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Where To Start With Upgrades

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Where To Start With Upgrades

Old 11-05-10, 12:47 PM
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BabaRamDas
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Where To Start With Upgrades

I recently bought a Cannondale Synapse 7 at the beginning of the Summer and couldn't be happier with the bike. It's been so much fun getting out and enjoying New Jersey (spare me the Jersey jokes) this season from the saddle. I'm looking to start to upgrade my parts though s I realize that the bike I got was pretty much entry level. I just wasn't sure how I was going to take to cycling so I didn't go all out on a $2000+ bike and I got a great deal on the synapse.

Now that I'm looking to start to upgrade, I don't really know where to start. I have Sora shifters which I don't really mind much, though I know Sora parts are pretty low-end. I was thinking about starting with upgrading my crankset and front derailleur first (FSA Vero Triple crank and Sora derailleur). Is this a logical first step?

Here are my bike specs for reference: http://www.cannondale.com/usa/usaeng...ynapse-Alloy-7


My priorities would be a smoother ride and a lighter overall weight. I'm wondering if this is a logical place to start and if people might be able to make suggestions which crank and derailleur would be a good replacement.

Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-05-10, 12:51 PM
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Have you looked at wheels?

Have you seen Snooki lately?
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Old 11-05-10, 12:51 PM
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If you really feel the need to upgrade, start with the wheelset. But really, don't buy upgrades, ride upgrades. Save for a bike with the characteristics you want and don't try to make the bike you have into something you want.
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Old 11-05-10, 12:53 PM
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In what area does the bike hold you back? Are you HTFU-ing enough?

Most will say "The best upgrade is the engine."

I suggest you ride around more. Otherwise you'd end up spending alot more than it's worth vs. just buying a brand new bike with the parts you need. Actually the latter being the better route. Unless you are truly in love with your bike's frame.
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Old 11-05-10, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by tagaproject6 View Post
If you really feel the need to upgrade, start with the wheelset. But really, don't buy upgrades, ride upgrades. Save for a bike with the characteristics you want and don't try to make the bike you have into something you want.

For me right now, making tweaks here is the right way to go. I am basically happy with the bike and certainly can't afford to buy a new one any time soon. I appreciate the advice, though.

That said, what components will make the most difference in terms of weight and smoothness of the ride?

Does this seem like a good deal and something that would help?

http://cgi.ebay.com/Trek-Bontrager-C...#ht_500wt_1156
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Old 11-05-10, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
In what area does the bike hold you back? Are you HTFU-ing enough?

Most will say "The best upgrade is the engine."

I suggest you ride around more. Otherwise you'd end up spending alot more than it's worth vs. just buying a brand new bike with the parts you need. Actually the latter being the better route. Unless you are truly in love with your bike's frame.
I wouldn't say it really holds me back at all. I just know that I'm pretty entry-level with this bike and would like to try to make some upgrades as I am able to financially do so. I know the shifting can be smoother, and I could probably lose some weight with higher quality components. I was also looking to upgrade to a fully carbon fiber fork and saddle stem to add some shock absorption.
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Old 11-05-10, 01:03 PM
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Buy a nice wheelset, it's probably the only thing that will make a big difference.

From what I'm reading you don't really need to upgrade and just want to spend money, might as well put it to good use.
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Old 11-05-10, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by kabex View Post
Buy a nice wheelset, it's probably the only thing that will make a big difference.

From what I'm reading you don't really need to upgrade and just want to spend money, might as well put it to good use.
You're right. I don't necessarily need to upgrade, but want to try to make my bike a better ride. I don't have the money to buy a whole new bike and I am basically happy with what I have. I just want to try and make it better if I can.
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Old 11-05-10, 01:26 PM
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+1 to upgrading the wheels or nothing. It sounds like everything is working correctly and fits you. Loosing some weight from a couple of components won't make your bike ride any differently. So save your money until something wears out or breaks. Or get some nice wheels which are easy to take with you if you do get a different bike.
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Old 11-05-10, 01:26 PM
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you want to buy a new wheelset. id like to buy some from psimet, they got pretty good prices and reputation.


i've been fighting myself. my brand new bike has tektro brakes and everything else is Sram Apex...i want to buy the apex brakes, even tho the tektros work pretty well...would this be an upgrade? probably not, aestheticaly YES!
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Old 11-05-10, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I guess I'll start with a good wheelset. How about saddle post and front fork? My saddle post is "carbon wrapped" (whatever that means) and I found what looks to be an awesome deal on a Bontrager Satellite Plus fork. To me (a novice without much experience to speak from) it seems like upgrading these two parts would make a difference in shock absorption and would make the ride a bit smoother. Is this true? And what are people's thoughts on this deal I found:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Trek-Bontrager-C...#ht_500wt_1156
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Old 11-05-10, 01:36 PM
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Here's my report of upgrading my Synapse 7: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...hlight=ultegra
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Old 11-05-10, 01:38 PM
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Don't upgrade rides, ride up grades.
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Old 11-05-10, 01:41 PM
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I know this isn't what you want to hear, but don't spend on upgrades. Really, new tiagra shifts pretty nice, even sora. You most likely won't notice that much of a difference and may be disappointed. As said before, the biggest thing that will make a difference in your case is new wheels. The fork you posted still has an aluminum steer tube, and a carbon seat post won't make a difference you can "feel".

I was in your spot this year. I sold my bike and bought a new one. That is by far the best bang for your buck way to go. Just ride your bike now until you can buy a new one and sell your old one and offset the cost a little. Or just keep it as a spare.
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Old 11-05-10, 01:52 PM
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Spend money on things that break, or that don't work right for you. I.e. if the saddle's not comfortable, get a new one. Do your bars fit you? Do the brakes work as well as you'd like? Do you like the pedals? Etc. It's important for comfort and performance to get the contact points right.

