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  1. #1
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    Upgrading my First Bike

    I bought a Giant Contend 3 a little while ago and I have a few hundred dollars to make some improvements. Looking mostly at ebay, should I get wheels, a cheaper/older carbon frame, or other improvements like a new saddle?
    I'm a casual rider and I spend most of my time commuting. I live in a hilly area.

  2. #2
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    Do you have clipless pedals and cycling shoes? If not, that's where a few hundred bucks would make a difference. If you walk a lot off the bike (likely if you're commuting), look at mountain-bike type pedals and shoes with recessed cleat.

    If the saddle is comfortable for you, changing it is a waste of money (and also a crapshoot, since it's hard to tell what saddle will work for a given rider).

    Your bike is more than adequate for the kind of riding you're doing. Keep riding, get stronger. If you keep at the sport and start doing longer rides, you'll get a sense of what kind of "upgrade" is worthwhile -- and it's likely that buying a whole new bike will be a better deal than upgrading parts. But you're probably a long time away from that
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  3. #3
    tlg
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    What do you define as an "upgrade"?
    Comfort?
    Speed?
    Aesthetics?

    How much is "a few hundred"?

    How long is your commute?

    How hilly is "hilly"?
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ender_Mist View Post
    I bought a Giant Contend 3 a little while ago and I have a few hundred dollars to make some improvements. Looking mostly at ebay, should I get wheels, a cheaper/older carbon frame, or other improvements like a new saddle? I'm a casual rider and I spend most of my time commuting. I live in a hilly area.
    As a general principle, there are few upgrades that will actually make a difference unless some current component is causeing problems. If you are having saddle problems and have pursued the normal fixes (correct height, saddle tilt, proper fore/aft position) without success, then maybe that would be an upgrade. But unless you have a bike that is really "out of balance" with regard to a specific component, then "upgrades" should be off the menu and things that improve your commute should be on the list. Lights, fenders, and a rack come to mind.

    Putting $1,000 wheels on a $500 bike is not an upgrade, but rather a waste of money. And if you're seriously thinking about a different frame, then you really should be thinking about a new bike (including a used bike of significantly higher performance). That's the most cost effective way to get a noticeable upgrade.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ender_Mist View Post
    I bought a Giant Contend 3 a little while ago and I have a few hundred dollars to make some improvements. Looking mostly at ebay, should I get wheels, a cheaper/older carbon frame, or other improvements like a new saddle?
    I'm a casual rider and I spend most of my time commuting. I live in a hilly area.
    Don't start or you risk becoming addicted with upgrade-itis !
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  6. #6
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    huh...? you're going to 'upgrade' a $600 bike by buying a $200 used carbon frame and swapping components over...?

    not a good plan.

    spend your money on tools/accessories, not the bike. get a floor pump, a chain tool, a cassette removal tool, some spare tubes, etc.
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  7. #7
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    I agree with the advice given so far... other than clipless pedals, I'd leave the bike as is and save for a nicer one someday rather than upgrading.


  8. #8
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    The first problem with this is that you don't really have the base to start off with. I also ride an aluminum bike but its something interesting to begin with. Its a 2007 Trek 1500 SLR which is about the equivalent of an aluminum CAAD or TCR of the era painted in the 2007 Team Discovery livery and it looks like a kind of impressive expensive bike even though its not. On the other hand you have a Contend.

    The next problem is most of your beneficial weight saving possibilities that don't affect the amount of effort it takes to spin up your bike are found in your frame, forks, stem, handlebars, seat post, and seat. You can save weight elsewhere but this will have other unintended consequences. A lighter groupset and wheels might be easier to keep spinning up a hill but you will lose momentum to someone with a heavier groupset and wheels on the flat... Newton's second law of motion and all of that boring stuff...

    Finally, your bike is likely running an 8 speed Claris or something else cheap, cheap stem, cheap seat, cheap handlebars etc. Even if you kept the frame you would basically have to upgrade anything and everything else. Anything you spend on this bike beyond making it fit your body well is over capitalising. To top that off there really isn't anywhere to go with making anything less than a 10speed bike "better" these days.... Its been a long time since there has been an 8speed groupset that is 105 or higher, and ultimately you want to be riding a bike for training with an Ultegra groupset or Dura Ace if you're racing.

    For about $500 I saw an American made Kestrel going the other day. I even saw a 2008 Madone, again another American made bike, with a starting bid of $400 the other day. Anything like that would be an upgrade... Even an older CAAD or TCR would be an upgrade. Stop spending money on entry level bikes.

    That is of course unless you want to be like me and choose cool older frames to bolt new components on to begin with but I can wrench my own bikes which gives me a lot more options. In which case if you just want to ride yourself an aluminum bike find yourself something between a CAAD8 and a CAAD9 from when they were still being built in America and start building something like that up instead.
    Last edited by 1500SLR; 10-05-2018 at 04:37 AM. Reason: Kestrel

  9. #9
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    First offn I definitely would NOT buy a new frame and transfer your old components. Bad, bad idea in this case.

    Second, what is it you are looking for in an upgrade? I would not recommend an upgreade in this case, but if you really want to do one, the most cost effective and probably the one you will notice the most in ride quality is YOUR TIRES. You probably have a pair of entry level tires which are not very supple and therefore will feel harsh and slow.

    Beyond tires, I would not spend any money on this bike.
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  10. #10
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    Probably saving your a few hundreds bucks for future new bike might be better than upgrading. Upgrading bike is a little addictive. Upgrading entry level bike is not a good idea in my opinion. you might ended up to spend mid-level bike budget but it still does not have full-mid level bike components.

    I also bought my first road bike about two months ago. Very fortunate that I only spent brand new old stock full Ultegra (6800) component aluminum bike for $600 but I have a habit to spend money on upgrading. Got new saddle, carbon seatpost, cassette, wheelset and spent about $400. I can make excuses but but ended up spending $1000 instead of original $600.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Second, what is it you are looking for in an upgrade? I would not recommend an upgreade in this case, but if you really want to do one, the most cost effective and probably the one you will notice the most in ride quality is YOUR TIRES.
    Yep, tires first.

    Beyond that, consider fenders of some sort, bags for transporting while commuting. Lights? Maybe change the gearing a bit for the hills by changing the cassette, if you are having issues.

    But maybe tires, then save for a new bike? That would mean this bike could be a dedicated commuter, and the new bike could be for fun.

    There are also things that are not upgrades, but nice. New bar tape for example. New nice shorts are good too, or new gloves.

    Basically, keep it working, fix any issues with fit or function, that's my suggestion.
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  12. #12
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    I would not invest to much into that model. It is a great bike to get your feet wet but the frame and fork is not worth extensive upgrading.

    The bike has a 8 speed drive train and unfortunately there is not much higher grade 8 speed parts around any more. Any drive train upgrade would require a complete component group purchase (10 or 11 speed) and that will cost as much as the bike.

    The best thing to upgrade would be good tires suited to your riding style, good pedals and a saddle.
    What ever you change I would save the stock parts in case you want to sell the bike and transfer the "upgrades" to something else.

  13. #13
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    wheels for a few hundred dollars aren't going to ride noticeably different than what you have now is my bet. if you only have a few hundred items to think about would be a saddle if you aren't comfortable, clipless pedals if the bike didn't come so equipped, a bike computer. something else to consider would be bike clothing, the right shorts or bib tights can make a huge difference. also with winter approaching wool socks and booties might make sense.

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