Best Road Bike Upgrades of 2020 – Complete Guide

One of the fun things about a road bike is its ability to customize it not just in appearance but also in function. Each and every component of the bike can be changed in a variety of ways to yield a different performance result. 

If your bike has performance issues but is the perfect frame for your body, instead of finding another bike, upgrading parts would be the ideal choice. However, upgrading is not as easy as it seems. There are a ton of options available in the market, and it’s highly likelesy that you will feel overwhelmed.

So, if you don’t want to fork out on a new bike, consider the following enhancements for your present steed. These offer superior performance and excellent durability.

Our Top Picks for Road Bike Upgrades

  • Wireless group set
  • Compatible with eTap
  • Secure drive train
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  • Nickel plated steel cogs
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Optimal performance
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  • Best for the Money
  • Displays variety of stats
  • Speed sensor included
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Comparison of the Best Road Bike Upgrades

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • High performance wireless group set
  • Compatible with existing eTap battery placement
  • Uses a quiet and secure drive train feature
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  • Cogs are made from Nickel plated steel
  • Lightweight and durable design
  • Provides optimal performance and durability
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  • Best for the Money
  • Display a variety of stats
  • Comes with a wired speed sensor included
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  • Best Road Bike Wheel Upgrade
  • V-shape rim with basalt braking surface
  • Has a carbon fiber matte finish
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Types of Road Bike Upgrades

If you’re planning on running some upgrades on your bike, whether it’s for comfort or performance, consider the following enhancements for optimal functioning. 

Wheels

When it comes to overall performance and efficiency, wheels are the second most important component of a road bike after the frame itself. While this may be a pricey upgrade, you’re in for a real treat if you plan to install this upgrade on your vehicle. 

Wheels will immensely enhance the performance by boosting the aerodynamics, and the upgraded version will surely be lighter than the original design.

Brakes

As a part of the most basic and also the most overlooked upgrades, there are brakes that can prove to be an amazing performance enhancer, especially for those with entry-level bikes. They’re cost-effective and will definitely create a difference in regards to improved power, modulation, as well as performance in the wet weathers that may come. 

Upgrading your brakes will give you an increased sense of confidence while pushing into corners, riding through the wet climate, or just about anything else!

Tires

Not only are high-quality tires a key factor in cutting rotational weight and rolling resistance, but they’re also one of the cheapest and easiest upgrades to install. A set of tires that offers high quality and optimal performance is one that has a wider rubber for added comfort, boost, and lower rolling resistance. They will also enhance your cornering grip.

Chainrings

Gears make up for a very important factor while you’re trying to fit your bike to the roads you’re riding on. Especially if you’re someone who’s more into riding on steeper roads, you’ll definitely need additional lower gears to combat increased resistance while climbing up. It’s recommended to look at the different variations to decide on what best fits your needs and requirements.

Why Did These Upgrades Make Our List? 

Now that you’ve gained some insights on some of the main types of upgrades, let’s discuss why these are imperative for a top-notch performance.

Carbon/Wider and Deeper Aero-Rim Wheels

Carbon wheels have made old aluminum wheels obsolete and hence are an excellent upgrade and are perfect for aerodynamics. They’re lightweight, stiffer, responsive, and robust, which is why they have been adopted a great deal as we advance through cycling technology. Moreover, wider rims create more stability and offer a smooth-riding experience.

Hydraulic Brakes

Hydraulic brakes are an impeccable choice in terms of offering superior modulation and tons of power. In addition to this, they offer minimal friction and longevity with little to no maintenance. They’re an obvious component to choose over cable-actuated brakes and will surely deliver a greater stopping performance.

Tubeless and Wide Tires With More Grip

We recommend getting a wider set of tires around 25-28mm, having a higher TPI, and ones that are grippier. Tubeless tires are an ideal choice since they efficiently run on low tire pressure, provide lesser rolling resistance, and result in fewer incidents of flat tires. 

Chainrings With Bigger Rings and More Teeth

To create a perfect fit between your bike and the road, you need to consider the conditions of the road to install a chainring accordingly. Terrains that are flatter and faster will require a chainring that is equipped with bigger rings and more teeth. 

Quick Take - Best Road Bike Upgrades

Skip the review - here's a snapshot of the best road bike upgrades:

  1. SRAM Red eTap Electronic Groupset
  2. Shimano Ultegra R8000 Cassette
  3. CAT EYE - Velo 7 Bike Computer

Review of the Best Road Bike Upgrades

When it comes to understanding options, it’s important to get an in-depth insight on all there is to know about each and every upgrade. Read through our detailed review to carefully formulate a decision.

