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Most important upgrade for newbie?(16 posts)

Most important upgrade for newbie?rightsaidfred
Nov 14, 2002 6:11 PM
On an old bike with down tube shifters, crappy brakes, toe clips, etc. What is the most important upgrade?

I'd tend to think new clipless pedals and shoes would be beneficial. But another part of me says, "Just get some saddle time and miles in, then start thinking gear."

yeah, the other part is rightcollinsc
Nov 14, 2002 6:23 PM
legs are the most important upgrade.

but, that said, if you want a new bike. just go get one. sounds like almost anything would be a good upgrade. a modern bike with respectable equipment wont put you out a kidney and it might just help keep the motivation high.

clipless pedals and cycling shoes are probably the best of the new equipment. STI shifting is a close 2nd.

get a new bike if you want it, it'll keep you moving.
I'd adress the crappy brakes before doing anything else.czardonic
Nov 14, 2002 6:29 PM
Including riding the bike!

After that, pedals & shoes. A proper cycling jersey is worth the money. If you are ready to cross the spandex threshold, consider some cycling shorts or tights. Speaking as a relative newbie, these are the things that enhanced my experience the most.
I would make sure the bike worth upgrading first. nmQubeley
Nov 14, 2002 6:49 PM
Upgrading ain't cheap. Every part you'll have to pay retail plus labor charge, it adds up pretty quickly.
A beginner's road bike with STI can now be had for about $600, and it sure will be much nicer than the old bike no matter how you upgrade it.
If you just have to stay with the old bike, give it a tune-up, get new brake shoes and new tires. And that will be it.
Again, save for a new bike is a much better option IMHO.
actually there is a message in the above "nm" message..nmQubeley
Nov 14, 2002 6:50 PM
Qubeley's rightKen of Fresno
Nov 15, 2002 9:49 AM
Upgtrading piece by piece in order to get a new bike can get very expensive. That method is best left to those who:

1. know exactly what they want
2. have a good frame to put the stuff on
3. have lots of money

Unless your "old" bike frame is made by DeRosa or the like and fit's you correctly you're probably better off economically just saving up for a new bike. It would be kind of a waste to put good stuff on a huffy that doesn't even fit you. You could always find a pretty good used bike on ebay or from a shop at significant savings. That way, if you decide to upgrade again in the future or you find that you don't want to stick with the sport you can always sell the bike for close to what you paid. If finances are really an issue I would focus first on the components that are related to safety first (brakes, tires, etc.) then consider those that are related to comfort (saddle, pedals, stem and bars).

There's a whole lot to know when it comes to upgrading bikes. Many of todays components may not work with older frames. It's a steep learning curve for a newbie. If you plan to save some money and do it yourself here's a site that can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about cycling:

Harris Cyclery

Best of luck,


If you want to do a cheap upgrade that will give you that new bike feeling just retape the handle bars in a snazzy color. Please let us know what you end up doing.
Very True, my friend spent $400 upgrading his old biketimfire
Nov 15, 2002 2:22 PM
It almost wasn't worth it. My friend got:

new wheels ($200 w/ cassette)
clipless pedals ($60)
H-Bars ($40)
bar-end shifters ($50)
Brake levers ($40)

That stuff added up fast, and as you can see he really didn't add THAT much.
good pedals and shoes definatly...benja15
Nov 14, 2002 8:00 PM
you can live with the shifters, they will be way annoying to replace anyway

assuming the rest of the bike is in decent condition, replace all the cables and housings and deal with the breaks, and a general tuneup - clean/lube chain - overhaul bearings if needed
Pedals, Shoes, Cycling ShortsGeoCyclist
Nov 15, 2002 1:30 AM
All these items can be used on your new bike. Take you bike in for a tune up at the LBS (I'd be worried about the brakes). Put in some miles, ask lots of questions, and buy a new bike. As mentioned previously, upgrading piece at a time is $$$$.
Depnds on how bad each item is nowAllez Rouge
Nov 15, 2002 5:18 AM
I *generally* agree with the other respondents about doing the brakes first; then again, depending on the terrain and traffic where you ride, maybe this can wait. I ride mostly on gently rolling country backroads and can do a 50-mile loop without touching the brakes more than two or three times. If you don't ride in heavy traffic or have a lot of hills, and can anticipate your slowing/stopping well in advance, maybe this item can wait. Also, you might be able to significantly "upgrade" your brakes by doing nothing more than replacing the shoes and cables, and then adjusting everything to spec.

