First Upgrade

Monza Posts: 27
edited August 2008 in Workshop
I took up cycling 3 years ago and bought a Specialized Allez.It has Sora front shifters, an 8 speed casstte, and 9 speed Tiagra rear mech. I am now thinking of upgrading a few bits. I would like to upgrade the shifters to Shimano Tiagra or 105 to enable me to change gear when "on the drops", and the rear cassette to 9 speed. I would also change the chainring, but the question is, how difficult is this work? Could a novice (me) do the work? I asked my local Specialized dealer, but he told me to buy a new bike. I really like the Allez and don't want to change it, but is he right?


  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,708
    No, he's not right. Frankly, that's a stupid thing to say, and he's obviously just trying to sell another bike rather than actually helping.

    As for the difficulty of the work, it depends how confident you are. It's all pretty easy stuff, though it does require the right tools. You'll need:
    A cassette tool and a large adjustable spanner to hold it
    A chain whip
    A selection of hex keys
    A crank extractor to get the crank arm off to change the chainrings
    Preferably a chainring peg spanner

    The upfront cost of all these tools will be a bit daunting, however they are all one time buys. When you have them, you can keep them forever and use them time after time. The most frustrating part will probably be wrapping the bar tape after changing the shifters, this just requires a bit of practise though. If you know how to index gears, then you'll be fine doing the work. By the way, you may find that changing the front mech to a 9 speed model will help, assuming that it's 8 speed now. The 9 speed one will have a narrower cage, which will help with the narrower 9 speed chain.
  • Simon Notley
    Simon Notley Posts: 1,263
    The work isn't especially difficult. It requires a few tools (most standard and a few specialised ones). The cost will be reasonably high, but not enough to pay for a new bike instead. To give you some idea - these are the parts you'd need to replace

    Levers 90
    Cassette 20
    Chain 10

    Ane these are some that you might:

    Tools (chain tool, cassette tool, etc) 20
    Handlebar tape 5
    Cables 10
    Chainring/set 10-80 (depending on how much of it you change - i.e just the rings or the cranks.bottom bracket etc none of this is essential)

    So you'd be looking at £120+ and a fair bit of work (but useful to learn about your bike) but as I say, most of it is simple, just a case of unscrewing old bolts and screwing on new ones...
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    Your bike is about £500 new ?

    So the parts listed are £120 + labour. I can see why the guy said you may be better off buying a new bike. But if you're happy with the frame and the rest of the bike is in good nick - then go ahead and upgrade. If the bike has worn a fair bit - then I'd prob just get a new one and save this for winter ?
  • robbarker
    robbarker Posts: 1,367
    Monza wrote:
    I asked my local Specialized dealer, but he told me to buy a new bike.

    They would say that wouldn't they? Of course it's not right, they just want your money and a new bike is more profitable than some components and workshop time.

    The bits you need are straighforward to fit and should go on with no problems. Make sure you get a 9 speed chain too, it's a different width to 8 speed. The cassette should just drop on.

    Make sure your rear mech is a 9 speed as the jockey wheels are also designed with a specific width chain in mind.

    You should really change the chainset and front mech too, particularly if you want really sweet changing,but you will get away with using the existing ones. Having said that, yours is probably significantly worn by now and may be worth replacing anyway - you can get just the rings but in this case better a new "9 speed" chainset.

    You'll need a cassette removing tool, big adjustable wrench and chainwhip, a crank remover, a good set of hex wrenches, a pedal spanner and some assembly compound or grease. You'll probably also need a bottom bracket removal tool as you'll most likely need to change from your existing (I guess) square taper bottom bracket to an octalink for 105 9 speed. Again, it will be wrorth fitting a new BB anyway to a bike of this age.

    If you're going to all this trouble, of course, you may wish to stretch to 105 10 speed. You'll need a little (supplied) spacer behicnd the cassette, and 10-speed everything including outboard bottom bracket, but it will fit without any problems. Merlin anre usually cheapest for Shimano components -

    See repair help section for how to do it.
  • Monza
    Monza Posts: 27
    Thanks to all who replied (and so quickly). Plenty of good advice, which I will follow. I get the feeling that part of the fun of being a cyclist is tinkering and improving your bike.
    Thanks Again.
  • andyp
    andyp Posts: 10,309
    Monza wrote:
    I get the feeling that part of the fun of being a cyclist is tinkering and improving your bike.
    Wise words!

    If you do go down the home mechanic route, and it's worth doing as it'll save you money in the long run, then these two sites are very helpful;

    I'd also recommend a book called 'Zinn and the art of road bike maintenance' which uses line drawings to show detail that photographs can't do, i.e. cutaways and the like.
  • FSR_XC
    FSR_XC Posts: 2,258
    In some defence of the bike shop. . . .

    Your 3yr old Allez is probably worth around £200-£250.
    Upgrading the shifters to Tiagra will cost a min of £140 (inc tools)
    Their labour would be around £50
    So as long as there was no other items (cables, jockey wheels, chainrings, front mech etc) the upgrade would be nearly the value of the bike.

    A new bike will get you the upgrade you want along with all new components, all set up and running smoothly, complete with a warranty. You've then got a winter bike or one that you can sell to recoupe a proportion of the cost of your new one.

    However you could source the shifters (most expensive parts) from ebay etc, do the job yourself and spend less than £100.
    This way you have tools in case you need to carry out any work in the future and you have the satisfaction that you have done the job yourself.
    Also, if there is nothing else wrong with your Allez and you are totally happy with it, why spend more money than you need changing it?
    Stumpjumper FSR 09/10 Pro Carbon, Genesis Vapour CX20 ('17)Carbon, Rose Xeon CW3000 '14, Raleigh R50
  • DavidBelcher
    DavidBelcher Posts: 2,684
    Monza wrote:
    Thanks to all who replied (and so quickly). Plenty of good advice, which I will follow. I get the feeling that part of the fun of being a cyclist is tinkering and improving your bike.

    Absolutely - there's few things better than the satisfaction of a job not only well done, but done by yourself.

    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • Slurp
    Slurp Posts: 220
    Like you, I have an Allez. Similar vintage. I remember reading one review of it, probably in C+, that called it a good base for upgrading. A couple of years ago I bought a set of cheap tools from Lidl and Zinn's road-bike book and have myself replaced the pedals, chain and rear cassette. I did balk at replacing the shifters, deciding that checking out indexing et al might be within my capabilities, but not within my time schedule. To be fair, none of that was upgrading, just maintenance. Perhaps next time, but then it becomes quite a big financial commitment.

    I was on the verge of replacing the bottom bracket, but realized that the original was still smooth as ever, so couldn't see any reason to replace it. That's after riding about 3,500-4,000 miles a year.
    If I\'m not making any sense, it\'s because I\'m incoherent.