UKH

Upgrades

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 Guy Hurst 10 Jul 2021

Over the past 30 years or so I've bought a series of low to mid range (well under £1,000 in current terms) road and mountain bikes and ridden them a few times a week, usually for two or three-hour trips. They've had basic maintenance from me, and a visit to a local bike mechanic when they needed work I couldn't do or couldn't be bothered to.

I've really enjoyed riding them all, apart from one mtb which I bought because it was a real 'bargain' but was actually too big for me. The only upgrades any of them have had have been new tyres and an occasional new saddle.

Have I missed out by not adding more costly components to them, or spending loads more on the bikes in the first place to give me an excuse to do so?

This question is inspired by the numerous threads started by people asking about buying similar bikes to mine and being advised to spend more.

In reply to Guy Hurst:

That very much depends. If your bikes fit you and do what you want them to do, then you haven't missed out. I have just upgraded from a bike that cost me £570 a decade ago to a bike costing five times that. Is it better? Absolutely, it's lighter, faster, more responsive. Did my old bike not being those things ever stop me from going somewhere or doing something? Absolutely not. If anything, the fact that it was reasonably cheap meant that I'd throw it at routes I knew had a very good chance of damaging it.

Just enjoy riding your bikes.

Post edited at 12:25
 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Guy Hurst:

I have a pretty good idea of the responses you're going to get from the serious cyclists

I think there is something to be gained by spending a bit more at the lower end, but I suspect that the law of diminishing returns sets in pretty quickly. One conclusion I've come to after reading cycling stuff is that there is a huge amount of fashion involved. Loads of high end stuff that is of no relevance to a normal rider but people want it because that's what the pros use. I suspect a lot of these people just like the whole spending and upgrading process and are looking to justify it with claims of how much better it is.

If you're racing then maybe it's a different matter. If spending a grand knocks a few seconds off your 60 mile time then it makes a difference. But for those of us who just ride for fun? I don't think so.

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 ChrisJD 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Guy Hurst:

From my experience of seeing many riding friends go from entry levels MTBs to 'higher end' bikes, all I can say is their level of enjoyment was visibly (and markedly) increased.

 DaveHK 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Guy Hurst:

If you've bought low to mid range bikes it probably isn't worth spending a fortune upgrading components. If you're wanting a better bike it's better spending more in the first place for the full package.

As for what's better, that's down to you as a rider, some people don't really notice kit or only notice specific things but in MTBs lighter wheels make a big difference and the suspension forks you get on more expensive bikes really do feel slicker. I'm not really convinced that more expensive drivetrain components perform much better, they just tend to be lighter.

Post edited at 12:38
 DaveHK 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Hooo:

> I suspect that the law of diminishing returns sets in pretty quickly.

I used to say that unless you were really keen or racing £1000 would get you all the roadbike you'd ever need and £1500 all the hardtail mountainbike.

I had assumed one would need to bump that up now but maybe not so much as although prices have gone up lower end componentry has improved.

 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

I reckon prices have effectively gone down. Take the suggestions on the other thread. Two very nice bikes that would have been considered high end when the hardcore cyclists on here first started riding, and they are under £600. Perfectly good for someone of BlaseSlayer's experience. But people suggest they spend an extra £300  for a better groupset, which I just can't believe is justified.

Post edited at 13:09
 DaveHK 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Hooo:

> I reckon prices have effectively gone down. Take the suggestions on the other thread. Two very nice bikes that would have been considered high end when the hardcore cyclists on here first started riding, and they are under £600. Perfectly good for someone of BlaseSlayer's experience. But people suggest they spend an extra £300  for a better groupset, which I just can't believe is justified.

I'm not really a road cyclist but I reckon there's less to go wrong with a lower end road bike whereas lower end MTBs reach a point where you get dreadful, heavy forks that can really ruin a bike. I think many people buying a lower end MTB would probably enjoy something with a rigid fork more than a cheap crap suspension one but when people say MTB they automatically assume suspension fork.

Post edited at 13:24
 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

I've got entry-level Suntour forks on my bike. I don't know any better but they are fine for the gentle off road stuff that I do. I've tried riding with them locked out and I would definitely not prefer a rigid fork!

That said, I agree that suspension forks are an area where I could get a significant improvement by upgrading. It's just not necessary for the riding I do.

In reply to Hooo:

Forks are the area where you would really notice the difference. My RS Lyriks are truly sensational and would blow your mind if you rode them. 

 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

Well they should be good, they cost more than my entire bike! I can think of cheaper ways to blow my mind

 wbo2 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Guy Hurst: What do we reckon the sweet spot is for vfm is then?  For hardtail MTB's I'd say it's the level where you start to see 1* gear systems.  Below that , not so great, above that and it's nice, but diminishing returns kicks in

 DaveHK 10 Jul 2021
In reply to wbo2:

> For hardtail MTB's I'd say it's the level where you start to see 1* gear systems. 

That might be the level but it's not actually a great measure as they really aren't that much of an improvement on 2x and in some regards offer poorer performance.

Post edited at 15:23
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 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to wbo2:

What is it that is so great about 1x gear systems? I know they're all the rage and you won't see a bike over £800 or so without them nowadays, but do they make that much difference? I've never had a problem dealing with two gear levers. It's a lot more money to buy and maintain a 1x system and you have that massive cog and derailleur hanging off the back.

 Monk 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Hooo:

> What is it that is so great about 1x gear systems? 

I ride bikes with 3x, 2x and 1x drivetrains. I now prefer the 1x by some margin, although I lack the lowest gears of the others and spin out at about 30 mph rather than 40. In general, it's just less faff when riding and feels good. It's absolutely not a deal breaker though, in my opinion, and I wouldn't recommend someone totally avoid a 2x bike. A clutch mech on the other hand is really worthwhile unless you enjoy putting chains back on frequently...

