Upgrading a bike...........worth it?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Tomm Williams, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. Tomm Williams

    Tomm Williams Tele-Holic

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    In the last few years I've been doing more and more bike riding and enjoying the heck out of it. Last year I bought a Cannondale Quick 7 to replace a Jamis I bought years before and it was indeed an improvement. Recently my gf picked up a used Cannondale Quick 5 that had a number of aftermarket parts the previous owner had installed.

    Now I don't know how these parts actually affected this bike as I didn't have a before-after reference but it made me wonder what I might be able to do to mine to make it lighter/faster in lieu of gassing for yet another bike. Any known "go-to" mods that are commonly done ? This bike is used exclusively for pavement riding.
     
  2. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

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    As is the case so often in life, the answer is "it depends". A Cannondale Quick 7 has a steel fork and upgrading to a carbon fork will lighten it considerable and also smooth the road feel somewhat. Will it make you faster? No. The only upgrades I would make would be ones that make me happy or make me ride more. Saddles, grips, and pedals are common upgrades because those are the three places you actually touch the bike. Making sure all three of those components are to your liking is important. Changing to lighter, thinner wheels and tires will make you a bit faster, as will clipless pedals (provided you learn proper pedaling technique).

    I have owned one expensive road bike in my life and several cheap (sub $1000) ones. The expensive one was lighter, more comfortable and better in every way, but I wasn't any faster on it than I was on my $600 bike. The real difference is in the engine. IF you ride a lot and push yourself somewhat, you will get faster. A new carbon seatpost won't make one whit of difference.
     
  3. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    It is my understanding that the trend today with road bikes is wider tires and lower pressure for a softer smoother ride. However, I just looked up your bike and it already has wide tires, 35mm, for a road bike. Mine has 25mm tires. Your bike is good enough for fun. If you would appreciate more expensive components depends on if you really appreciate precision tools vs good tools. Anyway, you should do a lot of research before investing in components.

    My strategy would be to look for a higher end used bike instead of fixing up a cheaper bike. I bought a $2000 road bike in excellent condition for $700 but I was patient until I found the good deal on Craig's List.

    I like that bike but I prefer to ride my mt bike. There are a lot of good mt bike trails near my home.
     
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  4. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Depends on what you value. I ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker with lighter wheel-sets and better gearing than stock. I am not as fast as a true dedicated road bike, but I can keep up with them on most rides which is impressive for a steel frame bike. I also upgraded the seat to the UK style B52 leather and that was a night and day improvement on long rides.

    I consider upgrading comfort to be the most important things to change....starting with the seat. After that, a better shifting gear set is always nice and often not too expensive.
     
  5. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Stefanovich is right. Having it well tuned is important. Having it fit correctly is most important of all. Saddle height, setback, stem length are key. For women, the right saddle, narrower bars, and brake levers set up for smaller hands can help a ton. High quality tires make a huge difference. In general upgrading components is expensive. Fresh grips or grip tape is cheap and freshens it up a bit. Fresh pads, new chain are worth doing if worn beyond spec. Fresh shifter/brake cables if binding or corroded.

    The bike manufacturers get a much lower price on OEM components than you ever could. So it’s typically cheaper to buy a higher end, lightly used bike with better frame and better components than to upgrade a decent frame with meh components to the same frame with better components.
     
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  6. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    Making sure it fits/is comfortable and that it shifts well is more important than the weight of the components.

    My road bike has been trouble with shifting lately and it makes me mad when I ride it.
     
  7. scrapyardblue

    scrapyardblue Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Just took a $450 Specialized in for a $49 tune-up and it's every bit as fast and comfortable as the day I bought it. What's your hurry?
     
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  8. Danjabellza

    Danjabellza Friend of Leo's

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    New pedals, grips, seat, etc can customize your feel/interaction with the bike. A new cassette might be able to get you more speed.
     
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  9. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    If a bike fits you really well that's worth a LOT of money. The fit is by far and away the #1 attribute of a bike that makes it great.. good fit can affect your power speed by a double digit percentage.. 10-30% in an extreme case.

