Road Bike Upgrades

Here are some of the best ways to upgrade a road bike for comfort.

Improved Contact points - Hands, Feet, Seat
Improve Power Output or Fitness
Decrease Rolling resistance
Reduce Weight
Bike Fit

Road Bike Upgrades for Comfort

The single biggest upgrade you can make in your comfort, and even performance, is to get a professional bicycle fit. Get your seat height placed properly, your reach set up, and your bars at the right width, and you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it’ll make. You’d also be surprised how much energy your body wastes just fighting against a bad fit. Nowhere else in the bike world will you gain so much in increased comfort or performance.

So you’ve had your bike fit, but you’re still a bit uncomfortable? Getting the right saddle for both your body type and riding style makes a big difference, too. Things to consider when buying a saddle include how wide your sit bones are, how upright you sit, and how much you like to move around while you ride. If you’re having issues with your hands and arms getting sore, maybe look into a new set of handlebars. The newer wing-style handlebars, compact drops, and bends designed to accommodate the shapes of new brake and shift levers can do wonders for comfort. As can bar gel pads underneath Lizard bar tape.

One thing you may overlook to improve comfort is your tires. If you’re riding something with a really low thread count, or something that has an overabundance of flat protection, you might be missing out. As you get into a tire with a higher thread count, it’ll conform better to the things you ride over, allowing you to roll not only smoother, but faster as well. Because they won’t flex, really flat resistant tires and low thread count tires kind of “run into” things as opposed to rolling over them, giving you a harsher, slower ride. Check out the Schwalbe Ultremo tires if you want to know what a real plush ride feels like.

Road Bike Performance Upgrades

For the best road bike upgrades consider the following categories:

Improve Aerodynamics
Improve Power Output or Fitness
Decrease Rolling resistance
Reduce Weight
Reduce Bearing Drag

To get the most out of your road bike you need aerodynamic, lightweight, good stiffness and a comfortable ride. These are issues addreseed with performance upgrades. It's in you to become a better cyclist. Helping you get there is our number one goal. Equipment, riding skills, fitness and nutrition all need to be dialed in to reach your potential.

Upgrading for Performance
A proper fit is critical for performance and comfort. You make more power and waste less energy when you’re comfortable. Beyond fit, there are many other things you can do to increase performance.

Not only can you upgrade your bike, but you can upgrade your training program. Make sure to stay hydrated both on and off the bike. Have hard days and easy days. Make your hard days hard, no dogging it. Make your easy days easy, no racing around trying to beat your fastest time on a given route. Stay hydrated with an electrolyte drink (GU Brew). Get the most out of your riding time by riding smart, not just beating yourself into oblivion as often as possible.

If you’re looking to start from scratch with a new bike, consider something that’ll give you an aerodynamic advantage like a Cannondale SuperSix, or the top of the line EVO. Cheating the wind makes a big difference, more so than weight in this part of the country where we don’t have much for climbing.

If you are riding a Synapse and want to performance upgrades to your existing bike to get an aerodynamic advantage, check out new wheels like the HED Ardennes SL ($1,100), or Easton EA90 Aero Clincher Wheelset ($800).

Want to go lighter? Sounds good, but remember to go after rotating weight first. Cut the grams from your wheels, pedals, and cranks first for the most dramatic effect, and then go hunting for the 20 grams from your stem, 100 grams from your brakes, etc. Many of the aerodynamic wheels listed are probably lighter than what you’re currently riding, so if you get those you may upgrade in terms of weight, bearing friction, and aerodynamic drag all in one shot. That’d be one heck of an upgrade!

Harts Bike Upgrade List

Wheels - While the most expensive upgrade, they give you some of the biggest gains as they improve aerodynamics and are usually lighter than most wheel sets found on original bikes. The Hed Ardennes SL Clincher Wheelset is light, claimed weight is 1449g for the set. This is the same C2 concept wheelset that has been turning more and more heads as the world warms to wide rims. C2 is for the two Cs that the 23mm wide rim improves. Cda, aerodynamics, and Crr, rolling resistance. That is, the rim reduces both aerodynamic drag and road friction. 

