Upgrading entry-level bike with modern groupset

I wouldn’t. I’m not spending $20000-35000 to save $3000.

To expand, I think we’re all getting a bit off the rails here.

OP, you posted:

since I’m worried the Claris setup will hold me back (weight/friction)


As a general rule I really try to avoid linking to my own content on the TR forum, but if you want to watch it, this video is basically exactly inspired by people who have been marketed to and fear the things you’re fearing:
:bike: 5 things no one is telling you about bike buying (And what you actually need to know instead) - YouTube

Now, there are absolutely valid reasons to buy higher end gear. Yes, it subjectively often feels better. Yes, having tighter gear ratios on 11 or 12sp is nice, especially when comparing to 8 or 9 sp. Yes, higher end gear often shifts a little faster. After you bike for years or decades, you’ll likely develop strong preferences. One of mine is that I deeply dislike Shimano mechanical because I like having brake levers that are immovable, so I prefer Sram mech with their doubletap, separating shifting and braking into two discrete levers.

Also, I’m very anti gate keepy. If you just want an exciting, ultralight, ultranice bike, hell yeah. The most expensive bike you can reasonably buy costs less than the difference between buying a Corrola vs a Camry. If it makes you happy and you can afford it, go for it.

But: In terms of, “Is this bike holding me back?” Weight is basically irrelevant. Friction is really really basically irrelevant. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like my gear was truly holding me back. Dave Scott was pulling ~~8:10 Ironmans on bikes like these :slight_smile: :


Great post.
Overall, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Oh yeah, I never got used to that. I really like Shimano MTB groupsets and brakes, but swiveling brake levers are the work of the devil.

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Putting a good groupset onto a crap bike will just mean that you have a crap bike with a good groupset on it. Don’t worry about minute differences in weight for the various sets as it’s equivalent to having had a couple more swigs from your water bottle. The difference is in the engineering and material quality, and this is huge. It’s the same with all the other aspects of the bike though: There’s as much of a difference to a crisp, lively, modern frame. compared to a base model AL frame as between a Claris and an Ultegra groupset.

The advice above to look around and see if you can find a decent used bike would likely give you the best bang per buck.

It won’t hold you back, and shouldn’t be a reason to not start going on group rides.
You’ve already made the biggest upgrade with the wheels/tyres.

As you start to ride further, I’d focus on contact points, are you happy with the saddle/pedal/handlebars.
If not happy with the brake performance, take a look at juin tech f1 calipers.
Run that claris into the ground and upgrade when parts need replacing.

Or if you still want to splash some cash, R7020 hydraulic groupsets are only £450 here and seem a reasonable match for that frame.


Is it “huge” though? Real world difference…is the person sat on top :smiley:

I ride a proper cheap-ass road bike. I LOVE it. If I had the money the OP has above, I’d upgrade the parts, not the bike/frame. A “better” bike wont make me significantly enough faster for the money. :slight_smile:

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Yeah, but all other things being equal this is a query about bikes not about riding them. Assuming that you can bring, say, 300W to the game then if you got off your bike and got onto something like a Super-Six Evo Hi-Mod with Ultegra Di2 and took it around the block you wouldn’t want to get off it…

You’ve never owned a BSO, clearly. :wink:

But you’ve posted all my thoughts already and more. I’ll only add;

  1. Don’t fool yourself into a non-existent cost/benefit analysis. I tried for years.

  2. Spend the money you want - but do it because you like it. I like red ones. :+1::mountain_biking_woman:


Would you be able to get that for the price of selling the old bike + upgrade funds though?

If you look for a used one maybe. What was considered “awesome” 2 or 3 years ago is often now available, used, at knockdown prices, but still objectively awesome.

Yup, but if you had a base golf and wanted to make it a golf R, it would cost you more to try and convert the base to a R. And then when you went to sell it, it’s a base golf with bolt ons, not a golf R. I think we’re inadvertently making the same point here haha

Of course the bikes I linked were used. I wouldn’t recommend someone upgrading a budget road bike to go spend $3k on a new bike. Yes, there’s consumables on a used bike, and those can be replaced as needed. Many parts are interchangeable with lower spec. I think a red chainring is the only exception.