SRAM Red eTap AXS 2X Flat Mount HRD Electronic Groupset: Brake/Shift Levers, Front and Rear Disc Calipers, Front and Rear Derailleurs

pros

  • Excellent and precision shifting while shifting gears even under load
  • Simple setup and configuration with the instant pairing between parts
  • Long battery life of 1000km with individual batteries for derailleurs and shifters
  • Impossible to hack transmission between shifter and derailleur hence safe and highly secure
  • A lightweight system with a weight of 1906g, making it the lightest electronic groupset in the market

cons

  • Shifts can be tricky in winter gloves
  • Rear derailleur shifts could be quicker 

What Recent Buyers Report

Customers have absolutely loved the SRAM RED eTap Electronic Groupset. The upgrade was easy to set up and resulted in flawless and crisp shifts. They also noticed that the front derailleurs were exceptionally fast. 

Consumers also appreciated their aesthetic look and ease of use. The drivetrain of the SRAM RED eTap is the quietest, and the shifts are seamless even during a hill climb.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The SRAM RED electronic Group set is the best overall upgrade for your bike. It’s the first generation of wireless shifters, which ensures maintenance-free and cleaner bikes frames. The system is easy to set up as the shifter and derailleurs pair instantaneously and easily fit on the bike's frame. 

The ride experience is outstanding due to precision shifting and seamless driving. Moreover, with individual removable rechargeable batteries for derailleurs, longer battery life can be achieved, and the system can work independently. It has a competitive price and is relatively inexpensive and lighter than its competitors.    

Bottom Line

As a highly significant part of your two-wheeler, a groupset should offer the highest of qualities, so there’s no compromise on the overall functionality, which is why this product is a perfect choice. We’re highly certain this will prove to be an impeccable upgrade that you will surely love.

Shimano Ultegra R8000 Cassette

pros

  • Made of nickel-plated steel
  • Compatible with HG-EV, HG-X11 chains
  • Offers quite a few sizes ranges with a standard 11 sprocket
  • Highly durable, and can easily withstand all weathers and terrain conditions
  • High-performance gear combination provides superior shifts, especially for inclining and declining terrain

cons

  • Chain may run noisily when in small gears
  • May wear out quickly if not greased regularly

What Recent Buyers Report

Customers had positive feedback regarding the Shimano Ultegra. A performance increase was noted while climbing and on flat. Particularly hill climbs were now quite easy and effortless since Shimano increased the RPM. Buyers also mentioned that the crank was lighter, and shifting was smoother even on inclines. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Shimano Ultegra R8000 cassette is made from nickel steel, which makes it lightweight, sturdy, durable, and rust-resistant, regardless of the driving conditions. Its eleven sprockets provide a good spread of top and bottom end ratio for use on both incline and decline. 

The sprockets can take a lot of beating as, for the chainrings, Shimano has created various ramps and tooth shapes to achieve seamless shifting. This, along with their high quality, makes shifts precise and eliminates any shift dropping. 

This cassette is highly recommended for mountain bikers and those in need of high torque.

Bottom Line

The Shimano Ultegra is a fine choice for every advantage a cassette can ever offer. Ideal for mountain bikers, it’s bound to make your overall riding adventure a one you’re sure to remember.

CATEYE - Velo 7 Wired Bike Computer CC-VL520

pros

  • Long-lasting battery that lasts for three years
  • Accurate and precise readings of mileage and speed
  • Easy install and setup, and only uses one button to operate 
  • Perfect for beginners since it’s an entry-level bicycle computer
  • Detailed display of all relevant stats that include speed, power, trip distance, and clock

cons

  • Doesn’t calculate heart rate or calorie burn
  • Can dislodge from mounting by minor bumps 

What Recent Buyers Report

Cat Eye Velo 7 was well-reviewed by customers. They were happy since it took very little time to install and configure, and the instructions were crystal clear. 

The one-button feature was a blessing since it simplified user and computer interaction. The large display screen was also an added advantage, which made all the stats easier to view.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We like the Cat Eye Velo 7 since it is a basic cycling computer that provides relevant stats such as speed, distance, time, and average speed. It’s relatively inexpensive and a beginner-level computer that accurately displays ride information, which is why it is one of our favorites!

The screen on this device is easy to read while its single button makes it easy to interact with. Velo 7 is water-resistant and has a long-lasting battery, which can easily work for three years. Lastly, it is quite intelligent since it turns on itself when a movement is detected and stops when the bike is stationary.

Bottom Line

A high-quality road bike is not just one with all the necessary upgrades, it’s one that also has a well-trained owner since the cycle and the cyclist go hand in hand. This device may not be as much of a game-changer for your bike, but it surely is an excellent choice for you as a rider. 

