If you are a cyclist and want to upgrade your bike gear, take a close look at the following list of 8 expensive improvements that are unnecessary for most cyclists and may compromise your safety.
To be fair, some of them result in marginal gains, while others can make your bike look flashier and more appealing. In the end, you have to ride that bike, and some of these "improvements" may compromise comfort and safety while also wasting a lot of money.
8 Unnecessary Bike Upgrades
Top-tier drivetrain groupsets from brands like Sram, Shimano, and Campagnolo are quite expensive in comparison, despite being just as functional and efficient as those from a lower range.
The only positive aspect of this upgrade is the weight (200-300 g), because aesthetics are completely subjective. It's your choice whether to switch to a top-tier groupset to achieve a certain status or reputation, but don't look down on any cyclist who uses a more affordable groupset like the Shimano 105.
Now, let’s talk about electronic or mechanical groupset? Both options are excellent. The issue is that new mechanical groupsets are becoming increasingly rare. You may not require an electronic groupset, now but it will inevitably become the only option available sooner or later.
Special Note: Electronic groupsets, as well as disc brakes, are a lifesaver for people with any wrist, hand or finger injuries, and stop many cyclists from giving up on the sport.
Pedals and groupsets are comparable in that they both offer the same functionality and performance. The main difference in some pedal families is only weight, and shaving a few grams off your pedals will provide little to no immediate speed increase.
It is difficult to justify the cost of carbon pedals, but it is worthwhile if we want our bike to be as light as possible or upgrading your shoes and cleats. Here is a reference example:
Wahoo Speedplay Nano
Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Comp Pedals
Oversized Pulley Wheel System
Given the cost and the expected power savings (2-3 watts), it is an unnecessary upgrade. There must be a reason why professional cycling teams and athletes rarely use such systems.
Lubrication is very important to the maintenance of your bike. It ensures that you have a great ride and prolongs the life of your drivetrain and keeps your pedals from squeaking.
Some oils on the market tout special anti-wear additives that form a sacrificial layer that won't attract dirt or get chain marks on your socks/legs - lies!
Choosing the right lube depends on the type of riding you plan to do. Dry lubes are ideal for dry conditions, while wet lubes are best for wet conditions. If you are unsure about which lube to use, try one of the all-purpose lubes and save money and time.
Ceramic bearing fans' main trump card is rolling resistance. Friction is reduced in ceramic bearings due to their rounder shape, smoother surface, and more uniform size, which can contribute to less energy required to turn the cranks or spin the wheels.
Over at Road.cc, Hope’s Alan Weatherill explains, “We have looked at ceramic bearings in the past and talked them over with our bearing suppliers. They do run with less friction, which offers a significant advantage in industrial applications running at 20,000 rpm.
A tiny percentage reduction in friction here can equate to a worthwhile power saving, but when you're only turning at 300 rpm, as you do on a bicycle a small percentage increase in efficiency will make a negligible change to your power output. Certainly not worth the significant increase in cost."
Ultralight & Ultra Expensive Bottle Cages
This may be the most unnecessary bike upgrade in this article, especially for the most expensive and exclusive models.
You're only saving a few grams, and depending on the model, not even that, because there are plenty of plastic bottle cages that are lighter than titanium or carbon cages.
Furthermore, they may not be as effective, and your bike bottle may fall out with every minor bump in the road. Amazon and Trek have plenty of different bottle cages and colors to keep your bike all matchy-matchy.
They suck and suck the life out of a ride or race if you have to deal with a flat.
They are lighter, have improved rolling resistance but are pesky. What good does that serve you on the side of the road or not being to get full support from sag beacuse the dont have the right bike tools or sealants?
When it comes to wheels, choosing aero components may not always be necessary. A deeper rim does not imply that you will ride better or faster, as a pair of wheels with excessively deep rims may be aerodynamic, but they can also cause instability and compromise safety on the bike in windy or fast descents.
For most cyclists, the ideal rim depth is between 30 and 40 mm. If you are a heavier cyclist, ride in competitions, and/or have sufficient technical skills, you can choose a rim depth greater than 40. Rim depths greater than 60 are only permitted for individual time trials and triathlon.
Aero wheels aren't everything. There we said it.
Specialized popularized the slogan "Aero is everything," but we have to disagree with this: having aero wheels is not a necessity, as this feature might not be in the best interest for the vast majority of cyclists, especially those with less advanced bike handling skills.
Plus, the marketing benefits of aerodynamics are based on wind tunnel research and only increase with speed. The majority of cyclists are not your professional riders, but in fact ride on county or park roads—not wind tunnels.
Do Not Compromise Comfort Or Safety To Keep It Lightweight
Every cyclist is looking for ways to get faster and to make their bike lighter but the vast majority of ultra lightweight bike components don’t also don’t rank high in durability, and comfort.
Ultra lightweight bike components are not only expensive, but they can also jeopardize your safety and comfort, especially when they are imitated or falsified, when they are not properly installed or used (an incorrect torque setting, insufficient cycling mechanical skills...), or when you exceed the cyclist weight limitations set by most manufacturers.
Comfort and Safety should always be a top priority for cyclists.
Most of the time, we put our whims and desires ahead of our actual needs, so we replace the Ultegra with the Dura-Ace or buy that pair of deep rim wheels we don't actually need.
Now, we can’t deny we have a Dura Ace groupset, a few carbon matching bottle cages and sport a set speed play pedals on one of our bikes - so when we say it merely for ascetics and actually cost more to maintain those high end things - trust us.
Case in point - you need to purchase “shoes/cleat” covers to place on your cycling shoes and they wear quickly with frequent riding.
Finally, our bikes, bike accessories, and Strava stats are the result of our own hard work. If any of the aforementioned upgrades makes you happy and does not jeopardize your safety or comfort, then go for it. This is all about having fun while cycling and riding your bike.