Upgrading – Nightmare Hell or Pleasure and Joy?

There comes a time in every bikes life where bits need replacing.

Chains are the most common and if you leave it too long you quickly find out the cost of cassettes and chainrings.  When you need to replace an item due to wear you may ponder the upgrade question. Should I replace like for like or get the next group up?
Finances often dictate the final decision and while I have on occasion bought the cheapest replacement, these days I tend to replace with the same level of equipment. I’d class this as upgrade hell, you don’t want to replace anything, you were happy with how the bike was and this is just a big hassle. Like for like gets you back riding with the minimum of decisions to be made – after all it’s ll about the riding isn’t it ?

Bigger upgrades or replacements come often as a result of a breakage, with I suspect rear mechs high  on the list. Another upgrade hell, it didn’t need replacing and it’s a cost you could have avoided.

A recent tax rebate, had just landed me in the third category of upgrade. Upgrade Joy ! or is it?

When I bought my Yeti ASR, finances dictated that I couldn’t justfiy specifying anything other than the basic Yeti Enduro build pack. It was decent value and most of the components were quality light items. The cost savings came in the specification of an SLX groupset with XT rear mech upgrade. Which was fine. SLX back in ’09 was a decent groupset (I think it’s got better since) and it looked and performed well.
The medium term plan was always to upgrade the components when they were worn or broken with upgraded parts and 5 years later I’ve replaced the cassette and rings a couple of times but the rest just keeps on working.

However, the Mavic Crossride wheels apparently I’m riding have a limited life, and a recent bike shop service highlighed that I might need to think about replacements at some point. The SLX brakes seem to need bleeding every few weeks and the shfters are stiff. I decided to

Wheels

Having done a custom build of a Ti hardtail I have already spent ages researching, thinking, deciding and talking about options for wheels. Why, having done all this research then, would i choose anything other than what I did for the van Nic. Hope pro2 Evo hubs and Stans Crest rims it is then. I’de decided on going tubeless with Nobby Nic tyres as I have Ralphs on the hardtail.

Brakes

Ditto the wheels – lots of research and a year of riding with Hope Tech X2 brakes but I’m trying the race levers an the limited edition all black stealth option. I just love these brakes on the hardtail, adjustable, powerful, plently of ‘feel’ and have been trouble free for all the time I’ve ridden them.

Chainset

This has proved to be the biggest decision. I currently run 3×9 and chose 3×10 on the hardtail. Many people are running 2×10 these days losing a few ratios at either end. I could have gone 1×10 or 1×11.

What helped make the decision was thinking about the riding I currently do and what I plan to do the next few years. I mainly ride the flat trails of Warwickshire but love my trips to Wales and the Peak District for all day rides at trail centres or the hills. Locally I can and do take all my bikes at some point, but for the long all day rides I always take the Yeti and come 5 o’clock after 7 hrs riding and one last hill to climb, I just know I’ll appreciate a get me home gear. 3×10 it is then.

i still can’t bring myself to spend all that money on XTR but I decided to add a touch of bling by gettng XTR shifters. They should add to the shifting experience and from what i’ve read do make a noticable difference, where, for example, the cranks don’t.

I’m well capable of fitting all this kit, but have, like with the Tuareg build, decided to source all the bits via Kate and Allen at Plush Hill cycles. It’s a good excuse to head to Church Stretton and ride the Long Mynd and Al will do the upgrade build for free while I head out for a ride. Even better is that Al and Kate stopped by to pick up the Yeti so it’ll be ready when I head over Shropshire in a couple of weeks time.

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