New bike, or upgrade current one

Hi everybody,

A frequently asked question I’m sure, but I’m still curious to hear your thoughts. Basically I’m wondering: do I invest in my ‘old’ bike, or buy a new one?

I have a very light (7 and a bit kg) Focus Izalco Team SL 4.0 2014. Done about 40.000km on it. I live in a very flat area, only do real climbing maybe once a year. Should I get a new bike with a good aero frame and aero wheels, and will I feel the difference in speed (4000 euro budget)? Or should I throw on a new groupset, get some fancy wheels, save a lot of money and still be faster than before?

longer version:
I have my Focus Izalco Team SL 4.0 from 2014 since the beginning of 2015, ridden about 40.000km on it. It is/was my dream bike, super grateful to have ridden it the last couple of years. Its very light (7 and a bit kg), which is great when I do some climbing. The truth is that about 99% of the kilometers I do are as flat as can be. So now I’m wondering, if I go for an aero bike, will I see an increase in speed and thus fun? I’m pretty fit (360W FTP, 4.6w/kg) and ride about 8 hours a week on average.
The bike still does quite well. I might need a new derailleur, but other than that the braking (rim brakes) and shifting is still fine. It has Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels.
Getting a new bike is of course fun in and of itself. So that is definitely a big part of me thinking about getting one. I don’t race, don’t do any weekly grouprides, I just enjoy going fast and occasionally riding with (random) people. The biggest things I would look for in a new bike are aero frame, aero wheels and disc brakes. Electronic shifting would be cool, but definitely not a must.

I’m just curious to see what you guys think, or if you have any experience you can share regarding my case. I’m mainly wondering if an aero bike and aero wheels will really be faster, and if so, what margins are we looking at? Would aero wheels and maybe an aero helmet already give me the biggest gains, meaning I don’t spend as much money and also keep my lightweight bike. Any other advice is welcome as well!



Aero frame is probably the last thing you should do as the return for your hefty investment is marginal. Other upgrades offer marginal gains but for moderate costs. Your fit on the bike, your kit, your helmet, wheels, are all going to provide speed gains for fractions of the price of a frameset, and I would approach them in that order I listed. In comparison to the rider, the frame represents something like 10% of the overall drag, so if you reduce that by 10%, you’re really saving 1% overall. Well fitting kit and a good helmet can likely do more than this, for only a few hundred bucks.

TLDR: yes aero frames are faster but not by as much as lots of other cheaper upgrades you can make to yourself


Completely endorse what @Cleanneon98 has proposed. Not only that, but you can spend all that cash you save on a great cycling holiday! :grin:


Thank you for that fast and honest reply! So if people feel their aero bike made them a lot faster, that’s mainly the wheels and their own wishful thinking? I read somewhere that upgrading handlebars to something more aero is a big part as well. I wouldn’t mind spending some money on handlebars and a good helmet if that gets me most of the gains.

My clothing is already pretty tight. Not a skinsuit, but I’m not sure I would go for that. I could also shave my legs but my gf wont allow it :D.

A bike fit is something I have been thinking of a lot. Not sure how to decide which one I trust though, but I’ll look into it again.

A question about wheels. Maybe I will upgrade to something carbon with a deeper rim. Is the fact that I have rim brakes holding me back in the options I have in the available options?

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Rim brakes won’t really hold you back from anything besides running big tires, and I’d say on pancake flat roads Disc brakes are not really necessary. An aero handlebar will help some, but again we’re talking about reducing a small part of a small part of the overall drag. Aero wheels can help reduce some turbulence behind them as the air passes over and around, similar to an aero frame, but perhaps more important because they are also moving which can create more turbulence with a poorly designed wheel.