    Practically every bike I've owned in the past 20 years I ended up "upgrading". But not prematurely. Upgrade when you wear stuff out, not before then. If you upgrade stuff when replacing worn out stuff it's no big deal. If you upgrade stuff when you don't need to you're throwing away money, bike parts don't resell very well.

    So.. if this bike fits really well and matches your use cases then it's worth upgrading at the right time. If not, put the money aside for later to replace it with something that fits better/matches uses better. That'll almost always be a better move financially.

    Replacing a Fork is a big deal and not something to take lightly or embark on if you're not experienced. Forks are the most safety critical item and even if nothing unsafe is done it's easy to ruin the handling/performance of the bike, even if you're buying a new fork that would be considered a huge upgrade. The geometry #s on forks are critical and a lot of the time the complete set of #s might not even be published so it's always best to stick with the manufacturer fork unless you really know what you're doing. There is a bit more leeway there perhaps with a suspension fork on a mountain bike than there is on a rigid fork on a road bike.

    Something like a cassette is an upgrade when needed item. They only last about 5k miles in good conditions with good maintenance. Replace/upgrade when the chain and cassette are worn out, not before. And with cassettes & chains the price/performance sweet spot is never at the really high end.
     
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  10. Tuneup

    Tuneup Tele-Meister

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    Just getting my bike tuned by someone that knows what they're doing, basically gave me a new bike.

    When everything is tuned, and tight, and aligned then all your energy goes into moving the bike instead of being lost to loose chains and wobbly wheels.
     
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  11. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Holic

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    Everything is better with new pickups and a better amp, including bicycles.
     
  12. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Meister

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    What you have looks to be a good town/gravel bike. As others have said, other than comfort items I wouldn't sink significant money into it because you aren't going to change it's essential character. Good shorts and gloves are well worth the money. If you're really digging riding on the road, I'd start saving for an actual road bike. Clipping in on a sub-twenty lb road bike is a liberating experience.
     
  13. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Tele-Afflicted

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    I go back and forth with this all the time. In my case the answer is no. I wish it wasn't. But it's been no for a while, and will only get more no as more time goes by.

    I still have an old 90s Rockhopper A-1 aluminum that I bought new. The frame and hubs/wheels are still in good shape. Totally ridable. Years ago I stripped off the gears and made it single. I was living in town then. Where I live now are tons of good trails, and I have no problem managing them with single. I find it fun and challenging. But no shocks and pull v-brakes are a bit of throwback. I think the stem might even be the outdated size, so new forks may not be an option anymore, anyway. And even if it was, cost for anything better than Walmart OEM is hundreds more than what my bike is worth.

    Not actually my bike. But exact same setup, year, color, etc... Plus mine looks more....used. From UT, CA, TX, FL, to WV. Seen all types of fun and terrain.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. rad1

    rad1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Ex road and crit racer here. Your best investment would be to pay for a professional fit then ride in fast company.

    As the legendary Eddy Merckx said, “ don’t upgrade, ride up grades”
     
  15. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I learned all about upgrades on bicycles before guitars and the two have a lot in common. Before upgrading, ask yourself what you don't like about what you have now. Will an upgrade fix the problem or will all your ills be cured with a good setup? Not shifting or braking well? A good tech can fix that easily. I was into bikes when the defense industry was slowing down and everyone with a CNC machine wanted to make ultra light weight parts and hardware bits, kind of like pickup winders today. I'm an engineer who understands that removing mass usually decreases strength. Then, there's the real weight issue, the rider. All the screws on a bike fit in the cover of a water bottle and weigh less that the water weight you'll lose in the first five miles. It's way more efficient and way cheaper to remove the weight from the rider. There's a big difference though. While it may be worth it to upgrade a Squier Telecaster with new pickups and pots if the neck and body meet your needs and expectations, it's rarely worth it to upgrade an inexpensive bike, especially if the frame, fork, and wheels are contributing to the problems. Upgrading mid level guitars makes sense to me; I'm talking about better MIM or American Standard level instruments. A bike is so much the sum of its parts that it's almost always better to sell what you have and buy the bike you should have bought in the first place. That's what CL is for. That said, guitars or bikes, if something breaks or wears out, it probably makes sense to replace it with the best replacement component you can afford, and if you're not sure you can do the job well enough yourself, have someone who can do the job for you.
     
