Currently, I'm running on Claris 3x8 speed drivetrain. I'm planning to either upgrade the groupset or a carbon wheelset.

I dislike the groupset because of it's heavy and loud but usable but I want more gears in the rear.

I'm leaning towards carbon wheelset because it could save major weight and its more aerodynamic.

Any thoughts?

  • 3
    I would personally upgrade the groupset first to at least tiagra or higher but depending on what bike (make/model) you have, what the rest of the components are and what state the bike is in it might be worth considering the option of buying a second hand bike with better overall specs. Nov 26 '19 at 8:24
  • 1
    Lighter wheels won't make any difference to your top speed, you may get to you max speed fractionally quicker but your overall top speed will be the same, to go faster change your gearing.
    – Dan K
    Nov 26 '19 at 9:12
  • 2
    If your groupset is loud, it's because it's dirty and/or badly adjusted. And my understanding is that Claris isn't much heavier than Sora or Tiagra, especially when you consider that the sort of bike that comes fitted with Claris isn't going to be particularly light in the first place: saving a couple of hundred grams is only a couple of percent when your bike probably weighs over 10kg, and that's only a few parts in a thousand of the total weight of bike and rider. Nov 26 '19 at 10:50
  • I don't agree with @DanK exactly. The question was about carbon wheels, which tend to have deeper rims and better aerodynamics than alloy wheels of similar cost. They will make you go faster. But, for most riders, the difference isn't practically important. And as pointed out elsewhere, for rim brakes, carbon wheels require special brake pads and brake more poorly than alloy ones, and they're much more expensive if you damage them. I had a pair of carbon wheels when I was racing, and I sold them.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 26 '19 at 17:14
  • 1
    @ojs with respect, I don't. modern gearing is far more versatile, but that should probably be discussed in chat. the thing is, if the OP wants something more like the modern equivalent of those gearing ranges, he will need to say so explicitly - 'more gears' typically means bigger gear range, esp. lower gears, but his low gear should be quite low.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 26 '19 at 21:29

You should evaluate your objectives. What advantage do you feel a new wheel-set or groupset would provide? If your objective is to ride faster, then I would suggest you invest the time in building your aerobic base and physical strength with interval training and some resistive weight training. If your objective is to look cool then do what you wish but it is unlikely that 1. a stock carbon aero wheelset exists for an 8spd hub 2. it would be cost effective to have a set of wheels built with your existing hubs.

Also, your stopping power will be compromised in wet weather if your bike has rim brakes.

A bike is not like a car where an upgraded component can improve performance. You are the engine and there are minimal gains to be had with components perceived to be better. A pro cyclist or strong amateur can outperform most on a $100 big box store bike.

  • 2
    The question was "Any thoughts?" So what question was avoided? Nov 26 '19 at 7:52
  • 1
    11 speed is wider for Shimano, and most wheelsets ship with spacer for fitting 10spd cassette
    – ojs
    Nov 26 '19 at 8:40
  • 1
    I don't think your car analogy makes much sense. People don't, in general, upgrade parts of their car. Nov 26 '19 at 10:04
  • 5
    @DanK "unfortunately speed is determined by gears not user" That's usually not true at all. Aside from descents, there are very few situations where a cyclist could go faster if only they had higher gears. In the vast majority of cases, the reason a cyclist can't go faster is that they can't develop enough power to overcome air resistance or gravity. Nov 26 '19 at 10:07
  • 1
    @DanK Being physically more fit won't make the OP go any faster on his current gearing, unfortunately speed is determined by gears not user Umm, not at all. Jens Voigt demonstrates. Nov 26 '19 at 10:56

I think it very much depends on the bicycle, your own body and the terrain/usage.

If you ride on flat terrain at a continuous, high speed then aerodynamic wheels will help you the most. Especially if the rest of your bicycle (+riding position) is already optimized. More gears will only help you if they have smaller gear steps so you can pick the perfect gear for the desired speed/cadence.

If you ride on hilly terrain then weight and gears both play a role. Though aerodynamics shouldn’t be underestimated. A wider gear range (especially easier gears) can make you ride longer and more efficiently.

If you are tall and/or heavy then most of the weight and aerodynamic drag will come from your own body and you’ll benefit less from better wheels.

A good set of wheels can easily cost 800€. The whole 2x10 Shimano Tiagra groupset (including crankset) is only ~390€, Shimano 105 or Sram Rival 2x11 is ~480€. If your bicycle is as old and heavy as the Claris groupset suggests then maybe you should consider a whole new (possibly used) bicycle. Though of course you can also start with the wheels and get a new frame+groupset in the future. The only consideration here is whether you’d like to have disc brakes in the future.


The wheels will make a bigger difference to performance. The groupset will work fine if adjusted carefully.

  • 1
    A Claris groupset can't be upgraded piece-by-piece. Claris is 8-speed, whereas all higher-spec Shimano groupsets are 9-, 10- or 11-speed. At the very minimum, you'd have to upgrade the rear derailleur, rear brifter and chain at the same time. I think the 8-speed chainrings are OK with a 10-speed chain but, if not, you'd have to upgrade the front end, too. Nov 26 '19 at 10:39
  • 1
    The Claris groupset is generally on entry level, heavier bikes. Even upgrading with a lighter groupset or carbon wheels will always leave you with a heavy bike. Better save-up and invest into a higher level bike. Putting a race-horse saddle on a donkey will still leave you with a donkey.
    – Carel
    Nov 26 '19 at 13:47
  • @DavidRicherby Good point.
    – user68014
    Nov 26 '19 at 14:47
  • Claris is quite low end though and on some of the older models the shifting is very difficult when your hands are on the drops instead of on the hoods due to the very tiny and hard to reach shift button for shifting down . Nov 26 '19 at 23:01
  • I mostly ride flat courses so gear and weight are not too much of a problem I also don't ever use the third crank in the front. usually sprinting so not sure should I get new groupset or carbon wheels Nov 27 '19 at 4:41

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