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  1. #1
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    Upgrade question - which components should i upgrade first?

    Help a newbie!!!

    A general question, if I am building or upgrading a bike, is it better to upgrade to higher grade STI levers, chainset or derailleurs first?
    Or is it better to just get a full groupset at one specification?

    I am building a 10speed touring/road + mild-off-road bike using a cyclo-cross frame. I cannot afford a full 105 spec, but if i were to go 105 or even Ultegra on one or two components which would be the best to spend my extra cash on? I will build using Ebay/new bits from wherever I can scrounge them...

    I think I can use older NOS Ultegra/105 spec parts interchanged with new 10 speed Tiagra? In particular, 2nd hand 105 STIs are a lot cheaper than new Tiagra levers...

  2. #2
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    I'm not a fan of the buy and upgrade approach to bike purchasing. Spend more time to find a bike (or a slightly used on) that's nearest to what you want and within your price range. Then you might upgrade the one item needed to bring it to where you want.

    However there's never a need or benefit to upgrading anything unless you have a specific objection to a specific item. Otherwise the smartest strategy is to upgrade as you go along as things wear out, and need replacing anyway.

    As to which is of more benefit, there's no rule, and needs to be taken case by case according to your specific issues. For example, most people cannot distinguish between cranks, but a heavy, strong rider who mashes up hills regularly will find stiffer cranks a major improvement. Overall, I'd say that wheels have the most room for noticeable improvement, but those are also the most expensive, so it really makes sense to upgrade only when the existing ones are shot.
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  3. #3
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    You haven't said what you are starting off with, but if doing a full groupset upgrade or starting from scratch, would be looking at the cost of a complete bike vs buying parts, as the difference may be minimal.

    If you are going to get individual from new, the STI's are a contact point, Ultegra are nicer than 5700 (105) which are nicer than Tiagra (4600), as they wear out slower than dérailleurs would look at this initially.

    For intermixing Tiagra 4600 with older Ultegra / 105, maybe, there is A and B level compatibility http://www.shimano.com/publish/conte...ty%20Chart.pdf, then real world compatibility which is normally a little more flexible.

  4. #4
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    In principle I agree with you. But I have a frame only and will be buying all the parts for it separately. In this case I can in some ways pick and choose parts, so if i am going for a 10-speed Tiagra setup but someone is selling some 105 shifters that are hardly used and a bit more than Tiagra ones, is it worth doing this, or should I spend the extra money on, say, the derailleurs instead?

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    Thanks for that jimC101. I'll have a look at the PDF, if may make things clearer

  6. #6
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    I am starting off with nothing, btw, groupset -wise, except a pair of 2303 3x8 speed shifters which i will probably sell, since to build my bike as an 8 speed seems a bit daft. I have an old mtb and already find some parts hard to come by.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    My thought process is "if you have to ASK WHAT to upgrade", you probably need to think it over more.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinPettit View Post
    .... so if i am going for a 10-speed Tiagra setup but someone is selling some 105 shifters that are hardly used and a bit more than Tiagra ones, is it worth doing this, or should I spend the extra money on, say, the derailleurs instead?
    IME, it's hard to notice a functional difference in derailleurs of nearly similar quality. Lever differences seem to be more of a factor. I do this all the time in the Campy world, using Chorus levers with a Veloce derailleur, but never the other way around. The comparison between a slightly used better lever vs. a new lever one or two levels down is harder to call since we all define slightly used differently.
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  9. #9
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    I'm also of the mindset that it is probably a bit better to wait and see if you can save up for the money for the bike that has what you want...if you're buying new. If getting used parts (of variable quality), you can sometimes get a deal and upgrade as you go along. For me, I've spent a good amount of time (and money) upgrading parts on my mid 80s steel Treks. Sometimes with new parts, sometimes with old. Here is what I've noticed in terms of upgrades that really seem to make things better vs. those that don't seem to matter so much, at least for me.

    1. First, having bearing surfaces work well and parts cleaned and lubed makes the greatest difference in ride quality of anything I've observed. So, if your derailleurs are gritty, wheels spin rough, brake pads are old, or bottom bracket is rough, chain is rough, those things should get cleaned or upgraded first. If just in bad shape, replaced first. A 30 year old bike with a new BB cartridge, new chain, overhauled hubs (that are in good shape), and new brake pads can ride very nice.
    2. Wheels...They are the most expensive but I've noticed the biggest changes in my ride when I switch out the wheels. This may (or may not) necessitate switching up your shifters, derailleurs, etc. - so research that. Tires can also make a big difference.
    3. Shifters...if making major shifts from something like downtube shifters to brifters or the like. My life wasn't changed much when I switched from 8 speed 105s to 9 speed Ultegras...sure, the latter were smoother...but it wasn't a big deal. If I were buying new, I would get at least 105 level or wait until I could and use old down tube shifters in the mean time.
    4. Rear Derailleur
    5. Crank...more so to make sure I get the chainring sizes I want. The higher grade ones usually are a bit lighter and nice. Some people have strong preferences about how some look.
    6. Cassette, more to get the size I want. I have sometimes had trouble with the real cheapies shifting as well as the mid- to higher- level ones.

    Things I personally haven't worried about (judging by my actions) are the headset, brake calipers, handlebars, front derailleur, or brake levers, not that everyone would agree. I think Tektro makes some pretty good calipers and brake levers (if you don't need brifters) that don't cost a lot. I've switched out a 9 speed ultegra front derailleur with a mid-level Shimano from 25 years ago...didn't notice a difference.

    So, if it were me, and I could only spend more money on a few parts, I'd pick the wheels, shifters, and rear derailleur as the priority.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinPettit View Post
    .... but someone is selling some 105 shifters that are hardly used and a bit more than Tiagra ones, is it worth doing this, or should I spend the extra money on, say, the derailleurs instead?
    "Hardly used" fills me with suspicion. Shimano STI's can't effectively be repaired or rebuilt and if you get really high mileage ones you have wasted the money.

  11. #11
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinPettit View Post
    A general question, if I am building or upgrading a bike, is it better to upgrade to higher grade STI levers, chainset or derailleurs first?
    Or is it better to just get a full groupset at one specification?

    You're not really talking about upgrading an existing bike, seems like your question is what components are worth buying higher up in the spectrum.

    And the answer is: wheels, shifters, and saddle.
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  12. #12
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    My thought process is "if you have to ASK WHAT to upgrade", you probably need to think it over more.
    + lots.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Delmarva's Avatar
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    Try thinking of this as finding solutions to problems you have identified rather than asking how to upgrade. Thus if you need better pedals because your shoes aren't held in place or the derailleur doesn't have the capacity for a new cassette or the brakes are not linear then it's time for replacement and possible upgrading. Blanket upgrading for no specific reasons may result in lots of money spent for no improvement in performance.

    This will seem harsh but I know of no other way to say it. Building a bike from scratch using components that will be replaced because they are below your standard will be very expensive and really makes little sense. My recommendation is to save for a fully built bike that is equipped as you want it. You will spend les money and encounter much less frustration and end up with a quality bike.
    Last edited by Delmarva; 08-17-12 at 01:20 PM.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the part you contact.. find a saddle you can grow old using..

    and keep thru several bikes..


    I am starting off with nothing,
    go shopping for a new bike with the features you want
    Shimano 105 components ?
    that is a low 4 figure price these days.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-17-12 at 01:48 PM.

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