7 Best Road Bike Upgrades for Your Speed and Comfort

Detalied pictures of some of the best road bike upgrades: Carbon wheels, cycling radar, power meter.

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I’ve been doing road cycling for about 5 years now. I often discuss with friends what they plan to buy next.

We almost always discuss one of three topics: speed, comfort, and safety.

So, I put together this list of the best road bike upgrades that will make you faster and your rides more comfortable and safer.

Let’s dive in.

What Are the Best Road Bike Upgrades?

Below, I list the road bike upgrades worth considering. Most of them will improve your speed. But some will also improve your riding comfort as a side effect.

1. Bike Fit

Many road cyclists forget about bike fit, but it’s one of the most important things. This is because it helps you:

  1. Prevent injuries
  2. Improve riding comfort
  3. Make you faster

When you don’t feel comfortable on your bike, you won’t enjoy your rides and won’t put out the desired power.

So, paying for a professional bike fitting makes sense. The bike fitter will help set a riding position that suits your physiological needs.

A road cyclist absolving retul bike fit
RETÜL bike fit | Source: retul.com

You should lower your CdA (the aerodynamic drag coefficient) to improve your speed. This means riding in a more aero position.

I recommend watching the following video for more info or reading my article on average bike speed.

2. Wheels

My friend, a former Czech road champion, says:

“Only upgrade the spinning parts on your bike.”

Although it’s a little outdated statement (due to the improvements in aerodynamics), there is a lot of truth in it.

New, deep-section carbon wheels will make you faster if you use shallow aluminum wheels—especially on flats, descents, and rolling terrain. (Source)

When I switched to carbon wheels, my average speed jumped by about 1-2 mph (2-3 km/h).

Me in front of Passo Giau
Me with my YOELEO R12 with Farsports Ventoux 45mm carbon wheels

You don’t even have to buy wheels above $2000. There are many carbon road bike wheels under $1000 worth of buying.

If you are new to wheels, read my guide on choosing road bike wheels that explains available options. Or…

3. Clothing

Quality clothing is another often underestimated part of a cycling kit. It helps improve comfort but also speed.

When I mentioned to my pro cyclist friend that I wanted to buy a new bike, he told me to keep the bike and invest in quality clothing instead.

I listened to him, and not only that I felt more comfortable, but I also became faster.

According to Silca, 70% or more of the drag comes from your body, not the bike.

Naturally, all wrinkles make you slower. The material also significantly impacts the speed. 

Silca calculated that aero socks could make a 4-8 watts difference. That’s a lot considering we are talking about socks!

4. Tires & Tubes

It’s no secret that tires have different rolling resistance. There is even an entire website testing tires and measuring their rolling resistance called bicyclerollingresistance.com.

Honestly, I am not a big fan of super fast tires because they are often soft, leading to lower durability and puncture resistance.

Tufo Comtura 4TR review: Tufo Comtura 4TR on Elitewheels DRIVE 45mm detail
Tufo Comtura 4TR tubeless tires – durable, fast, and affordable

However, they can significantly impact your speed—up to 26 watts! The inner tubes can add another 5-watt saving per wheel. (Source)

But, you can compromise these savings by inflating the wrong tire pressure. To avoid this, use Silca’s tire pressure calculator.

5. Aero Helmet

Did you know that an aero helmet can save around 15 watts compared to a standard road bike helmet? (Source)

Best Aero Road Bike Helmets: Peloton of pro riders mostly with aero road bike helmets (Specialized Evade, Kask Utopia, and more)
Pro cyclists wear aero road bike helmets mostly during flat and hilly races

The aero helmet is a way to go if you want additional speed gains. Remember that aero helmets provide little worse ventilation, so the standard helmet is a better option if you live in a hilly or mountainous area.

6. Garmin Varia Radar

One of the best safety gadgets I ever bought was the Garmin Varia RTL515 radar.

It detects approaching vehicles behind to inform you about them through your head unit. This way, you have a better awareness of what’s happening. It also has an inbuilt light to improve your visibility.

Garmin Varia RTL515 vs. RCT715 in my hands
Garmin Varia RTL515 vs. RCT715

The newer generation, Varia RCT715, also includes a camera, so you will have the footage in case of something bad happens.

Bicycle radars are not cheap, but I believe they are worth it.

Also available at rei.com, performancebike.com, and trekbikes.com

7. Power Meter

Invest in a power meter to improve the efficiency of your training (and, therefore, become faster).

Power meters are affordable these days. They start at around $300, so they are not only a matter for professional cyclists.

There are many reasons to use a power meter. They will provide you with objective, accurate, and consistent data that you can leverage for more efficient training, better pacing strategy, and more.

Favero Assioma DUO Review: Assioma DUO pedals in my palms
Favero Assioma DUO power meter pedals

Road Bike Upgrades FAQ

Summary

Depending on your goals (improved comfort, speed, safety), consider absolving a bike fit or buying new equipment like wheels, clothing, helmet, etc.

For me, riding comfort is the most important, so I can focus on my performance instead of discomfort.

Thanks to innovation and new knowledge gained in aerodynamics, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of things like your riding position and clothing if you want to get faster on the bike.

What road bike upgrades do you find the most valuable?

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