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I have a Giant Escape 1 (2016) which I use for commuting to work and back. It is fitted with Altus level kit.

I was considering taking my bike on holiday with me to get in some longer rides, perhaps some parts of the Trans Pennine Trail. Nothing too excessive, perhaps 50 to 60 miles a day, which I know is nothing to many riders, but to me it's a step up from my 8 mile commute. The trail is mostly off-road, dirt track, but nothing too rough.

Would it be worth my while in the long run considering upgrading my components to say Deore level? And if so, in which order for "most bang for my buck"? My current setup has Tektro brakes, so I'm thinking that might be a good place to start?

Any thoughts most welcome

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Going from an 8-mile commute to 50-60 miles off-road seems like a huge step up. – David Richerby Jul 28 at 16:25
Don't start with components at all. It is not cost effective to upgrade components. It is a new lower end bike - don't discard working components. – Frisbee Jul 28 at 16:42

5 Answers 5

up vote 1 down vote accepted

From the best bang for the buck to the worst.

  • Clipless pedals. Something simple like Shimano SPD. You can even have a dual mode pedal like Shimano A-530.
  • Good quality lighter or stronger tires (depending on what kind of road you intend to ride). It changes the bike.
  • Higher quality wheels. Again, lighter rims for acceleration/climbing and heavier for flat terrain with no stop where you can benefit from the inertia.
  • Comfortable saddle if the current one is painful.
  • Bike fit in a bike shop
  • Upgrading brakes and shifting system does not provide any performance apart from the weight and if you have trouble shifting the speeds or braking, which can be fixed by having your bike tuned up in a shop.

But given the bike is about 650$, I would limit any too costly non-transferable upgrades to another bike.

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I hadn't considered clipless pedals as I'm very much a casual rider (certainly no racing!). Thanks for the other points though - wheels and tires seems a logical place to start – Gordon Copestake Jul 28 at 13:20
Clipless pedals can improve your pedaling efficiency on any bike. 50 miles is quite a long ride. – Vincent Jul 28 at 13:25
I would even put wheels in the category of non-transferable upgrades. He may want to upgrade to a disc bike next and standards for axles change. – Frisbee Jul 28 at 16:47

If your goal is comfort over speed, I would emphasize in three upgrades which don't break your bank:

  1. Find a comfortable saddle. Go to your LBS and ask their opinions. A lot of people suggest leather saddles, like Brooks or Selle Anatomica. A good saddle is expensive, but it is a worth upgrade and you will be surprised how big the difference is between a cheap saddle and a good one. If you are on a tight budget, a padded short is a cheaper option.

  2. Do you use a bike rack and panniers? for a long ride especially on hot weather, a set of pannier is better than a backpack.

  3. I think your current tires are already pretty good but it might be worth a try to have wider and fatter tires for more comfortable rides. I assume your current tires are 32mm wide, so upgrade to 35mm tires.

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I think I'm certainly looking for comfort over speed - I'm in no hurry. Thanks for your comments, I had looked at saddles and a rack - I current use a backpack but it's a sweat magnet – Gordon Copestake Jul 28 at 13:40
For sure on bigger tires they will help, and there are very few down sides. – dlu Jul 28 at 13:42

There is a lot of good advice in Vincent's answer. I'd reprioritize a bit:

  1. Make sure the bike is fitting you well – on the weekend ride maybe 16 or 20 miles in one go. See how you feel, especially note where you notice the extra distance. The consult with your LBS about how to improve your comfort on the bike – this will pay off on all of your rides.

  2. If you experiments with fit point towards the saddle, get a more comfortable one – as soon as possible – a good saddle is a revelation and many bike shops (in the US at least) will allow you to return a saddle that isn't comfortable. Give yourself some time with this one before your holiday if you can. Don't buy a new saddle until you are sure that fit is right. If you do get a new saddle, keep the old one in case you decide to sell your bike. Good saddles aren't cheap, but you can "take them with you."

  3. I'd seek the advice of others who've ridden that particular route to find out if different tires are in order. If you're on dirt, it might make sense to get some tires with a bit more tread to them.

  4. Pedals are also worth considering, but you'll get a debate going – there are reasonable people on both sides of the fence. But if you go with clipless pedals that also means shoes.

I think at that point, I'd stop. Wheels and tires are not bad ideas, but I think you'd be better off knowing more about your riding preferences before making that big an investment (beyond making sure that your tires are appropriate for the ride).

One other thing I'd suggest is to take a look at Grant Peterson's book Just Ride – he thinks very clearly about what makes a good bike for the non-racer and how to ride for the sheer joy of it.

