Feeling motivated to jump back on your bike you bought in 2000? Good news is that bikes have improved. I’m not judging the age of your bike since I still own and occasionally ride a 1995 Gary Fisher Aquilla hard tail and still love riding it. If you are happy with your current bike but want to make the rig enjoyable with a couple upgrades, then here are a few suggestions.
Start with the touch points- saddle, handlebars, pedals
Seat- Maybe you were a casual rider and now want to start enduro mountain bike, or gravel riding. Maybe your body size has changed or a past injury created a new limitation since the last time you rode and need a better fit. Take into consideration the type of riding and amount of cushioning you want to upgrade. Mistake to avoid is going out and buying the cheapest seat at a big box store. They are cheap for a reason, and you don’t want to spend time riding one. Research online or go to your local bike store to source your seat and the money will be worth it.
Handlebars- I have larger hands wearing a size XL glove. One of the best upgrades I did was replace the grips on my MTB bike with larger grips. This was a great low-cost upgrade providing relief to my hands especially for longer mountain bike rides. If your riding style has changed and looking at doing longer road rides, then maybe adding aerobars to your current setup will provide comfort and improved speed and distance. Many options in the market so do your research on what works with your current bike setup. Handlebars length and shape has changed over the years so this could be a component worth upgrading. Mistake to avoid is thinking all bike handlebars are the same. Do you have a light mount you want to carry over or address the pain you are feeling in your hands? Like all the bike touch points, I would recommend that you do your research and speak with a bike shop to evaluate options.
Pedals- The workhorse component of a bike that takes a beating. Even the best of bike pedals require maintenance or updating. If you can hear your pedals squeaking while riding or feel a grinding under your foot, then it’s time to fix or replace. Maybe you decided that you want to take the leap from a flat platform pedal to a clipless pedal and improve your ride performance. There are many varieties of clipless pedals on the market. (More on the history of clipless pedals here). Once you have decided or researched what your riding plans and goals are, then you can begin shopping and research for what fits your needs. Mistakes to avoid is assume bike pedal design has not changed in 50 years. There are pedals for different riding purposes like road, mountain gravel. There are pedals specifically designed to help with knees, hip pain or increase your power. Do your research, talk to other cyclists, and narrow your choice to what fits your need.
Other upgrades -wheels, crankset, brakes
Wheels can be a great way to pick up speed with lower wind drag and lower weight wheel set. This is a nice upgrade but can be pricey depending on your need. An alternative to upgrading the entire wheel is to replace the bearings inside the wheel giving it a new life. New bearings can be a great next step while you increase your ride frequency and distance. Mistake to avoid is overlooking simple tune-up on the wobbly wheel or old bearings that are slowing you down.
Crankset- Electronic shift in your future? I have had the pleasure to ride two different electronic shift bikes and can see the benefits. This is a pricy upgrade that may require changing out other parts as well. There are many crankset upgrades on the market and if your cogs are worn out then may this could be a good components to replace. A cheap upgrade can be just replacing the chain. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how a new chain can improve your bike ride. Mistake to avoid is spending $500 for an upgrade and then ride in the same gear, every ride, every time. Save your money if you’re not going to use the gears as intended.
Brakes- I own four bikes. Two of the bikes have disc brakes and the other two came with traditional rim brakes. If I had a choice, disc brakes are absolutely the way to go. I sometimes ride aggressively and love the stopping power of disc brakes. Any riding style will benefit from disc brakes so this would be a nice improvement for anyone. Upgrading to disc brakes can be pricey and may require wheel change too. Recommend you go to a local bike shop to see if this is something they can help with or if it is worth the cost for your bike. Minimally have the pads on you rim brakes swapped out which will improve the braking performance and provide piece of mind as you get back in the saddle.
Keep in mind this guidance is assuming you have a decent bike to start with. If you are riding a bike you bought at big box discount store 15 years ago, then think twice before wasting your money on upgrading it. Reach out here if you have questions or need guidance for your bike.