Top 10 Best Value Bike Upgrades

Top 10 Best Value Bike Upgrades

If you’re looking to make improvements to
your bike, here’s how to get most bang for your buck. This GCN’s Top 10 Best Value
Uprgades. Not many single components have quite as much influence over the way
your bike rides as your tires. Firstly, saving weight in this area can
make your bike feel more responsive by reducing rotating weight. Also, better
quality tires tend to feel more supple, which means more responsiveness. And
finally, the size of the tire probably has the biggest effect. Most riders will
probably appreciate the increased comfort of going from a standard size 23 to 25 and
there’s even the very subtle improvement in the rolling resistance. Just like
tires, saving weight on tubes, reduces the all-important rotating weight.
However, we found that light butyl tubes are more prone to punctures, so there’s
a little trade off if you ride on rough roads. A better option is latex tubes,
which also reduce rolling resistance too because they are so supple. The only
slight issue though is that you tend to have to replace tubes quite frequently. So
if you replace four expensive ones per year, is it still good value? Only you can
say. Many people look at handle bars as a way to lose weight from their bikes,
but overlook the fact that with all the different shapes and sizes, it can
actually be an inexpensive way of revolutionizing the fit of your bike.
Most top manufacturers have a cheap aluminum bar in their range, which is
not much heavier than the super expensive carbon bars that comes
in all the same shapes. The smaller riders buying a compact bar
will make breaking and shifting easier, not to mention riding on the drops. And for those concerned with pure speed,
there are also considerable aerodynamic advantages to be had from using
narrower bars such as 42s or even 40s. If you ever have to ride in poor
conditions, your gear and brake cables can suffer quite quickly and the impact
this has on your bike is huge. Your brakes will be less powerful and your
gears won’t work. When you think about it then, the price of new cables is
incredibly good value to improve the ride of your bike. More expensive cables will
improve shifting and braking still further, but just like with your latex
inner tubes, buy what you can afford to replace. Having fresh, low-friction ones
is better than expensive but old ones. Clearly, saddles come in different shapes
and sizes, but expensive ones only really tend to be lighter than the cheaper ones,
not more comfortable. If you’re not happy on your current
saddle, changing it for a different shape can have a huge impact on your comfort
and you don’t need to spend hundreds. Even if you ride with gloves, changing
your bar tape is really noticeable and more expensive tape is not necessarily
better. If we look at pro cyclists, for example, they tend to run inexpensive cork
tape. It can become a great value upgrade when you consider how much
it can improve the look of your bike. No bike with dirty bar tape can ever look
clean. And a clean bike is so good for morale. You can always see the increase in
speed as a result. Putting two layers on can also seriously improve your comfort,
especially for taller riders with large hands. It makes sense to modify
the bike to fit you in all ways. Unless you have a seriously worn out
cassette, changing it isn’t going to give you boost in performance. However, look
at the number of teeth it has because changing the range of your cassette can
have a big impact. While many new bikes these days come with a 12-27 to give
a nice, wide range of gears, the tradition has always been 11-23. It doesn’t sound like much, but the
difference between a 23 and a 27 is actually huge and can make
a big difference to how easily you can spin up a climb. Most pros use 27s now, so it probably
makes sense for you to make the switch as well. Okay, so these aren’t cheap, but
the improvement they can make to the performance of your bike can make even
expensive ones seem like good value. Weight is a big factor on performance,
as is aerodynamics, and so is stiffness. If you ride on hilly roads or do loads
of punchy climbs and sprints, then lightweight is what you’re looking
for. If you like motoring at steady speeds on flat roads, cheap, deep section wheels
with a hefty weight penalty will still pay off. Again, another curveball,
but hear us out. You can spend a lot of money upgrading
you bike, but would you be better off saving up and buying
an entirely new bike? If you’re finding yourself upgrading
your drivetrain for example, you might be better off biting the bullet.
Weigh up how much you’re going to spend in total to see if it’s going to be
worth it. Without doubt, the best way of improving your bike is to improve
its rider. Yep, that means you. Getting fitter makes you faster and it’s
completely free, as is nailing your technique, so you can get faster without
even pedaling. Bike riding is great. You can always find ways to get better. ♪ [music] ♪

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Wheels and tyres are the best upgrades for sure. Any recommendations for road bikes with disc brakes? Mavic Askium one disc…?

  2. Hey guys. I wanted to comment on the last statement in the video: "Getting more fit is completely free." This is hardly true. You guys need to do a video on budgeting training nutrition. The longer my rides, the more gels, bars, snacks, and liquids I consume. All of that costs money. What is the best way to keep your training nutrition costs low?

  3. Best upgrade: Simon using his mates bike for the last few months. Funny how his SL3 is shown for the biting the bullet tip. Way to go Si!

