Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again. The snow is melting, the temperatures are rising, and your bike is calling your name. Each year you make upgrades to your bike to shake off the dust and get back to doing what you love.
There are a hundred different things you can do to get your road bike back faster and stronger than ever, but here we focus on six basic, relatively inexpensive upgrades that will show big improvements. This list is in no particular order of importance, but is meant to give you some ideas on getting the most out of your rides.
New bike tires can dramatically change your riding experience instantly. As your bike sits in the cold corners of the garage or shed, cold temperatures crack and dry out the rubber tread and sidewalls. This leaves your tires with less-than-stellar grip, puncture protection and sidewall stability. Getting good tires can fix all of that as soon as you mount them on your wheels.
There are only three contact points from your body to your bike, and your rear end is the most significant one. Having an under-performing saddle can really limit your riding ability and stamina. Good, quality saddles these days are made and designed to enable cyclists at all levels to get the most comfort for rides, whether you’re spending one hour in the saddle or all day.
Another crucial contact point is your hands. Getting the right handlebar and stem setup can be an easy way to reduce pain while riding. Sometimes you just need a stem with a different length or rise. Maybe you need a handlebar with a wider width or a different curve. Changing just a couple small angles can greatly increase your comfort and performance.
The last contact point between body and bike is your feet. You may not think shoes could make a difference, but getting a shoe that allows your foot to be the most comfort possible can greatly impact your performance. If you use inexpensive, poor quality shoes, the straps can bind and pinch, limiting circulation to your ever so valuable weapons. Be sure to get a shoe that fits properly and gives consistent support throughout.
It’s good practice to replace your chain every season or two. Not only does it keep you riding smooth, a new chain also creates less wear and tear on your crank and cassette teeth. Put a new chain on and you’ll think you’re riding a brand new bike.
6. Bar Tape
This is one of those simple pleasures. Having new bar tape may not bring a ton of noticeable performance improvement, but, like new socks, it sure can make things a lot more comfortable and soft, which does help on the long rides.
Hopefully, this list gives you a starting point on your way to a fun cycling season. This is not meant to be the list to end all lists, though. If you have some other upgrades you’re dying to put on your bike, let us all know!