Extreme makeover: bike edition
Your bike has been through hell and back this winter. For the last few months, you’ve been thrashing it about the lanes, through murky puddles and ceaseless downpours, all in the pursuit of those winter base miles. Your trusty steed has served you faithfully, but as the grey days begin to give way to the more civilized climates of spring, it’s about time you treated your bike to a makeover. Here are five easy upgrades that will keep your bike looking good and running smoothly, but which won’t break the bank.
Crucial to your bike’s safety and performance, some new rubber can transform your ride. After the wear and tear of winter riding, it’s important to have fresh tread underneath you, to improve braking efficiency and decrease rolling resistance. Of course, road bike tyres come in a variety of widths; largely a matter of personal preference. However, we think these Vittoria Corsa efforts in a 23mm model are a perfect tyre for this time of season – a clincher tyre that provides unrivalled grip with tubular-like speed, all for a reasonable £39.99. But if that’s not enough to sway you, they come in an array of different colours, meaning the style-savvy cyclist can coordinate to their heart’s content.
It’s long been known that a new wrap of handlebar tape can freshen up the look of even the most winter-weary bikes. Far from just an aesthetic upgrade, the feel of new tape through the hands is among the most pleasurable sensations one can experience on two wheels, especially if you’re looking to emulate the Flandrian strongmen this classics season and ride gloveless. The aptly-named Roubaix tape from Specialized provides comfort and durability fit for the cobbles, and it’s currently a steal at over 40% off. Colour coordination is again encouraged, but if you can’t settle on one, revert to the old adage: if in doubt, go black.
While less glamorous an upgrade than fresh tyres or tape, installing a new set of brake or gear cables will make a noticeable difference to your bike’s performance. Braking and shifting problems are just one of those pesky things that can ruin a ride, so it’s vital to keep them in good working order through a re-install of cables every now and again. Shimano have been in the components business for decades, and their top-of-the-range Dura Ace line is trusted by amateurs and pros alike, thanks to their unmatched reliability.
With the drivetrain being key to your overall ride, fitting a new chain is a sure-fire way to keep your bike operating to the best of its ability. Not only will a fresh, clean chain save you vital watts, but a dirty chain actually has the potential to damage your other components, and potentially cost you a pretty penny in replacement parts. Ensure you choose the right chain for your gears – chains are different widths for 10-speed and 11-speed cassettes.
Of course, all these upgrades are as good as redundant unless you keep them clean. Not only does a muddy bike look shoddy, but dirt in the wrong places can eat away at even the finest components, causing long-term damage. It just isn’t worth the risk, and with Muc-Off’s 8 in 1 cleaning kit, you might even find you enjoy the satisfying process of making your pride and joy sparkle. With brushes specially designed for those difficult nooks and crannies, like in between rear derailleur and chainstay, and a large bottle of the biodegradable bike cleaner that is the go-to for many pro mechanics, there’s nothing better to ensure you get your money’s worth out of your new upgrades.
With any or all of these simple upgrades to your road bike, you should be more than ready to ride into the business end of your cycling season atop a bike that looks and feels like a brand new machine.