Making a rim 23mm wide and 25mm deep when most rims are around 19mm wide and 19-23mm deep is a big difference. The reason for the greater width is because of 23mm tires, the minimum tire width you almost always should be using on the road (there are 22mm clinchers; these will work, too). A 23mm rim paired with a 23mm tire changes the tire's footprint. It grips better in a straight line, and it grips better in turns because the tire deforms differently and more evenly. A 23mm tire on a 23mm rim also has lower rolling resistance. Hed sent the wheels to Continental Tires for testing. Conti's engineers shrugged their shoulders, figured there was no difference, but put them in the jig and ran the tests anyways. It turned out the 23mm width has 18% less rolling resistance. And because of the smoother tire shape, the transition air makes from the edge of the tread to the sidewall to the rim wall to the end of the rim is smoother, resulting in a more laminar air flow and less aerodynamic drag.

Hed isn't calling it quits after producing such a rim, though. They've laced the rim with Sapim's popular and aerodynamic CX-Ray spokes, and hold them in place with self-securing aluminum nipples. The spokes are straight-pull and radially laced in front and J-bend and two-cross in back. The spokes are anodized Black. The Sonic hubs are also of Hed's design. They run ABEC5 bearings on oversized axles, 12mm in front and 15mm in the rear. Hed spaced the flanges as widely as possible to create a stronger bracing angle, resulting in better lateral stiffness.

Rotor Q-Ring - 4% more power, less muscle fatigue and easier on your knees. Rotor chain rings are a no-brainer for the price. Meet cycling's ultimate secret weapon. Q-Rings offer some of the performance advantages of the Rotor System to those with standard cranksets without  the weight penalty. Q-Rings increase your power by emulating a Rotor System crankset in the power stroke and by minimizing the intensity of the "dead spot" zones. By extending the time you spend in the power stroke (where 90% of all power is produced) and smoothly accelerating the legs through the critically weak "dead spots". A 50T Q-Ring, around the upper dead-spot is equivalent to a 48T, but as the pedal goes down and more strength is applied, the equivalent chainring tooth size reaches 52T.

Transmission/ Drive Train - If your old transmission is getting tired and you’re going to have to change much of it anyway, there are compelling reasons to consider the radically upgraded version of the SRAM Rival group set. Matching a 34/50 chainset with a 10-speed 12-27 cassette yields a fantastic gear range that will cope with long rides over hilly terrain. 

Tires - High quality tires can cut both rolling resistance and rotational weight. Add in light weight inner tubes and you get a difference you can really notice. Good value for the performance. The 3 tires to the right give you an insight into Hart’s focus into what cyclists on New Jersey roads will need.
With its High-Density Nano-Technology Guard featuring ceramic particles which effectively blunt, for instance, shards of glass the tire rolls over, the Schwalbe Ultremo is probably the most puncture resistant and grippy race-weight (192g) tire ever made. Also handmade in Germany, the 280g, 3-ply 180tpi Grand Prix with Poly-X anti puncture breaker delivers legendary Continental quality, and it’s now also available in 24 and 28m widths.
Finally, Continental Gatorskin is priced to acknowledge the fact that we don’t all have a lot of cash to splash.

Bike Computer - Again, while a bike computer doesn't directly improve performance, they allow you to get faster quicker when combined with smart training.

Cranks - Lighter and stiffer cranks, like the Rotor 3D are a good uprade as they increase power transfer and reduce rotating weight. Plus they look wicked cool.

Bearings - upgrading the bearings in your bottom bracket and hubs to high quality ceramic bearings is another way to get a little edge. The improvement isn't as big as wheels or Rotor Rings but when you have those toys then this is another way you can buy a little speed.

Bike Fitting - Getting a professional bike fitting can do wonders for both comfort and speed. By getting proper structural alignment you will get the most out of your body.

Pedals - Saving some weight from your pedals adds up over the thousands of pedal strokes per ride. As will a streamlined pedal like the Speedplay Zero will reduce aerodynamic drag.

Handlebar - Not so much to save weight but to get you in a more comfortable position. The FSA Compact design which is available in aluminum and carbon just fits the hands better. Carbon bars are a welcome upgrade on near-any sub 2-grand bike’s alloy bars. Not only are they usually lighter weight, carbon bars also help damp vibrations, AKA road buzz, transmitted through the front wheel and fork, so they contribute to a more comfortable ride.

Finally, on the Bike Upgrade List:

Saddle - The more time you spend on your bike, the more you will appreciate the added comfort of a saddle upgrade. Saddle upgrades are important because a saddle needs to be fit to the individuals sit bone width, and riding style. We recommend the Selle SMP saddles for comfort and performance.