Saturday, 23 August 2014

Upgrading Your New Road Bike

Pulling up alongside a new rider recently, a discussion ensued about future upgrades for his bike.  The rider concerned was riding a Specialized Allez, which I have to say is a very good first bike (the bike I got started on).  My answer to him was to focus on contact points on the bike and to work on those first.  What do I mean: -

Bike Bits
  • Tyres (contact with the ground).
  • Brake blocks (contact with the rims).
  • Saddle (contact with your backside).

Clothing Bits
  • Gloves (contact with the bars).
  • Shoes (contact with the pedals).
  • Bib shorts (contact with the saddle).
When you've just bought your first bike, it's really difficult to know the difference on any of the things above - a bike is a bike, isn't it?  But like everything in life, there is a big difference in choice, comfort and capability when you dig beneath the surface.

There are lots of products to choose from, a few recommendations from my side would be: -

Bike Bits
  •  Tyres - Continental GP4000S 25MM (good puncture protection, rolling resistance and comfort.
  • Brake Blocks - Shimano Ultegra or Kool Stop.
  • Saddle - I use Selle Italia (fits my sit bones best).  More about choosing the right saddle here.
Clothing Bits
  • Gloves.  You'll need a few pairs of gloves for different riding conditions.  I always keep an eye out in the sales on the main on-line retailers.  Look for well known brands like Castelli and see if you can grab a bargain.
  • Shoes.  A good pair to get started with are the Specialized Sport Road shoe (particularly if you have wide feet) for around £60 (exc cleats).  I owned a pair of these for three years and they did the job.  Consider buying the foot inserts too for around £20, they make the world of difference.
  • Bib shorts.  Don't buy cheap here!  Read the reviews carefully on sites like Wiggle or Chain Reaction cycles first, see what other cyclists are saying.  I've used Bioracer for years as they are very comfortable and technically very good.  Expect to spend £70+ to get a decent pair.
You'll quickly realise that your new hobby gets you on addiction train of new stuff and bike upgrades.  If you focus on tyres and brake blocks first, you'll see a big improvement in the bike - a good quick win for your new ride.

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