If there’s anything that can inspire the cyclist into daydreams of performance gains, it’s good weather and Grand Tours. Over the past few weeks we’ve been treated to a vintage edition of Le Tour De France, with theatrics that could have been pulled straight from the pre-powermeter days. The equipment underneath those protagonists however, has been anything but vintage. If you’ve been struck by a little GAS [Gear Acquisition Syndrome], then as a purveyor of parts we are unsurprisingly right here for you. We do, however, want you to make the right choices for your riding – we’re only human! Keep reading for our top 5 road bike upgrade recommendations, and carve out the best bang for your buck.
Switching out your wheelset for a lighter, stiffer, more aero set is quite possibly the best upgrade you can make. Less rotational weight means less inertia, resulting in snappy acceleration and effortless (well, much-reduced effort) climbing.
Opting for a deeper-section rim profile will also pay tangible dividends – especially if you often find yourself battling a prevailing South-Westerly! The improved aerodynamics will give you more speed for the same power on all but the steepest rides. Feel free to take a deep dive into yaw [yaw-n, more like] angles in your own time, but rest assured that wheels from Bontrager and FFWD are at the bleeding edge of aero profiles and will keep you steady even in squalling crosswinds.
FFWD Wheel Amnesty: at time of writing, we’re offering up to 20% off the price of a brand new set of FFWD wheels when you trade in your existing pair. Hub bearings on their last legs, or braking surface worn down to the limit? No problem, we’ll take them off your hands just the same. Head in-store, and we’ll get you riding faster in no time.
If you’ve spent a fair amount of time with your current bike, the chances are you’ve already spent some time exploring this area. If not, strap in: this may change everything for you.
Totting up the figures on speed out for power in is all well and good, but lab conditions are not the same as real-world ones. An uncomfortable rider will not be able to deliver the power they are truly capable of, and the “saddle-rider interface” is one common area of discomfort. This area – to put it delicately – is a personal contact point, and the stock saddle on a given bike is unlikely to be the ideal one for its rider. Bicycle saddles come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and it’s well worth investing some time to find the right one for you. Come in to speak to us, get measured up (it’s less invasive than you think!) and we’ll help you to pick out the right designs. Bontrager offers a 30-Day Unconditional Guarantee on all their aftermarket parts, so you can put some miles in for a proper test. Pretty neat!
While undoubtedly secondary to the saddle, your bar and seatpost choice can have a sizable effect on your comfort – particularly if you’re exploring longer ride distances or are fond of taking the road less travelled. These components are a major factor in road vibrations travelling to the rider. Switching to a high-quality carbon fibre option from aluminium means you can benefit from the “stiff in one direction, flexible in another” characteristic that carbon construction allows. For example, carbon handlebars can resist twisting forces to give maximum power transfer in a sprint, but provide a bit of give vertically to soak up some road buzz. Over the course of a 200km ride, that extra comfort helps keep the rider focussed and happy. A happy rider is a fast rider.
An upgrade to your tyres can open up a raft of areas for potential improvement. A higher thread count (TPI) creates a more flexible tyre carcass – this means the tyre can deform over the road surface more easily, giving better grip and handling. Are your wheels tubeless-ready? Ditching the inner tube for sealant and a set of tubeless tyres can save you weight, reduce rolling resistance and – most importantly – reduce roadside puncture repairs! We carry a range of performance tyres from Schwalbe, Bontrager, Pirelli, Continental and Vittoria.
Until you’ve had your first bike fit, you’ll never truly know how much difference a few degrees of handlebar angle can make to your ride. If you’re looking to make a serious impact on your riding in the future, the best thing you can do is lay good foundations – and this is your position. Our in-house professional fitter has years of experience under their belt with a Trek Precision Fit Level 2 qualification to back it up. The Flamme Rouge bike fitting process takes around 2-3 hours, including video and biometric analysis. The fit jig allows us to make little adjustments on the fly, without you having to jump off or even stop pedalling, to dial in the optimum position. We also assess and adjust your shoes and cleat positioning, including arch support and heel wedging.
Sessions are £185, and can be arranged here. We offer 10% discount on shoes and components purchased as a result of the fit.