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When biking casually around the block starts to become boring, it’s time to step it up a notch. Whether just upgrading the parts or building an entirely new ensemble, knowing what type of components will best serve your purpose will ensure that you’ll get the most from your ride in the long run.
The 3 usual considerations are price, weight and durability. Yet with most bike parts, the 2/3 rule applies: if it’s cheap and light, it’s most likely not durable; if it’s light and durable, it’s not cheap.
The frame has got lots to do with how fast a bike can run and how much abuse it can withstand. A biker may focus on either attributes depending on his/her purpose; lighter frames are suited more for racing on even tracks, while sturdier ones are made for rugged terrains and heavier workload.
As with all other components, speed and strength are dictated by the material used in the frame. There are currently 4 metals commonly used namely, steel, aluminum, carbon, and titanium; each of which has its own pros and cons.
Steel is the heaviest and the most brittle of the four, yet in terms of durability, is second only to titanium. It’s cheap and easy to repair, making it an ideal material for long distances, off-road terrains and heavy loads.
Along with steel, aluminum comprises the lower tier frames, but unlike the former, its lighter and more flexible. Aluminum has quite a number of alloy varieties each with varying strength, weight and flexibility.
Carbon frames are the choice of most bike racers because they’re lightweight and flexible. They belong to the upper spectrum in terms of both performance and price. While designed for high-speed biking, carbon frames aren’t that much popular as cycling tours.
Titanium is the strongest of the lot and is lightweight enough to compete with carbon. Titanium frames and other parts are rarely available as stock which is why buying them is only recommended for advanced bikers who know very well the design that will best suit their needs.
Single vs Double Walled Rims
Double walled rims are generally sturdier than single walled ones. If the bike would be used often and on the toughest roads, definitely go for double walled rims, otherwise, settle for the cheaper single walled rims.
Freewheel vs. Cassette
Freewheels tend to shorten the lifespan of the axles which is why cassettes have the upper hand in this matchup. It distributes the pressure evenly on the entire mechanism giving the bike more mileage.
Steel vs Aluminum
Owing to its flexibility, aluminum is more recommended for the rims as it can absorb more of the beating from the road.
Fork is the part that holds the tires and connects directly to the handle bars. It’s a crucial component because its quality determines the amount of vibration transmitted from the tires to the hands of the user. Bike forks with a longer “travel” means that it can absorb more shock from bumps on the road. However, if the travel is too long, the heavier the fork will become and slower the bike will be. A range of 80-100 mm travel is recommended.
The crankset is the most battered part of the bike simply because it’s the one that comes in direct contact with the user’s force. It’s parts include the arms, chainrings and the bottom bracket. If used with the “shifters”, a rider can change to different gears to provide varying resistance. There are two options to choose, namely triple and compact. Triple cranksets have three chain rings instead of two which means that a rider can only choose between three gears for all the types terrain. Compact cranksets, on the other hand, have more usable gears with which to adjust to several roads of varying inclinations.
Mixing and Matching
Buying bike parts is quite an arbitrary decision, and some users may not adhere to just one brand of components in building their ensemble nor will they stick with just one tier of gruppo. While this is a practical move, not all brands mix well with others. Shimano and SRAM are known to be quite compatible with each other while Campagnelo is more of an introvert. If you’re just upgrading some of the parts, be sure to ask if your prospects are compatible with your existing components.
The Build Kit consists of all the non-moving parts of the bicycle such as, but not limited to handle bars, grips, stem and seat post. These components aren’t as crucial as the others but they can make or break your entire ensemble’s overall look. Moreover, some items in the build kit like the grips and saddles can make your biking experience even more comfortable. Thankfully, they’re cheap enough to be easily replaced if they won’t suit a user’s taste.