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What are Some Good yet Basic Upgrades New Gravel Bike Owners Should Look at?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbround Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

What are Some Good yet Basic Upgrades New Gravel Bike Owners Should Look at?

Old 03-31-21, 09:38 PM
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m2244
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What are Some Good yet Basic Upgrades New Gravel Bike Owners Should Look at?

I don't know much at all about derailer/shifting systems at this point, so other than the higher price point upgrades like that, what would you suggest newbs look into to make their bikes a little more comfortable or just plain enjoyable? What are some customizations you're glad you made to your bike? I think this would be good info for myself and my wife, if we can ever manage to find a bike somewhere for her!

I'm thinking maybe handlebars. I even saw someone mention different wraps for handlebars.

I have a Felt 30, still with the standard "accouterments" that came with it.
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Old 03-31-21, 10:08 PM
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At this point in the game, I would stay basic and get some miles ridden before changing or adding much. You will figure out what you like and dislike with miles ridden.

A saddle that fits and is comfortable is about all I would suggest to begin.
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Old 03-31-21, 10:57 PM
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I bought a gravel bike two years ago, and the only change I made was the handlebar - the stock bars felt too wide to me, especially in the drops due to the amount of flare. I also added SPD pedals since the bike didn't come with pedals; if you aren't yet using a clipless pedal system, that would be a good choice for an upgrade. I wouldn't bother to upgrade the shifters or drivetrain components so long as they're working well, unless maybe you find after riding it for a while that different gearing would work better for the riding you do (in which case, replace the rear cassette). One thing I've bought for my gravel bike that has made my rides more enjoyable is a handlebar bag (I have one of these) which is large enough to hold an extra layer or two of clothing.
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Old 03-31-21, 11:31 PM
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Sometimes the best "upgrade" you can do is to have someone take a look at you on the bike. Your saddle position (height, angle, fore/aft), bar width and angle, and stem length and rise can all have profound effects on comfort and enjoyment.
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Old 04-01-21, 03:00 AM
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I agree with all the above comments, particularly since the OP is really green and because a Felt Breed 30 is really quite a nice bike.

Yhere’s a lot of adaptation that needs to, and will, happen as you start riding, so one is scarcely in a position to make informed upgrades or even recognize what an upgrade would be. A bit of personal experience is really helpful in that regard.

Beyond upgrading bits, there are accessories which can really make riding better, from basic essentials like water bottles and cages to hold them, lights for safety, and clothing like cycling shorts, jersey, and helmet. A basic emergency flat repair kit, a place to carry it(like a seat bag) and knowledge of how to use it is a wise investment in most cases.

As others have said, as you start to get a few rides under your belt, you’ll start to recognize what’s not working and why. That’s where you want to be when upgrading a teally good bike to agreat one, so be patient. You’ll also find upgrading and personalizing bikes is a real rabbit hole you’ll enjoy tumbling into!
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Old 04-01-21, 03:59 AM
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The best upgrade on any bike is the motor.
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Old 04-01-21, 04:25 AM
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I skimmed the posts above and they’re spot on.

Not sure if mentioned, but in would add: tubeless, comfy handlebars with gel pads and plush tape (if that matters to you)
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Old 04-01-21, 05:16 AM
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Contact points of bike and rider: bars, tape, pedals, saddle
Contact points of bike and terrain: tires
Fit

After that, the best component to swap out is wheels on OEM bikes.
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Old 04-01-21, 06:02 AM
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The Breed 30 is a pretty decent build right out of the crate and there is little reason to upgrade any of the major components until they wear out. The Devox wheels are likely the weakest link on the bike and are probably a good place to look for an upgrade to get some better hubs.
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Old 04-01-21, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
At this point in the game, I would stay basic and get some miles ridden before changing or adding much. You will figure out what you like and dislike with miles ridden.

A saddle that fits and is comfortable is about all I would suggest to begin.
Good advice. Timely as well, my sitz are still sore from two days ago.
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Old 04-01-21, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
The best upgrade on any bike is the motor.


The motor on this thing just turned 50 years old and can be difficult to work with at times.
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Old 04-01-21, 07:22 AM
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Tires.
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Old 04-01-21, 07:27 AM
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The only change I'd make to that bike out-of-the-box would be to get the tires set up as tubeless. 650b x 47c Vittoria Terreno Dry will be a lot better without the inner tubes. Otherwise if comfort is your goal, you might consider getting a professional bike fit, if you didn't get one when you purchased? An on-bike fit will help identify any obvious issues with the pedals, saddle, handlebars and can dramatically improve your comfort. There's little sense in making any drivetrain changes on your bike, and unless the handlebars and saddle don't fit, I wouldn't bother changing them. The GRX 1x11 setup on that bike is a really great drivetrain that gives you a lot of gear range.

Wheels? Sure, a custom wheelset will save you some weight and make the bike feel faster, but unless you are just looking for things to spend money on, I'd recommend getting your fit, clothing, shoes, pedals, GPS computer, etc sorted out first. After you have some miles under your belt you'll have a better idea of what is/isn't "worth it" in terms of wheel upgrades.
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Old 04-01-21, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Tires.
What would you suggest?
Unless I'm missing something, the Vittoria tires that come on that bike (Terreno Dry TNT) are pretty nice tires, tubeless ready.
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Old 04-01-21, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by m2244 View Post


The motor on this thing just turned 50 years old and can be difficult to work with at times.
Mine will be 62 this year. I mean it, work on YOU; after that nothing else matters as much.
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Old 04-01-21, 07:50 AM
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I'm glad I asked this question, you guys/ladies have some great information. I feel like I know a lot more about this stuff now, of course I was almost starting from nothing.