Regardless, here’s my recommendation… you realize the bike you have doesn’t do what you want. Sell it and you’ll probably break even. Heck, give it a nice cleaning and you might even make $50. Put your upgrade budget towards a newer bike. Find a local Facebook bike marketplace so you can see it in the flesh and see how it fits. There’s deals to be had everywhere right now. With what you propose to do, you’re gonna spend close to 2 grand on parts and labor.

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I love my Domane as I started last year on a 1996 Univega Rover (chromoly steel 30lb 26” flat-bar that I bought new and sat for many years as the kids grew) and struggled with my heart rate pushing that thing on the trails past 10mph. I visited a few local MTB trails but decided that jumping over rocks and roots wasn’t for me anymore and I looked for a proper road bike. Pickings were slim but with the geometry and bike fit the Trek has been great. I did consider other brands but came back to the Domane.

Hi! I’m jumping in as a total ignorant (my only bike is a 2009 Raleigh Hybrid/Commuter), but eager to learn. What is the advantage of upgrading the groupset, in this case?

It’s the same as everything where you go from the cheap end of the scale to a higher spec more expensive option. It’s like a top of the range BMW does exactly the same as a crappy old banger of a car, but it’s an awful lot nicer to use.
Back in the summer I rode an aluminium Boardman bike with Claris rim brakes for a few days on holiday. It did everything my Cervelo R3 Ultegra Di2 did but it was clunky and not as nice. If you’ve got the money buy nice things. If you’re buying nice bikes instead of shoes for the kids then that’s not so good…

But I mean, there must be a relative utility of an upgrade relative to the context. He is not buying a full BMW, just a part of it. Would changing the groupset really makes feel like you went from a Corolla to a BMW, or is it more like changing the air freshener on the Corolla?

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Hi ggarcea, in this example it is changing the transmission from 8 speeds to 11 speeds, with you of course being the engine. The goal is to allow you to maintain a steady pedal cadence (85-95rpm) while the bike gearing keeps the pace constant or your effort smoothed out (climbing hills not withstanding). I should add that the 8-speed has bigger jumps between gear changes or wilder swings in your cadence, where an 11 or 12 speed has closer-toothed changes so the jumps or impacts on your pedaling force aren’t as drastic. Like in cars where you push the gas to the floor to downshift it and the RPMs jump up until you level off the speed/gas once again.

The lower-tier groupset would have cheaper, heavier metals (like steel) versus the higher-tier using carbon/titanium, etc that is lighter. Besides the crank weight, better hydraulic breaks for stopping power versus cable brakes and better bearings for the crank to spin - less effort or drag for your efforts at 85-95rpm (which is one of my major interests in upgrading from UN300 to BBR60).

When I got my Domane in June all they had were the 8-speeds and now as I’ve improved both riding skills and want to do more than just tool around the neighborhood on an entry-level bike am looking at the upgrades to bring it to where similar framed models would have been available (i.e. AL5/SL5 with 105).

Dont think it worth going to mad upgrading your current bike especially to the level or AXS or Di2 on a entry level bike best to spend alittle a possible apart from basic maintenance. With the push of discs brakes and price increases all the deals are in used rims brakes probably the best place to look when your ready to upgrade for the time being best to keep ride what you got and enjoy those group rides.

Hey, thanks for the detailed answer! Follow up question: are cheaper groupset brands like Sensah that much worse (still carbon)?

I wouldn’t know. Should be plenty of resources online comparing one to another.

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Don’t think there quite mainstream enough for to tell still again Id rather looked used

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I think the best value for money is to buy a new bike as you get a big discount on components that way but it costs way more, if you want to upgrade go ahead and buy what you want, unless value for money is more important than fun, only you know your priorities there.

You can always look at used group sets or sell your old ones to save money to help reduce the cost but also you can upgrade your components over time, save your old ones and then down the road just buy a frame, use all your upgrades on it and put all the old stuff on the old bike and sell it or use it as a trainer bike.

Hope thats useful