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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With all the threads inquiring about upgrading brakes (who uses brakes?), and the way companies spec bikes with flashy rear derailleurs and cheap everything else, what do you think are the important components where a higher level might get you something?


Here's my list (leaving off ergonomic parts like pedals, seat and bars):
1. Wheels (hubs). Apart from the frame and tires, these make the ride of the bike. They are also the heaviest component parts, are adjustable, require maintenance and are sensitive to how they were assembled. Hubs are the fastest spinning bearing on the bike.
2. Crankset/BB. Also one of the heaviest parts on the bike, and your input to the powertrain. Better cranks have smoother bearings, less flex and less weight. They also have longer lasting chainrings and shift easier.
3. Shifter mechanism. Brifters are the most mechanically complex and delicate component. Also have a large weight range. Better stuff lasts longer/weighs less.
4. Front derailleur. Good ones shift better and require less trimming with indexing.
5. Calipers. Not so important. Even the cheap ones work pretty damn well these days.
6. Headset. A good headset doesn't require you to do anything with it.
7. Seatpost. A place to save weight, but needs to be strong enough for the job. Otherwise, totally non-critical.
8. Bottle cages. It's a pain when you are dropping bottles.
9. Stem. Even "heavy" stems are light these days. All it needs to do is not break.
10. Rear derailleur. In a blind test, I sincerely doubt anybody could tell if their DA equipped uber-velo had a Sora on the back. Only minor weight variations.
 

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rx-79g said:
.........., what do you think are the important components where a higher level might get you something?

10. Rear derailleur. In a blind test, I sincerely doubt anybody could tell if their DA equipped uber-velo had a Sora on the back. Only minor weight variations.
I've always been more concerned about the pulleys in the derailleur. DA sealed would seem to be preferable, even if you couldn't feel the difference. Poor running pulleys could eat up some wattage.

Just like bottom brackets which seem much more important than the actual crank.
 

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rx-79g said:
With all the threads inquiring about upgrading brakes (who uses brakes?), and the way companies spec bikes with flashy rear derailleurs and cheap everything else, what do you think are the important components where a higher level might get you something?
1. Wheels. I like wheels that stay true until crashed with enough spokes they can be ridable after minor damage. I like loose bearings which get greased and adjusted periodically but don't need replacement for decades. Hand built, 32 (maybe 28) spoke, Campagnolo or Shimano loose bearing.

2. Brifter type. Campagnolo with five cogs bigger and three smaller. You don't need the cosmetic changes moving from Chorus to Record.

3. Tires. When you no longer weigh 145 pounds something a bit wider than 23mm which won't pinch flat at 90-100 psi is nice. Puncture resistance varies. There can be a 20W difference at 18 MPH between different tires. Lifetime varies radically.

4. Brake pads. More friction would be nice when the rims are wet.

5. Properly pinned and ramped chain rings. Pretty much everything made by Shimano or Campagnolo is fine with obvious exceptions (stamped rings riveted to a crank on a cheap comfort bike). Older FSA rings didn't shift as well.

6. Computer and sensors. Power offers the best and most immediate feedback on how hard to ride and when to stop intervals. Heart rate is better than perceived effort which varies radically. Downloading all the data samples for analysis beats just having peaks and averages off marked intervals. GPS data can make it easier to find a particular hill.

60. Everything else not fit related.
 

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MerlinAma said:
I've always been more concerned about the pulleys in the derailleur. DA sealed would seem to be preferable, even if you couldn't feel the difference. Poor running pulleys could eat up some wattage.
they'd have to be pretty much seized up to make much of a difference.
 

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If I started with a nice entry level road bike that fit me, here would be my priorities for upgrades:

1. seat.
2. pedals
3. gearing--steep hills + aging man = touring gears.

Really, those 3 make or break a bike for me. Any $10,000 bike with the wrong seat or pedals or gear range would sit in my garage while an $800 bike set up right would be ridden with pleasure.

4. nice, tough tires that rarely flat and ride well (Conti Ultra Gatorskins or even Pasela TG)
5. well built, sturdy wheels with machined braking surface.
6. maybe brakepads

Today's entry level bikes set up with proper seat, pedals, and gearing with well-built wheels and good tires is better than the best bike in the world when I started riding.
 

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I've always put shifters 2nd (assuming a decent, Tiagra level crank).

