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  1. #1
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    Beginner with upgrade questions

    Hi all-

    A little background - used to love cycling when I was younger, and haven't ridden a bike in probably 10 years (I'm 33). Got bitten again by the bike bug and picked myself up a new Giant Escape 1, figuring it would be a good all-around bike (running around town, potential commuting, leisurely trips with the wife, etc...)

    So I've been riding a few days, and absolutely loving it. I want to start getting into longer distances, with a short-term goal of riding a century and a long-term (pipe dream?) goal of doing some cross-country touring. Anyway, as I start to ride my little hybrid longer and longer distances around the hilly terrain of Fairfield County, CT, it occured to me to look into upgrades that might benefit the stock Escape.

    So I'd like to upgrade this bike to be more "century training friendly", but I also don't want to go overboard. Consider that 1) I am a novice and 2) if I actually meet the goal of doing a century and feel like I am going to continue with the sport, I will buy a specialized road/touring bike. So, I'm looking for things I can upgrade on the Escape that will enhance performance and efficiency without wasting money.

    Immediately, I think of going to clipless pedals - but which to get? I like the concept of the Shimano SPD and their off-bike friendly shoes, but have heard they are not suitable for long distances. Should I go for SPD-SL pedals? Should I do something like the PD-A530's, which has SPD on one side and flat platform on the other, allowing me to use regular shoes for short trips? Or get full clipless pedals and buy platforms I can attach?

    As you can see, I'm already lost out the gate...

    Besides pedals, any other upgrades you can think of?

    Am I out of my mind trying to put some decent mileage on this hybrid?

    Any advice you can lend will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Jim
    Last edited by lootcorp; 10-14-10 at 11:13 AM. Reason: got my acronyms mixed up...oh the shame!

  2. #2
    Pat
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    Well, clipless pedals and bike shoes are one of the first upgrades to do. The good thing about this upgrade is that it can go to your next bike.

    Now when I do a multiday bike tour, I just go with cheap spd pedals and shoes I can walk in (well as well as can be done in clips). I have found that I can do a century pretty comfortably in this set up.

    My current pedals on my road bike have a wider platform than SPD so I think it provides a better pedal contact. But road shoes are DREADFUL to walk in.

    I generally only ride bikes with bike shoes so I can not address your situation of wanting a flat platform.

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    Talked myself into picking up a pair of Shimano PD-A530's today (got them from Amazon for 1/2 the price REI is charging - LBS didn't carry them) - they are SPD on one side, platform on the other, look pretty nice and got good reviews. Figured they would be a nice into to clipless until I get more serious and want to go full road pedal. I liked the versatility - I can commute with them without needing to carry multiple pairs of shoes, and don't need to wear bike shoes if I'm just running down to the corner store or something.

    Now I need to pick up somne shoes to go with the,m - leaning towards the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seeks...going to try some on tonight and see how they feel. Like the fact that I can use these SPD shoes in a spin class if I wanted to (I anticipate taking a few at my local gym during the winter to try and stay in shape).

    I'll let you know how it all works out...I know cleat placement is essential on the shoes - is this something I can attempt myself, or should I have someone from LBS help me out?

  4. #4
    STFD mcgreivey's Avatar
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    I assume you meant a Giant Escape?

    I have one, and I've ridden it long distances, almost stock. I put on pedals with toe clips, and bullhorn bars on it place of the stock bars.

    On another bike I use road shoes and Look-style road cleats, so I have no personal experience with SPD, but clipless is a good way to go.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lootcorp View Post
    Talked myself into picking up a pair of Shimano PD-A530's today (got them from Amazon for 1/2 the price REI is charging - LBS didn't carry them) - they are SPD on one side, platform on the other, look pretty nice and got good reviews. Figured they would be a nice into to clipless until I get more serious and want to go full road pedal. I liked the versatility - I can commute with them without needing to carry multiple pairs of shoes, and don't need to wear bike shoes if I'm just running down to the corner store or something.

    Now I need to pick up somne shoes to go with the,m - leaning towards the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seeks...going to try some on tonight and see how they feel. Like the fact that I can use these SPD shoes in a spin class if I wanted to (I anticipate taking a few at my local gym during the winter to try and stay in shape).

    I'll let you know how it all works out...I know cleat placement is essential on the shoes - is this something I can attempt myself, or should I have someone from LBS help me out?
    I have those exact pedals in black. They're perfect for me because I can go clipless when I'm out riding (my shoes are Bontrager Streets, btw), but I can still ride the bike easily with regular shoes since they have a platform. As far as shoes, I'd just go with what's comfortable.

    You can fit the shoes if you want to, but you might want to have a pro do it. If they're not set right, you can get knee pain.

    I'm not sure about the difference between SPD and LOOK, I opted for SPD because there will be, and have been times where I need to walk around with my cycling shoes on. Would rather not ice skate around a store, so SPD it was.

