handy, the previous small tight cassette might be fine for road cycling but offroad it was hellish.

I decided that considering the level of the frame and wheels if I wanted to get into the long grass of significant upgrades beyond the £155 I’d be better off buying a new bike. There’s some great value to be had out there at the moment, especially with the proliferation of the gravel market and Shimano’s GRX groupset being on some 2020 bikes.

Thanks for the help!


Yes, the Shimano compatibility site (and there’s a downloadable PDF too) covers their whole product range.

Sounds like you made some wise choices. Have fun :smiley:

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