  4. Woah. Good thing I came across this. I was thinking to replace my drivetrain but heck, it's almost as close as getting a brand new bike.

  5. All (also GCN) recommends light wheels because the weight of rotating parts matter so much. But the rim must have the biggest factor since it is the part of the wheel that moves the most.
    So if two wheels that weighs the same A and B, B may have a letter rim and thereby feels easier to get to rotate. But since it is rare to manufacturer informs about this, so you can easily be cheated. A wheel may in fact be easier than on paper B (and of course much more expensive), but B has the lightest rim and, therefore, requires less energy, and therefore the "lightest" wheels.

    Or am I completely wrong ???

  6. I don't think its fair to call training completely free. I knock down a lot of extra calories when training. I don't really mean eating on the rides, under 40-50 miles I don't bother, just in general. Also, your time is (hopefully) worth something. This is one of 'the sacrifices' a person makes as an athlete, yes? Luckily training tends to improve one's energy levels and focus helping to offset the lost time a bit. Oh, yeah, the miles on the bike. Chain lasts 1500-2000 miles.  Tires the same or less. cassette maybe 3-4 k. Also; chainrings, Bottom bracket bearings, wheels, cables, they all wear out with use. Even if you run for some cross training the shoes should be replaced at well under 1000 miles, some say 500. 

  7. Although it's mentioned that "handlebars can revolutionise the fit of your bike" an actual bike-fit is not listed. This is what comes from experienced riders, who've dialled their fit over the years, advising the less experienced?

  8. How about a episode of the top 10 stems for 2014-2015. Top pro stems, weekend racers and regular riders. Comparing Zipp, Enve, S-Works etc.

  9. Would you guys prefer a power meter /e.g.Garmin Vector S/ over a same priced set of carbon wheels ? Thanks for your comments

  10. Any best value upgrade list should include quality brake pads (imo). On descents especially, having confidence you can stop quickly and consistently can give you confidence to go faster. £20 well spent.

  11. For those of you out there who are not pro's here's my tips for you:
    1) never, never, never, ever start about weight on your bike before your BMI is under 22. Its cheaper to loose 200grams on your belly then on your bike, just saying
    2) focus your monies worth first on saddle, handlebars and pedals, better get those right these are your "points of contact", ergo a huge factor in the riding experience
    3) you dont need the most expensive groupset, dont argue, you dont. A 105 these days is good enough for everyone who isnt in a weekly competition.
    4) for those of you riding in groups heres one: the pace is not to be set by the strongest riders, but by the weakest! The bigest sin is leaving a man behind!!!
    5) when riding keep your own level in mind, dont get tempted to always go with stronger riders and have fun, yes fun, ride your own race/pace, dont always compare yourself to everyone around you!

  12. I believe one should invest in reliability and comfort first. A good, comfortable saddle, proper bikefit and reliable components all around. That sort of thing. I think it was Eddie Merckx that said something like: "The best way to train is to ride. Lots" Broken, uncomfortable bikes dont get ridden much. Not unless you have a support car and a sponsor paying for your discomfort!

  13. Hi there! Welcome back to Dubai! I hope you guys are enjoying your stay!
    Just a quick question.. I have previously bought a wheel and it has 9speed cassettes.. now I am contemplating in buying a new groupset, but it has 11speed.. Someone told me that I might need to get a new wheel.. (is that true? if so, that's quite sad, as I have spent quite alot on them)..Can I still use my new wheels? if so, what should I change? thanks in advance!

  14. Hey guys believe it or not I am 11 and love to watch gun. every Sunday I love to go out for a long ride in my road bike and u guys are the ones who inspired me. U guys are the best

  15. In terms of value, a long sleeve skinsuit gives a much bigger aero advantage over wheels. They make you more aero/ stable in every wind direction (crosswinds, headwinds, tailwinds, cross-headwind, etc.). This is especially true with lightweight riders. With a skinsuit and shallow aluminum wheels, I can descend faster than heavier riders who use super deep carbon wheels.

  16. Sorry, I have to ask again: The last hills in the last scene with the green around, where is that? France again? it's very beautiful! And again, no cars 🙂

  17. Best improvement is a mag wheel on the rear.  Second improvement is square seat stays,oval seat stays whiplash from side to side.  100lb riders complain of this design fault.

  18. Change all bearings in the hubs to full ceramic, and I guaratee that you will fly with your bike.

  19. Can you teach as how to play around with different groupsets? for example dura ace front derailleurs and ultegra crank etc.

  20. carbon water boddle holders, I got them on a 2014 Trek Domain 2.0 with american classic sprint 360 rims and orange salsa cork handlebar tape.