Thank you!
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Old 04-01-21, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Mine will be 62 this year. I mean it, work on YOU; after that nothing else matters as much.
How much work are you doing? Rough idea.

BTW, still doing this at 62 is impressive. I know people do it, but still impressive.
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Old 04-01-21, 08:20 AM
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Agree with setting up tubeless, I made sure mine was before it rolled out of the LBS. Also absolutely agree with just getting even a thousand miles on before you do anything unless something is unbearable.
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Old 04-01-21, 08:52 AM
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I’ve been riding road tubeless since ‘12 or ‘13 and have 5 bikes rolling tubeless right now, so I’m pro- and all in with tubeless, but when I say “all in,” I do so acknowledging the investment in equipment, education and practice. That said, there are new tube options now, like Aerothan, Revoloop, and Tubolito, which were not available back in ‘12, and which offer many of the bennnies of tubeless without the hassle, namely low weight and increased puncture resistance (compared to butyl). They’re worth looking into, IMO; I’ve got a pair of Aerothan tubes, but I’ve not installed them yet. I got them primarily as light, compact tubes for the emergency kit in the seat bag, but I’m thinking they may be smart for me to try on the regular, as keeping up on tubeless for 5 bikes can be a bit much; I forget when I last checked the sealant on each, and while I’ve got the tools to make checking quick, it is a bit tiresome to have to do so frequently.
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Old 04-01-21, 09:16 AM
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Wheels are a much better upgrade choice/investment than a GPS device (which is not even an upgrade but a personal accessory), especially on this specific rig.


If it still comes with the WTB Byway 47 there is no reason to upgrade tires just yet (until you really lock in on what type of riding surfaces you'll be doing) but going tubeless is a sagacious move.
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Old 04-01-21, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by m2244 View Post
I'm glad I asked this question, you guys/ladies have some great information. I feel like I know a lot more about this stuff now, of course I was almost starting from nothing.

Thank you!
I'm not so far behind you in age, although I've been riding for a long time now. One recommendation I'd add is to look into getting a comfortable pair of bib shorts. Many people who ride gravel seem not to like to dress like road bikers. But a good pair of bib shorts with proper padding can, in combination with the right saddle, make a world of difference to comfort over long rides. Or at least that has been my experience. If you feel self-conscious, you could pull a pair of shorts over them.

You may surprise yourself at how far you are riding before very long, and it's easy to end up in the sun for hours and hours. In order to reduce the amount of sunscreen one has to put on, which if nothing else makes getting out the door even slower, it may be worth considering a sun-protective cycling jersey or athletic shirt and separate sleeves. The latter are sold by many companies. I also wear a thin cycling beanie that offers sun protection under my helmet, as there is not much else there to protect my scalp, and it also helps reduce the amount of sweat that drips into my eyes.

The Felt looks like a great bike that is well equipped. It's doubtful that it needs any upgrades as such, other than a different saddle if the one it comes with doesn't suit. I'm sure you'll enjoy your new ride.
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Old 04-01-21, 06:36 PM
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Clipless pedals are almost always number one as many bikes come with no pedals or really cheap ones that are good for little else than a demo ride. Then just about every new bike comes with mediocre tires. A good upgrade is really good tires and set them up tubeless.High quality tires help you realise the potential of the rest of the bike immediately. My next upgrades were a Lauf fork and a RedShift suspension seat post. Those are good upgrades if you really are riding a fair amount of rough gravel. Other than that anything than improves fit inclusing bars, sea and bar tape. Good shorts need to be high on your list too if you do not already have them. I assume you already have a water bottle and bottle cage!.
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Old 04-01-21, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
What would you suggest?
Unless I'm missing something, the Vittoria tires that come on that bike (Terreno Dry TNT) are pretty nice tires, tubeless ready.
Impossible to recommend tires as gravel varies so widely. I ride slick tires in most dry conditions (either Rene Herse or Gravelking slicks), regardless of the size of the rocks. I use Gravelking SKs if I suspect mud is on the menu.
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Old 04-02-21, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by m2244 View Post
How much work are you doing? Rough idea.

BTW, still doing this at 62 is impressive. I know people do it, but still impressive.
In three hours per week, with the right kind of training, you can become much stronger on the bike.
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Old 04-02-21, 07:34 AM
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You really shouldn't need to run out and change anything on the Breed, as it comes very nicely equipped. I actually have a take-off Felt carbon seatpost (same as Salsa Guide) and a Prologo Dimension saddle (what comes on the Breed) on my gravel bike. I think Felt also uses nice Ritchey bar tape, and it has Vittoria Terrano Dry tires, which are supposed to be near the top in comfort + all-around performance.

If you want to make your ride experience better, spend some $ on a professional fit if it's not something you can dial in yourself, and spend whatever you would have spent on bike upgrades on better kit if you need to.
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