cycling kit

Don’t buy upgrades, ride upgrades

“Don’t buy upgrades, ride upgrades”  –  Eddy Merckx

It’s common among riders of a similar ability to myself – no mug, but no racer – that when we feel fit and (relatively) quick on the bike we become deluded in two ways.

Eddy Merckx (Photo Credit: Chris Protopapas)
Eddy Merckx
(Photo Credit: Chris Protopapas)

Firstly, because we feel pretty good on the bike we start to think we might look pretty good on it too; we’ve bought some new sleek race fit kit, we’ve polished our shoes, we think we’re dancing on the pedals or pounding the flats, the Contador or Cancellara of our group.

But we don’t look like this. We look slightly less cumbersome than earlier in the year, but we’re still puffing and blowing a bit, and we’re not as skinny as we think. Next time you ride past a large glass fronted shop, take a lingering look at your form reflected back at you. Or, alternatively, don’t…..after all this delusion really does no one any harm.

Secondly, we become convinced that if only we upgraded our wheels, seat, shoes, tires, pedals or, better still, bought a new bike, we would soon be rubbing shoulders with the local hotshots. We would be streamlined and flowing, no longer weighed down by the limitations of our equipment. Of course, the truth is we are weighed down by the limitations of our heart, lungs, legs and diet (among other things).

This second delusion is the worst….and the most expensive. The glossy magazines are seductive and teach us the science behind why this or that upgrade is the key to unlocking our potential. The truth is, unless you are very quick to begin with, reducing your drag by 3% or wearing shoes made entirely from carbon fibre will probably have little effect. To compound the problem, the latest kit on your bike will inevitably look flashy and shout out to the world….NEW KIT….VERY EXPENSIVE…LOOK AT ME…!

If you are very quick this is fine, you’ve earned it. If not, avoid this look until you are. It’s nice to look good….it’s even nicer to be quick. To paraphrase Merckx, ride yourself an upgrade.


6 comments on “Don’t buy upgrades, ride upgrades

  1. No substitute for more miles in one’s legs. But, that new kit looks tempting… Ahaha!


  2. I’d also add…….team issue kit. I might be on my own here, but I tend to think that you earn your club colours (this doesn’t apply when the kit in question is now so old, that retro love applies). Back in the day, I remember the odd US postal service jersey turning up on chaingang. Ouch. It got ugly.

    Recently I was riding through the lanes to the North of Cardiff and saw two full sets of Team Sky kit in the distance. I shook my head and tutted.As they got nearer one waved and said ‘hiya!. It was Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas.

    The best way to upgrade? Upgrade those hill climbing skills. Take lots of hill and ride ’em til you’re knackered.


  3. Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new


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