Road: Wheelset upgrade benefit?
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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Road: Wheelset upgrade benefit?

    Hi all.

    A couple weeks ago, I compromised a bit and got the 2004 Trek 2200.
    I compromised a couple ways. I loved the red color of the 2300 but the 2200 is blue, and then someone said, I shouldn't be concerned with color if that was the decision I was basing my purchase on. (True, but I've bought nothing but red cars my whole life. It's a red fetish!) But I also compromised (I guess) in settling for "lesser" components because of price point, still the Trek 2200 and the 2300 are top of the line, mostly aluminum bikes by Trek, so I knew my upgrade path would be open. I was also influenced by my girlfriend who didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on her bike which we got at the same time. She got the Trek 1500.

    The 2200 is nice, as it's a new frame for this year with the carbon seat stay. I've only had a couple days and 20 miles to ride so far, with weather all of a sudden turrning bad here in Northern California.

    The 2300 model improves on the 2200 by upgrading:

    1) Brakes to Ultegra (up from 105)
    2) Cassette to Ultegra (up from HG-70)
    3) Saddle to San Marco Era Luxe, (up from Bontrager CRZ)
    4) and wheelset Bontrager Race Lite (up from the new Bontrager Race)

    Now, I'm sort of a techno junkie and love customizing and upgrading in general, however, I'm just now getting back into road biking after many years of not since high school. I've always wanted a nice road bike, and I feel that I have one. I had nice mountain bike and took it out many times before it was "lifted" out of a locked garage!! So, I'm sure I'm going to be into this sport for a long time. I love the feeling after a satisfying long ride.

    My main question, what am going to gain in upgrading the wheelset from the listed "budget" "Race" wheelset on the Bontrager web set, to the lighter "Race Lite"? Or maybe even Mavic of some sort. What does a better wheelset do for me? (I can understand weight, but what else?) Also I know that the 25c tire I have on now, is not going to be as fast as a 23c tire. I could just change that, but not the wheelset.

    The riding I would like to do, is go fast... so having a "better/faster" wheelset would be nice to have and change out with from "slower/training" set when I'm on a long ride with my girlfreind. What does a *better* wheelset do? If I order one online, do I order the cassette as well, and put them together on my own?

    As I do have upgrade itus, I found a good price on Ultegra brakes, and did already upgrade my 105s to Ultegra, and gave my girlfriend and installed onto her new Trek 1500, the 105 brakes. (We bought our bikes the same day... etc.) So I feel capable of doing not so difficult upgrades myself, etc. Her no-name brakes were terrible anyhow, so I'm glad we did this.

    Thoughts? without having done much riding yet, I'm not sure what upgrading would do for me besides quell my thoughts on the "gotta have" when reading up on all this stuff.


  2. #2
    flinty-eyed moderator
    Reputation: Coolhand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Your bike is fine, no further upgrades are needed. As stuff wears out (as the tires, chain and casette will) you can upgrade them then.

    Wheels and tires are "rotating" weight which is the best kind to lose. Lighter wheels will spin up to speed faster and will provide a real advantage to you on the hills as well. However, many prebuilt wheelsets like Mavic's tend to be overpriced and weight more then claimed. A rather well known piece of advice is to get a nice set of handbuilt wheels if you have upgrade-itis. If you have a good local shop, a set of Dura Ace hubs laced with DT Revolutions (or the quite pricey Sapim CXRays), to a set of DT RR 1.1 rims or Mavic Open pro rims are quite light and will last for a long time.

    In the prebuilt arena, these wheelset look pretty nice:

    They also have got pretty solid reviews from riders here.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    IMO, don't start throwing money yet.

    A good, light-but-not-stupid-light wheelset is among the best upgrades you can make, but the one you have is already pretty good. You may not notice much difference there. Nothing wrong with having two wheelsets, though. I'm also not sure you'll find the 25mm tires noticeably slower than the 23s. I ride 32s most of the time (I weigh 230), and even with that size, I can't measure a consistent decline in performance. Depends a lot more on how I feel than on what tires I'm using.
    Can you feel any difference between the 105 and Ultegra brakes? I'd be surprised if you could. Shimano's mid-range stuff works very well, and I'll bet whatever difference there is is in the pads. Same with the cassette: No reason to spend money on that as long as the old one works. You're just not going to feel it.
    But as you said, you've got the fever, and you're eventually going to do it anyway. Might as well do it now and quit thinking about it.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Cory
    Can you feel any difference between the 105 and Ultegra brakes? I'd be surprised if you could. Shimano's mid-range stuff works very well, and I'll bet whatever difference there is is in the pads.

