Confession time: I love to upgrade my bike. In fact, at this point, if I cannot get a frame only, I purchase bikes knowing that all components can be replaced over time should I see fit, so the “cheapest” builds are what I gravitate towards. Over time, I’ve accepted that “golden goose” bikes are elusive and swapping out parts can be part of the fun. In fact, I’ve changed everything from bars, grips, stems, cranks, brakes, pedals, saddles, droppers, derailleurs, rotors, wheels, tires, and well, you get the picture.
Along the way, I have purchased many expensive regrets, but I’ve also found some hidden gems that have now become my go-to parts for whatever bikes I own from here on out. As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed, not just in the brands I purchase, but also in the types of parts that I consider worthy of an “upgrade.” I’ve also come to understand that an upgrade doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive, it just means, better for you. For example, maybe the bike you purchased has a really lightweight carbon bar, but you don’t like the back sweep or the rise, and the one that you like is alloy, well, time to switch that part out and make it yours.
And half the fun of owning bikes is making them our own. The bike industry is laden with new and innovating companies that produce quality products. Some would say that we are living in a bike industry renaissance. Bikes have become so good that the differences between so many brands can be subjective at best. And that’s a good thing. However, all of this innovation does come at a cost, figuratively and literally. There is no denying that bikes have become quite expensive. Bike manufactures might take exception to that. And to be fair, they do have a point. After all, they have a lot of costs to consider. Raw materials, labor, marketing, distribution, research and development, etc., are some of the costs that the companies take into account. So, by the time we see these great machines on the bike shop floor, all of these factors have to be taken into consideration.
Still, as the consumer, I cannot help but get sticker shock at some of the prices I see on new bikes. But it’s good to know that we have options. We don’t need to buy new bikes. There are plenty of great ones on the secondary market. Also, some direct-to- consumer brands offer pretty good value too. Whatever the case, I will be happy buying frames and searching out deals on parts to put on bikes. Will I ever find that golden goose of a bike? The one that I will never have to “upgrade.” Doubtful. But I’m ok with that. In fact, I prefer it that way.