Author Topic: Bike Upgrade Advice  (Read 3184 times)

BigRed

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Bike Upgrade Advice
« on: March 21, 2016, 03:03:17 PM »
I've been commuting on my bike for most of the last 13 years, using a combination of riding and public transportation.  I occasionally bike the full distance (about 14 miles) and am interested in doing that more often and doing more longer recreational rides as well.  I also cart my kids around in a trailer some of the time as well, for errands, to some playdates, and to the beach.

I've got a Gary Fisher Hybrid with a suspension fork and flat handlebars, with a rack and panniers.  I'm interested in upgrading to something that is more of a road bike, lighter, and without the inefficient suspension.  I've got a 'big' birthday coming up, and people keep asking me what I want, and I think the bike upgrade would be nice.  Any advice would definitely be appreciated.

Thanks

rafiki

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2016, 06:17:16 PM »
If you have some time before you are looking to make a purchase, check Craigslist and save hundreds of dollars of retail.

I was looking to spend over a grand on a new bike, and ended up finding something that met my needs for $450 after I made a few upgrades to it. Bikes tend to lose their value and if you have the time to troll craigslist I am guessing you will eventually come across exactly what you are looking for at a steep discount.

mountains_o_mustaches

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2016, 06:23:10 PM »
My advice would be not to upgrade - it sounds like you have a  great bike (i.e., not a Walmart special) with specs that work for your lifestyle.  Lighter / fancier bikes don't really add all that much to your speed (a few seconds off of longer rides for a typical rider), especially if you're going to add panniers and trailers to it.  I would much rather use that money in an area where I would get more enjoyment from the extra money spent.

However, if you're set on doing this, then I would say to maybe consider a touring bike - it's meant to be comfortable on long distance rides and is built to carry stuff (meaning there are places to attach things like a rack and trailer which you might find lacking on a traditional road bike).

I'd also echo the advice of shopping from Craigslist rather than buying new - there are lots of cycling enthusiasts who frequently (and unnecessarily) upgrade their bikes, meaning that there are often nice and inexpensive bikes to be had!

Good luck and happy upcoming birthday!

spokey doke

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2016, 07:00:03 PM »
I would much rather use that money in an area where I would get more enjoyment from the extra money spent.

Let's say you would get your money's worth in joy out of the upgrade ; ) ...(something I definitely get out of what I have invested in my bikes)...what sort of price range are you talking about?  Are you in or near a decent sized city (for Craigslist resources, and/or for bike shops)?  What issues do you have with your current bike (besides the efficiency one you mention)?

In any case, the best way to get a sense of your options and opportunities is to go ride as many bikes as you can and experience the differences for yourself.  You might be well advised NOT to ride uber expensive bikes way out of your price range, but definitely go ride a bunch, including some nice ones...your experience will give you important info. than you can't get online.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2016, 07:17:07 PM »
A touring bike make a great, fast commuter.  They're built very tough and you can load them up with wide tires, panniers, and mudguads.  The drop bars let you get low and more aerodynamic.  The wide wheelbase makes them very stable when heading downhill (especially in the wet), and they're usually steel framed which is very comfortable when cycling long distances.

They're not as aerodynamic or light as a true road bike . . . but they're great all-rounder bikes.  That said, if you get one it would do what your current bike does . . . just better.  Might be worth selling the Gary Fischer.

onlykelsey

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2016, 07:18:59 PM »
This is probably the tenth time I've said this, but I have a surly cross-check and love it.  It's not quite set up to be a touring bike, but it has a slightly longer geometry, is steal, handles well with lots of weight, etc and generally is a great commuter. I think everything GuitarStv said about touring bikes applies to the cross-check and a lot of steel cyclo-cross bikes.

mountains_o_mustaches

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2016, 07:46:53 PM »
I would much rather use that money in an area where I would get more enjoyment from the extra money spent.

Let's say you would get your money's worth in joy out of the upgrade ; ) ...(something I definitely get out of what I have invested in my bikes)

I'm just cautioning about assuming that an upgrade will bring an equivalent amount of joy.  It's one of those insidious beliefs in our society.  Sure upgrades to a certain point can bring greater happiness but the more you upgrade the more those returns diminish.  Just something to keep in mind. 

I've been riding around with "cyclists" and they keep trying to convince me to buy road bikes that would be over $1k more than my bike and I know that the improved performance / comfort / shiny-ness / coolness of the upgraded bike would not be worth $1k.  The funny thing is that my bike still gets me to work / grocery store and I'm still able to keep up with these "cyclists" in group rides, so I'm not sure what improvements they expect I'll get from the extra $1k...

I guess the other side of the coin is that any investment in a bike will be a better investment than money spent on a shiny new car...

BigRed

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2016, 09:58:49 AM »
Thank you for the responses.  I was curious how much of the response would be "don't upgrade," so I do appreciate that advice.  I've definitely struggled to keep up on the few group rides I've done, especially uphill.  So, that's where I'm thinking getting rid of the suspension and lightening up the bike might help, though obviously I would be better to just make myself 20 pounds lighter, and in better shape.  I also lift the bike on and off the bus a lot, and having it be lighter would be nice for that.

