12 Apr 2016
YOUR FIRST 5 ROAD BIKE UPGRADES
Significant performance boosts don’t have to cost thousands. But what changes give the biggest bang for your buck – or the most extreme explosion for your Euro? Read on…
FSA-riding Yohan Bagot and his Cofidis team and mechanics know what tweaks and upgrades work best – here’s our guide
Not only are they one of the cheapest and easiest parts to upgrade, but your tires are – or at least should be! – the only thing between you and the road. And while they’re all black and round, not all tires are equal.
Grippier tires allow you to carry more speed, while more supple carcasses create greater comfort and road feel – allowing greater distance and still more speed. Also, more predictable grip means fewer crashes, fewer injuries and more riding time. Rock-hard tires with near-zero drag are a false economy. Look for a quality set of wider tires (25-28mm) for a meaningful boost, but don’t forget to check frame clearance first.
2. Bars & saddle
Often overlooked, these parts can make a significant contribution to performance and are again very easy to upgrade. Check out the different models of bars available, with their different profiles, reach, drop and widths. High-quality, properly fitted bar tape is a minimum requirement.
A comfortable saddle on a suitable seatpost is the other half of the comfort-allows-endurance equation, of course, assuming your frame is the correct size to begin with.
Slowing down to go faster may seem counterintuitive, but while brakes are vital for ‘boring’ safety reasons, they’re also vital for speed. Speed through and out of a corner is key, and you won’t get it if you’ve run wide having carried too much speed in.
The more powerful and predictable your brakes are, the more confident you’ll be, and the less you drag them or hit them early. Powerful sets such as the FSA K-Force offer excellent stopping power and modulation, while lightweight or low-profile aero calipers bring further benefits. It may also be time to follow the pros and swap to disc braking, though be aware they require compatible hubs, frames and forks.