You can drop some weight by swapping the crank for something more expensive, but the difference will be a few seconds at the top of a long climb. I can't tell the difference between aluminum and carbon seat posts. Same with bars. An aluminum steerer has zero effect on comfort. Try some quality bar tape (Cinelli gel) instead.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:00 PM
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Thanks for the advice, guys. This has all been very helpful.

I also see upgrading parts on this bike possibly making future bike purchases cheaper because I can move these parts to the new frame. Does that make sense?
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Old 11-05-10, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by BabaRamDas View Post
Thanks for the advice, guys. This has all been very helpful.

I also see upgrading parts on this bike possibly making future bike purchases cheaper because I can move these parts to the new frame. Does that make sense?
It only makes sense when you buy an average frameset with good components then save up for a very nice frame and just swap everything.

It doesn't make sense to buy a complete bike with average components, upgrade all those components then buy a new frame. You're spending more money and taking longer to enjoy the better bike.

For example, what I'm doing right now is buying a bikesdirect super strada (full sram apex, ritchey etc) and later buying a nice $2000 frameset. I won't need to buy anything else, plus the super strada is much better than the bike I lost and it costs around the same. Not the greatest frame but a HELL of a deal if you plan on upgrading the frameset later in.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:22 PM
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Spend the money on good cycling clothes, shoes, pedals, tools, water bottles, or lights. Upgrade parts on the bike as they wear out. You'll probably outgrow the whole bike at some point, so it's better to invest in things that you'll keep after you change bikes. Buy things that'll let you ride more rather than obsess more over your bike. A two pound difference in bike weight only makes a few seconds of difference up the hardest hills you'll ever climb -- and it doesn't make any difference if you're riding in a group. If you absolutely need to buy something for the bike, get some nice tires.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:23 PM
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I have a Cannondale Synapse 5 Carbon, and the Tektro brakes are one of the first things I would upgrade or at least the pads to Koolstop salmons. It looks like your tires are regular Vittoria Zaffiro's. Upgrade those to some folding bead Conti GP4000's, Michelin Pro Race 3, or Vittoria Rubino pros. You can add some Conti Race Light tubes to help save some weight. You know Mavic CXP 22's are not bad wheels in my opinion, but they are not the lightest. Like others have said do not bother upgrading your components. Just keep riding and wear them out. YOU will become faster over time while riding more. As long as your bike is in the 20 pound range it will not hold you back in the least bit if you decide to race.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:26 PM
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For a smoother ride, before buying wheels maybe you can try wider tires. If you still want new wheels, you will probably notice a big ride quality improvement with Velocity A23 rims compared to standard width rims. I use those rims and noticed a difference. In terms of speed, don't expect much of a difference with new wheels.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:46 PM
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Can't believe no one's suggested getting your bike fit to you, yet.

Please, please, please: visit a pro bike fitter and get your saddle, cleats and bars checked. It might sound ridiculous to spend several hours and pay some dude $150 to shift your saddle, seatpost & cleats, backward or forward a centimeter, but those things make such a colossal difference.

If you're in the LA area, Nate Loyal is a great one to see. I felt a little silly walking out of the shop after paying him that much money, and the end-result (that day at least) was that he shifted my saddle forward about a centimeter and a half and my cleats back just under a centimeter, but the results were astounding--better than Dura Ace carbon aero wheels.

And after you've done that, consider buying a saddle from an LBS with a 30-day exchange program. I later bought a power meter and aero wheels, and both were terrific boons to my riding, but they pale in comparison to the fitting and saddle changes I've made this year.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:49 PM
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Nate Loyal fit me too. A fitting is a good upgrade and your body will thank you.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:54 PM
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You wouldn't notice the new fork or saddle post.

+1 on wheels and tires. They have the biggest impact on your ride that you will definitely feel (if you upgrade to better components of course)

Spend money on a good computer- helps you to plan your excercise better (hrm, cadence, etc.)

Upgrading the derailleurs separately is pointless. You wouldn't feel any change. You are right about Sora being low end, but you can easily ride at least another year with them and then reconsider making some changes. For instance going for double (2x9) (since you live in a flat neighborhood) and may be change the shifters if needed.
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Old 11-05-10, 02:57 PM
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get all carbon, and really expensive stuff. You'll be glad you did.






Now realistically, I started with Mavic krysium elite wheels. The 2010 ones are less than 1500 gr. and darn near bullet proof. Then I got several products from 3T. I like their stuff, it's light and well made. I started with a new 3T arcx stem, then ergonova bars (sized down to 40 instead of the 42 that came on my bike), then a 3T doric team seat post. That plus a new saddle made all the difference in the world to me in the fit and ride.

Next I went on a small weight weenie binge and bought some KCNC C6 brakes, seat post clamp, bar ends, KCNC skewers, and headset top cap. All in all several hundred dollars to save a little weight.

All of this stuff cost a bit over $1000 combined, but I lost a bunch of weight off the bike from the OEM specs, and I love the way it rides now, and that's what's most important.

here's a few pics of what it looks like now:



IMG_0033..jpg


IMG_0021..jpg


IMG_0031..jpg


IMG_0028..jpg

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Old 11-05-10, 06:05 PM
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OK, a decent set of wheels would be nice. If you're under 180 lbs or so, for $200 + shipping you can get a set of Neuvation M28X wheels. (If you're above 180 or so, for the most part stay away from low-spoke count wheels, especially lower-priced low-spoke-count wheels)

Other than that, if you've been bitten by the upgrade bug, don't bother with your current bike. By the time you've finished upgrading everything on it to whatever level you want you will have spent more than you would have just buying a new bike with that level of components.
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