Tires, Chains and Other Bike Components | Gear to Splurge On

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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Tires, Chains and Other Bike Components | Gear to Splurge On

While purchasing the latest and greatest cycling gear isn’t always necessary, upgrading a few of your components can have a big impact on your performance and comfort on the road. Here are five bike components that are worth an upgrade:


To cut costs on stock bikes, manufacturers are known to equip road bikes with cheap tires that are heavy and not all that durable. If you’ve upgraded to a more expensive aero or climbing wheelset, keeping an old or heavy tire on nice wheels doesn’t make much sense. Since a really good road tire is reasonably inexpensive, at least when compared with the price of wheels, upgrading to a lighter, more comfortable tire is usually a cost-effective decision.


A successor to the popular Michelin Pro4 tire, the new Power Competition tire offers dependable puncture protection and top-of-the-line rolling resistance while still being light enough for race day. It also features excellent grip for hard cornering and is said to provide a 10-watt savings when compared to Michelin’s other training tires.


If you own a set of tubeless-ready rims, switching to a tubeless tire improves your resistance to pinch flats and lower overall weight by negating the need for an inner tube. The Schwalbe Pro One is one of the best options currently available. Unlike other tubeless tires, these are easy to get on and off and come in a variety of widths. It’s also very comfortable over rough terrain and has a super-low rolling resistance, which makes it efficient and plenty fast.


> Upgrade Your Wheels for Big Gains
> 10 Amazing Road Bike Frames
> Bike Saddles


When searching for upgrades, cables might be the last component you have in mind. But replacing old or cheap cables can make a big impact on your shifting, braking and the overall look of your bike.


The problem with stock housing is that they can twist and flex pretty easily, which will give you less braking power and less-than-precise shifting. Yokozuna cables are lubed and don’t flex or stretch nearly as much as other less-expensive options, greatly improving overall performance. The Reaction cables also come in several different color options to customize the look of your ride.


A worn out chain makes your shifting sloppy and also wears out other components like your cassette, chainrings and rear derailleur more quickly. Rather than waiting until you need to replace all your components, replacing your chain every year can save you money in the long run.


While stock options from Campagnolo and Shimano are excellent, if you want to take your chain game to the next level, the X11SL from KMC is a good way to do it. Titanium nitride coating improves the strength of the chain and also reduces friction, ensuring precise shifting in all weather conditions. Hollow pins and plates also make it one of the lightest chains on the market and one of the easiest to install.


A good crankset from Campagnolo, SRAM or Shimano should last you for years. But that doesn’t mean a crankset upgrade isn’t needed in certain instances. Here are two options that might be worth your investment.

$175 (Chainring only)

No matter how much you practice your pedal stroke, there are going to be certain spots where you just can’t generate as much power. To eliminate these “dead spots,” Rotor developed the oval ring to replace the more traditional round chainring. By doing so, you’ll get more power from your pedal stroke and have a smoother pedaling action, improving your overall pedaling efficiency. The Q-ring also attachs to your current four-bolt Shimano crankset.


Another reason to upgrade a crankset is to switch from a traditional 53/39 to a compact 50/34. This will give you more gearing options on climbs and help you keep a higher cadence on steep pitches. This model from FSA is one of the lightest on the market, featuring hollow carbon fiber crank arms and a 30mm spindle that allows it to fit a variety of different frames. If you don’t want to go all the way down to a compact setup, you can also opt for a 52/36 semi-compact option, which falls somewhere in between.


When you change your rear cassette to include cogs that have 28 teeth or more, you may also need replace or upgrade your rear derailleur to include a longer cage to handle the wider variety of gears. Choosing a high-end derailleur can also reduce the weight of your components and provide more precise shifting.


If you’ve already got SRAM components on your bike, upgrading to this 11-speed compatible rear derailleur gives you plenty of benefits. By definition it’s a mid-cage option, which allows you to use a rear cassette with a cog up to 32 teeth. It also sports a carbon fiber body to lower weight, ceramic bearings and a mix of titanium parts to improve durability. In the SRAM component family, it’s definitely at the top of the class.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for


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