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Reasons For, And Against, Buying a Lesser Model Race Bike to Upgrade It…

February 2016
« Jan   Mar »

I wrote a post the other day that contained a photo of my Specialized Venge with text bubbles that showed each of my upgrades and what I paid for them.


Please allow me the opportunity to explain how that bike went from a stock $3,700 bike to what you see in that photo.  First, I got it on sale, end of season so I only paid $3,100.  That’s a 2013 though and aero race bikes were just starting to light up the cycling world so I had to pay a “Cool and Popular” upcharge for it.  Today, the same exact bike I bought, though it now comes standard with the Aerofly handlebar, is $2,800.  That said, $3,000 was a little beyond what I could honestly justify for a bicycle but I fell in lust for it when I saw it sitting on display in the shop.  I ended up pulling some of the profit out of my corporation to pay for the bike and the bribe I gave to my wife for letting me buy it in the first place.

Over the next two years I went about upgrading it.  First the wheels, which were sorely needed.  It was amazing to me the crap wheels they put on a $3,700 bike.  It makes sense, really, when you look at it from a certain perspective.  Put decent wheels on that bike and upgrade the components from 105 to Dura Ace and you’ve got an $8,000 bike right there (well, there were quite a few other changes too, as it turned out), right?

Well, if you’ve got the upgrade parts, a good stem and handlebar, the crank, the Dura Ace components and the wheels already, then buying the Venge for $3,100 and slapping on the parts you already have makes sense.

What I have up there is what happens if you A) Don’t really know what you’re doing so you can’t take advantage of picking up parts on eBay or other auction sites, and B) Definitely don’t have the patience to do it like that anyway…

Specialized Venge Pro_2016

This is from Specialized’s website, this morning.  Now, if I paid retail for all of the upgrades I’ve got on my bike, I still end up with a better crank and a lighter stem on my current bike for a couple hundred under that price right there.  On the other hand, the components on the Venge Pro are Dura Ace and those are carbon fiber rims on vastly superior hubs that weigh less than my alloy wheels…  In fact, those wheels retail for five times that the wheels I’ve got on my bike.

There’s another way to look at this:  In order for me to equal the bike above, I’ve gotta put a bunch more in upgrades to get to that level.  Done wisely I might get away with another $2,000.  More than likely it’d be closer to $3,000.  Or, in other words, you can’t win the upgrade game playing by the industry’s rules unless you really know what you’re doing and can wait for the opportunity to get a deal on the pieces you want to buy.  You’re better off buying the higher priced bike than trying to upgrade to it over time.

That said, it really doesn’t matter.  The wheels are a pretty big deal but the Dura Ace components are not.  Sure, they’re a little bit lighter than my 105’s are, but they’re not going to operate much better…  Well, not enough to justify the cost anyway.

In the end, while trying to upgrade to a better bike is far more expensive in the long run, sometimes that is the best way to go when the finances dictate it.  As in my case, it’s far better to pay a little more over time and not have to finance anything.  All things in context though, if the money I spend on cycling was that big a deal, I’d still be running.



  1. ekels22 says:

    Lot of options in new bikes I’m trying to keep it under $4500. I like the Ultegra Di2 for a component set. Bianchi makes a nice bike at this price point however I would have to travel out of the way to purchase one. I like having the convenience of a shop close by when normal repairs and adjustments are free for the first year. They make a Giant Propel with everything I want in this price range. Specialized sells the Tarmac with Di2 for a reasonable price point. Do you think I could order a Venge Expert with Ultegra Di2?

  2. ekels22 says:

    Thanks Jim you didn’t have to check I appreciate it. I let you know how the search goes and what I decide on. March isn’t to far off I’m really looking forward to testing out some new bikes. When I bought my first road bike last year it felt great just riding something besides a heavy mountain bike. I didn’t know much about the different group set’s or wheel set’s at the time.

    • bgddyjim says:

      No worries, brother. Good luck with the search… and I’m counting the days till March first – though it may feel like March this weekend. They’re calling for mid-40’s! YES!

  3. bonnev659 says:

    I am looking at getting myself a gravel or cx bike next. lots of gravel roads so many options now.. I also thinking of doing a group set upgrade to my bike as well… so we see what happens

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