Help me buy bike stuff!

So, forgive the total noob question here, but that’s what I am, a total beginner.

Last August while recovering from ACL surgery, I bought a cheap road bike for rehab purposes. As is probably the case with many people here, one thing led to another and before you know it I was riding with my local group 3x a week and loving it. After a couple of good drop rides, I decided to try to get into racing this upcoming year. I bought a used tacx vortex, and am using trainer road with good results (almost 80w ftp increase so far!)

But, my bike isn’t great. It’s got an older 10 speed 105 groupset, so not too terrible there, but I suspect the frame is not good. It’s a fitwell degroot like this one https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycling/1061354-fitwell-degroot-ii-alex-pictures-initial-thoughts.html .

Realistically, I can probably spend 1000-1500 on either upgrades or a new bike this spring. Knowing that I want to hit the cat 5 races, keep up the group rides, and save more money for a cyclocross bike, (looks like so much fun!) what would the more experienced cyclists out there recommend? Upgrades? A better bike from scratch? Wait and save some more to increase my limit?

The only thing is, I think I would like another set of wheels before racing, but again, might just be my inexperience talking there.

Upgrading is a great way to waste money unless you really really know exactly what you want. It’s way cheaper to buy a complete bike (ask me how I know :wink:). Current 105 equipped biked like the Specialized Allez Sprint are a great deal and the 105 of today is not going to hold you back in any way shape or form. So don’t get caught up thinking you need top shelf everything because that’s what you see.

Fitness is king. Fit allows you to exploit your fitness. Everything else is extra. The frame being one of the least important. Tires/tubes, wheels/hubs, group, frame in that order for me.

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It’s a fine-enough bike for Cat 5 racing. At that level, the big discriminator will be fitness and handling skills much more than equipment. After you do 10 Cat 5 races and can move up to Cat 4, if you’re loving racing and want to be even more competitive, then start looking to upgrade equipment. It might cost more than 1-1.5k though.

Thanks, good thoughts and right in line with what I was thinking. Get some racing under the belt on my current bike and see what’s up. I don’t even have to place, just finish :smile:

Last thing, would new wheels be worthwhile? Or same advice, just wait and see.

That seriously depends IME/O. The absolute most noticeable and cheapest upgrade are tires and tubes. Wheels are a good area to spend money but, until you really understand what you’re looking for save the $. If you ignore everything I write and just have to buy a set of wheels buy something with a nice wide internal width. That will allow the tire to have a more round shape=more supple=better Crr etc…

Latex tubes are just full win all the way around besides the loss of psi overnight and maybe a bit finicky to install…

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Agree with tires and tubes. Conti GP 4000S II’s have been as cheap as $29 online lately. The new GP 5000’s are out, and a lot more expensive, but the 4000’s are still really good and would make for a low cost upgrade. Latex tubes and 4000S II’s is a great combo.

Another thought is looking for a used bike. If you are patient and hunt around, there are some great deals out there.

You should be able to find a new Giant Defy Advanced 3 or TCR Advanced 3 for your budget. You’ll be getting a great carbon bike with Tiagra components that you can upgrade later if you wish.

You could get a CX bike that could do double duty as a road bike. Use your money to buy a good CX frame invest in a nice set of wheels and transfer your current parts to the new frame… there have been some discussions on this in other threads.

I agree with what’s already been said about upgrading. Your money will probably be better spent after you’ve raced a bit and have a better idea what you want/need.

I don’t think anyone suggested this yet, but things I would consider spending money on at this point are quality shorts/bibs and a saddle that works for you. Undercarriage pain/irritation can really make it hard to love riding. Along with clipless pedals, those were the first upgrades I made to my first bike.

Assuming you’ve got a saddle, shorts, and pedals you’re happy with, wheels would be the next sensible upgrade IMO. I’m not listing tires/tubes because those are consumables that will wear out, and you’re going to have to replace them then. Just wait until your current tires are worn out before you buy new ones. It won’t be that long of a wait.

All that said, if you can save your pennies for a while, a new bike is probably the smarter upgrade route for where you’re at. The cost of an oem component is almost always less than that same component’s retail price, so upgrading components one by one can be really expensive in the long run. I think the component upgrade route only makes sense when you a) have a bike/frame you’re really committed to; b) want to use components that aren’t usually spec’d as OEM parts on new bikes, e.g., SRAM Force groupsets (Shimano is way more prevalent in OEM drivetrains), handbuilt wheels with unique spoke counts and/or hubs.

Anyway, personally my upgrade path went like this:

Noob bike: Felt F90 for$560 (platform pedals, Shimano Sora, Alex rims wheels)
New tires (got flats that ruined the oem tires)
Proper bike shorts
Clipless pedals, shoes, new saddle (this is basically my first big upgrade)
New wheels (the oem wheels just wore out… I was breaking a spoke every other ride from metal fatigue)
New bike: Cervelo S2 that I coveted for a year before pulling the trigger
Lots of new tires along the way
N+1 bike: TT bike
Aero helmet
Aero wheel set
New group set on TT bike (it was a sram 11 speed set that was oem on zero bikes at the time)
New wheels (built them myself from fancy parts I picked myself)
New bike: semi-custom road bike where I got to pick all the parts. Sold my other bikes at this point.

I love what I ride now, but that F90 was a gem too, and only upgrading when I wore out an original part kept me going strong for almost 5 years.

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First of all - welcome to cycling in earnest. We’ve all been noobs, and we’re all still learning.

I would say there is a lot of benefit in getting more seasoning before going out and changing bikes or swapping out too many big ticket components. You’re going to learn more about yourself as a rider if you don’t change equipment every chance you get. With your budget, get some good bib shorts, good gloves, a light jacket, quality shoes, good lights and any other peripherals that will enhance your ability to ride longer, stronger and in more situations.

Budget bikes have one gigantic upside - you can always go out and spank someone whose bike cost 10x what yours did. Cat 5 is full of them.

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Thanks all! Great stuff here. As usual, really appreciate the depth of responses on here.

Sounds like I’ll make sure my current bike is tuned up well, maybe pick up a cheapish second set of wheels to keep as a backup (with a wheel on trainer, that would be so nice) and save the pennies for a new setup when/if I decide to stick it out on the racing side.

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Just bear in mind that once you are on the slippery slope to upgrading

It never, ever, ever ends

1st mtb - £220
Current mtb - £5.5k

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So true.

Love it! Yeah, if you want to race, focus your energy on getting fit.

If your budget is limited, wait until you know what you really want/need before spending money. Getting races and more riding under your belt is the best way to do that.