Beyond that ... clipless pedals and hard-soled shoes will do more to improve your technique and efficiency than any other change you could make. (I am assuming here that the bike fits you reasonably well.)

One item I don't think anyone has mentioned is the saddle. It's hard to be comfortable and ride efficiently if your butt ain't happy.

Lastly, the suggestion to consider an all-new, entry-level bike should not be taken lightly, especially if you intend to upgrade a lot of the pieces on your current bike. One or two things, sure, that can be justified, but if you're eventually going to replace pretty much everything that moves, a new ride would be much cheaper, and much more satisfying, in the long run. It would also give you the opportunity to get a bike that fits you exactly right, in the event your current bike doesn't.
I Agree...timfire
Nov 15, 2002 2:35 PM
If brakes are real bad, get new ones. Something else to consider, if you're riding really old brakes and levers (like non-aero levers), getting new levers, even by themselves, will help improve braking power.

Otherwise clipless pedals are the next best thing. You won't notice significant improvements at first, but that'll just be because it takes a little time to learn to fully take advantage of them. Once you do it's a whole other world.

Shorts are also fairly important (if you don't already own them), depending upon how long you plan to ride. For me, shorts are a must on any ride longer than 45min/1hr. But I rarely wear shorts on my daily commute (20min-45min long). If you plan on taking longer rides, shorts are probably the first thing you should buy.
Most bicycle upgrades don't make economic sense.Spoke Wrench
Nov 15, 2002 6:07 AM
The cheapest way to buy bicycle parts is already bolted onto a new frame. I think that a lot of guys get the idea of upgrading an old bike to save money. Unless you find a source of free or very cheap parts, it usually doesn't work that way. Additionally, as you invest more and more money into the old bike, it gets pregressively harder to walk away. You eventually end up with an old bike that has a hodge podge of upgraded parts that cost you nearly as much as a brand new bike.
Nice pedals and shoes - you can use them on your next bike(nm)Mariowannabe
Nov 15, 2002 6:24 AM
Nov 15, 2002 8:11 AM
IMHO nothing adds as much per dollar to the enjoyment of cycling and you can use them on a new bike.

A better saddle if you're unhappy with the one you have.

Pedals and shoes next. They improve your efficiency and can also be used with a new bike.

Fitness. Being physically capable of long rides will give you the experience to evaluate what matters to you as a cyclist and guide your purchase when you upgrade the whole bike. A new bike is by far the most economical way to do it.
Seriously? You said it yourself.Bonked
Nov 15, 2002 10:17 AM
"Just get some saddle time and miles in, then start thinking gear."

Don't get me wrong, gear is GREAT and what most of live for; I love it when the latest CC or WCP catalogue arrives. In fact, after 15 years on a Trek, I just took delivery of a new bike this week. BUT, don't forget that you are by far the most important component. Last winter I moved half way across the country and managed to put on 20-25 lbs and lose all of my fitness. Don't think for a SECOND that buying a fancy new Italian rig with fancy new Italian components that weigh 5 lbs less than my Trek would help much! You are what counts, the bike is secondary.

Therefore, my vote would be for some good fitness books, videos, etc. Also, by far the best fitness purchase I ever made was a HR monitor; it will help immeasurably in your training.

As far as the bike goes, my vote would be for the pedals and shoes.
Upgrade your goalsContinental
Nov 15, 2002 12:16 PM
I got back into road riding 2 years ago. I started on a $97 Raleigh Olympian from eBay. I set goals and gave myself rewards. A Cateye when I rode 15 miles in under an hour. Shoes and SPD pedals for 25 miles in 1.5 hrs. Last summer I bought a new Fuji Finest (<$500) for 45 miles in under 3 hrs. I love the new bike and transferred the Cateye and pedals to it. Next goal is a century ride, with some clothes when I complete it. Just make sure that your bike is safe and have fun! Anyone want a Raliegh Olympian cheap?