The above headline does not mean to interfere with your business for the new gravel bike you bought, but if you have the budget, please do it for the convenience of your cycling!
It may be necessary to upgrade components on a new bike. It is difficult to find a bicycle that is truly ideal, both in terms of performance, comfort, price and components. Most new bikes come with standard and general accessories, which are considered suitable for more people.
While the main components usually follow the price and genre of the bike, and this specification is most often the main decision when choosing a bicycle. So it feels a bit strange if you just bought a bicycle, you have changed the frame, upgraded the groupset, and other main components. Although it’s a personal choice, but there may be something wrong when choosing a bike.
In contrast to the supporting components, some of which are not even included in the bicycle specification information, some only use makeshift components, and without a brand. Not all of the components below need to be replaced, but they will most likely need to be adjusted as they are more generic.
One more thing that is important to note on a new bike is that the new bike is not set up perfectly, which means that these components must be adjusted and adjusted for optimum performance. That’s why most brands require dealers to have a workshop/mechanic so that they can make initial adjustments according to user needs.
Especially those who buy bicycles online, not just assembling and installing handlebars and pedals, factory-assembled bicycles need to be adjusted so that they are positioned comfortably and effectively as needed.
Change the type and size of bicycle tires
Tires are bicycle shoes, the part that is in direct contact with the road surface. Changing the tire pressure is the cheapest and easiest way to change the character of a bike. And changing the tires used on the bike will also have a significant effect. Quality tires use higher quality rubber, so they can provide lower rolling resistance, and power efficiency.
Most new bikes are mostly fitted with tires that are for all-area, or maybe just plain. Whereas the selection of the right tires, according to the right area will make an increase in performance and comfort. In addition to being able to upgrade with tires that are of higher quality than the default tires, we can choose the width of the tires according to the cycling area we want.
Many people who prefer to use mountain bikes for use on asphalt roads finally try to buy a gravel bike. MTB tires are usually 2.2” wide and above, changing to a thinner (around 1.5”) or 42 mm (700c) size will make cycling on asphalt roads easier and faster. Or vice versa, racing bicycle tires or folding bicycles that are used on relatively bumpy/gravel roads, it can be seen the possibility of using wider tires so that they are more efficient and comfortable.
This includes the selection of the tread and the type of rubber (wet/wet or dry/dry) according to the road we are going to take.
Convert to tubeless tires
Most modern tires already use the tubeless ready or tubeless easy (TLE) feature. Tubeless tires can also be used as inner tubes. Non-tubeless rims/rims are indeed cheaper, and the process is simpler and faster, perhaps this is what makes this option the one we see most often on new bikes.
No need to upgrade to tubeless rims, now there are a lot of kits/tools to convert inner tube rims to tubeless. And we can find a lot of these conversion tutorials with materials that are quite cheap (cloth duct tape) and easy to get.
The process may be a little more complicated, because it requires liquid sealant, rim tape, and maybe a compressor or tire booster. It can be taken to a workshop that has more complete equipment, for less than 50 thousand we can get tubeless tires. With the advantage of more puncture-resistant tires, while also reducing rolling resistance.
Bike saddle upgrade
Saddles or bicycle seats are personal, depending on the desired level of comfort or body posture. So the default saddle may not always match what we want. Even if it’s a new saddle or someone who has just cycled, sitting in the saddle for a long time will feel painful, numb, etc., because they are not used to it.
There’s no need to rush to upgrade the saddle, unless we already know the most ideal saddle shape according to our preferences. A narrow and hard saddle can facilitate leg movement to help the bike speed, but is less comfortable. A saddle that is too soft and wide, comfortable to sit on, but not very energy efficient, and may be easier to suffer from groin abrasions.
A good saddle will facilitate blood circulation, and what is important is the ideal position to maximize leg muscle strength. The ideal saddle height will prevent the legs from bending when we ride the bike.
Replacing standard pedals
There are several models and brands of bicycles, especially expensive bicycles, the new bicycles do not have pedals. Because many people immediately replace / upgrade the pedals on their new bikes. Especially those who wear cleats (bike shoes), because there are too many types of cleat interfaces (flat vs clipless), it is possible that the default pedal will be replaced.
Even if you don’t use cleats, the default pedals (plastic, PVC, nylon) cost under 100 thousand, sometimes the important thing is that they are there and can be moved. The pedals are easy to slip, and the roughness of the rotation is often found on this free pedal. Especially for those who want better pedal performance; nylon pedals, alloy, with 1-5 bearings, more bite-sized treads/cogs, folding pedals for folding bikes, can easily improve performance. And in appearance, using non-standard pedals will make the bike look different from similar bikes.
The price of pedals varies from hundreds of thousands to millions of rupiah, showing the diversity of pedals according to their suitability and quality.
Hand grip / Bar tape
In addition to the saddle and pedals, the handlebar or handlebar hand grip is the part where there is direct contact between the body and the bicycle. So we need to make sure the contact area of the body with the bike can be comfortable, and everyone can have different tastes. Some like rubber, foam (foam), leather, cloth, and so on. Coupled with the choice of contour grip / bar tape that is plain, rough or even shaped.
There are lots of choices, grades, motifs, materials for bar tape and hand grips to choose from. The price of hand grips and bar tape is also relatively cheap, it can make us more comfortable and the bike cooler.
Brake and Shifter Cable
Cable and casing prices can be from thousands to hundreds of thousands per meter. Most of the wires are black, invisible wires, inside the frame (internal cable routing), and not in the bike’s specs, so it’s hard to tell them apart. And the price of the bike can be reduced by installing cheap cables.
Not many pay attention to the cable used on the shifter / RD or bicycle brake cable (mechanical or hydraulic). What distinguishes cheap and expensive cables is the quality of the casing, more flexibility, elasticity, more resistance to scratches, weather, and impact, and sometimes the color. Its performance is largely determined by the inner cable, bowden/rope/wire.
Bike cable upgrades are a great option for making shifting and brakes better, especially on cheap bikes. Quality cable straps will reduce friction, are responsive, harder to break, harder to stretch, good lube/grease, harder to rust, compressionless, coated, and guarantee a stable brake or shifter pull performance for long-term use.
Stem for changing body position & bike geometry
Often our posture and height are between two sizes, it can be S or M, or it can be M or L, etc. The proportion of body posture that is different from the average person, or the type of bicycle used is different from its designation, for example racing bicycles are converted/used for gravel, mountain bikes are used on asphalt, etc. And it’s really hard to get a really ideal bike frame and structure geometry. In addition to positioning the saddle (high/low-forward/backward), another easy, inexpensive, and effective way is to replace the stem. Replacing / resizing the frame and handlebars may be more expensive and troublesome.
Bicycle stems have a variety of lengths and shorts, including angles for the height of the handlebars. By changing the shape and size of the stem, the position of the hands including the body position will be different when cycling. Changing the stem will help to adjust a few cm, to better get the ideal cycling position, be it for comfort or performance.
If you want more aero/faster, we can upgrade a longer stem so that the body is more bent. If you want to be more relaxed, we can use a shorter stem or change the angle of the stem more upwards, so that the body position can be more upright.
And the size of the frame / handlebar and others must also be close to what we want. If the frame size doesn’t match the criteria/posture, changing the stem won’t help much either.
Upgrade the bike only when needed, if we don’t know the character of the bike, first enjoy the new bike as it is. If you feel your bike is underperforming, the ability to increase and upgrade your knee and leg muscles will happen automatically as you cycle more regularly.