Truth is, that my family keeps asking me what I want, and I don't have a good answer, because I don't really want much you can buy with a few hundred dollars.  The one thing I do a lot of is bike, so it seemed like the best place to think of something.

realworldblues

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2016, 12:02:00 PM »
For commuting I would also recommend a "touring" bike or something similar. You want something lightweight, but not so lightweight that any pothole will send you flying. I recently bought a Marin Lombard and think it fits the bill perfectly for commuting. Its a cyclocross bike in spirit, which means its pretty durable and easy to carry while still being pretty speedy. Its anywhere from $900 to $1400 new depending on if you get the "elite" version or not, but I think the price is worth it if its your primary mode of transportation. However, if your budget doesn't fit, you can likely find a similar style of used bike for half the price. If you go to your local bike shop and tell them what you are looking for in your bike, they will certainly let you test ride a few different ones. Hopefully this can help give you an idea of what style of bike you feel comfortable with.

I upgraded to the Lombard from an old Schwinn High Sierra (a rigid frame mountain bike) and the difference is astounding. I don't even work up a sweat on my commute because the bike is so much quicker. I think it would definitely be worth the upgrade from your hybrid. If you have a bike that you love to ride, you will ride it more often!

McStache

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2016, 05:43:40 PM »
Re: Uphill being hard.  If you don't have toe clips or "clipless" pedals (not flat pedals), switching over to those could help with the hills.  I find hills noticeably easier with toe clips or clipless pedals.

darkadams00

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2016, 09:47:20 PM »
I have a Surly Cross Check and a Bianchi Volpe, each set up differently (handlebars, gearing, fenders/no fenders). I bought each on CL for less than 50% of their new retail price. Both had significant upgrades and were in 9+/10 condition. But I cruise CL weekly and bought each within a couple days of their appearance on CL. Still, after my initial set-up changes, each cost $500-650. Given that I ride almost daily year round and I dropped a car when I started utility biking, I have absolutely no qualms about spending the money. I recouped the money in the first year just by not owning the second car. And each rides wonderfully, so I would be hard-pressed to think I would be as comfortable or satisfied on cheaper rides if such rides meant more maintenance or lower performance. I already ride more than the fair-weather, recreational cyclists at work, and their bikes are in that $1500+ all carbon fiber, disc brakes, racing wheels range of the spectrum. I think my cost-to-performance ratio is optimized to the level that suits me.

Neva6

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2016, 10:12:59 PM »
Disclaimer - I have 3 bikes and there are 6 total in my garage in the family.

I love my steel commuter. I pull the trailer and it carries tons of gear. I also love my carbon road bike. Not seeing the value in expensive components, I was able to find a last year's model with entry level components (Shimano 105) and carbon frame for $1400. I ride it as much as I can. It is fast, comfortable, and overall just plain awesome.

Sounds like you have saved a crazy amount of money over the years biking to work instead of driving. Life is too short to not love your bike.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2016, 06:41:29 AM »
I love my steel commuter. I pull the trailer and it carries tons of gear. I also love my carbon road bike. Not seeing the value in expensive components, I was able to find a last year's model with entry level components (Shimano 105) and carbon frame for $1400. I ride it as much as I can. It is fast, comfortable, and overall just plain awesome.

Shimano 105 components are great, certainly not entry level.  Entry level is more Claris or maybe Sora.

ooeei

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2016, 06:43:29 AM »
Thank you for the responses.  I was curious how much of the response would be "don't upgrade," so I do appreciate that advice.  I've definitely struggled to keep up on the few group rides I've done, especially uphill.  So, that's where I'm thinking getting rid of the suspension and lightening up the bike might help, though obviously I would be better to just make myself 20 pounds lighter, and in better shape.  I also lift the bike on and off the bus a lot, and having it be lighter would be nice for that.

Truth is, that my family keeps asking me what I want, and I don't have a good answer, because I don't really want much you can buy with a few hundred dollars.  The one thing I do a lot of is bike, so it seemed like the best place to think of something.

Why not just have separate bikes for group rides and commuting?  The one for group rides doesn't need the extra storage components, and the one for commuting doesn't need to be quite as lightweight.  Since it seems like your commuter is still working fine, I vote get the group ride bike first. 

Neva6

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Re: Bike Upgrade Advice
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2016, 12:34:13 PM »
I love my steel commuter. I pull the trailer and it carries tons of gear. I also love my carbon road bike. Not seeing the value in expensive components, I was able to find a last year's model with entry level components (Shimano 105) and carbon frame for $1400. I ride it as much as I can. It is fast, comfortable, and overall just plain awesome.

Shimano 105 components are great, certainly not entry level.  Entry level is more Claris or maybe Sora.

That's true. In my understanding 105 is typically the lowest grade of the "performance" oriented components. You get much of the technical benefits of the higher cost versions at a slightly higher weight.