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10 Quick Upgrade Wins

10 Quick Wins To Improve Your Road Cycling

All keen cyclists are always looking for ways to improve their bikes, making them faster and more comfortable. Here are ten of the most popular upgrades and additions that customers make when speccing their dream road bike on the Planet X website.

Wheels and Cassettes:

If you're looking to make your cycling easier, faster and more comfortable then you simply can't go wrong with an upgraded pair of wheels and that's why they're the most popular post-purchase upgrade with our customers.

Lighter wheels are easier to accelerate, spinning up to speed more quickly and require less energy to push up the steep climbs. If you spend most of your time on the bike climbing and descending then a lightweight set of wheels will give you the biggest performance boost. If like most cyclists, however, you find yourself smashing out the miles on relatively rolling roads then a mid-profile set of aero rims is going to give you a huge performance boost. Go full carbon with a tubular rim and you'll find yourself not only benefitting hugely from better aero but you can save yourself 700g vs a set of entry level wheels and upto 400g over a sensible set of mid-range wheels.

If triathlon and time trailing is your thing then you'll know all about the benefits of good aero. Our deep section, carbon aero wheels are wind tunnel tested and proven to be fast. How fast? Fast enough to help you knock seconds off every Km you race.

At Planet X we've been helping cyclists go fast for over 20 years and carbon race wheels have been one of our most popular offerings. Unlike other brands you get what you pay for from us, there is no heavy markup or dealer margin to cover so our full carbon TT and triathlon wheels offer unmatched value for money.

While you're choosing your new wheels it makes sense to spend a little time thinking about your gear ratios. For flat out blasting on your TT bike or racing on the road you'd typically run 11-23T or 11-25T to give you the best top speed and the smallest steps between gears to help you optimise your cadence.

If you're planning on taking to the hills there's no need to grind your way up the climbs. Most modern groupsets offer a range of rear cassettes with different ratios to suit all conditions. Just make sure that you rear mech can accommodate the gear spread and you are good to go. We love 28T cassettes for general riding when paired with 53/39 chainsets. If you're new to cycling or maybe planning on riding big hills and lugging a load up the hills with you then SRAM make a range of 32T cassettes to work with their mid-cage rear mechs. Shimano is warming to the same idea, slowly but surely.

Tyres and tubes:

Get a better grip, save some weight and reduce your rolling resistance- there's plenty of great reasons to swap out the standard rubber than comes with your bike and that's why tyre changes are the most frequent customer selected upgrade at time of purchase.

Swapping from steel beaded tyres to folding versions will trim a couple of ounces of weight from your clincher tyres. A folding bead fits more easily, accelerates quicker and is a damn sight easier to carry as a spare.

If you're pounding out the miles then you benefit two ways from swapping your tyres; moving to a slightly bigger tyre, say 25mm from a 23mm might not sound like much you get a significant increase in air volume, nearly 15% and a modest increase in contact patch size. So you get a smoother ride and more grip in the corners. The weight penalty for all this, maybe 30g.

For serious cyclists who don't stop during the winter, including tough commuters who don't mind the dark and wet mornings there's nothing more important than having a puncture proof tyre. More expensive tyres have better puncture protection systems in them, look for Gator models from Continental and Schwalbe's Durano tyres.

What's inside your tyres counts almost as much as what's on the outside. Budget inner tubes might weigh as much as 150g each. lightweight butyl tubes will come in between 100-80g each and latex tubes will come in between 80-60g each. While latex tubes don't hold air as well as butyl tubes they offer greatly reduced rolling resistance, so you can save some weight and some added watts by making this low-cost upgrade.

Saddle and Seat post:

Your saddle is your primary point of contact with your bike. It supports the majority of your weight as you pedal so you better make sure yours is comfortable. Saddle comfort isn't as easy as picking the biggest armchair that you can find, quite the opposite. You need a saddle with front to back profile that fits your pelvis and sit bones. Sit down on some cardboard and rock from side to side to get an impression of your site bones. Measure the width across from the centre of the impression from each cheek, now you know how wide your sit bones are. You need a saddle that matches this distance. As well as sit bone width the side profile of your saddle needs to suit the way you ride. If you favour a more upright riding position then a saddle with a pronounced dip in the middle will likely give you more comfort. If you're a racing snake who prefers a nose down style then a flat-topped saddle is more likely to be a better fit.

