5 Cheap and Easy Upgrades for Your Road or Gravel Bike!

5 Cheap and Easy Upgrades for Your Road or Gravel Bike!

After what feels like a pretty long winter, summer is finally here and that means one thing; it's time to give your bike some love and get it ready for the season. Perhaps there are some performance gaps that need addressing, maybe you wore some parts out last season and just need to replace them, or maybe you just want to spend a little money on some tasteful upgrades. Either way, they don't need to cost a fortune, and some of the best upgrades are the least expensive parts of your bike - rejoice!


Touch Points

Touch points are some of the most important parts of a bike - they're the parts that connect the rider to the bike, ultimately influencing the way you interact with the bike and making a big difference to the way the bike feels and rides. Getting touch points right is important because they can have such a large positive or negative influence on the rider's perception of the bike and overall experience. Thankfully touch points tend to be relatively cheap parts to upgrade, and easy to replace.

Often it won't be obvious if a touch point isn't working because it's easy to assume that "my hands are always sore" and write it off as an inevitability rather than something you can change. It's worth experimenting with these parts because maybe that new pair of grips makes all the difference between constant blisters and a comfy all-day ride! 

Specialized Power Saddle


saddle is one of the most important touch points, and the one where people tend to put up with the most pain - butt pain does not have to be a fact of life. Everyone's anatomy is different, and that's why saddles come in different widths and styles, and sit bone width is a huge part of the equation. Unfortunately sit bone width has nothing to do with your height or width, so bicycle manufacturers can't really make a best guess based on frame size, so your bike may not have come with the best saddle for you. If you don't know your sit bone width, come in store and have us measure your sit bones using the digital tool from Retül - once you know your size you can get the perfect saddle for your sit bones. 

Having proper support from your saddle in all the right places means less pain, less chafing and the ability to ride all day long - you won't believe the difference a decent saddle sized your body makes. Thankfully Specialized has saddles at all price points, starting at the super affordable Bridge Sport and moving up to the Power Comp and Power Comp with Mimic for something a little more sporty there truly is a saddle for everyone.

Supacaz bar tape

Bar Tape

Bar tape is one of those things that's also often overlooked. Bar tape does wear out, and often stock bar tape isn't the best. Thankfully even the most expensive bar tape doesn't cost that much - a really nice pack of bar tape comes in around $70. Depending what you're looking for, a bar tape upgrade can make your handlebars grippier and easier to hold onto, and it can be used to add more cushion to the bars too depending on thickness and how thick it's wrapped, making it much more comfortable and alleviating hand pain. Plus it comes in all types of colours and patterns, meaning you can really add a custom touch to your ride.

Some of our favourite bar tapes come from Lizard Skins and Supacaz, but one of the best we've seen recently is the Enve 3.0mm bar tape with a nice grippy texture, enough cushion to be supremely comfortable and more length than most others, making it perfect for wide gravel handlebars or to wrap really thick where it matters. If you're not sure how to wrap bar tape, check out this Lizard Skins video, it's not as hard as it looks!

Shimano RS500 pedals


Pedals are hugely important - a quality pair of pedals will help keep you glued to the bike, allow you to put power down smoothly and efficiently and gives the rider ultimate control over the bike. Thankfully pedals are another area where you don't need to spend a whole lot to get something good. 

If you're not already riding clipped in to your road bike, a good set of road-specific clip-in (also known as clipless) pedals is an essential upgrade to keep you safely and securely locked into the bike. Shimano's entry level RS500 pedals are a great way to get clipped in on a budget and are easily serviceable and should last a long time. Combine these with a decent pair of shoes and you've got a great setup for not much cash.


Tires are one of the most important parts of your bike - the singular component connecting the bike to the ground, tires have an unenviable job, and can have a massive impact on the way a bike rides. Too hard a compound can make the handling unpredictable, too soft can feel slow. Not to mention old worn out tires are just a recipe for a terrible ride - simply refreshing your rubber is a guaranteed way to get your bike riding like new again.

Tires are a place where you get what you pay for - buy a reputable brand name, go tubeless with a folding bead, which accounts for most of the tires we carry, and you can get something reliable and predictable. For road bikes our tire of choice is the Continental Grand Prix 5000, and for gravel our favourite is the Specialized Pathfinder Pro - both of these represent great all-round choices that perform well in pretty much all scenarios.

Specialized Pathfinder Pro

Bike Fit 

Last but not least is not a component you buy to put on your bike, but an upgrade regardless. Getting the fit on your bike right is very important and can make the difference between a terrible experience and the ride of your life. Getting a proper bike fit means you can feel comfortable on the bike for long periods of time and can address many issues such as numbness, hand pain, knee pain, neck pain etc. Not only this but it can notably improve performance, power transfer and more. 

If you haven't had a bike fit already, it's worth having an experienced fitter take a look at you on the bike - you might be able to solve a problem you've been having for a while and unlock the potential you never knew you had. We recommend talking to Noa at Performance Training (check out our podcast with Noa here) or Dave at BC Bike Fit.