    Yes.. there is hardly a difference in the 105s versus the Ultegra brakes. I knew that upgrade wouldn't do a whole lot. Still, it's a tad less "squishy" which may be from a harder pad.

    A big motivation in upgrading my brakes to Ultegra was to hand-me-down my 105s to my girlfriends Trek 1500, which came with no-name mumble mumble "alloy" brakes... with pads that actually moved in their shoes... they wobble, plus they made a terrible "sandy" sound when engaged against the rims..... pad related again. I feel better knowing that she now has the 105s.... (and I got Ultegra out of it... heck, she went halvsies with me on the upgrade...and I did it myself... win win.)

    Her bike having an Ultegra rear derailluer, and 105 levers, etc is not a bad machine. It's weird that they skimmed on brakes.


    (gadget-happy freak here. I think I've found my sport.... look out. Maybe it's also my fascination with legs and lycra too.... and fine wine. Hmm.)
    Last edited by brownhunter; 02-17-2004 at 04:29 PM.

  5. #5
    ngl is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    I must agree with Coolhand, rotating weight will make the biggest difference.

    Maybe consider this option: Purchase a set of new/nearly-new wheels from Ebay (get a friend to help if you have never used Ebay before). Nice sub 1500 gram wheels can be found for half price... sestriere, bontrager X lite, american classic 420s or 350s... Put your old wheels on your wife's bike (and then sell hers to off-set the cost). Also, buy some light tubes and tires. There are lots of good light tires weighing around 200 grams and tubes weighing 70 grams ( I started using 50 gram latex tubes last year and have not had a flat yet). This will save you about 1.5 pound of rotating weight.
    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Yeah, if your going to do anything, do wheels. I work at the LBS and selected this bike for my new ride this year. I chose it over the 2300 because I liked the blue a lot better then the red. I swapped out the saddle of course, got some Speedplay Zero pedals for it and put on FSA Carbon Pro Team Issue cranks. I also built up some wheels with Chris King hubs and Velocity Aerohead rims. I did the cranks because....well..because they look cool, there I admit it!!! The wheels though I did because they where lighter, higher quality and I like riding on wheels I build myself. I really like the bike so far and don't think it needs any major upgrades but if you want to throw money at it, the wheels are going to be the best place.

    As a side note, I'm really impressed with the bar/stem/seatpost package that comes on all the Trek 2000 series bikes this year. It's pretty nice stuff and the best I've seen on bikes in this price range. The seatpost is great!!!

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    I've got a 4 year old 2200 that I just got a frame warranty on. So I'm hoping they send me a new frame like yours. I hope the carbon rear end makes it a little more comfy. Mine has been comfy enough anyway though.

    It's probably not worth upgrading YET. Get your girlfriend some good brakes just cause you feel like it if you think she needs them. That sounds kind of cheesy to get yourself some nicer ones and hand the others down to her, especially since you won't notice a difference with Ultegra, they are exactly the same just lighter. The cheesy brakes her bike came with will wear out but they shouldn't be unsafe. If the two of you are strafing monster downhills braking technique rather than equipment is going to make the bike dangerous. You can stick Ultegra or Dura Ace pads in the 105 brakes if you want and have the same or very similar stopping power. The Dura Ace pads suck IMO anyway, I have run a couple sets of them in the past. I have Kool Stop "salmon" pads on mine now, they are great.

    No need to worry about the wheels either until they break or you are really fast. I've seen people racing Cat 3 on unmodified 2200s before, so unless you're really fast it's not going to matter if you're just starting out. You'll want to have more experience anyway before getting a trick wheelset, then you'll know what exactly you want. As far as I know the Bontrager wheels should be fine. Mine came with Rolfs, with the old 2200s it would have been worth it to upgrade the wheels at the time of purchase if you could do so cheaply, as the Rolf hubs sucked. I've had to get the freewheel replaced and get the bearings and cones changed twice in 4 years. From what I've been told by mechanics though, the Bontragers are much better.

    Spend the upgrade money on a road trip to go cycle somewhere really scenic.


  8. #8
    Reputation: Juanmoretime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    It sound as though you intent to get a wheel set and better wheels do make a difference. One wheelset that will give you a lot of performance for the money is the Velomax Curcuit Comps. I had a set before switching to Campy and loved those wheels. Descending over 50 MPH they felt rock solid. These can be regularly had from Ebay for $300 or less.

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