It will definitely aid you in your riding endeavors, so you can take full advantage of this particular activity.

Best Road Bike Wheel Upgrade:
Superteam Carbon Wheels Clincher Wheelset

Superteam Carbon Fiber Road Bike Wheels 700C Clincher Wheelset 50mm Matte 23 Width (Glossy Black)

pros

  • Qualifies SGS and EN quality standard test
  • Carbon fiber 3K weave Matte Finish looks attractive
  • Lighter and stronger than standard aluminum wheels
  • Carbon fiber wheels are durable, flexible, and responsive
  • Highly competitive in terms of price as compared to other carbon fiber wheels

cons

  • Cracks might appear in the wheel while using   
  • Bearing may start to make high pitched noise when using in the rain 

What Recent Buyers Report

Superteam wheelset has a lot of favorable reviews from customers. They were happy for the bang they got for their buck. The bikes felt considerably lighter after upgrading to carbon wheels. 

The carbon fiber made it sturdier and durable while performance gains were visible at speeds of 20km/h, which, according to the customers, were now more effortless to achieve.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The product stands out due to the high-price competitiveness. It’s a budget carbon fiber wheel that you can get in the market. It has an attractive 3K weave matte finish, which sure is eye-catching. 

Superteam wheelset qualifies the SGS and EN quality standards, which makes it more credible and safer to use. 

These wheels are stronger, stiffer, and responsive, which adds to the bike's performance. In addition, the rim comes with a six-layer carbon on the rim and a 12-layer carbon on brake track, which can improve braking performance. Thus, it is suitable for high-speed cruises. 

Bottom Line

Widely believed to be the most imperative component there is on a road bike, it’s equally important to make a smart decision while choosing wheels. 

The Superteam carbon wheel, with its high durability, flexibility, and a matte finish, is one product that will enhance not only your bike’s performance but also its aesthetics.

Best Road Bike Crankset Upgrade:
SHIMANO Altus M311 Chainset

Shimano Altus FC-M311 Bicycle Crankset - 170 x 42-32-22 Square Tapered

pros

  • BSA Compatible
  • Perfect for mountain and hybrid bikes
  • Hyperdrive SG-X chainrings ensure faster and smoother shifts
  • Built-in chain guard protects you from grease stains and prevents clothes from getting stuck
  • Entry-level 7/8-speed chainset which offers faster hyperdrive shifting for performance enthusiasts 

cons

  • Crank arms may loosen while cycling
  • Chainrings may get warped after some time

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the customers were satisfied and had favorable reviews. They pointed out that it seemed solid and strong. The shifts were smoother, faster, and seamless than the original crank. Moreover, a chain guard's presence protected the riders’ pants cuff, which was an added benefit.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Shimano Altus M311 Chainset is easy to install and is a great upgrade for cyclists who are performance and off-road enthusiasts. It is an entry-level crankset that is highly competitive in terms of price and quality as compared to other chainsets.

The crank is manufactured from steel, which makes it durable and strong while the arms are made from aluminum, which helps in lowering the weight. 

Lastly, it comes with a chain guard that protects your clothes from grease and grime stains while also preventing clothing articles from getting stuck in the crank.

Bottom Line

Upgrades are necessary for keeping your bike in a pristine working condition, and this crankset is your perfect companion for this issue. If you’re somewhat of a performance enthusiast, this product has been carefully crafted for your particular needs. It will surely make the riding experience one of your most memorable escapades.

Pros and Cons of Upgrading Your Road Bike

Upgrading a bike, like anything else, comes with a set of pros and cons. Hence, if you want to minimize the cons while taking maximum advantage of the pros, you need to ask yourself about the scope of what you want to change. 

If small and minimal changes in functionality or tweaks in the performance is what you’re looking for, customizing your bike is the way to go! However, you must know that there are limitations too. Here are both aspects of upgrading your bike.  

Pros

With various upgrades installed, you’ll be able to enjoy the following gains. Make the most out of them!

Faster Performance

Whether it’s upgrading your bike’s disk set or the rim and wheel design, enhancing these will definitely help you gain a significant performance boost in terms of speed. Whether you’re a novice rider or a biking professional, upgrading your bike will elevate the chances of higher speed while lowering your suffering from long-distance riding fatigue.

Lowered Resistance For Increased Comfort

Upgrading your bike’s features to something that’s lightweight will eventually reduce the rotational mass, which is largely responsible for your fatigue in the long run. 

Rotational mass is marvelously tackled by installing a pair of lightweight wheels hence saving on the wheelset weight. Evidently, it will increase your acceleration, endurance, and overall energy-efficiency.

