I ride a 16 year old steel Bianchi Virata with 8 speed Ultegra group. I was thinking about a new bike but then I rode mine after a few months of winter layoff and remembered how well it rides. I am now thinking about keeping the Bianchi and upgrading some components. A new wheelset would be first on the list. Would modern hubs fit on my older bike? Also, what other mechanical upgrades would you recommend and what issues might I encounter?
Thank you all for your input. As far as I can tell nothing needs to be replaced. The hubs and BB could use a normal service (clean and lube) and maybe new cables for the shifters and brakes but none of these need to happen right away. Replacing the wheels would eliminate the hub service of course.
'''96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '12 Surly Pacer, All are 3x8,9 or 10. It is hilly around here!
8-speed road hubs are 130 mm OLD and the same as 9 and 10-speed so you could continue to use your current wheels with just a cassette change if they are in good condition or any new wheels will also fit your frame.
As to other upgrades, are your current 8-speed shifters operating properly? If so, I'd just keep them going. If not, upgrading to 10-speed will require new brifters, a new chain, new cassette and, possibly a new front derailleur. BTW, 9-speed road components are still available but are a generation out of date so stick with the 8-speed or go all the way to 10.
Changing the tires is the most cost-effective upgrade. Changing the wheels will make a good difference, too, but it will cost a lot more. I happen to like light, high-pressure tires, and I don't find the ride to be harsh. If you're like me, find some lightweight tires and pump them up to 100 psi. Lubricate your chain. New bike!