    If this is your first set of clipless pedals, let's just get the obvious out of the way. You WILL fall, so practice on grass for a while until you're comfortable. I had my spill on the sidewalk of a busy intersection after a long ride, so needless to say a lot of people saw. With those pedals, when you pop your foot out, the pedal should spin so it'll be platform side up, that should help since you can step out early and still pedal with the balls of your feet.

    Other than that, aerodynamics will probably make the biggest difference. Narrower tires would be a cheap place to start. You can pick up tubes/tires for ~$80 or so, probably less depending on what you opt for. Be careful though, if you ride on a lot of loose stuff, narrower tires are gonna certainly add to the adventure. (Read: you'll wipe out if you're not careful)

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    Wow, another JoelS
    -------

    Some sort of pithy irrelevant one-liner should go here.

  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    The Escape will do century rides with no problems. The motor may need a bit of training though.

    I bought the A530's for one bike and they work. I do prefer the 520's though but that is because I always ride clipless. Tyres are your next Upgrade (After the shoes) and that is only if you cannot get on with the stock tyres supplied. Apart from that-The only upgrade is a different bike that is lighter and is better specced for the road.

    I went 16 years with MTBs and the only thing I altered for Century road rides was tyres.Knobbly tyres were not the best for distance riding. The Escape is better suited to the road than most MTBs so just start training and decide what your next bike will be once the escape does prove to be below your capabilities. (About a years time I should think)
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  8. #8
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Here are the upgrades I'd suggest:

    1. Bar ends. On long rides, your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders will thank you for having multiple hand positions, and it's a lot easier to add bar ends than to put new handlebars on the bike.

    2. Fenders. A good set of fenders will help keep you dry if you're riding in the rain--or on wet roads after the rain. Even more importantly, they will help keep your drivetrain clean.

    3. A small rear rack to carry a trunk bag or support a saddlebag. If you're training for a century, you'll be doing some long rides and it's helpful to be able to carry arm and leg warmers, a jacket, some food, tools, extra cash, etc. on the bike rather than on you.

    4. Maybe new tires depending on how you like the Kenda Kwick Trax tires. If you're riding on the road, you really don't need tread at all, and supple tires like Panaracer Paselas will give you a bit more speed.

    I'm a contrarian about clipless pedals; I don't like them. I've done rides of up to 200K (125 mi.) on platform pedals. But my feet are oddly shaped and I haven't found a pair of cycling-specific shoes that work for me. Give them a try if you want, but they're certainly not necessary. A lot of people who prefer platform pedals like BMX-style pedals with pins that help keep the soles of your shoes in place.

  9. #9
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    water bottle cages. you'd thank yourself for having water whenever you need

  10. #10
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    In terms of riding efficiency, tyres are probably the best upgrade. A fast 28mm will increase your cruising speed.
    You can fit bar ends to a hybrid but for a centrury, aerobars may be more useful. Its not that common to see them in the USA but used a lot on flat-bar touring bikes in Europe.

  11. #11
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    Wow, a lot of great replies here! I'll try and respond in kind:

    Quote Originally Posted by mcgreivey View Post
    I assume you meant a Giant Escape?

    I have one, and I've ridden it long distances, almost stock. I put on pedals with toe clips, and bullhorn bars on it place of the stock bars.
    Yup, Giant Escape 1. How do you like the bullhorn bars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel S.
    If this is your first set of clipless pedals, let's just get the obvious out of the way. You WILL fall, so practice on grass for a while until you're comfortable. I had my spill on the sidewalk of a busy intersection after a long ride, so needless to say a lot of people saw. With those pedals, when you pop your foot out, the pedal should spin so it'll be platform side up, that should help since you can step out early and still pedal with the balls of your feet.
    LOL, this advice helped! I took the pedals out for a test spin in the front yard, and sure enough, fell over in the grass. Brushed myself off, practiced a bit more, and when I tried the clipless later on the road, I didn't have any spills or issues. Thanks for the tip!

    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    The Escape will do century rides with no problems. The motor may need a bit of training though.
    Yes, the motor has definitely seen better days Hopefully we can get it back in form this winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianogilvie
    Here are the upgrades I'd suggest:
    All good suggestions - definitely going to investigate the bar ends. Any good rear rack recommendations? So far the stock tires are fine, but once I wear them down a bit I will look into other options.

    Quote Originally Posted by evenes
    water bottle cages. you'd thank yourself for having water whenever you need
    Indeed! I have two installed, and just picked up a Camelbak @ an REI sale, so hopefully I'll have my hydration needs covered.


    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    You can fit bar ends to a hybrid but for a centrury, aerobars may be more useful. Its not that common to see them in the USA but used a lot on flat-bar touring bikes in Europe.
    Interesting, I'm not really familiar with aerobars...are those the ones I see meant for triathletes, such as these? http://www.trisports.com/aerobars.html


    Good advice, all, and much appreciated. Was able to sneak out yesterday for a quick 8 mile trip - the clipless pedals were very nice. I didn't experience any knee pain with the cleats, but it was a short trip...I have no idea if they are positioned correctly. I'll be carrying an allen wrench for awhile in case I need to adjust them. All in all, it was a gorgeous day to be out for a ride!

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