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To Upgrade or Buy new?(12 posts)

To Upgrade or Buy new?lemmy999
May 14, 2002 5:53 AM
I have a 1987 cheaper Trek steel frame bicycle. It was given to me and is in like new shape. However the components are SunTour/Dia-Compe alpha 5000 and it is a 12 speed system. I know the 6 speeds had spacing of 126mm and the 8-9 need 130mm, but I measured last night with calipers and the spacing between the dropouts is 129.5mm so I don't think this would be a problem. Would it be stupid to put new components on this bike? If I (for example) spent $900 on components/wheels for this frame, and then compared this to a $900 road bike I could buy at the bike shop, which would be the better/lighter bike? Would the $900 bike have better components? What makes my bike presently heavier than newer low end bikes, is it the frame or are all steel frames about the same and it is just the components that make a bike good or bad? I just don't want to spend lots of money and end up with a lower quality bicycle than I could just go out and buy. I like the idea of beeing able to buy a little at a time and I enjoy the work on the bicycle, but I just don't want to put money in a bike that won't be worth it.
You've pretty well summarized the issues.Spoke Wrench
May 14, 2002 6:15 AM
As a general rule, the cheapest way to buy new bike components is already bolted onto a new frame. The two big upgrades for improving your old bike are the wheelset and drivetrain/shifters. Those pretty much have to be done all-at-one-time so doing it bit-by-bit probably isn't going to work.

For a comparison, a brand new Trek 1200 (Tiagra equipped) is about $1,200. For that you get every single part brand new. Every single part is designed to work with every other part. And, you get a new bike warranty.
You've pretty well summarized the issues.Icefrk13
May 14, 2002 6:29 AM
I looked at upgradign my old trek and found it was cheaper to buy new. I went though and came awat with a sweet Al. bike w/full ultegra and it was way lighter and a much better ride. And I only spent about 1300.00.
Depends on your needs...woodes
May 14, 2002 6:22 AM
If you're looking to get back into riding for general fitness and don't plan to ride seriously (i.e., races or centuries) then getting your bike tuned up might be an option. Make sure it's road ready, and if you're really enjoying yourself, you can upgrade over time as your fitness level increases.

On the other hand, if you know you're already committed to ride often and do some organized rides, then your decision is tougher. I'm not sure what you mean by a "cheaper" steel frame, and Trek does manufacture from low-end to very high end. I have a 1989 Concorde steel frame with Columbus SL tubing, and although it's about a pound or so heavier than current steel frames, it's still a very comfortable and lively ride. That being said, the frame is the most important aspect of ride satisfaction and quality (wheels IMHO come second). So, if it's comfortable, you can spring for new components (Shimano 105 or Campy Veloce is a good place to start). If I was in your position, I would start with a "good" frame (steel or aluminum are the materials with the lowest cost. Overgeneralizing, steel is heavier, but provides a compliant ride; aluminum is lighter, but can be stiff and "harsh" for some riders). Go to or and use their bike fit calculators. Once you know your size, go to Ebay or and see what they have. Both sites have great deals on bikes, but a decent entry-level bike will cost anywhere between $1,250 and $1,500.

Bottom line, comfort is the most important factor. Just because your frame is a few pounds heavier than current bikes is immaterial if you are pleased with the ride. So in that case, it's not silly to upgrade components and wheels.
Good luck!
what, exactly, is wrong with your current components?SteveO
May 14, 2002 6:34 AM
just replace whatever piece is broken.

If your looking for a complete componentry overhaul, i'd buy a set of 105's and strap 'em on. Great value for the money.

If your just looking to get a 'lighter' bike, please realize weight isnt (necessarily) as important as many think(climbing excepted).
re: To Upgrade or Buy new?scruffyduncan
May 14, 2002 7:25 AM
buy new and have 2 bikes. Your old trek sounds perfectly roadworthy and can be used for getting about, locking to lamposts etc,etc. I was in the same situation a while ago, now I have a lighter bike set up for going fast and one with fenders fitted that's a bit scruffy which serves me well for transportation (bikes are practical items aswell as a hobby)
Agree completely. nmNo_sprint
May 14, 2002 7:32 AM
May 14, 2002 8:52 AM
...bikes as practical items violates all known principles
of the obsessive mind. Buy two, sell none, ride one.
re: keep the Trek as isdzrider
May 14, 2002 8:01 AM
Ride it and watch for a good deal on a bike. Other folks have suggested on-line sources that will work, and you can also look in the classifieds or local shops. IMHO the only reason for a large scale upgrade of a frame is that you love it and want to ride it forever. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you can for for $900 and a little patience.
I kept my Trek for foul weather rides......cdlynx
May 14, 2002 8:47 AM
I was in the same situation about this time last year (upgrade or new)...kept my Trek AL in good condition for rain/snow training, and rewarded myself (for losing 30 lbs) w/ a Klein Quantum Race (Ultegra, w/some upgrades from LBS) that I bought from a Classified posting on this sight. Now I have almost no excuses for not riding everyday (rollers and Cy-OPs 2 when it's too cold!)
re: To Upgrade or Buy new?lemmy999
May 14, 2002 8:24 AM
Thanks for the suggestions. I do plan on keping the bike as is for now. I was just thinking about when it comes to the time when I want to upgrade to 9 speed, I have to buy rear der., cassette, freehub, wheel, & lever shifter or integrated levers. This is a big expense and was wondering at that point would it be better to just go for a new bike. I guess bike manufactureres can get the components so much cheaper than we can that the cheapest way to get components is on a new bike. This was what I was thinking might be the case. I think I will just keep riding this one and be on the lookout for a good deal somewhere. Thanks!
May 14, 2002 9:41 AM
like i said, i (personally) think the best 'deal' is in the shimano 105 set.

you can get a complete group for around 500,
an 'upgrade' kit for 250ish
or even just individual parts as you need 'em.

Certainly far cheaper than buying a $1000 bike for the sole purpose of replacing components.

just keep your eye out.