Do I Need A New Bike or Should I Upgrade My Current One?

If you started with a fairly basic bike, there may come a time when you find yourself craving something a little more sophisticated. Even if you spent a fair amount on your first bike, you will eventually identify things that you do or do not like about your ride. Finding the perfect bike at the first attempt is not easy, after all. That said, you our handy tool can help you find your perfect bike in under 10 seconds.

Getting to Know Your Bike

A seasoned rider becomes more discerning and learns what suits them. It could be just simple things like the saddle or handlebars to more complex matters such as wheels, brakes or gears. But if you start to find aspects of your bike annoying or irritating, you may be tempted to rush out and buy a new bike. But before you part with your hard-earned cash, you might want to consider upgrading certain parts.

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Simple Bicycle Upgrades

If you just want to make a simple change such as fitting new grips or better cables or switching to tubeless tyres, there is no need to even think about changing your bike. But if you want to take things further, there is plenty to consider.

Make Your Bike Lighter (and Therefore Faster)

If your bike is starting to feel heavy, you can save weight in many ways without buying a new bike. After all, a lighter bike is normally a faster bike.

Replacing the handlebars, seats, seat post and wheels are common ways of saving weight. All of these items have ultralight options available to purchase. You can take this even further by buying lightweight brakes and gear systems.

Learn from the Pros

It is also worth taking note of the different tweaks that the professionals make to their bikes. For example, most cyclists change their groupset depending on the race profile or use waxed chains. For example, this year’s current Tour de France favourite Egan Bernal used lightweight Meilenstein Obermayer wheels for the mountain stages of Le Tour in 2019, to lose 400g in weight; and a Most Talon Aero integrated carbon handlebar and stem set-up throughout the event.

However, you don’t want to get carried away with making your bike as light as possible. While the Colombian cyclist will make full use of the lightest possible bike components ahead of this year’s race, shaving off those few seconds from your commute may not be worth the cost. The lightest components such as the carbon fibre used by the professionals in the Grand Tours are generally the most expensive.

Cost and Budget

The first thing to consider is cost. Upgrading can be useful if you are on a budget and just want to make a few changes. You can buy parts over time and spread the cost. However, once you start replacing multiple items the cost can soon add up and you might find that you are spending so much that you could go out and buy a new bike.

Having said that, buying individual parts gives you full control over the final setup and your bike will be customised to your needs. You can also buy parts that you like the look of to improve the overall appearance. But remember, if your bike looks amazing, make sure you invest in good security!

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Are Bike Parts Compatible?

Another thing to consider is compatibility. As a rule, the better quality your bike, the easier it is to change and upgrade parts but the best components are not always compatible with the cheapest bikes. So when you buy new parts, you need to make sure they will fit straight on your bike. Sometimes, cog systems or wheels and brakes may not be compatible with your model of bike. Even seat posts can come in different diameters. It makes sense to consult your trusted mechanic at your local bike shop to make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises when you go to fit your shiny new parts.

If you upgrade your wheels, reputable manufacturers such as Spanish company Nesta will also supply upgraded hubs. These should allow you to fit the wheels to all but the most basic bikes. As well as wheels, Nesta also happen to have a nice range of sunglasses, helmets and casual wear to help you ride in style!

Trigger’s Broom

If you feel that you want to change a lot about your bike, it might be worth thinking about buying a new one. Otherwise, you will eventually want to change the frame as well and may have nothing left of your old bike.

There was a famous sketch in the UK sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” when the character Trigger boasts he had owned his broom for 20 years. But then points out that the broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles prompting the question: “How the ’ell can it be the same bloody broom then?” It’s like a modern equivalent of Heraclitus’ theory about the ship of Theseus.

But I guess the point is, if you change too many parts, your bike could end up like Trigger’s broom.

Pete Reynolds

Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile

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