One of the best parts about cycling is that you can get an entry level bike and be on the road in no time without being forced to make a huge investment. However, it probably won't be long until your addiction to cycling grows and you begin to wonder what road bike upgrades will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Whether you're looking to make your bike faster, more comfortable, or even just a little more unique, we've got you covered with the biggest bang for your buck road bike upgrades. We've got everything from less expensive quick fixes, to large investments that can make a huge impact on your ride.
Upgrade #1: Tubes ($3-$15 each)
Do tubes really make a difference? They sure do! There are two types of tube material - butyl or latex, with latex being both lighter and more supple meaning less rolling resistance. Latex tubes are a bit more expensive, and more subject to punctures, but the reduced weight can make a true impact for little cost.
Upgrade #2: Cables ($3 - $30)
One of the least expensive upgrades, and often forgotten, is a new set of cables. A new set can be a quick way to improve braking and shifting performance. Cables should be replaced once to twice per year, depending on how much you ride and in what conditions. We would recommend higher quality cable with stainless steel or coated inner cables to ensure the biggest bang for your buck.
Upgrade #3: Bottle cages ($5 - $75)
Your bottle cage is another upgrade that can often get overlooked, but can make a significant impact. Think about switching to a carbon cage that will reduce weight, as well as get ride of rattling and provide a secure home for much needed hydration.
Upgrade #4: Tires ($30 - $125)
Few parts impact ride quality and performance more than your tires. In fact, a good set of tires can provide almost as many performance gains as a new wheelset, without quite the same investment. A wider tire can save you up to 25% energy compared to skinny tires. Many pros ride with a 25mm tire, sometimes going as wide as 28mm as the frame allows. Make sure you also look for some sort of puncture protection as well as a smooth tread pattern.
Upgrade #5: Cassette ($45 - $220)
If you upgrade your whole drivetrain, you're looking at quite a large expense, so you may want to look into upgrading just one component. The component where you'll likely notice the biggest difference is the cassette. Your bike likely came with an 11-25 cassette; look to upgrade to 11-28 or even 11-32 to help with steep climbs.
Upgrade #6: Saddle ($35 - $330)
Your saddle is your greatest area of contact with your bike, and can be one of the biggest influencers on comfort. Make sure you get a saddle fitted to your body and your riding needs - the same saddle is not going to work for everyone. Talk to us about a bike fit - a necessary step to making any saddle comfortable.
Upgrade #7: Handlebars ($40 - $360)
The handlebars are another contact point you have with your bike. Here, the right width, thickness, and shape is even more important than material. Ask any of our associates for help in determining the right width, reach, drop, and bend for both your body and your riding style.
Upgrade #8: Wheels ($545 - $2900)
Here is where we're starting to look at bigger investments, but there is perhaps no greater impact on ride performance than a new wheelset. A good wheelset can give you faster speeds, superior handling, aerodynamic improvements, reduced weight, better durability, and much increased overall quality.
Upgrade #9: Power Meter ($500 - $2180)
Once again, a power meter is a pricey investment, but with great returns. A power meter is what is going to allow you to hone in on your training as it provides vital and objective information on your energy output. If you're getting serious about road biking, a power meter is a must to take you to the next level.
Upgrade #10: A New Bike (whatever you can fit in your budget)
You knew this was coming. Before you do too many upgrades to your current bike, consider if you'd be better served just upgrading to a new road bike. By the time you fork over the money for many of these upgrades, a new bike may make more financial sense than you think.