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Hi everyone,
I'm new here and I'm looking for some advice about upgrading my current ride. A little about me: I'm 6'4" and weigh around 275#. I've been riding for about 6 months. I have a 2012 Giant Defy 5, and I ride about 20 miles a week when the weather is good. I'd like to ride more, but I'm not able to ride every day. I like my bike, but my complaints are as follows:
the shifts are crappy
the front wheel seems ccreaky the rear cassette also seems creaky and loud, and doesn't shift well
im not in love with the STI shifters.

So I'd like to do some upgrades on my bike, but I'm not sure where to begin. I'm thinking of an initial $500 budget for parts, most of the work I can do myself. What ideas do you all have?
Thanks a bunch.
 

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Cranky Old Bastard
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You need to be a little more specific as to what you don't like about the bike; what areas do you really want to upgrade?
I'm sure you realize that your size limits what you should do. Many of the "upgrades" are lighter and possibly not as strong as what you have now. Wheels, for example.

And it is easy to spend more on upgrades than the bike may be worth. Sometimes it is better just to buy a new bike with better components.

But I can relate to your shifting problems. My bike has 2303 components and I'm changing them out.
Your shifters, cassette, and chain have to match but your derailleurs will work with upgrades.

The next step up is Sora 9-speed. They don't have the "buttons" that many don't like. New shifters, C&C should be around $200+ and make sure you get 2012+ because the older set is like your 2300.
Tiagra 10-speed is next and what most would probably recommend. About $280 to upgrade and again, get the latest 10-speed and not the older 9.
You could obviously keep going up the ladder but probably wouldn't notice any big improvement in performance.

Most people upgrade their saddle but you don't ride much so your current may be good enough.

I'd consider some rugged 28mm Gatorskins or something in that class of tire.

Otherwise I'd just replace parts as they wear out.
 

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"the shifts are crappy
the front wheel seems ccreaky the rear cassette also seems creaky and loud, and doesn't shift well"

These issues are not inherent in lower end groupsets. DA/Record/Red can also shift crappy and there are several things that can cause high end wheels to creak.
You need a adjustment/fix not a replacement to remedy this.

I don't know anything about the wheels that came with your bike but if I were you I'd make my first order of business insuring the wheels can handle 275 pounds and spend money there if necessary. I also don't know what tires came with your bike but you could probably benefit from bigger ones.
 

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That's one of the pitfalls of buying a lower end bike ... the frame may be OK but they have to cut the price somewhere and that's usually in components.

The biggest problem is likely the wheels. At that price, the rims are usually OK, but the spokes are crap. Any bike I've ridden at that level I've broke spokes left and right ... rebuilding the wheels with quality DT 14/15 spokes usually solves the problem.

With the wheels ... you have two choices: 1) buy a new set or 2) have your current wheels rebuilt with good spokes. A good set of wheels will likely solve most of your problems. It should take care of the creak in the front and possibly the shifting in the rear with stiffer/better hubs. Something like a 32 spoke front/rear, Mavic Open Pro rims, 14/15 DB spokes from a quality manufacturer and Shimano Ultegra wheels. It should run in the mid $200 range.

Beyond that, it's just a matter of tuning in your components and learning how to do this on a regular basis. Using the barrel adjusters to make slight changes to the derailleurs will help with shifting ... lower end groups can fall out of adjustment fairly quickly, but if maintained should still provide good shifting.

Since it looks like you have an 8-speed set up, bumping up to better shifters won't do a lot of good unless you also get a new rear cassette and derailleur ... which means you might as well upgrade the entire group, or buy a better bike. So stick with what you have until it dies or you desire a new bike and sell this one.

Also make sure your rear derailleur hanger is straight ... if it's not, it can cause bad shifting and a lot of noise from the drivetrain.
 

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If you decide to get a new wheel set at 275 plus bike weight and gear you're hovering at almost 300 pounds, 32 spoke wheels will not last long, you need 36 and that would be marginal, 40 spoke wheel at least in the back would be idea with 36 in the front. I would run Velocity Dyad 40 on the rear and 36 front. Velocity makes a 40 and a 36 hole hub as does White Industries (WI) and Phil Wood but those Wood hubs are expensive, the WI hubs are middle of the road cost between the Velocity and the Wood but the WI are fantastic hubs. Then lace up with DT Competition double butted spokes and brass nipples, using a 4 cross lace pattern front and rear. A set like that would cost around $670 total and that's using WI hubs.

Your should not even consider trying to save weight on a wheel set, you need a strong wheel, and strong wheels will not be light. The set I mentioned is not all that bad weight wise, their around 1900 grams for the wheel set, which isn't bad at all, but more importantly they will be very strong with very little truing and long reliability.

Anyway that's just my opinion.
 

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I don't know what components come on a Giant Defy 5 from a previous model year and I'm way too lazy to look them up but I'd save your shekels and get some tools & learn how to maintain your bike. As Jay Strongbow mentioned, even high end gear can shift crappy if you don't set it up correctly.

Other than that, ride more. Spend your money on entry fees for a ride you want to do. :)
 
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