I ride an Emonda (non aero similar to your focus) with rim brakes and a non aero one piece bar stem, and 50mm wheels. I’m always able to surprise myself on it by going faster and faster. I wanted an aero bike for the longest time but simply cannot justify the cost at this point

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I think it’s also important at this stage to differentiate need vs want.
As was pointed out, you will get diminishing returns the more you spend on the bang for your buck scale.
But a big factor is how much you want to ride your bike.
By the sounds of it, you really like your focus. So maybe it’s worth upgrading it!
One thing NOT to do, and yes, it’s what i did:
buy new shiny wheels for your rim brake bike
x days/weeks/months down the line, decide you actually really want to change bikes, and go with disc brakes, making the new wheels redundant.


Thats such a valid point holybinch, thanks. First thing my gf actually said was: ‘you can’t just get rid of your focus! You love that bike! You’ve been through so much.’
Now I don’t want to get attached to things, but there’s something to that. It is a great ride and I would really enjoy upgrading it, picking exactly what I want, giving it new life. The only fear I have is (and thats kinda what you’ve experienced): am I putting money into something that is nearing the end of its life anyway?

I think how much faster you are on an aero bike significantly depends on the geometry difference from your current bike. I recently upgraded from a 2010 Cannondale Synapse to a 2021 Trek Madone SL7. The Synapse is an “endurance” geometry, and the Madone is an aero frame with a “race” geometry. My average speeds for the same effort on the same roads are about 1mph faster on the Madone. I’m sure most of that is because of the more aero body position, but the frame, wheels, & bars certainly help.
If your focus puts you in an aero efficient position, you probably won’t see huge gains from an aero bike.

I will say, that if you want to upgrade things, do it soon. Rim brake wheels are on the way out and manufacturers are shifting to disk-only product lines. You can still find them, but the longer you wait the fewer choices you’ll have in new rims. Of course, the used market will be rich with cheap rim brake wheels, so if you’re willing to go used you’ll likely find some good bargains.

On the subject of disk brakes themselves, IMHO that alone is worth the upgrade. The improvements in modulation, overall stopping power, and near-indifference to weather conditions make disks the best thing to happen to road bikes in a looooong time.



I agree that if your only goal is to get faster, you can do that cheaper by upgrading your 2014. Having said that, the bike is coming up on 8 years old. I’m not sure how much money I would put into that. I might switch the Focus to the trainer/backup bike and buy a newer bike just for the sake of being a bit more future-proof and comfortable.

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Having faced a similar question previously, a few notes I can share:

  • I didn’t realise quite how much sentimental value I’d built up on my old bike before I stopped riding it. I knew I loved it, but I haven’t mentally ‘replaced’ it, the way I thought I would’ve with the new one. It’s a turbo mule now, but I simply can’t bear to get rid of it, and frequently toy with the idea of making it road worthy again.

  • Although people are correct to point out that an aero frame in isolation is poor value, often times the package you get with a decent mid level spec with that frame will make it worthwhile. My bike (around your budget) came with aero bars, integrated cabling, mid section carbon wheels, and yes, a slightly aero frame. Add all of that up and it’s noticeable. (Fun fact, that’s why the Cannondale SystemSix has its name; frame, fork, seat post, wheels, stem, bars. You’re welcome.)

  • While my new bike is certainly faster than my old one, I doubt there’s any amount of riding that I would’ve been unable to do with the old one (fast group rides, club TTs, long days out, whatever). But, I’ve been able to do some of those things a little better, and if you’re competitive it might count.

Best of luck whichever way you go!


Sounds like you’ve got a great bike but you’re also willing to buy a new one. So why not buy the aero frame bike? If you don’t need the money for other things keep the climber and buy a flats bike. Win win


New wheels would be my approach for gaining speed but sometimes you fancy something new. I had this 3 years ago with my 2012 bike over the years (41,000miles) I had put new wheels on it a couple of times and it was definitely the most bang for buck for me. Although in late 2018 I splashed out for a new frame. I still stayed rim brake and only went integrated cables rather than full aero though.

