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View Full Version : Should TwoWheelsDC Upgrade, Sell & Buy New, or Do Something Else?



Tim Kelley
06-05-2012, 11:09 AM
Okay forum! Let's get voting. What should TwoWheelsDC when faced with this dilemma:

Here's the original thread:

Okay, this is one of those "sell or upgrade" questions, and I'm trying to see if there's a consensus. Currently, I have two bikes...a commuter (cross bike) and a weekend/fitness/travel bike (henceforth known as n+1). So N+1 is a 2003 Cannondale R400 that I got off CL. It's in pretty good shape and rides very smooth. I had it overhauled and also put a new chain/cassette on it. All told, I've got about $600 into it and I've used it for two century rides and a number of shorter rides on weekends, so I think the money was definitely well spent. However, I'm thinking that I'd like to have a more serious/capable road bike with more up-to-date components. The primary weakness is the brifters, which are 8spd Soras. They work fine, but it's my understanding that I pretty much can't upgrade any other components until I get 9 or 10 spd shifters on there. So I'm looking at going up to a 105 drivetrain, and possibly also replacing the stem/handlebars and maybe the fork, but that's a low priority. By the time I do that, I'd almost have spent enough (including my what I've spent so far) to have gotten a new bike instead. I figure a 105 equipped aluminum Cannondale runs about $1500.

So what would you do? A) Spend a bunch of money upgrading a bike that fits you well and that you like, or B) cut your losses and buy a new bike? The one thing I like about option A is that the bike wouldn't be a cookie cutter bike, it'd be a bit more personalized. Also, gradual upgrades go over much easier with the Mrs. If I did get a new bike, I'd just ride N+1 into the ground and probably pick something up (carbon fiber, perhaps?) next season.

For reference, here is N+1:
1162

jrenaut
06-05-2012, 11:22 AM
Good fit + happy fiance = win.

jabberwocky
06-05-2012, 11:32 AM
Per the previous thread, my initial thought was to keep the existing bike as is and get something new, but you indicated space is a constraint (which I assume means that if you get a new bike, this one has to go).

Based on that, I think it could go either way. My first recommendation would be to hit a few local shops and ride some new bikes and see what you think. If you don't really feel they are dramatically better than your current ride (aside from updated components), then upgrade the frame you have now. If you really like the new bikes, plan on a whole-bike upgrade. Theres no reason you couldn't hang an updated drivetrain on the R400, but you might really like the way a new carbon frame rides.

mstone
06-05-2012, 11:39 AM
you'll never find a new bike that has exactly what you want, so you'll be component-swapping anyway.

vvill
06-05-2012, 12:03 PM
As much as I like shiny new stuff, I also hold some sentimentality with my things, especially bikes. They never stay shiny and new for long anyway. Therefore, I'd upgrade. The other reasons I like upgrading are a) you get to tinker with the bike and increase your mechanical knowledge/skill (although it can also be frustrating)
and b) your bike will be more personal + unique.

I have a rusty GT MTB I bought new in 2006 when I moved to the USA for <$300, and it served as my only bike for awhile. It's definitely not the best bike and for a while I stashed it outside on an apartment balcony (hence the rust) but I've probably put $300 into "upgrading" it - a new wheelset, front BB7 disc brake, new tires (2x sets), new cassette (+ spacer - it's a 7 speed), and I might still upgrade it more. It's my beater/rain/ice/snow bike but it's aluminum and has never really been ridden as a MTB so I imagine the frame has plenty of life left. (Also, when I was growing up and started really riding, 90s MTBs were all the rage and GT was one of the really "cool" brands to me at the time, even though they're just another arm of a big conglomerate now.)



All the advice offered in this thread seems sound to me.

Dirt
06-05-2012, 12:24 PM
The best thing to upgrade on pretty much ANY bike is the wheels. That is where you'll feel the most difference in an upgrade. It is also where most road bikes under $2000 save money, in my view. Come to think of it, the ones over $2000 tend to do it too. If century-type rides are in your goals, a set of wheels that is a bit lighter and a bit more aerodynamic will be a big improvement.

