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Give your bike a £100 make-over

Joseph Delves
3 May 2016

How far can £100 get you if you want to transform your ride? We put it to the test.

Freshen up for summer

A winter spent braving the elements can take its toll on your bike. Treat it to a spa day-style scrubbing, and then get busy replacing all the parts likely to have suffered most from the wet, grimy conditions.

LifeLine Performance Brake Cable Set

Pull your brake levers – does the action feel gritty or are the callipers slow to spring back into place? Try the same with the gears. Are the derailleurs hesitant to move? If so, your cables are knackered. Replace them with this top-value set from Lifeline and the sealed ferrules should see them outlast more basic alternatives, regardless of the weather. 

£8, wiggle.co.uk

Fibrax Spiral Frame Protectors


These cunning gizmos fit over your cable outers. Made of squishy silicone they’ll prevent them eating into your frame as you steer, which can be a real problem on carbon bikes. If you’ve recently fitted new cables, there’s no need to worry as they’ll snap into place without the need to disconnect your brakes or gears.

£5, ison-distribution.com

Koolstop Dura Salmon Brake Pad Inserts

Koolstop’s salmon-pink coloured inserts are soft enough to boost your braking performance but not so soft as to wear down too quickly. Not only that but their rim-friendly compound should prevent them eating into your wheels in the way that some cheaper pads can. 

£18, koolstop.com

Shimano 105 Cassette 

Depending on how posh your bike is, you may have to shell out more or less on the cassette. For Shimano riders, though, we can’t see much benefit in forking out for anything swankier than the 105 level, especially now it’s available in both 10 and 11-speed varieties, covering every conceivable ratio.

£37-40, madison.co.uk

Shimano 105 Chain 


Same goes for the chain. Regardless of who provides your groupset, we tend to be advocates of changing your chain regularly using a mid-level replacement rather than paying for a higher-end model and then running it into the ground. If swapped before it’s too worn, a fresh chain will help preserve your chainrings and sprockets. 

£20-22, madison.co.uk

TOTAL: £97.50-£102.50

Turbo charge your racer

If your race bike cost less than a grand, chances are a bit of economising was done when choosing the components. Here are several great first upgrades that’ll inject performance and comfort into your ride. 

Fabric Scoop Saddle

Stock saddles on many budget bikes can be a bit ropey. Often sourced from the back pages of an original equipment (oe) manufacturer’s catalogue, the one on your bike may well not be the best possible match for your bottom. Swapping it for a better fitting saddle will boost both comfort and biomechanical efficiency – Fabric’s Scoop is available in a range of designs to suit different riding styles and body types. Pop down to your local bike shop for a proper fitting.

£40, fabric.cc

Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres

It’s common to find wire-bead tyres as standard on many sub £1,000 bikes. These are held on to the rim by an inflexible bead containing a string of steel wire. In order to save weight, higher-quality tyres use a materials such as aramid instead – these are usually described as ‘folding’ tyres. Any weight towards the edge of the wheel has a disproportionately large effect on the acceleration of your bike, making tyres a great first upgrade. Better tyres will also be more supple and so will reduce rolling resistance, too. 

£46, chickencycles.co.uk

Deda Perforated Tape 

While not necessarily an essential, a fresh wrap of bar tape can still leave you feeling like a Tour de France pro rather than a regular schlub. Anyone who’s ridden for a while will have a favourite style and brand and Deda is one of ours. Swapping the colour is also a great way to put your stamp on an otherwise stock bike. 

£9, chickencycles.co.uk 

TOTAL: £95

Prepare for adventure

If you want to broaden your cycling horizons, you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on a new ‘adventure’ bike – a few reasonably priced bits of kit will turn your roadie into a go-anywhere companion.

Alpkit Airlok 13L Drybag

Designed to fit in Alpkit’s Koala seatpack (£65) this dry bag also works on
its own for light touring. Perfect for bulky items such as sleeping bags, its webbing strap allows you to lash it under the saddle. Great, cheap kit if you’re bitten by the bike-packing bug. You can also upgrade to the full seatpack later.

£15, alpkit.com

Elite SuperByasi Storage Bottle

This clever bottle isn’t for carrying water, rather it’s a new take on something that road riders have been improvising for years, the tool bidon. With enough space to keep a multi-tool and some spares, along with a packable rain jacket, it can negate the need for a saddlebag, or simply add more storage to your set-up. 

£9, madison.co.uk

Elite MaxiCorsa Bottle 950ml 

Holding just under a litre, this bottle is huge – easily big enough to make up for the capacity you’ll lose if you use your second cage for a storage holster (see above right). If you manage to lose it in the wilderness, you won’t have to feel too bad either, as it’s biodegradable. 

£6, madison.co.uk

Specialized Roubaix Pro Tyres 

If your frame and fork have the space to fit them, wider tyres can help you tackle a much broader range of terrain than you’d be able to while riding on skinny 23 or 25c slicks. Available in widths up to 32c, their larger volume allows the user to run much lower pressures, increasing grip and comfort, but without excessively increasing the risk of pinch-flats. 

£50 (pair) specializedconceptstore.co.uk

Cx-Guard 

Stop getting spray in your face if you venture off-road with this simple under-fork mudguard. You’ll need a disc or canti-brake bike with a wide fork, but if that’s you, this clever guard can keep the dirt out of your eyes, not to mention your headset. And all for under a tenner!

£8, rapidracerproducts.com

TOTAL: £88

Get into time-trialling

Time-trialling is one of the easiest ways to start racing – just turn up, pay a couple of quid and add your name to the start list. While a standard road bike and kit are fine, a few easy changes can knock chunks off your PB.

Token Alloy Aero Extensions Bars 


Bolting to your regular bars, these extensions provide something for your hands to hold, along with support for your forearms, enabling you to adopt a low and narrow position to slip through the air while generating minimal resistance. However, their narrower stance means you’ll have less control over the bike, so save them for solo rides. 

 £40, i-ride.co.uk

Lazer Aeroshell Helmet Cover 

OK, so not technically part of the bike, but we’re including helmet covers because along with aero-bars they’re a ridiculously cheap way to buy some additional speed. While all those vents in your lid may keep your head cool, they’ll also snag the air as it passes. Many high-end models now come with the option to buy a snap-on cover. Get one and save yourself some watts. 

£15, madison.co.uk 

Elite Crono CX aero bottle kit

While on shorter courses, like those under 25 miles you’d be best to try to hydrate before your race and not break position to reach for your bottle, no human is a camel. On longer rides you’ll need to take on water, but a standard bottle on your down tube can add drag. Swap yours for something more aero, like this narrow, dimpled model from Elite. 

£25, madison.co.uk

VeloToze Tall shoe cover

Another piece of kit for the rider. These roll-on shoe covers won’t just keep your feet warm and dry, they’ll also save you a few seconds. While every part of the rider generates drag, because of the way they spin into the wind as you pedal, your shoes are a particularly good candidate for an aero makeover, and these booties do the job nicely. 

£15,  velobrands.co.uk

TOTAL: £95 

 

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