Upgrading your bike?…all that glitters is not gold

We all like something shiny and new, be it the latest tech. gadget, new clothes or even that new bike…

So, thinking of upgrading your bike?

We all change and all desire certain material things and, if you’re a keen cyclist, it’s likely that after a few years of riding the same bike, for whatever reason – be it worn, battered, broken or just wanting a change, the ‘need’ for a new bike can be tough to resist.

The need to change bikes is even more relevant to children’s bikes, once they start growing there’s no stopping them. I know of at least two parents who have ended up buying two bikes in a year as the first was outgrown within 6-9 months, now that is expensive and short of stopping feeding children they will grow and the need to increase the size of the bike will exist!

But just to get the latest design of bike, development in components or upgrade for a child can be an expensive business and given that most bikes depreciate faster than a badly built 1970’s Jaguar car, the second hand market isn’t really a viable option to recoup some of the cost of the purchase.

A little forethought when initially buying a bike can certainly reduce the need for large sums of cash being paid out in the future. Most manufacturers will sell a bike with a variety of components not all necessarily the same brand and same group, common practice is to have a variety of components from, for example, Shimano but a mix of say Sora/ Tiagra/ 105 components.

This can mean a bike with a good frame can be bought at a reasonable price, the main areas where ‘savings’ are made by the manufacturers, tend to be wheels, brakes, chainset and handlebars. Over time these can be upgraded as they wear or funds become available!

I believe the best upgrade is by investing in a good set of wheels – there are some excellent offers to be had on lightweight wheelsets that will make an immediate difference to the ride experience on your bike (and unless you are built like the proverbial whippet this will be a massive gain when getting up those hills!). Follow that on with brakes, chainset etc. and an excellent bike will be yours.

Upgrade doesn’t necessarily mean that everything has to be bought new – trying to buy from friends or known contacts will more than likely make the second-hand purchase a pleasant experience. BUT, just a word of caution when buying from the likes of EBay etc; make sure you check the seller out as much as possible, as there are some horror stories out there from people who haven’t exactly got what they thought they were getting…

Investment in components can make any future upgrade far more economical:

The bike below has had all the existing components swapped from the existing bike to the new frame. The only extra cost was new cables and a replacement front brake calliper (to replace a broken original). The upgrade was relatively inexpensive as the frame had been sourced from a reliable seller on EBay.

Upgrading your bike

But what of the ever growing children?

If finances allow, buying the first bike with good quality components can certainly mean that as they grow the need to buy full bikes can be negated and swapping the components to a new frame can be less of an impact on parent’s finances.

There are some amazing offers on frames through the likes of Planet X, which can mean the cost of an upgrade can be very economical indeed. The only other components required may be forks, some bearings or perhaps cabling?

Both of the bikes below were upgraded recently (both bought exactly the same frame in isolation!!), one was a straight swap, the only extras being a new brake cable and a new headset bearing.

Bike upgrade

The second was an upgrade of the groupset from 8 speed to 10 speed and new ‘second-hand’ wheels.

Upgrading your bikeBoth were cost effective use of existing components that can then be swapped onto another bigger frame when they grow.

So, getting that better bike need not cost the earth and can be completed over time, which makes the upgrade or change a far more economical option than a full bike purchase.