With that in mind, I'd say that upgrading the current bike will more expensive than you are anticipating. Projects like this usually are.

Is there something that the current bike isn't doing that specifically makes you want to upgrade? If nothing is really wrong with the bike you're riding, I'd probably suggest either keep riding it, or put it up on CL and buy the new bike. Dropping a lot into the current bike will make improvements, but likely will not get you something that works better, but you'll likely be coming back for more, or a new bike in the near future.

To me the only real options are 1) Do nothing and enjoy your bike pretty much as is... maybe new tires, saddle and cables and housing to make it work its best, if you haven't already done that; or b) Put it on Craig's List and buy the new bike.

Does that help?

Pete

dasgeh
06-05-2012, 12:36 PM
Personally, I find it hard to answer the theoretical question. Instead, I'd start shopping around at LBS's to see if there is a real bike that meets your needs and fits you well. If you can wait for the sales, then you have some time to shop around, taking the top contenders on some long rides. Then, if there really is a bike out there that fits you well and rides better than N+1, you can make the decision.

TwoWheelsDC
06-05-2012, 12:51 PM
The best thing to upgrade on pretty much ANY bike is the wheels. That is where you'll feel the most difference in an upgrade. It is also where most road bikes under $2000 save money, in my view. Come to think of it, the ones over $2000 tend to do it too. If century-type rides are in your goals, a set of wheels that is a bit lighter and a bit more aerodynamic will be a big improvement.

With that in mind, I'd say that upgrading the current bike will more expensive than you are anticipating. Projects like this usually are.

Is there something that the current bike isn't doing that specifically makes you want to upgrade? If nothing is really wrong with the bike you're riding, I'd probably suggest either keep riding it, or put it up on CL and buy the new bike. Dropping a lot into the current bike will make improvements, but likely will not get you something that works better, but you'll likely be coming back for more, or a new bike in the near future.

To me the only real options are 1) Do nothing and enjoy your bike pretty much as is... maybe new tires, saddle and cables and housing to make it work its best, if you haven't already done that; or b) Put it on Craig's List and buy the new bike.

Does that help?

Pete

Of course it helps!

There isn't anything wrong with the bike at all, but new parts are shiny :D Really, I'm just thinking that the older components are starting to show their age and my ability to upgrade piecemeal is limited, so I'd need to upgrade most of the drivetrain all at once, which is spendy. New wheels/tires are also on the list, but again, spendy.

So I'm leaning on holding off on any major upgrades for the next couple of months, so long as nothing breaks. Then I'll start doing some test rides and see if that helps make the decision easier. But I'm still eager to hear what others think!

PotomacCyclist
06-05-2012, 01:11 PM
If you decide to get a new bike, I agree with the suggestion to time the purchase and find end-of-season sales. Or previous year's models on sale. For some reason, bikes have model years and the prices drop as soon as the season is over. I don't know if there's that much of a difference between Brand/Model A 2012 and Brand/Model A 2013, other than some minor changes. Even if there are some improvements, it doesn't mean the 2012 model is bad.

I bought my aluminum Felt tri bike (combination of Ultegra/105/Felt components) in 2009 at 35% off the retail price, simply because it was a 2008 model. It was still a brand new bike. I think I paid about $1000. Pedals were not included.

Set up a browser folder of local bike stores, with their product listings. Browse through the sites every few weeks and note any deals that may work for you (type of bike, size, price). Visit the stores over the summer too. Sometimes the sales will only be advertised online, or only in-store. Many of the local stores have good deals in the fall and winter. June is probably not the best time to go bike shopping because a lot of new buyers will be opening their wallets this month.

Dirt
06-05-2012, 01:13 PM
Fall is arguably the best time to buy a bike deal-wise. You sometimes have to really look around to get the size/color that you want, but that is the best time to really save some money.