Wheels, shifters, crank, then whatever budget allows for. Even then, it's typically an upgrade in chainrings, rather than an entire crankset.

I typically don't recommend anything Dura-Ace. Generally only recommend Red shifters, and occasionally recommend something higher than Chorus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
-dustin said:
I've always put shifters 2nd (assuming a decent, Tiagra level crank).

Wheels, shifters, crank, then whatever budget allows for. Even then, it's typically an upgrade in chainrings, rather than an entire crankset.

I typically don't recommend anything Dura-Ace. Generally only recommend Red shifters, and occasionally recommend something higher than Chorus.
Why Red? I had thought that, aside from zero loss, the mechanism quality was the same for all four SRAM shifters. And I think Force has zero loss, too.
 

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I have a set of new wheels because most bike come with under spec'd wheels are quite crappy.

Question about crankset though as it is next on my list, I currently have the FSA Gossamer (BB30) but considering going to SRAM Red. Gossamer is 800g and Red is 600g, good 1/2 lb drop in rotational mass and can't be bad, but I heard the Gossamer is actually quite stiff, will the Red offer less stiffness due to the light weight..? What am I really getting by going with a high end crank?
 

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PoorCyclist said:
I have a set of new wheels because most bike come with under spec'd wheels are quite crappy.
^^^That. Lighter, better rims make a WORLD of difference on most stock bikes, until you start getting into the upper end of the product line. That's always the first thing I look to upgrade. And once you learn how to build a wheel, you can build some really nice ones from parts you find on sale - hubs this month, rims next month.
 

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You forgot the engine. That, my friend, is the most important component. Everything else is secondary.
 

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rx-79g said:
With all the threads inquiring about upgrading brakes (who uses brakes?), and the way companies spec bikes with flashy rear derailleurs and cheap everything else, what do you think are the important components where a higher level might get you something?


Here's my list (leaving off ergonomic parts like pedals, seat and bars):
1. Wheels (hubs). Apart from the frame and tires, these make the ride of the bike. They are also the heaviest component parts, are adjustable, require maintenance and are sensitive to how they were assembled. Hubs are the fastest spinning bearing on the bike.
2. Crankset/BB. Also one of the heaviest parts on the bike, and your input to the powertrain. Better cranks have smoother bearings, less flex and less weight. They also have longer lasting chainrings and shift easier.
3. Shifter mechanism. Brifters are the most mechanically complex and delicate component. Also have a large weight range. Better stuff lasts longer/weighs less.
4. Front derailleur. Good ones shift better and require less trimming with indexing.
5. Calipers. Not so important. Even the cheap ones work pretty damn well these days.
6. Headset. A good headset doesn't require you to do anything with it.
7. Seatpost. A place to save weight, but needs to be strong enough for the job. Otherwise, totally non-critical.
8. Bottle cages. It's a pain when you are dropping bottles.
9. Stem. Even "heavy" stems are light these days. All it needs to do is not break.
10. Rear derailleur. In a blind test, I sincerely doubt anybody could tell if their DA equipped uber-velo had a Sora on the back. Only minor weight variations.
Sensible order, but I'd see it another way:
(assuming these are all performance upgrades, not for anticipating any fragilities of given parts; also assuming the rider has established a pedaling system and component brand to run with)
1. Saddle. Precious things are precious.
2. Stem+handlebar. I prioritize ergonomics over everything. Maybe the owner got a "pro fit", but getting these things exact are inevitably going to take a lot of miles. I found myself running a 13cm stem on a 58.5cm eTT, while only being 5'10. Doubt a shop would see that coming.
3. Cassette OR crankset. It's an iffy call, and all assuming it's in agreement with the shifter system. While a cassette does the job with considerably lesser work and money, maybe the rider's given power and/or weight will demand a crank upgrade at the same time. But either way, I do think gearing is the next biggest difference in cycling.
4. Brake pads. These could really rank first as they're the easiest buy out the door. But the priority depends if you're really descending that much on your rides. Regardless, there's nothing wrong with (noticeably) better stopping power and wear.
5. Tires. They'd have to be pretty ****ty ones to have this in a higher priority, or again, you're on quite the descent. Look at everyone who rides a bike daily, they don't need Michelin Pro 3's to get by. But still, the upgrade is noticeable if you found an agreeable pick. Confidence is better-instilled through feel, and you probably get the actual merits of better braking and grip.
6. Brake calipers. I don't think there's a supplied modern-day caliper that isn't possible to get by with. Nonetheless, some may offer a crappy feel of modulation. Worthwhile upgrade.
7. Seatpost. To be honest, you would've bought a pretty crappy bike if the supplied post can't hold your weight. If you can't get the favored position at the extremes of the given adjustment ranges, I'd also think you bought the wrong size. Only functionally reasonable move is from the usually-supplied setback to non-setback. The saddle is a bit better off with better centering on the clamp. Otherwise, I only see a seatpost as aesthetic. We can go into weight, but you're not losing much here at all.*
8. Wheels. Depends on the situation again. If you're a heavier rider, then this is a higher priority than I placed. But generally, the lighter rider should see wheels as an "optimization" whereas everything above correlates to fit and safety.
9. Derailleurs and shifters. Tbh, I've only had a Shimano Acera **** on me, so I'd consider given things to reasonably work for the most part. If you're upgrading the number of speeds, you might want to reconsider this investment. There's arguably no gain otherwise.*
10. Headset. I'll be dead honest, who's headset actually does go wrong when installed correctly? I see how they face hard forces, but I never thought for a second "oh dear, I think my headset may be on it's last legs". Only time I ****ed up with a headset is when installing a new fork. I stepped on the headset washer that I didn't notice fall to the ground. Continued on without it, and being months from then, hasn't presented any issues. Headset itself is 5 years old.