  21. Im on your gcn channel daily. I'm a huge fan and have learned a load of things from you guys and i am grateful for that. one thing I would like to suggest is if you guys can make a guide for buying wheelsets. I'm looking into the mavic cosmic carbon sle because a friend highly suggest them but I like to do research if I am to spend that amount of money. I currently own an oval concept 527 wheelset. Is it even possible to make a video helping choose wheels its so complicated and the choices seem endless

  22. Magnífico canal. He aprendido mucho, pues me he iniciado en el ciclismo de ruta y me ha servido muchísimo todos sus tips y consejos.saludos desde México. The BEST!!!

  23. I might get slated for this but I bought a cycle on the cycle to work scheme and I bought a toura for my bags for work . I intentionally bought the heaviest bike that was in shop , plus bags on top . And cycle the longest route everyday .

    By time weekend comes my racer feels like a demon on acid . !!!!

  24. how much should i spend on a road bike?
    I do not cycle professionally or in a club, so no everyday training or long distances.

  25. I know it defeats the purpose of the bike, but can you guys please make a video of TOP TEN best motors (gas and electric) for the money?  I am currently looking at a 5-6hp motor for a Giant Hybrid bike, but my main priority is weight, therefore affecting the power-to-weight ratio.

  26. GCN what is your opinion if I get a $150 drooper seat on my 1998 M400 Raleigh?? would it be worth it? hesitating in getting one

  27. I DO buy the weight loss bit! I lost 4 KGs over the summer & the final group ride 2 weks ago was my all time best! I was dropping the guys that always left me in the dust!

  28. I used to drive a car but it costs soo much with insurance mot etc biking i saved thousands even with fines i love cycling

  29. I used to just ride around for fun but after buying some tools and doing some upgrades myself I'm hooked. Why do I always choose the most expensive hobbies? Photography and Cycling. My Bikes and Cameras easily cost more than my car did.

  30. Hi GCN I am 14 and considering getting clip less pedals and I was just wondering if it would really be worth the money as it's quite a lot to spend for me

  31. Definitely agree with the comment about 11 speed. I have 11 speed 105 on my Giant, the closeness of the gear ratios is fantastic.

  32. I'm thinking about changing my bike's frame and getting a clip pedal. I haven't ask around about the price of a frame but I do know how much is a clip pedal and shoes cost.

  33. Fugi absolute 2.3 $370
    Giant escape 1 $325 "used"
    Cannondale quick5 $490
    Cannondale quick6 $490
    Schwinn volare 1200 $275

    This is a list of hybrid bikes, I'm considering one for my first bike , would appreciate your opinion which is best, rank them if you like and pros cons etc. thank you In advance for all the opinions.

  34. What i think is ridiciolus as fuck is: I build a whole frame myself, but the additional parts cost me around 950€!!! And I am not even going for the expensive stuff, hardly average if you look at what has been bought the most.

  35. how about getting a lighter groupset? like campagnolo chorus 11 for example it aint the cheapest but you will lose more weight than changing wheels or handlebar for example.

  36. can anyone advise me on best upgrade for a 2016 Caad12? Thinking tires (these Scwalbe have started casting some threads off the walls?!)… it has aluminium wheels (with discs) but think I'll wait for carbon as I'm on shi77y roads in Thailand.. but should be off to Switzerland in summer… At present riding 80 flat with some climbs (and trying to improve my sprints with the Marcel Kittel GCN method)
    Any advice welcome as it's my first road bike


  37. Planning to go for an 11-speed full Ultegra R8000 set specced for climbing. 11-32 cassette with 34-50 front derailleur. Stock wheels are 700x32c on 28inch rims, but looking to upgrade to a sub 800g set when I can afford it.. (Wheels are hella expensive!) Climbing wheel suggestions greatly appreciated!! (Mostly smooth roads, maybe a little bit of gravel, but nowhere near cobble)

  38. Podological insoles ! Was the best upgrade for me. It brings comfort, no more muscle or joint pain, a feel of more power developped, and best link with the bike.

  39. I have a 2014 trek 1.1 with the Sun Race CSR86, 11-28, 8 speed. i am out of shape and have a very hard time going up even slight hills. Can I change the gears to 11-40 or ? How do I do this change and what parts will I need to change?

  40. I fail to apply these tips on my bike. 25 inches is fucking huge for tires, I'll stay with my 2.8, thank you Sir. Also, 27 teeth limit on the cassette seem a bit high-geared, my 12 give me a good top speed and for climbs there's the 44 teeth-chainring. Thankfully, the motor helps quite a bit….Seriously, these tips are road bike specific and can't be applied to bicycles in general. Also, where's the usability factor? These things are supposed to be vehicles, not sports equipment, right?Now please start bashing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *