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Bike upgrading: biggest difference?(13 posts)

Bike upgrading: biggest difference?CHRoadie
Aug 26, 2002 6:48 AM
I currently ride a '99 Bianchi Giro (aluminum frame, carbon fork, Shimano 105 components), and I'm looking at upgrading to a Trek 5500. I'm an ok rider trying to get better. My question to those who have moved from an entry level road bike to something quite a bit nicer is: what was the biggest difference you found?
weightDougSloan
Aug 26, 2002 7:25 AM
I went from a Bianchi Alloro to an EV2 with all the lightest stuff. I immediately noticed a difference in responsiveness, climbing, and sprinting snap. That dropped about 5 pounds.

Oh, and it was easier to get it into and out of the car.

I still got thrashed on hills. Lighter is faster, but not necessarily enough to make a big difference compared to someone who makes 100 watts more power than you do.

Doug
Specifically, I think WHEEL weight...Silverback
Aug 26, 2002 7:36 AM
I agree w/Doug about the responsiveness (and about ease in loading, a bigger factor than I realized). On an individual bike, though, I'd vote to upgrade the wheels and tires before anything else. Most driveline components work pretty well these days, so you won't notice a huge difference going from, say, Ultegra to DuraAce. But spending a few hundred bucks to take rotating mass off the wheels (rather than a lighter saddle and titanium bottle cages) will make an immedidate difference.
Wheel weight, etc...Tig
Aug 26, 2002 8:01 AM
I totally agree. I'm looking forward to upgrading my lead weight wheels to something like a pair of Velomax Ascent Comps. The total weight loss will be about 430 grams, which is almost a pound! Rotational mass improvement can be felt instantly when climbing and accelerating out of corners. Upgrading shifters and rear derailleur from 105 to Dura Ace is also a noticeable improvement, but the wheels should come first.

I ride with 2 people who have recently upgraded from relatively new aluminum Treks to OCLV 5200/5500's. The difference in ride comfort is huge! Having had an old 5200 and later getting stuck with an aluminum Trek was a harsh reminder of how materials and their usage really do make a difference in ride quality and comfort. I'm not bashing aluminum (my Merckx is 7005 aluminum), but Trek's old SL aluminum frames had to be among the worst in the category.
Specifically, I think WHEEL weight...Silverback
Aug 26, 2002 7:37 AM
I agree w/Doug about the responsiveness (and about ease in loading, a bigger factor than I realized). On an individual bike, though, I'd vote to upgrade the wheels and tires before anything else. Most driveline components work pretty well these days, so you won't notice a huge difference going from, say, Ultegra to DuraAce. But spending a few hundred bucks to take rotating mass off the wheels (rather than a lighter saddle and titanium bottle cages) will make an immediate difference.
Depends on the bikehrs
Aug 26, 2002 7:51 AM
If the bike you have fits you better than the new bike it might actually be a step back. The TREK will probably be a smoother ride. It may also be stiffer and climb better. I just went from a late 80's steel Bianchi to a Colnago MXL and it feels better in every way (smoother, stiffer, lighter, climbs better, descends better, etc.). Haven't got enought miles on it (still <100) yet to confirm any improvement in average speed over my usual routes, but it definitely feels faster (might just be placebo affect, but I'm happy).

I rode a 5500 (I had thought that's what I wanted) and after test riding the MXL (and the Bianchi Boron XL) I decided the Colnago was a better fit and felt better in just about every way (the OCLV mutes small bumps and road irregularities better). I like the 5500, but I fall between the sizes and the better fit (more sizes) of the MXL may have accounted for a lot of the advantage I felt.

Regards,
Rodney
Weight, and efficiency...MXL02
Aug 26, 2002 7:53 AM
I don't know whether it is just weight alone, but my colnago MXL/Record is just faster than my Univega/Daytona. The Univega is about 3-5 lbs heavier, but the Colnago is so much smoother and easier to ride. It may just be my imagination, but the higher priced equipment does seem faster, not enough to make up for being a weak rider, but enough for you to notice a difference.
Work on the engine.MB1
Aug 26, 2002 8:12 AM
The Giro is a real racing bike not an entry level machine. We are spoiled here but there a lot better ways to get better than to buy a new bike.

Take the money and go to a cycling camp or do a week long bike ride across a state. I have ridden across New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Maryland, Virginia, California and Oregon. I always come back stronger and faster. Oh yea DC, Deleware and New Jersey too-only takes a few hours for those.

Shimano 105 is very good stuff. There is not all that much real world performance improvement to be had by spending a lot more money on components or a entire new bike. There are a lot of really strong riders that use 105 components with no problems.

Work on the engine.
Work on the engine.CHRoadie
Aug 26, 2002 12:29 PM
I'm working on the engine! I ride with my club on Saturdays & Sundays and I'm in a cycling clinic on Tuesdays & Thursdays. I'm much, much better than when I bought the bike (still got a long way to go, though!), and I'm just looking for a little extra help.
My point exactly.MB1
Aug 26, 2002 1:26 PM
Take that money you would spend on the tiny improvement that a new bike might perhaps get you and spend it on a week long big mile ride.

You will come back with a much bigger engine. If you don't tell your riding group what you are doing they will be amazed by your improvement. The kind of strength that you will never get at home. Try to find a ride that gets you at least 500 miles in a week with at least 1 century. Hills are good to look for too.

Pennsylvania, Colorado and Nevada are really good states to spend a week riding in.

Money well spent.
MB1 is right about that, and he should know ...tarwheel
Aug 27, 2002 4:21 AM
Take it from someone who rides 15,000 miles a year. Regardless of whether you want/need a new bike or equipment, a long bike tour is a great way to spend a week and get stronger. I rode a 425-mile, 6 day tour with my brother in June and managed to gain 8 pounds from eating so much along the way. The funny thing was, my climbing improved remarkably -- even though I gained all that weight.
The ride-filtersweep
Aug 26, 2002 9:04 AM
I went from AL frame, Carbon fork, 105 components to Carbon, carbon, and more carbon with DA. Both bikes shared the same wheelset (I kept the Ksyrium SLs). While the new bike was a full 2+lbs lighter, I could barely feel the difference if I picked one up in each arm. However, the ride was instantly and very noticeably better with the Look frame. The DA trim control actually works (no deraileur noise) and shifter is more "crisp." Am I faster? No. Am I more comfortable? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

Arguably, everyone wants to be a better rider. The most a new bike can do is enhance your enjoyment of riding (if you feel limited by your current setup)- but it is not a miracle in itself, and it could be temporary, or merely psychological. I upgraded simply because "I could" and I found a great deal.
Nicer bikes are nicer. Sometimes lighter. Better componentsbill
Aug 26, 2002 1:23 PM
look better, maybe feel a little smoother, sometimes do tricks that others don't (you can slam damn near a whole cogset quickly and cleanly with Campy Record if you want to), but this is all pretty subtle and sometimes plainly superficial stuff, when it right down to it.
The real difference is that, by investing in better equipment, your machine reflects an enhanced level of commitment, and you feel different. It's a stage you go through I think (I'm still in it); you see lots of great riders who can't even tell you what they're riding (I had the chance to ride recently with a woman who regularly races Pro/1/2, and she couldn't tell me without looking what wheels she was riding and even then I had to correct her -- me: "no, those aren't the Pros, those are the Sestrierres," she: "oh yeah, I guess you're right").
If you think that you want better equipment, go for it. Experiment. Have fun. What else are you going to do with your money? No one can tell you that it won't help really; you'll have to figure it out for yourself.
Position makes the biggest difference in riding experience. Tires make the second biggest. After that, it's pretty nominal.