In many cases, you can upgrade your road bike with new components and it will feel like a new machine. New wheels are always a great place to start…the idea is to lower the rotating mass so lighter rims and tires are always better! Look for carbon rims, either tubular or clincher style. One ride and you’ll be hooked on this upgrade!
You may also want to buy a new frame or bike, try a different saddle, upgrade your shoes or change your handlebars. In either case, it’s important to get good advice from your local pro shop.
When buying a new frame or complete bike it is crucial to be fitted by a professional bike fitter. The #1 reason why people don’t ride more is because they are uncomfortable, usually due to improper bike fit. In addition to correct saddle height, saddle fore-aft position, reach to the handlebars, height of the handlebars in relation to the saddle height will all contribute to your overall comfort level.
Trying a different saddle can be bring real benefits – recent developments in saddle design have made 100% difference in my personal riding comfort level. Be sure to record your saddle height before removing the old saddle as some saddle rails sit higher than others. Also, once you find the saddle you like, be sure to put the same one on your other bikes. Again, if you’re unsure, consult with your local pro shop.
Upgrading your shoes needs to be carefully addressed. Cleat position is critical and again, a professional bike fitter is your best friend! Most people can benefit from an arch support insert, whether it’s a custom orthotic or off-the-shelf version.
Handlebar shape design has developed significantly in recent years. Changes in reach, width, drop and bend can effect how your hands rest on the bars as well as how easily you can reach the brake levers. This is especially important for riders with small hands. A good pro shop will help explain the best options for your needs. Bar tape has also been raised to new levels with gel pads that can be inserted under the tape and spongy, soft wraps that make the bar feel like baby’s skin.