Originally Posted by markh
What is the most important up grade you can make and why?
Now that all the smart alecks have chimed in, here's a serious list from most important to least
1. Wheels. Without wheels you don't go. Without the proper wheels, you may be stuck walking a long way back to the car (Oops! I was wrong about the smart asses
). Get the wheels that best suit your riding style and abuse level. Superlights if you want to go fast, superheavy duty if you want to fall off cliffs
2. Drivetrain. After the wheels, you have to make it go. I'd start with derailers first, depending on the level of the components, then crank, then cassette. Stick with relatively cheap chains since they wear out fastest anyway.
3. Brakes (almost tied with drivetrain). Brakes keep you from falling off cliffs, unless that's what you planned on doing in the first place. Discs if you want raw power but little modulation (in my opinion). V's if you want nearly the same power, better modulation, easier setup, easier maintenance, simplicity and lower weight.
4. Controls. (We're getting way back in the pack by now
) Better shifters unless you've got really good ones to begin with. Better brake levers if you have cable actuated brakes.
5. Suspension. Let's face it, unless you have a really low end bike that you should probably trade up to a higher level bike in the first place, you already have a pretty good suspension OEM. If the bike is older, look at changing the shocks (front and rear, if applicable) but still consider that a good new shock may cost nearly as much as a new bike.
6. All the other bits. Handle bars, saddles, seatposts, grips, tires etc. Most of these things wear out anyway so I don't really consider them an upgrade.
7. Frame. But if you are going to upgrade the frame you are headed down the road towards Great Grandpa's axe - It's had 5 new handles and 2 new heads but it's the same axe my grandpappy used to clear the forests of Kansas with
There you have it. Have I done it? Yep, way too often. Have I made mistakes? Yep, way too often. Would I do it again? Yep, waaaay too often