Greenbelt
06-05-2012, 01:43 PM
I did Dirt's suggestion last year. Instead of buying a new road bike, I got high-end road wheels for my cross bike, and really like the results. Cost was about $700 I think, which is not cheap, but for me, since I'm very happy with my cross components, the wheel upgrade was all I needed to get a great long-distance bike.

New bikes aren't cheap -- another idea would be to look at mid-level road bikes. Our LBS sells a lot of Bianchi Imola (steel) and Jamis Ventura Race (aluminum with carbon seat stays and fork) I think in the $1300-$1400 range with pretty good components. Sometimes people come in thinking expecting to spend $2k or more for a great road bike but are pleasantly surprised when they ride the medium priced models. They might not have the highest end racing wheels etc., but probably a decent upgrade from where you are!

elcee
06-05-2012, 01:52 PM
I think it boils down to TwoWheelsDC's personality:

1. patient tinkerer --> upgrade components, with the possibility of going backward before moving forward
2. needs immediate gratification --> buy a new bike

DismalScientist
06-05-2012, 02:05 PM
I've got to agree with Pete on this one. If the old brifters work fine, what is the need for an upgrade? Maybe if you want more cogs and you don't think you can adequate dial in the appropriate gearing. Maybe the shifting might be more crisp. Don't know, but you'll have to answer for yourself.

I had a similar situation, but without the space constraints. I have a mid '80s Trek 620 with 3x7 gearing, including a half-step/granny triple and indexed shifters on the downtube, on which I wanted to run studded tires. Unfortunately, because of the canti brakes, I could not switch to 700 C wheels. I bought a Nashbar Touring bike with 105 drive components. I can't say this was a vast improvement, but it shifts more nicely and I can ride it on ice, not that we saw any last winter. In terms of dialing in the right gear, moving from 21 to 30 speeds would definitely not be worth the upgrade for me.

hencio
06-05-2012, 03:40 PM
I'm with Pete on the keep it or sell and buy new. I've always been an upgrade guy, due to sticker shock of new bikes. In my experience however, I have found that upgrading tends to 1. get more expensive than planned 2. not being a real bike mechanic, I have learned the hard way about some of the nuance of part compatibility and getting the bike to ride like a nice well oiled machine. My last bike was brand new and oh so lovely before getting stolen. I've since bought the same frame and built it up with a combo of new, used parts and held together by gum and spit. It has taken me weeks of tweaking to get it riding close to the way I want it to ride. I'll be going through the upgrade process with this one, but if I had a choice, I'd be going turn-key from the LBS. Whatever you choose, good luck!

TwoWheelsDC
07-25-2012, 07:00 PM
Well, I did my first upgrade...my front hub looked to be giving out and my OE tires were fraying at the sidewalls due to age, so grabbed a new set of Mavic Aksium wheels. Not the most pro set out there, but reasonably priced and I think they look pretty good...plus, the real limiting factor for my bike is the me, so a decent beginner wheelset is all I really need. Huge bonus is that the tire/tube is included, so I didn't even have to worry about that. Maybe they aren't the best tires, but I'll at least ride them til they die and then upgrade. I can't tell if they make me any faster, but they ride much much smoother than the 10 year old wheels/tires that were on the bike before.

Here it is!

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8161/7646863832_5dc790474e_z.jpg

For reference, here's the before pic:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7238/7156435543_6f2ec4f535_z.jpg

Arlingtonrider
07-25-2012, 07:12 PM
I don't know anything about wheels yet, but they sure look pretty!

Would someone be willing to educate me a little at the next happy hour?

vvill
07-25-2012, 08:28 PM
Nice. Aksiums are very solid wheels from what I've heard, and my road bike came with them stock. They survived everything until I got serious case of upgraditis (when I replaced them with lighter Neuvations for climbing). I keep them as a backup set for my road bike, and hybrid.