Improved Handling During Tough Corners

Improved handling, especially during tough corners, is a huge benefit you’ll enjoy once you’ve upgraded the breaks and tires. Speed through corners is imperative, which will not be possible if you don’t have high-quality breaks to adjust the speeding while going into a corner.

Sometimes It’s Better to Upgrade

It isn’t convenient to sell a bike and buy a new one every time you experience a problem. Sometimes the bike fits your riding criteria except for a few things. The solution to this is upgrading components and customizing the bike's function by putting a part that matches your need. Not only this, but you can upgrade parts as existing ones wear off. 

Cons

Some drawbacks that you will come across sooner or later include:

Upgrading Can Be Expensive

Everything comes with a price; you can’t expect to install some of the best features for optimal performance without it taking a toll on your wallet.

Hence, upgrading parts may be more expensive than purchasing a new bike, but consequently, it will also ameliorate your two-wheeler’s capabilities. It’s a trade-off you must make!

Interdependency of Parts

As you upgrade parts, it is difficult to change only one since most of them are interdependent, which would also need to be replaced to be compatible with the newer upgraded versions.

Conclusion 

If you’re going to invest in your dream road bike, the ideal thing to do is upgrade its parts as well to make it that much more valuable. 

From upgrading its wheels to the gears, each and every detail counts for a whole new set of privileges and benefits. For this reason, we formulated this comprehensive yet pertinent guide where each of the upgrades we talked about is well worth your attention. We hope this helps you find the most suitable upgrades!

People Also Ask

We understand that you still might be unsure about a few untouched topics. If that’s the case, we’ve formulated answers to some frequently asked questions just for you!

How Can I Upgrade My Road Bike For Cheap?

If you’re on an extremely tight budget but still want to enhance or protect some features your bike has to offer, consider the following upgrades:

  • Upgrading your tires
  • Using zip-ties for brakes and shift cables
  • Upgrading brakes and gear cables to segmented aluminum cables
  • Using electrical tape or neoprene guard to protect your chainstay
  • Upgrading to lock-on grips
  • Custom handlebar caps
  • Changing the bar tapes; we would recommend laser skins for comfortable gripping 
  • Using good-quality aluminum caps for your valve stems
  • Installing a carbon headset spacer

Should I Upgrade My Road Bike?

As mentioned earlier, upgrading your bike can be extremely advantageous in terms of high performance, endurance, and comfort. But then again, when is the optimal time to upgrade it? 

It’s when you want small-scale tweaks and enhancements in terms of functionality, performance, and efficiency while you’re satisfied with the rest of the features, and they’re well-suited to your body. 

Is Upgrading My Group Set Worth it?

While it may be worth upgrading your group set, if this is something you’re considering upgrading earlier on, that’s not entirely ideal. It should be one of the last things you should consider while enhancing the features of your bike. 

Upgrading your wheelset first will prove to be a far better choice. Keeping your current group sets well-tuned and maintained is preferable. You should only consider upgrading once your current set is entirely worn out.

What Should You Upgrade First on a Road Bike?

The very first upgrade you should install on your bike is the wheelset. They make a great deal of difference to your vehicle in terms of overall performance, comfort, and aerodynamics.

How Much Difference Do Tires Make on a Road Bike?

Tires can make a huge difference if you intend to boost your road bike’s performance. Replacing your old tires with high quality and wider ones can save weight, increase traction, avert punctures, offer lower rolling resistance, and increase your overall comfort.

Can I Change Triple Crankset to Double?

Yes, you can. Once you decide to do it, set the limit screws as required for the new crankset. In addition, using the middle and big position on the shifter will enable you to not stress out any of the parts and leave unnecessary slack in the cable if you shift down too far.

How Can I Make My Old Road Bike Faster?

You can make your old bike faster by adopting the following measures:

  • Regularly clean and maintain your drivetrain.
  • Inflate your tires to the correct pressure to ensure lower rolling resistance
  • Correctly aligned brakes
  • Accurately indexed gears
  • Speed up your bearings by removing the factory grease and refilling the cartridge with a super low friction grease up to 25%
  • Lubrication

How to Upgrade Old Road Bike Group Set

In order to upgrade a group set, firstly, you should consider upgrading the chainset. Secondly, you should move onto upgrading the cassette to provide smoother and efficient shifting. 

The third component after the cassette is the cables, which should be changed for a longer-lasting and easy shifting. And lastly, make sure that while you’re upgrading particular components of your vehicle, all other components are compatible with it.

What's the Order of Priority For Road Bike Upgrades?

The order of priority for road bike upgrades is as follows:

  • Tires
  • Bars and Saddles
  • Breaks
  • Chainrings
  • Wheels