When buying a new bike, to reach a price point, most bike manufacturers often have to cut a few corners on the components, many of which may not be the best option for you regarding fit and performance. Bear in mind that throwing a huge sum of money at a very basic bike may not be a great idea, it could be better to save up for a better bike in the first place.
Once you have been riding your bicycle for a while, wear and tear will start to set in. What was once smooth and silky, gradually becomes rough and noisy. The condition of your bike is made worse if it was not properly maintained.
Here are some of my tips on getting better value and performance out of your existing bike:
#1. Bike fit
Yes, right out of the bat, a poorly fitted bike will never feel comfortable and will inhibit your performance progress. There are some of you who might think that getting a bike fit is expensive and a waste of money. But what excuse do you have if you own a $10,000 and complain that you can’t afford a $500 bike fit?
Better tires have increased suppleness and are more responsive. Tire size also plays a role in comfort, grip, and lower rolling resistance. Check out my previous article on why you should run on wider tires.
#3. Inner tubes
Lighter latex inner tubes will contribute to faster acceleration but are more puncture prone. An even better upgrade is to go tubeless. Learn how to install your own tubeless tires by clicking here.
The standard bars that come with a new bike may not be the best suited for your shoulder width, hand shape comfort, and overall aero position on the bike. Work with a bike fitter to take a look at the best options.
#5. Serviceable items
Gear and brake cables, jockey wheels on the derailleur, bottom bracket, chain and brake pads – these are components that do not need to be replaced on a new bike, but there is a gradual decline over time that will be barely noticeable at first and then lead to poor shifting, braking and a general feel of sluggishness on the bike. These should be scheduled on a 3,6, 9- or 12-month basis depending on mileage and the rider’s riding style.
#6. Saddle and bib shorts
Everyone is built differently, and the saddle that came with your bike may not be the best fit for you. Remember your backside may be the defining factor to your cycle performance, comfort, and enjoyment on the bike. Also, invest in quality cycle shorts with a great chamois pad.
#7. Bar tape
Aside from aesthetic appearance, there is a hygiene factor in this upgrade. The tape becomes a collection point for bacteria from your sweat and the rain; hence there is a high risk of hand-to-mouth contamination.
Change frequently, every month at least. (Tour De France riders change their bar tapes daily).
This is one of the simplest things that you can install by yourself. For riders with bigger hands, you might find better comfort with two layers of bar tape.
#8. Properly fitted shoes
Aside from the handlebars and your backside, the other contact point on the bike is your feet. Proper fitting shoes (assuming you are using clipless) can make a huge difference. I have noticed a massive change regarding design and fit in the last five years. Fortunately, there are great choices these days including customised shoes to suit your feet.
Not all cranks are created equal, manufacturers will often have low-end cranks that lack stiffness on their bikes, and the crank length may not be optimal for your riding style, racing and body dimensions.
#10. Upgrade yourself
Get a coach who can provide you with a personalised plan and structured training to become the best rider you can be. This is probably the best and inexpensive way to shed weight and make you go faster.
Author: Michael Lyons
Michael is an ITU Level 2 Coach, Co-owner of TriEdge, and CEO of recovery systems. He is also a race commentator for Cycling and Triathlon races.
He has training and recovery tips & tricks from his 53 years of bike riding. He has done more than 100 Ironman races and 6000 hours of athlete coaching including the use of active compression technology.
He loves to connect and bring the endurance community together.