  16. Tomm Williams

    Tomm Williams Tele-Holic

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    Thanks to all of you for so many well informed opinions!

    So let me change my question......
    Rather than spend any money upgrading the Quick 7, what make, model of bike can be suggested sub $1500 (new) that is a clear step up from what I have?
    Keep in mind I’m asking about mountain style bikes but set up for street with no suspension and narrow tires. (Like my Quick7) I’ve had a few neck injuries so riding more up right is mandatory.

    What brought me to thinking about this was I recently did a ride on a great public trail in Sacramento that was filled with riders. By the end of the day I was convinced that the only difference between me and many of those riders was the bike, not conditioning. I’d like to close that gap but not at great cost if it can be helped.
     
  17. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Tele-Afflicted

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    As always, I fully admit I'm a cheap ba$tard, so take my opinion for what it is - cheap.

    I really can't see any reason to spend upwards of $1000+ for road-ized mountain bike. Hard front and back? Knock quite a bit off for that, to start. Why the street mods anyway? There are plenty of good crossfit style models, if that's what you need. Any popular mainstay brand has several, I would imagine. If you still want to trail ride, are the street mods gonna get in the way?

    I just have to say that a lot of bikers seemed to be a lot like guitarists, who for whatever reason feel they need to best and/or most pricey to ride, else not at all. Good bikes have a potentially long lifespan, even with minimal maintenance. Particularly in a dry climate like Central/NorCal. If the main reason you want a shiny new bike is because everyone else has one, well....

    Conditioning is key. If you are able to do as much as you want, then you just need a bike good enough to match your abilities and riding demands. If money is no object, do whatever. But the fact that you're asking about price at all suggests to me you have some limitations. For that I say no need to overdo it to be able to enjoy yourself.
     
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  18. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Clip in pedal/shoe combo would be the biggest bang for your buck. Everything else doesn't really matter until you do this and learn how to use them correctly. A professional set-up of handlebars and seat on your bike would be second.

    Unsprung weight is important, but until you get rid of that 5 lb beer gut, it ain't gonna matter either.;)
     
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  19. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    Wind resistance slows a bike more than anything else. The position on a road bike has less resistance than on a more upright position like your bike. Even if a road bike rider is not in the lowest position they are still lower than on an upright bike. Close fitting clothes, like road biking shorts and shirts can help that too.

    Do you ride with your tires pumped up to the max pressure listed on the tires? What is that pressure?

    How do you know its the bike that is slowing you down? Maybe the faster bikers are on shorter rides.

    To answer your question about what bike for the money, I would consider Giant because I believe they are the best value but that depends on local prices and sales. I believe Giant is the worlds largest manufacturer of bikes.
     
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  20. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

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    I worked full time as a bike mechanic for a few years (and blah blah my race resume, blah blah go bears!), and I hated this part. Why should I care how anyone else spends their money? But that job was about being monitored by my supervisors to make sure I was upselling at every opportunity.

    Now I teach for a living.

    Anyhow: if the Quick 7 fits well, and handles well, and performs basically how you like, then the best 'upgrade' is to find a discounted (NOS!) Quick 1, or one of the many clones of the modern, generic fitness bike.

    Giant and Trek and Specialized and all the second tier and even the third tier put a ton of money into trying to distinguish themselves in a market that is almost totally the same products.

    Every model and sub model is on a company spreadsheet better than anything you could do, every gram of every component, every dollar measured out. There are no 'deals' where the performance to price ratio has surprising jumps upward for the savvy consumer.


    So if a Quick 1 isn't available on discount, then one of the other brands' equivalent. Your local used market might be good too. I'd rate the chances of being sold a lemon lower in the fitness bike world than in mountain or road, since a suspension fork issue or a cracked carbon frame might hide very well, but if a fitness bike works on a vigorous test ride, it's probably OK. Good luck

    edit:math
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
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