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What should a 'rookie' upgrade on a secondhand bike?

Hi all,

Managed to purchase a secondhand Giant OCR4 for next to nothing as an entry level bike. Same as this one-

http://archive.giant-bicycles.com/uk/03 ... odel=10252

I am no expert on bike maintenance, far from it infact and being a girl probably somehow goes against me but i'm certainly willing to give things a try (provided my bike is safe!).

Theres a few things I need some help with if you don't mind offering some words of wisdom?

1. The bike came with Shimano PD-A515 pedals, I have researched the cleats I would need to go with these (about £15). The pedals are in good condition, but i don't know if its worth changing them if a new set of pedals comes with cleats anyway, any thoughts? If it helps i've seen some SIDI road shoes I like so I'd like the pedals to be compatible.

2. I think I need a shorter stem (I can reach the gears, brakes safely but my arms are fully stretched). Current stem measures 130mm, is there anyway to calculate what stem I should buy? I'm thinking 80mm but not sure if i'm then going too short. Would you recommend an adjustable stem as I may want to put clip on aero bars at some point (will this make any difference?)

3. Is a 7sp cassette going to hold me back? If so how easy is this to upgrade?

4. Other imminent upgrades I'd like to do include a new chain, some continental ultra gator duraskin tyres and I guess it should have a service of some kind. I feel a bit overwhemed at doing these bits myself but want to learn. Anyone know any friendly LBS in Birmingham area that could do it while i observe?

Sorry for the long post, if you can't help on any of the above I'd still welcome opinions any other recommended upgrades for rookies I may have missed!


  • Hi ajdj

    I'm gonna have a go at answering some of your questions!

    1. Pedals! A new set of pedals will not come with cleats (i think).....so to answer your question i guess you should just by cleats.

    2. Arms fully stretched is ok, it really depends on your body position. But you should be comfortable above most other stuff.....so, for now maybe go with what is most comfortable......there are various ways of basic stem length calculation.....but i'm not going to get into it because the bike police will probably nick me! As for clip-on's.......the stem will make no difference to your options as the stem does not interfere with the clip on bars......

    3. & speed......probably be fine for now....until you know you need more......and changing will be quite expensive as i believe you would have to change the chain, chainrings (large ones at the front), the cassette itself, and the gear levers also! (that's all a maybe depending on your bike, but in most cases)

    4. Bike shop in birmingham.....I don't know, but i'm in telford and my LBS is in Cannock.......Bridgtown Cycles.....very friendly and helpful peeps.....

    Good luck
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    Sorry to contradict Gary, but whenever I've looked at buying new pedals, they do come with cleats.
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    sorry jules... backing garry up on this one.

    Didn't get cleats with my Look Classics, I had to buy the cleats seperately.
  • +1 for Gary

    Get them form Wiggle, cleats are inlcuded with the pedals.
  • I'm with Jules on this, my shimano RD540s came with cleats, maybe Look don't supply them and Shimano do?
  • risris Posts: 1,002
    all the pedals i have bought have come with the cleats (shimano spd and spd-sl). that being said, if you have some pedals on there (spd type from the looks of them) then you should be able to pick up a pair of cleats that fits them for much less than new pedals.

    bear in mind that an spd cleat is a 2-bolt fixing so if you are looking at cycling shoes then they need to be compatible to this, a fair number of road/tri shoes are 3-bolt only. if those sidi ones don't take a 2-bolt then you can either buy new pedals and cleats or there are convertor plates to allow an spd cleat to fit to a 3-bolt shoe.

    worth checking the chain for wear before you replace it - if the wear on it isn't too bad then you might be able to put a fresh chain on there without problems, if it is very stretched then you will be down the road for a new cassette as well. 7spd is fine, and as gary has said changing to a more modern 9 or 10spd will mean spending money on chain, cassette, rear derallieur and brake hoods - basically most of a groupset - in one hit. if you are lucky then the front chainrings will be ok, but by the time you've done the other stuff you might as well get that switched as well!

    +1 for bridgtown in cannock, if you can get out there. they run bike maintenance days occasionally which are superb (i went to one there a couple of weeks ago).
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    7 speed cassette - try it and see. If you can get up the hills you need to get up and if you can go flat out without running out of gears then it is fine for you.

    Bear in mind that if you get into tri seriously you will end up wanting a sexy carbon beast bike in the end so any non-essential upgrades to this bike will use up funds you could otherwise spend on a new bike in the future.

    Aero bars usually will make a difference, as above don't spend loads on them. Basic ones would be fine (£50ish) it would not be worth paying another £100+ to get super-light ones.
  • GHarvGHarv Posts: 456
    +1 aero bars.
  • ajdjajdj Posts: 4
    I've managed to pick up a pair of Adidas Girano shoes and a set of Time XRS Edge pedals with 2 sets of cleats (very lightly used so a good price), so will replace the existing Shimano pedals.

    The current chain is in good condition (not stretched), the whole bike has been well maintained by its previous owner (everything is clean and greased) but I know it needs a service. I've only ridden it twice (and not very far due to the pedals/no cleats situation), second ride the chain came off- went back on easily enough and I think it was probably my fault as I am still trying to figure the gears out

    It must be one of the most simplist things when you are used to it, but i'm used to a mountain bike with numbered twist shift gears and I can't figure out what gear i'm in on the road bike! Trying to look down, over my shoulder and stay on is quite tricky! :roll: (told you i didn't have a clue!).

    I'm out of action for another 4 weeks anyway due to a broken metatarsal so want to use this time to tinker with my bike and get ready for some serious Spring training.

    Shame i missed the maintenance day at Bridgtown- would have been ideal! I will def consider booking onto a future date. In the meantime, I think I will go and talk to Birmingham City Cycles as its a bit closer and ask their advice on stem etc.

    I agree with Jules that I will probably want to upgrade to a better bike at some stage so I won't be upgrading the 7sp set up and i'll keep any original bits I upgrade so that I can turn this into a training bike at some point in the future.

    So, next on the wishlist-

    1. Computer- wireless with cadence, no need for HRM. Cheap as poss that will attach to the stem.
    2. Keeping an eye out for a second hand turbo trainer (circa £50), no hurry so if anyone has one/sees one for sale keep me in mind!
    3. New saddle- poss ladies version? with more padding/gel.
    4. Decent pair of gloves- any good recommendations? No more than £15/pair as I lose gloves all the time.
    5. Clip on aero bars
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    Gloves - I just got a great pair of fingerless cycle gloves of eBay for less than a fiver delivered. Good padding and grip. Loops to pull them off.

    Made by "Fitjo" whoever they are. Very cheap n cheerful but better quality than I had expected for the money. They seem well made and robust, time will tell.

    Being a [email protected], when it's cold I just wear a pair of £1 onesize "magic" gloves from the market under them, which does the job.

    I would tell you who the seller was but the internet filter at work won't let me look. They had a lot listed though.
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