 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Monk:

I didn't even mention the biggest downside of all with 1x, the range. I'd really miss my top and bottom gears. As for a clutch mech, is that required because of the big cogs on the 1x? I don't have one and I've never had a chain come off, apart from when I've crashed.

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 Monk 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Guy Hurst:

I'm pretty into my mountain biking, but I also love value for money (...ok, I'm tight) so don't spend big on bikes. You do have to be a bit more selective, but you can get as much fun on the right cheaper bike than one costing several thousand. In my experience there are a few standout features that make big differences. The biggest is frame geometry - as long as that's ok for the riding you do, all good. Another is the fork - the hype about big brand names seems to be justified in my experience, but that doesn't mean you need the top end. A low end Rockshox fork easily out-performs Suntour. Get these right from the off and you can upgrade most other stuff as you go. 

I still ride some of my old bikes, especially during lockdowns last year, and I really enjoy them still. I enjoy the challenge of having to be more selective with lines or fighting harder to clear a section. I'll admit that it's slightly disconcerting to feel the bike bending and flexing when pushing hard through corners but for me it's all about dealing with what's thrown at you rather than getting a great time on a segment. 

I've nothing against people who spend big, but I definitely don't think it's a barrier to fun on a bike.

 DaveHK 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Hooo:

> I didn't even mention the biggest downside of all with 1x, the range. I'd really miss my top and bottom gears. As for a clutch mech, is that required because of the big cogs on the 1x? I don't have one 

I've got 1X11 on my rigid MTB/offroad tourer. I don't miss the top end, I just freewheel a bit and I don't miss the bottom end because it's much the same. I've got a clutch mech and TBH I've got no idea what it actually does. What does make a massive difference to chain retention is the narrow/wide chainring, that's witchcraft. I like the simplicity of 1x but I doubt it's much if any lighter. The chainline is appalling and noisy at times as a result.

> I've never had a chain come off, apart from when I've crashed.

Sounds like you're not hammering it on rough ground off-road, chain retention is definitely an issue then.

Post edited at 16:54
 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

Definitely don't do much in the way of hammering, more like gentle cruising by your standards. So it sounds like a clutch mech is a worthwhile upgrade if you do ride hard, but I'm still not convinced about 1x.

 Monk 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Hooo:

1x is a bit like dropper posts. Not really essential, but they inrease the flow of a ride and that potentially increases the enjoyment in a small way. When you don't have them, you probably won't feel the need, but few people who currently have them would ever get rid. 

Post edited at 17:16
 Hooo 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Monk:

That's actually the most convincing argument for 1x that I've heard. I can see how that double shifting with both hands could be a deal if you're really pushing it and need 100% focus on other stuff. I just don't ride hard enough for it to matter.

 DaveHK 10 Jul 2021
In reply to Hooo:

> That's actually the most convincing argument for 1x that I've heard. I can see how that double shifting with both hands could be a deal if you're really pushing it and need 100% focus on other stuff. 

I don't think that's a great reason to go 1x. I've pushed things pretty hard at times (racing etc) and I can't think of many times where changing between chain rings was too difficult to do or a challenge to my concentration. 

The main arguments are that it's a simpler system with fewer components to go wrong, there's no repetition of ratios, no gears you can't / shouldn't use (like with 3x) and that most people just plain don't need wider ratios. 

 ChrisJD 11 Jul 2021
In reply to Monk:

I'd say droppers and 1x increase the MTB enjoyment more than just a small way

Almost as essential as wheels on a modern MTB (if you are using as intended), lol.  Couldn't ride without a dropper now, even have one on my gravel bike.

I run the same wide-range 9-46t cassettes on all three bikes and you really aren't losing any range over 2x/3x and the gains in simplicity are great.  But there is an undoubtable cost outlay to get that range, so it will depend on where your priorities lay.

DaveHK - can't recall seeing anyone using 2x the during the three seasons of Enduro racing I did. A front derailleur and 2x would be just another thing to go wrong on a Stage.  So so happy to see the back of the ******* things.

 DaveHK 11 Jul 2021
In reply to ChrisJD:

> Couldn't ride without a dropper now, even have one on my gravel bike.

I'd agree that they are deskilling.  

>can't recall seeing anyone using 2x the during the three seasons of Enduro racing I did. A front derailleur and 2x would be just another thing to go wrong on a Stage.  So so happy to see the back of the ******* things.

Horses for courses. Both 2x and 1x have advantages and disadvantages and it depends what you're doing and what your preferences are. On the whole I like the 1x11 set up I have on my rigid mtb but for what I'm doing on that it's not a game changer, for other types of riding it might be.

Post edited at 11:58
 ChrisJD 11 Jul 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

I'd say the opposite, droppers upskill you, giving you the full freedom of the cockpit to do your best with.

 nniff 13 Jul 2021
In reply to Guy Hurst:

I have a principle of not riding other people's bikes because it might highlight a deficiency in mine of which I was blissfully unaware.

I do have some rather lovely road bikes, one of which was recently written off in an accident, for which the other party was to blame.  I thought the bike was the bees knees - handmade stainless steel, Dura-ace etc.  However, the opportunity presented itself to jump up another notch, but I was a little wary splurging a stup[id amount of money on a bike - but I've been riding around like a grinning fool for days now.  Admittedly, I'm all fingers and thumbs having acquired a Campag equipped bike after years of Shimano, but I'll get there.  It make my perfectly sound 105-equipped, alloy commuting road bike look like a tractor.  Hopefully the insurance will get sorted and I won't be too much out of pocket....

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