This article is part of a series on getting ride ready, supported by Tredz (opens in new tab)
Going faster on our bikes is one thing we all want to achieve. Even though the long-term goal to do this is by improving our fitness, making a few smart upgrades to our bikes can really make the difference short term.
So, here are 10 ways to make your bike faster whatever your budget may be.
Now this upgrade won’t be something you directly see on your bike, but the use of an accurate and efficient floor or track pump will mean your tyres are pumped up to the correct PSI before hitting the open road.
Ensuring you aren’t wasting unnecessary energy against rolling resistance, or having a full-on arm workout using a hand pump each time before you ride will mean your effort goes further out on the road.
Adjusting your tyre pressures is also crucial factor for riding in certain weather conditions which can’t be as easily achieved using a hand pump.
A bike computer may not make your bike faster from a mechanical point of view, but it can have a significant effect on how you pace your ride as well as giving instant feedback to the effort you're putting out.
This can be as extreme as linking your computer up with a power meter and your pedals to showcase a true power output on each pedal stroke or perhaps analysing your ride when you get home to see where you can improve next time you're out on the bike.
Bar tape is often something we forget as something that comes as standard on our bikes and rarely gets changed unless it is damaged.
But the psychological feeling of a roll of fresh tape to look down on may not only increase comfort and grip but just give you the placebo effect of a few extra watts.
Chain cleaner and lube
Having an efficient drive chain on our bikes is crucial to achieving maximum speed, especially if you are riding on the open roads where dirt, grime and oil can clog a smooth running chain.
Therefore ensuring you keep your chain clean and oiled up after every ride will not ensure efficiency but increase the lifetime of your cassette.
Handlebars aren’t often thought of as an adaptable component to upgrade on your bike, but they hold an easy way to become aerodynamic and more controlled.
Ensuring the correct width handlebars are attached to your bike will mean you are not only more aero but in more control of your bike.
This may not be a suitable upgrade if you are out on a weekend club run or a cafe ride with some friends. But adding some aerobars to your steed can help hone your position for the most aerodynamic gains for when your club-10 time trials start up once again.
Rotating weight has a greater effect on how you ride your bike, so levelling up your tyres can prove to be a highly beneficial upgrade. Ensuring you also have the correct tyres on your bike for the weather out on the road can also prove critical.
No-one wants to be constantly stopping mid-ride to replace an inner tube that constantly gets punctured because of worn down tyres either, so tapping into this upgrade can be a worthwhile long-term purchase.
If you are looking to easily shift weight from your bike then purchasing some lighter wheels may well be the way to go. Depending on the type of riding you are doing may dictate which type you decide to buy, with shallower wheels better for climbing thanks to their weight saving properties.
Whereas a deeper set of wheels may be more suited to racing and riding on flat roads where aerodynamics come more to the fore. This may be one of the more expensive upgrades you can make but will probably have the greatest effect on your bike.
Your cassette may be a forgotten thing when you buy your bike, but upgrading your cassette and having the ability to tweak the range of gears that suit your riding or ability can have a great effect on your performance.
This can mean you can climb or descend easier and faster in the long run, even just upgrading your cassette can bring about results from a smoother chain efficiency from a potentially old and worn down cassette.
Brake and gear cables
This is perhaps the least exciting upgrade of them, but having a fresh tune-up with new brake and gear cables can not only improve your efficiency when braking and changing gear but will also give you that psychological boost that your bike is in tip-top shape every time you head out for a ride.
Having a well-fitted saddle is perhaps an upgrade you’ll need to get right to ensure you don’t slow down rather than speeding you up. Although some of the saddles at the higher price range will also come with weight-saving properties.
Having a bike fit or testing out what type of saddle works best for your riding style and body geometry could be one of the wisest purchases you make in your cycling journey.
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Paul Knott is a fitness and features writer, who has also presented Cycling Weekly videos as well as contributing to the print magazine as well as online articles. In 2020 he published his first book, The Official Tour de France Road Cycling Training Guide (Welbeck), a guide designed to help readers improve their cycling performance via cherrypicking from the strategies adopted by the pros.
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