There's more to saddles than just shape, though, there are a million and one different material to make them out of and they all make a difference. When it comes to rails there's really three variations; steel, strong with fair flex, but typically the heaviest option. Titanium, offering, even more, spring than steel but being considerably lighter, usually 50-100g lighter than the same steel rail saddle. Carbon comes in last, typically you'll get a stiffer saddle with a carbon rail and you'll also save a huge chunk of weight, usually 100g or more over a similar steel rail version of the same saddle. Add in all the options for saddle coverings in natural and man-made materials and then pressure channels and relief cut-outs and you can see there's a whole world out there. Pick a nice lightweight, flat-topped carbon version if you're a serious racer or go for a saddle with a pressure relief channel, flexible titanium rails and a little bit of drop in the centre if you're putting in big miles and looking for maximum comfort.

Your saddle is only as good as the seat post that supports it and that's why Selcof makes a huge range of great seat posts. Top of the tree is their Delta HM carbon seat post. Smoothly moulded from continuous carbon fibre this lightweight marvel is engineered to provide a touch of shock absorption to isolate you from the road as well as using a simple, single bolt micro adjust clamp design. If you want lightweight performance at a sensible price there's no better option.

Shoes and Pedals:

The Planet X 365 range includes shoes for all types of cycling. Whether you're a new cyclist or a die hard racer you'll find the perfect pair of shoes in our 365 line-ups. Getting a good fit on your feet is critical for your cycling comfort, and smart sole design helps with your pedalling efficiency. Our carbon soled 365 shoes feature a stiff, low profile sole that puts you closer to the pedal for maximum ergonomic efficiency. This reduced stack height results in a smoother pedalling action that will help reduce the build up of fatigue and reduce the likelihood of knee and ankle pain.

If your budget and aspirations don't stretch that far, our reinforced composite-soled 365 shoes offer much of the performance and all of the comfort of their more expensive stablemates. Featuring a hybrid dial/hook and loop closure system for easy adjustment and the option to use either LOOK or 2-bolt SPD pedals.

Speaking of pedals, if you aren't using clipless pedals then it's time that you were. They offer smoother more efficient pedalling and much better comfort as you no longer have straps digging into the top of your shoes. Moving up any pedal range gets you smoother longer running bearings, better, lighter axles and greater durability. Top offerings from Shimano are exactly the same pedals that the pro's race on and they're our best selling 'spendy' pedals. At the mid-range price point, we've just introduced a new line of Planet X clipless pedals. Check them out if you want a workhorse clipless pedal that won't break the bank.

Technical Outer Wear and Baselayers:

Looking to ride more? Join the smart cyclists who already know the performance and value for money that our 365 clothing range offers. We've been told it's the most competitively priced technical outerwear that you can buy, and we're not going to argue.

Wearing the right clothes for the conditions is the biggest single cycling upgrade you can make. Nothing trumps staying warm when it's cold or keeping cool when the sun is shining down. For wet weather cycling take a look at out Hydrosphere and Atmoshield jackets. If staying warm when it might rain is on your priority list try out our Hydrocore jacket and for ultimate foul weather, protection take a ride in our Echostorm 2 jacket.

If you're looking for lightweight protection our convertible Magma softshell jacket will keep you warm and dry during spring and autumn. Pair it with our highly regarded 365 baselayers to keep you warm on hard rides and cold mornings.

If you are looking for a bit of cold weather protection for your extremities then our 365 convertible race gloves and 100% waterproof Crab Hand gloves could be just the ticket. Our Crab Hand gloves are the warmest we've worn, as soon as it dips below 8 degrees we reach for these every ride.

Whichever upgrades you choose you are sure to find excellent value. No one with a bike was ever sorry that they upgraded some of it!

22 December 2016

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