Upgrade or live with current bike

My fast (not super bike fast but still semi aero) rim braked bike (Bianchi Aria) is now 5 years old with 33mm alloy wheels & mechanical 5800 105.

I’ve recently had a little pay bump and have an itch to spend! I wouldn’t be able to spring for a full new fast bike but fancy either:

  • Finding 11 speed di2 bits on eBay/second hand groups and new where needed
  • 12 speed rim di2 might work but that’s probably pretty expensive/harder to find
  • Some alloy brake track wheels like Hed or older Campag Bullet - my frame and brakes don’t really like 28mm tyres so don’t need wider modern widths.

I’m more than happy with frame as I’ve got a nice position, narrow bars and Stages lh crank so would need to stick with Shimano (or mix it up with red etap 22).

Opening it up for discussion since I’ve no one to talk bikes with in real life!


You’ll probably not gain much other than niceness in adding Di2 or another gear but if its speed you are after wheels would be your best bet, but if you are just after a smile on your face I’d put Di2 on (it would put a smile on my face any way :slight_smile: ).


I’d go with wheels.


My bike is a 20 year old Calfee carbon lugged frame. Currently running Ultegra Mechanical. I did just up grade to Reynolds aero wheels, but can’t justify changing the bike. I agree, the best bang for your buck is wheels.

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What wheels do you have on there now?

Do you already have a powermeter on the bike?

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I’d go wheels. Shimano 5800 105 is such a solid groupset.


I would definitely go with some wheels. If you’re willing to go used you can find some killer deals out there on rim brake carbon wheels.

Nothing beats a new bike. Who cares about being practical


Gotta be the wheels…you get to scratch your itch AND you’ll be faster.

Win win.

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  • Current wheels are 33mm alu ones made by a UK builder called Kinetic1 - similar to these
  • Have a Stage LH crank
  • Really needs to be alu brake track - I am not a brave descender and we have 4 seasons in a day quite often (ignoring global warming!)
  • The bank manager! 600 quid for some wheels could be found without much issue, 4k for a new bike would be harder to swing.

I think it will be wheels, need to keep an eye on eBay and chat with my local wheel builder (I’ve got lots of dead wheels I could cannibalise the hubs from).

Cheers all!

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Where are you riding? I’ve been on carbon wheels and carbon brake tracks with Campagnolo red pads for 5 years now without a single problem. If you get the right pads you’ll have no problems with modern wheels.

I wouldn’t touch the Bullet wheels with only a 20.5mm external diameter. Too narrow IMO.

I have Farsports 25mm external (19mm internal) with 25mm GP5000s. They fit perfectly in my older rim brake frameset.

If you know the UK I live on the edge of Dartmoor.

I stopped reading at “Upgrade” - go big.


If that is a concern of yours, why not give the bike to a shop, have it serviced and save the rest of the money for a road bike with disc brakes? Disc brakes work much better in the wet and you rims are no longer a wear item.

Your groupset is fine. I didn’t see any improvement going from 5800/6800 to 7000/8000 series groupsets. Stay on top of maintenance, that’s it.


It’s a bad time to invest in rim brake wheels.

They aren’t wide enough to be aero with anything besides 25c

Cheap ones are fragile

The heds are decent (I have them) but aren’t competitive against a nice all carbon wheel

Nice all carbon rim brake wheels are still expensive, and narrow, and honestly aren’t going to be ideal on wet gritty rides.

105 is fine and probably not worth upgrading, but it’s heavy.

I agree with the others that it’s time to move on to a modern bike with disc brakes if possible because the world has moved on and you get better braking, with all the benefits of nice carbon rims, that are wide enough to take advantage of modern day 28c tubeless tires, and also being aero optimized for that.


So even though he has a bike, he should spend $4K+ on a new bike because wheels are a “bad investment”? Bike parts are not investments!

Aero wheels work just fine with 25mm tires. An extra 3mm is not going to be a game changer.

Shop around. One can probably find deals on rim brake wheels these days. I have Farsports wheels. You can still get their “Classic” 25mm wide rim for around $600/set shipped.

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My point is upgrading. At best a nice set of carbon/alloy wheels are a marginal improvement over nice mid (30-35) section full alloy rims. The nicest carbon wheels are a slight upgrade but a downgrade in braking so they’re a wash, and expensive. What’s the point.

You could say that about almost all upgrades. They cost money and usually offer only marginal performance gains. But what we have here is:

But I don’t think you need to spend a fortune to get decent aero gains out of a set of wheels. His current wheels may be 30mm but we don’t know how aero they are.

These should fit most frames and the braking surface is definitely good enough. They’re also not going to overheat on any descents in England. Use the right pads and you’ll be right as rain, so to speak.

I upgraded my Belgium+ wheels to modern Fulcrum carbon rim brake wheels. I’m also happy with my frameset and group set and my options for nice carbon rim brake wheels are diminishing every year, so I went for it while I can. It really finished the bike and I don’t regret it at all.

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How about just get some really nice kit? The clothes make the man! (or rider).

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