You don't describe how you'll be traveling on this holiday (e.g., staying someplace and doing day rides, or making a cross country tour of it), but if you're traveling any distance with gear I'd put a good rack and panniers at the very top of the list.

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I agree, upgrading the wheels needs a lot of $$$, I suggest not to do that unless you exactly know what you need and what you want. – azer89 Jul 28 at 13:36
Thanks for your comments dlu. I have done a few 20 mile rides and didn't feel too bad after. I have looked at saddles, as you say, they can be expensive though. I'm pretty sure I'm not going clipless, but different platforms might be an option. The stock plastic ones are not brilliant and have little grip in the wet – Gordon Copestake Jul 28 at 13:41

The top four changes you could make that will impact comfort are:

  1. Tires
  2. Clipless pedals/shoes
  3. Handlebars
  4. Saddle

Tires will change the ride more than anything else, including changing the actual frame of the bike. The stock tires on your bike are very durable but also very stiff and harsh riding. They feature thick casings and steel beads to hold the tire on the wheel. Nicer tires have more supple casings and lighter Kevlar beads (often referred to as "folding tires" because the tire can be folded flat, unlike ones with steel beads). High end tires such as Grand Bois, Schwalbe, Panaracer, Pacenti or Compass have very supple casings which turn results in a much smoother ride. Your bike can take just about any 700c tire. I'd strongly suggest something in the 30-38mm wide range. This will give you plenty of cushion but still be light enough that you won't feel like you're riding a tractor. Expect to spend $70-120 for a set of nice tires. The Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard in 35mm width is readily available and can be had for ~$40/each and is a nice mix of durability, lightweight, price and comfort.

Clipless pedals and shoes are going to be more comfortable and safer. Cycling shoes are like any other pair of shoes: what works for one person may not work for another. Try on several pairs. Like good running shoes, they should be snug but not tight. One tip (and this applies to all shoes): don't try them on in the morning. Your feet swell as the day goes by, always best to try shoes on at the end of the day. As for pedals there are numerous clipless pedal systems. Some people swear by one brand over others. I've ridden several brands and worked on pretty much all of them. They're all largely variations on the same theme, I wouldn't worry too much about one brand over another.

Saddles are also highly personal and costs can be as little as $20 or as high as $300+. I've worked with World Champion professional racers who are perfectly fine with riding cheap $20 saddles and I also know casual cyclists who absolutely swear by their expensive Brooks/Berthoud/Selle Italia/etc. Price really is no indicator of comfort. Replacing saddles is a pretty simple process and a good shop will take the time to let you test ride several different models. Do ask what their return policy is on saddles. A saddle which might feel fine on a short ride could become unbearable after a couple of hours.

Handlebars are a tougher one to fix. Most road bikes have drop handlebars which offer more hand positions and are more ergonomic. However, you really can't easily swap out handlebars as this requires new shifters and brake levers and that gets quite expensive. A simpler, less expensive solution are bar ends (example: These bolt to the end of the handlebar and help put your wrists in a more ergonomic position and provide you with an additional position to put your hands. You could also swap out the straight bars for a set with more hand positions and more swept back hand positions. You can see several examples at: You will probably want to work with a shop on this as you may also need a different length stem.

Beyond this you start getting into things like replacing wheels which will cost a lot of money and result in very minimal returns. Ditto for brakes and shifters.

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Thanks for your comments Chris. I think tires seems to be a recurring theme in the answers i've had. I've decided to not go clipless. I had looked at bar end grips as I do find I get some hand pain/numbness after a long ride, but nothing major. I have gloves which help. Saddle is a long term thing I think and needs more investigation – Gordon Copestake Jul 28 at 19:30

The jump from an 8 mile ride to 50 miles is quite a bit. I think rather than spending money on the bike, you first need to spend money on clothing and accessories.

Padded bicycle shorts will make you more comfortable on these longer rides, as will cycling gloves, and a cycling jersey. Additionally, the jersey has pockets to carry food, phone, and small tools. Also, wicking socks to keep your feet dry during the ride.

Cycling specific shoes, and possibly clipless pedals will increase your efficiency, speed, and comfort on a long ride. Cycling shoes have a stiff sole, so your feet don't get hot spots from the pedals.

Spending money on components, while tempting, will not provide measurable benefits, unless you are racing for prize money...

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Thanks for your comments GLNN. I do have good shorts and jerseys and have decided to not go clipless. – Gordon Copestake Jul 28 at 19:28

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