I had been planning on upgrading pedals on one of my bikes where I knew the pedals were sub par. After one ride I knew I had to upgrade the pedals on my other bike. I then placed a shorter stem and wider bars on one of my bikes could immediately feel the bike had become more playful, maneuverable. These are upgrades I had heard and/or read about. I am looking at changing out the bars on my other bike for a different feel. It has been fun and I am excited to try out different upgrades in the future as I can afford or get an idea of something I would like to try.
I would love to hear from others upgrades or changes you have done that lived up to expectations or ones that were disappointing.
I always tell people to upgrade tires and contact points first – grips & bars/stem, seat and pedals, as they are what you feel on the bike and how you control it, and in the case of tires the only thing connecting you to the trail. They make the single biggest difference to the way the bike feels and handles, and are often some of the least expensive upgrades you can make too.
I recently wrote an article on choosing the best saddle for you – that could give you some food for thought.
I totally agree with the ‘contact points’ comment. You may also want to consider your drive chain ring and cassette. For instance, how many gears do you actually use? oval or round chain ring? single chain ring or multiple? Maximum chain ring size 32, 34, 36 or 38 teeth?
I’m more of the opinion that you get used to the available gears that you have, haha. Most modern bikes these days have an acceptable gear range anyway. While 12sp for example is convenient, it’s not the revelation that narrow-wide chainrings were 7 years ago enabling 1×10 drivetrains. Just my 0.02.
samjames2018 I have heard the advice of contact points. My first bike I converted the bike myself from tubes to tubeless. One of my first (for me major) bike projects. Loved how it turned out and can’t imagine how I would ever go back to tubes. Love the feel and convenience and mostly the fact that flat tires are in the past. I was getting them every other ride for a while killing the little time I had to ride.
I have thought about changing the saddle on my bikes and will look up the article. When I first got biking shorts, specifically chamois, I noted how much more comfortable I was. I would love to find even more comfort. Still trying to figure out all the in and outs of understanding saddles. I am sure your article will help.
There was mention of the oval chain ring. I had thought about it but have yet to meet someone with personal experience with it. One of my friends just brought it up a few days ago and we are both curious. Probably just need to get one install it on one of my bikes and see what I think.
The best upgrades always start with tires. When I buy a new bike, I often trade away the stock tires for some better quality and wider rubber. I’m fond of the 2.6 Maxxis Minion DHR, 2.6 Maxxis Rekon, and 2.8 Teravail Coronado. If your bike doesn’t have frame clearance for a 2.6 tire, put on the widest tire that will fit on the rear and a 2.6 on the front. Don’t think this is wierd. The 2020 Specialized Enduro comes with 2.3 on the rear and 2.6 on the front.
The next upgrade would be drivetrain. In my experience, most stock bikes are geared too high and would benefit from a lower climbing gear. If you bike is a 1x, put on a smaller chainring. If your bike is a 2x or 3x, switch to a cassette with a bigger largest cog. If you’re struggling on the climbs, cut yourself a break and get a lower gear. Make climbing fun.
Add me to the “upgrade tires and touch points” crowd. Most OEM-spec tires are subpar at best and I absolutely can’t stand grips and saddles that aren’t right for me (I didn’t even do a single ride on my Jeffsy with the grips it came with; they weren’t bad, they just weren’t for me).
I (stupidly) put-off getting new tires for my fat bike as I really didn’t want to spend the money they cost. I finally got new tires when I stumbled across an amazing deal last spring. They have totally transformed my bike!