*In general, I wouldn't consider weight loss on the bike period. If you're doing a major jump in "component grades", you're making quite the questionable investment into the bike. Tiagra to Ultegra heavily differs in number of speeds and the "feel" where Ultegra feels smoother and more solid. If you're looking for that "feel", you should've bought an Ultegra bike in the first place. I'd only recommend getting parts of similar grade if they fit your needs. If they happen to be heavier/lighter, so be it.
 

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Saving money

PoorCyclist said:
Question about crankset though as it is next on my list, I currently have the FSA Gossamer (BB30) but considering going to SRAM Red. Gossamer is 800g and Red is 600g, good 1/2 lb drop in rotational mass and can't be bad, but I heard the Gossamer is actually quite stiff, will the Red offer less stiffness due to the light weight..? What am I really getting by going with a high end crank?
The fact that you cranks are rotating means approximately nothing compared to any other weight savings. Given the center of mass of the rotation and your pedaling speed, the rotational kinetic energy impact of cranks is about 1/20 th of rims/tires/tubes. The 200 gm weight savings will allow you to 0.02 mph faster on a 6% grade, saving 7 seconds (100 feet) per hour of riding. If you think that is important, then spend away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
onlineflyer said:
You forgot the engine. That, my friend, is the most important component. Everything else is secondary.
I didn't realize riders are components. Has your bike looked into upgrading from you to someone else?
 

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Kerry Irons said:
The fact that you cranks are rotating means approximately nothing compared to any other weight savings. Given the center of mass of the rotation and your pedaling speed, the rotational kinetic energy impact of cranks is about 1/20 th of rims/tires/tubes. The 200 gm weight savings will allow you to 0.02 mph faster on a 6% grade, saving 7 seconds (100 feet) per hour of riding. If you think that is important, then spend away.
I've heard the argument that the rotational weight of crank,pedals and shoes can have a negative effect on muscle fatigue as weight increases. It seems logical that the less weight your legs have to sling around the better.

Any thoughts?
 

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Matador-IV said:
I've heard the argument that the rotational weight of crank,pedals and shoes can have a negative effect on muscle fatigue as weight increases. It seems logical that the less weight your legs have to sling around the better.

Any thoughts?
He said nothing against that, but mathematically, it's negligible gain when assuming control variables within reason. And in some cases, translations from paper to practice end up being even less felt - unless placebo takes effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Matador-IV said:
I've heard the argument that the rotational weight of crank,pedals and shoes can have a negative effect on muscle fatigue as weight increases. It seems logical that the less weight your legs have to sling around the better.

Any thoughts?
That it's a theory without any biological science or testing behind it.

Cyclists aren't getting any faster than they were 30 years ago, despite all the cool light stuff. Light is nice for going up hills - that's about it. People drone on about "snap" and other "feel" stuff, but really, rotational weight is a boogieman. Creationism and Holocaust Denial have stronger arguments (which is to say, extremely weak).
 
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