5 Practical Upgrades For Your New Bike

When you think of upgrades, most of us think of expensive stuff like wheels and shifting components. While these are excellent upgrades, sometimes they aren’t the most crucial.

Here are 5 easy upgrades to make your bike more comfortable and improve it’s performance.

1. Saddle

Saddles are the most personal part of the bike. Every rider is built differently, and everyone has a different saddle shape that will fit them best. If you’re experiencing any discomfort with your bike’s stock saddle, try shopping around for one with a different shape. Before shopping, think about where it hurts and where you feel discomfort. You may need one with a center channel cut out, or a narrower or wider width.

Pro Tip: When you find the right saddle, you may also want to buy a second one to have on hand. We’re not trying to improve sales here, either—this is actual cyclist to cyclist advice. In a few years if you damage or wear out your saddle, you may find that your favorite model has discontinued or redesigned, and you’ll be out of luck if you need to replace it. Trust us, we just went through this and are still emotionally recovering.

To learn how to install your saddle, click here.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

2. Stem

Most bikes come with either a 100mm or 110mm stem. For a lot of guys that might be a little too short, and for most women it might be a little too long. You might also want more rise or drop to your handlebars. Since stems come in a variety of rise angles and lengths, you can get the position that’s right for you. Plus, most stock stems are fairly heavy, so an upgrade will shed a few grams.

To learn how to install your stem, click here.

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

3. Tires

Bike tires are one of those hidden wonder upgrades. Because the tire is the interface between the bike and the ground, it’s worth it to spend some extra money for a good set. You may think that most tires are black, round, and maybe made of rubber, but there’s a whole lot more that goes into them. Upgrading your tires with a good folding bead, high TPI count tire with puncture protection can make your bike feel totally new.

To learn how to install new tires, click here.

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

4. Bar Tape / Grips

Nothing does more to freshen up a road or cyclocross bike, visually and feel-wise, than some fresh bar tape. Overtime foam bar tape compresses and loses its ability to cushion your hands and dampen vibration. Changing out your tape can help restore some comfort to your bike and help add a personal touch, thanks to the many colors available.

And the same goes for mountain/comfort bikes. The stock grips are meant to be functional, but might not be comfortable for everyone. A good pair of ergonomic grips can help improve your bike’s comfort and performance by correcting your hand position and alleviating pressure points.

To learn how to wrap your bars, click here.

Take a tip from the pro's, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

Take a tip from the pro’s, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

5. Pedals

Those plastic pedals that came with your bike? Yeah, those weren’t supplied as “forever” pedals, the manufacturer actually intended for them to be replaced. Even if you don’t ride clipless (in which case you’ve already changed out your pedals), you should still consider upgrading your pedals. Flat pedals with a wider base, steel or alloy body, and serviceable bearings will provide a more stable and rigid platform for your foot, helping to eliminate cramps and hot spots, and will be easier to service if they seize up or begin binding.

A good pair of platform pedals, like these pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

A good pair of platform pedals, like the ones pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

6 Tips For Getting Your Bike Ready for Winter

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Winter riding serves up its own special blend of challenges, but by following these easy tips, you’ll be ready for the worst of what the season can throw at you.

  1. Change Your Tires: Unless you live in a warm, dry climate, you’ll probably want to leave the 700×23 tires at home. In the winter, opt for a 700×28 tire (or as wide a tire as your frame will allow) with a minimal tread. Resist the urge to go with knobby tires. Snow will just pack between the treads and make the tire more slippery.
  2. Lower The Tire Pressure: If it’s below freezing outside, lower your tire pressure. Lowering the tire pressure will increase your tire’s contact patch, which means more traction on potentially slippery roads.
  3. Leave The Race Wheels At Home: Full carbon fiber wheels, while delivering amazing performance and looking totally awesome, aren’t the best for winter riding. They don’t have the greatest braking performance in wet or icy conditions, plus, all the road grime and salt may stick in the pads and destroy the carbon brake track. Use a set of wheels with an alloy brake track for better and safer braking performance this winter.
  4. Light It Up: We can’t emphasis this enough. It’s winter, which means it’s getting dark earlier. Even if you think you’ll be home before dark, always bring a set of lights with you—even if it’s just a set of blinky lights you throw in a jersey pocket. Click here to find the light that’s right for you.
  5. Mud Guards or Fenders: Don’t be that guy. Use mud guards or fenders during the winter to both protect your bike parts, and shield the guys behind you from the worst of your road spray.
  6. Clean It Up: The second you walk in the door after your ride, do not pass go, do not go shower. Keep that kit on and go straight to the garage or the bike shed and clean your bike off. The longer you let the salt and road grime sit on there, the more damage it can do—and that kind of damage is expensive. Wipe down the frame and fork, wheels, hubs, and components—and don’t forget the hard to get to places like around the bottom bracket and around the brake bridge. After you’re done cleaning, dry and lubricate your chain and brake pivots. Click here to find the cleaning supplies and chain lubricants that make the job easier.

Now, stay safe and go ride your bike.

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