Upgrade advice

crescent Posts: 1,201
edited June 2011 in Road buying advice
Just wondered what people's thoughts were on the following. I have a Specialized Allez Triple (2008 model I think). It has an aluminium frame, FACT fork, standard fit Alex rims and a combination of Sora (brakes and front deralleur) and Tiagra (rear derailleur). I really like the bike - it was my first semi-serious road bike and hasn't put a foot wrong - but having owned it for three years now I am tempted to upgrade. I don't really want to buy a complete new bike so my alternatives are:-

1. Keep the frame and upgrade the components, any advice appreciated here on what I should change first. :)

2. Purchase a new frame/fork (really like the Ribble Gran Fondo carbon) and transfer the existing components with a view to upgrading them as and when money and inclination dictates.

I'll put my hand up and say I am drawn to the Gran Fondo on looks as much as anything else, I think it looks stunning although I know it does also receive good reviews in other departments.

Cheers for any input
Bianchi ImpulsoBMC Teammachine SLR02 01Trek Domane AL3“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. “ ~H.G. Wells Edit - "Unless it's a BMX"


  • night_porter
    night_porter Posts: 888
    It really depends on why you want to upgrade as to which parts are best to buy.

    Changing the gearing components shifters, mechs, No of gears add bling but will have no performance benefits and cost quite a bit. Not really worth doing unless your current components are worn out.

    Changing tyres is reasonably cheap (compared to other things) and depending on which ones you buy should give a better feel to the ride and may make you feel faster. I find that comfortable tyres allow you to put down more power and therefore go faster than ones that transmit every bump on the road. Although 10-15 PSI drop in pressure works well too.

    Lots of people will recommend changing wheels but unless you are racing then very little performance gain will be had there. Some wheels look quite nice though but remember you are really only buying bling (and some very nice stickers).

    Weight saving makes little or no difference unless you are racing on the very edge of your limits and you have no perceivable fat or any things in your pocket you could live without.

    Speaking of bling, this is the only real reason I can see for buying upgrades. I know lots of people will disagree but I believe this to be the truth. Get some colour coded tyres, quick releases, seat post, saddle, bar tape, pedals, bottles and cages. Things like this will make your bike look the bees knees and you will ride faster anyway.

    After all we adorn our women with jewellry to make them look and feel better then why not do the same with our bikes? Both are worth every penny (just in case my wife reads this) and it definitely improves the ride :oops:
  • crescent
    crescent Posts: 1,201
    I think you have hit the nail on the head for me! I'm not, generally speaking, a 'bling type of person but I am probably changing for change's sake and I have had my head turned by the shiny new frames that Ribble have on offer. I consider myself to be a fairly serious cyclist although I am not into racing or a member of a club - I much prefer to do my own thing - so I suppose weight saving is not necessarily a driver to upgrade.
    I will probably maintain the staus quo during the summer/autumn and perhaps go for a new frame in the winter, it will then become a bit of a project for me during the winter months when I use my Mountain Bike more.

    Thanks for the reply
    Bianchi ImpulsoBMC Teammachine SLR02 01Trek Domane AL3“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. “ ~H.G. Wells Edit - "Unless it's a BMX"
  • Richa1181
    Richa1181 Posts: 177
    I can honestly say the best way to do it is to upgrade the components first and then swap it all over to a new frame afterwards -because I did exactly this from a Trek 1.5 to a Ribble Gran Fondo!

    If you're in no hurry you can pick up deals throughout the year on spare groupset parts, the odd set of brake callipers here, a cheap rear mech there. I saved about £200 on full Ultegra doing this, and once you've got everything assembled you can go and swap it all to a new frame - giving you the satisfaction of a new bike and a fresh start! I think if you bought the frame first you'd be thinking it was old by the time you'd finished upgrading and be looking for a new frame straight away!

    As for wheels, I have to disagree with night_porter on that one. My Trek came with big old iron hoops and when replaced with a bargain set of Shimano RS-80 I noticed one hell of a difference. They're lighter. they spin up much easier, loads stiffer and generally a lot smoother ride. As Mr Obree said, all you need is a good position and a good set of wheels - everything else is just 10th's of a second!

    The results of my labour are here: http://www.holmeschapelcc.co.uk/granfondo.html
  • night_porter
    night_porter Posts: 888
    Are you able to quantify "spin up easier" etc. in terms of mph/value?

    As I said very little performance gain. A hell of a lot of pride gain will be had and I agree to that.

    Besides how can I believe someone who attaches a small cat to the handlebars of his Gran Fondo?
  • Richa1181
    Richa1181 Posts: 177
    Wheels are all about rotational weight, less lead on the outside = less mass to get moving. They may not be worth a great deal more on the flat in gained top speed but if you add up all the corners you exit over a 50 mile ride you're saving yourself some time. You can't possibly say wheels don't make much of a difference though, I'll agree that there isn't that much between the £300-£500 range but that £300 wheelset is a far cry from the 3kg set that came with the £600 bike I bought. And we are talking about upgrading from a start wheelset here so I think the point is valid..