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I vote new bike but, with a caveat:

Unless you buy top shelf you may have to spend a bit of money upgrading a brand new bike. Hear me out…I bought a mid tier 2021 Scott Addict RC 10 last year mostly to transition to disc brakes. There were a number of components I needed to change to get it the way I wanted it either due to fit or performance which included:

  1. The stock Syncros 35mm wheels while ok were sort of noodles. Hard to describe. They just didn’t roll or corner as nice as what I ended up with which are a set of DT Swiss 1100’s…

  2. The stock 172.5mm cranks were swapped out for 165’s.

  3. The stock 100mm stem was too short and the 420mm bars too wide. I moved to a 120 by 400.

  4. The stock saddle was just not acceptable in every way.

  5. The stock tires were like riding on garden hoses.

All together I probably spent $2500+ on upgrading a new bike. Before you judge I hadn’t purchased a new complete bike for many many years. I just bought frames and built them up which was easy to do even a few years ago before everything became integrated and proprietary.

I think companies like Trek and maybe even Cervelo and Orbea give the buyer the ability to sort of build the bike with options for crank length, stem length etc…if I had to do it over I 'd have bought from a company that allowed for this.


I second Landis’ point, I had to do nearly the same to my new bike last year. Changing crank length is one that particularly stings…


In terms of equipment upgrade (ignoring stuff like position, clothing, helmet which can all have a huge impact on speed), as above an aero frame doesn’t get you much speed for your money. Wheel upgrades can make a big difference. Aero handlebars with clean cable routing can also be a nice improvement as well as giving the bike a nice new look.

Caveat to the above is how much money you want to spend upgrading a 7 year old bike. I certainly don’t think I would invest in new rim brake aero wheels at this point, so if you decide to stick to the Focus I would look at secondhand wheels (and there are some bargains out there with people switching to disc brakes).

Other thing is that having 2 bikes can be really nice. One for climbing and one for flat. Or one for nice weather and fast rides with high end tires, and one for wet days and social rides with more puncture resistance. Or just having a spare bike for the days when one is being serviced, or has a puncture you haven’t got round to fixing yet, or you’re waiting for a part to arrive. Or for when a friend comes to stay.


Great points all, but most of them can just be swapped over from the old bike initially and then upgraded over time.

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I upgraded from a Giant TCR to a Specialized Venge a couple of years ago. As a light rider who doesn’t smash out big watts compared to my heavier friends I was looking for any gains I could find in the flats and crosswinds. I saw noticeable differences immediately. New PRs by sizeable margin on flat and downhill segments at similar power outputs. The Venge included aero bars and 50mm deep wheels so I gained the complete package all at once. Maybe you’d get 50% of the benefit from just bars and wheels. Maybe not. I’m an aero believer though.


The question is why you’d want a new bike. Nothing in your post indicates that there is something wrong with your current bike (other than a derailleur, which is very inexpensive).

Financially, I think the best course of action is to simply save up the money and wait a little longer.

On the other hand, as someone who has gotten his first new bike in 9 years two months ago, I can definitely attest that I really, really love riding my new bike. It still makes me smile. I spent lots of care when selecting components, I chose the color I want, it has the carbon wheels that I wanted, etc.

However, let me give you a third option: 4.000 € will get you a very good bike with good components but solid mid-range wheels, probably made of aluminum. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you want your dream bike instead with the electronic shifting you’ve been eyeing for, I’d save up more and then get that. That’s what I did. There is zero compromise on my bike. Well, I wanted a Red crank, which wasn’t available, but this is literally the first-worldiest of first world problems.

I’d also do that for a second, practical reason — availability. I would have had to wait for the aforementioned Red crank for at least six months. It took my LBS four-and-a-half months to assemble all the parts. As a result, prices have risen quite a bit, and I’d just wait until the situation has normalized somewhat. I recently went to the biggest LBS in town and their road bike floor was 1/3 of the size. (Well, the space was filled with cross bikes and so forth, but there were very few road bikes.)

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This whole thread is moot……you can’t find new bikes and you can’t find new components.

Come back in 2022 / 23.



Power13 nailed it! The bike you can ride right now is the best one! Shops cant keep anything in stock and used parts are going for MSRP or higher
My vote is to ride this out for another 6-12 mo and re-evaluate where the market is then.