Going Di2 or getting a new bike?

I currently own a Giant Defy Advanced 2 with Shimano 105 groupset. I was quoted about $1,700 to upgrade the groupset and brakes to UItegra Di2 (parts and labor). But shopping around I could get a TCR disc with mechanical Ultegra groupset for just another $700.

Is it worth upgrading the groupset to Ultegra Di2 or should I go N+1?

Besides the obvious, what is your desire or expected benefit of any upgrade?

What do you expect you would do with both bikes (vs one upgraded)?

I have thought about this as well - I have a Cervelo S3 with mechanical Ultegra. I think getting a second bike with or without Di2 is a better bet for me - as I could have a more dedicated race bike. It seems like the Di2 pricing hasn’t gone down as fast as I’d expect. I have ridden Di2 while in Europe on vacation and I don’t think the shifting experience itself is much better than Ultegra, more that the maintenance and options of how to shift are better.

Thanks Chad.

My main reason for upgrading to Di2 would be better/customizable shifting, hydraulic brakes, less fuss with cables, and cleaner headset.

The TCR feels lighter and more responsive than my Defy, but even that is highly subjective even on a daily basis. I may as well be honest and say that it’s a “N+1” thing, I love the look of the new TCR and it gives me an option when I do decide to get into road races in 2020 as an old man.

Indeed, I forgot to mention that the maintenance part concerns me. I’m not handy at all and I’m constantly worried something will go wrong with my bike, I’m always torquing up my pedals, axels, etc, before I got out, even when they’re fine.

I’m all for a whole-bike replacement in most cases. Unless you get some screaming deal on parts & labor, you are paying a fair bit more to make improvements to a frameset.

There are usually good enough improvements in bikes from about 3 years old. This is subject to the particular models in question (relative price points and tech era), but you can often expect to get better results, even if you get the “same” level of gear. Looking at your case of stepping up, you get that base plus a higher level of parts.

If you have the option to keep the 2nd bike for dedicate trainer use and/or a backup/bad weather bike, it makes more sense.

In general, I think upgrades are best kept to wheels in most cases. If you want a new group, you are better to go with the bike route.


Thanks Chad. Regarding wheels being the best upgrade, is this because of rolling and air resistance concerns, i.e. they’re the leading edge in the wind and sole contact with the road?

1 Like

Wheel upgrade depends heavily on the type of bike, rider and planned events.

  • Considering typical road use, many bikes come with budget wheel sets that are either non-aero, heavy or both. They are often lower end aluminum with less than ideal shapes for wind resistance.
  • As such, there are often good gains to be made by upgrading to a better aero wheel set for most uses. Weight is secondary unless you are focusing on pure climbing events with hilltop finishes.
  • In either case, you will often see bikes with great overall specs but skimp a bit on the wheels. If that is true, a new wheelset can wake up an otherwise “good” bike and turn it into something faster and/or more exciting.
  • Additionally, with the move to wider tires and wheels, sometimes you can improve comfort and grip by getting a wider wheelset coupled with wider tires to get more grip and lower pressure to make the ride smoother. This also happens to be faster from the reduced vertical motion associated with higher pressure tire and wheel setups.
  • So, an upgrade to wider and more aero is a win/win situation with many of the stock wheels found on a lot of bikes.
1 Like

I’m in the same boat and have been contemplating upgrading my 11 year old Madone with Di2 (I love it on my race bike) or getting a new bike mostly for training. The more I delve into in it the more I’m leaning towards just buying a new bike. Plus I would like some disc brakes. Now what to get…

1 Like

With the 8XXX Ultegra DI2 series having been out for over a year on bikes, it’s also a good option to buy a used DI2 setup disc brake bike. As Chad said, upgrading existing bikes tends to be cost-inefficient unless you absolutely love an existing frame. It’s very hard to get a good used (even older ones) frame for under $500, but you can easily get a newer, fully equipped bike starting at $1K - the difference in the cost of parts easily points towards the full bike.


I replaced the 105/tiagra mix on my 2013 Madone 3.1 a year ago and killed my motivation for a 5k new bike. Got the parts on eBay new for around 1k, latest 11 spd 8050 with buttons on hoods. Junction box in bar end and the taped wires under downtube / rear stay using the special Shimano adhesive strips have held up well and very discreet. Next bike someday will also be di2 - works perfectly all the time, made dismantling and safely protecting RD for shipping bike to France a piece of cake, no frayed hood cables every 3-5k miles…

1 Like

If I were you, I would get the new bike, try to find some extra cash and buy new wheels.

According to my ex-pro friend, the most important part of the bike is wheels. He says as long as he has a good set of wheels, he can even race with Sora groupset.

Get wheels :slight_smile:


+1 on it being better to get a new bike than upgrading components on an old one. Bike companies get big discounts on groupsets, you get a much better deal on components bundled in on a whole bike build than buying them separately. If anything I tend to downgrade components on old bikes since the quality of groupsets goes up while the value of the old bike goes down. E.g. My beater/trainer/winter road bike started out with Ultegra 9 speed in 2004, I replaced parts as and when they wore out and it’s now on 10 speed 105 (which is as good or better than 2004 Ultegra).

Wheel upgrades are a great investment but only thing I would caution against is buying a nice set of rim brake wheels if your next bike is likely to be disc brake.


Also sex factor. You can’t forget sex factor!!!

1 Like

Bear in mind the difference, the Defy is Giant’s endurance bike and the TCR is a race bike so expect the TCR to be a bit stiffer and have lower riding position than the Defy.

Of course if you had both then you cover your bases for races vs endurance/sportive rides…

1 Like

Why not have both? I realise this is a UK site and you’re in the US, but…giant end of season deals can be pretty ridiculous/cheap


1 Like

I’d upgrade the bike in that situation. That said, I would give serious consideration to why you want hydraulic disc and why Di2? Call me old, but mechanical group sets and rim brakes work great for me, and while I’d like to get all liquored up on the newest/bestest tech, there’s something sublime about being able to do simple bike maintenance and minimizing labor and parts costs associated with the newer gucci stuff.

All that said, I ride in a completely dry environment, and I’m not doing a lot of 50mph screaming descents where I need to brake constantly, so I don’t see a need for disc brakes, and I do love the reliability and simplicity of a quality mechanical groupset which I can easily tune and maintain myself. If I were buying today, I don’t think I’d be forking over the extra cash for disc/Di2 personally. Use that cash for a wheel upgrade! YMMV.


I’ve seen a lot of debate recently about mechanical v Di2, which has made me think about comparisons. I have Ultegra Di2 and mechanical Dura Ace, the only noticeable difference I experience is when changing out of the granny ring on mechanical, anything else is negligible.

1 Like

Yeah, I stand by my above post… I just upgraded to a 2020 Venge Pro with Ultegra Disc brakes and Ultegra Di2. I still view both as luxuries for my riding conditions as compared to my DuraAce mech/rim brake bike, though I think the disc brakes definitely helped one hard stop on a descent. Still, I don’t view them as necessities other than the fact that the value of rim brake and mech groupset bikes is only going to go down as e-shifting disc brake bikes become the standard.

Gun to my head, I think I’d go Di2 over disc, again for my specific riding conditions. But it’s going to be damn near impossible to buy good wheels for rim brakes here soon.