    Also, the cat isn't attached to the bike, I think you'll find it's just a *cough* cat magnet :)
  • Pigtail
    Pigtail Posts: 424
    Well done on keeping the allez for 3 years. I've had mine since October and since January I've been trying to come up with convincing reasons why I need to change it.

    All this upgrading stuff seems too complicated and limited in what it achieves. I'd flog it and put the money towards a new bike. I know you said you didn't want to do that! Personally I like my allez so much that a new bike would have to be a Tarmac.

    Failing that go for new wheels.
  • crescent
    crescent Posts: 1,201
    Pigtail wrote:
    Personally I like my allez so much that a new bike would have to be a Tarmac.


    That's one of the reasons I do not want to go the whole hog and buy a new bike, because it would need to be something considerably more expensive to make it worthwhile. I got a real bargain with the Allez three years ago, I bought it on the cycle to work scheme with a £350 voucher. I had intended to buy a Carrera Virtuoso from Halfords but they had the Allez on display for £350 - a one off cancelled order - right place at the right time without a doubt. With the tax breaks of cycle to work it only cost me around the £200 mark.
    It is a great bike and I couldn't justify spending the significant amount required to gain a higher spec. I am keen on the idea of having a project thorugh the winter months though when it does not really get used and, i'll admit it, the Gran Fondo would be purchased on looks as much as anything else. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's done that :wink:
    Bianchi ImpulsoBMC Teammachine SLR02 01Trek Domane AL3“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. “ ~H.G. Wells Edit - "Unless it's a BMX"
  • Pigtail
    Pigtail Posts: 424
    Well it seems like you got a cracking deal. You would probably get most if not all of that back if you sold it.

    I can absolutely see where you are coming from. My bike was £799 retail and I got it for £540. The cheapest tarmac would be £1600 or so. I'm convinced it would be better - but worth 3 of my bikes?

    That's the same conversation as I have had in the past with other things - mainly cars. I start to talk up the spec I want, and then reality bites and I talk it back down again - not on spec but on budget.
  • Richa1181
    Richa1181 Posts: 177
    Budget is the real killer in the bike world, nothing is cheap! But if you have maybe £50 a month spare, you can easily replace the front & rear derailleurs, tyres, brakes, saddle, seatpost & bars with fairly good spec parts over 6 months if you shop around.

    Good point about wanting something to do over the winter though. I think that's when most projects come to life. Just to feel like you're keeping your hand in the bike world when you're not getting out riding as much is worth it for enthusiasm, and makes you look forward to spring a lot more!
  • crescent
    crescent Posts: 1,201
    Food for thought, thanks for the replies. :D
    Bianchi ImpulsoBMC Teammachine SLR02 01Trek Domane AL3“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. “ ~H.G. Wells Edit - "Unless it's a BMX"
  • tenor
    tenor Posts: 278
    'Upgrading' derailleurs will get you nowhere - unless of course it is needed to increase the number of sprockets - as they all work well and weigh about the same.

    Consider buying bits that you can transfer to different bikes such as a saddle that you can actually sit on for long periods. For example, I have a lovely Chorus titanium seat post that I have no intention to ever replace, regardless of bike. Pedals can also make a diffenece to riding experience and comfort. Likewise handlebars - all the contact points, in other words.

    Top level tyres and tubes are a really worthwhile performance upgrade that can be felt instantly.
    Better wheels are a good investment as they can also be taken to a new bike and the originals used for winter riding.

    Finally, fresh bar tape always makes an old bike feel special - for a while, at least.
  • pmannion9
    pmannion9 Posts: 280
    Very similar situation to yourself. Have Spez Allez Elite 2008.
    Its been a great bike and still is and has done well over 10K miles.

    The best upgrade has been wheels. I got a set of Planet X Model B's And Pro-Lite Bracciano.Both are excellent. Keep the old stock wheels. Still plenty good enough for winter.
    Got a decent Selle Italia saddle and some Ultegra SPD-SL pedals.
    Also got a 105 rear mech - but this was due to previous one breaking.

    Look after the bike and it will look after you...

    If you cycle quite a bit then you well need to spend money on cassettes, tyres,chains,tubes etc.....Worth budgeting for those.
    Also have you got mudguards? Set of Crud's will protect bike a bit more over winter...

    But if you are like me and this has been your 1st road bike then you are probably longing to try a a Tarmac/SL3/CAAD10 or latest carbon frame. Lot of great kit about and very tempting and easy on the eye !!!

    I will keep my Allez as a winter bike and have been saving to buy a new summer bike !!
    But Im sure in a few months after we get a new bike and novelty wears off we will wonder what all the fuss was about question whether the money was worth it !!!
    ( Hope not !!!)

    After all the biggest upgrade - is the condition of the rider !!!