The Best of Budget Tech

I love my CAAD10 with 105. The Tiagra shifting on my wife’s bike is awesome. I have friends who have great bikes with Sora. I had a Bianchi Brava that I built up with Campagnolo 8 speed Mirage that I couldn’t fault.

I am never going to own a bike with Dura Ace, Super Record, Red Axs. The few carbon frames in my price range that I’ve even tried do not match up to steel or Al at the same level. I’m the kind of guy who gets more excited about this kind of gravel bike; Triban GRVL120, Gravel Bike | Decathlon
…than whatever comes with the latest Lauf fork.

So what are your experiences with the affordable end of biking? What are your favourite “you don’t need to spend more than this” deals out there? But at the same time, what are the bits where it’s worth even our meagre budgets to spend up on? When I see Conti GP5000s on sale, I grab them, because to me they are worth the price difference from other brands/price levels.

Probikekit have the Look Keo Classic 3 for $45 right now.

I have the classic 2, and they’re great. Good solid click every time, I can see no reason in terms of functionality to spend more on a pair of pedals, if you’re into the 3-hole non-walkable cleat.

Staying on pedals, Shimano M520’s are a design classic.

Indestructible pedals that are easy to use and perfect for the gravel bike or on the commute. You can get them with cleats for £25 and they’ll probably outlast the bike.


All I would add to that is the M530s or M324 have the flat side/wider platform, so are ideal for n=1 if your main bike is also a commuter/errands bike.

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All my bikes are “affordable” since I build them myself out of mostly used parts that I have acquired from all around the world (a lot through Ebay)–carbon frames, Campy mechanicals, brooks saddles–one can easily build a great bike for about $1500 max–if new, they would cost 4 or 5 times that–currently I have a Storck CD 1.0, a Ridley Excalibur, a Ridley Fenix, and a Opera Leonardo FP (the original Pinarello Dogma), all built that way. You don’t need to limit yourself to the slow lane if you put some effort into it and build them yourself, buying parts in the aftermarket.


I don’t disagree with your point; I have a Columbus sl frame built up with Campag Athena and Mavic wheels that I’m all into for less than a grand. And I rode it this morning and love it.

But some things (chains, cassettes, helmets, tires, socks etc) you don’t want to scour eBay for, or grab a pre-loved one. And sometimes that GRX group won’t come down in price, so it’s handy to know that a Microshift drivetrain will do pretty much as good a job, for a fraction of the price.

I make my living from Tri, so go-faster toys are all the rage. But some of the biggest benefits are cheap. Like knowing that basic tacx jockey wheels will lift 105 (or Tiagra) to the performance of Dura Ace. Or that boiling your chain in cheap paraffin from an apiarist will get within fractions of the performance of the magic dust waxes.
Or that choosing where you put your bottle cage makes more of a difference to aerodynamics than the difference between an entry level frame and a superbike.
And that’s before we get to the impact of just choosing tight clothing or working on adopting a good position.
I see so much money wasted by not ticking off the fundamentals first - going straight to buying an expensive bike in the hope that it will magically impart speed.
Sometimes having a budget forces the rider to be smarter (obviously I think that listening to me is a first step on that front :wink:).
As for road bikes, if you spend the money to get the contact points right (bike to body, then bike to road) all the rest of it is of minor importance. I’ve fitted a lot of riders who did not enjoy their expensive bikes because they weren’t (previously) set up properly.


Shimano SM-RT70 rotors on road bikes, cheap and perform well and I haven’t had any heat deformation ossues (admittedly I don’t have a lot of long descents in my area to really heat them up).

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+1 for the M520s, they’d survive the Apocalypse.
Mine’s a saddle: Charge Spoon, cost buttons but is insanely good, and really tough.

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DT460 rims


I still use 2x9 on most of my bikes.
Over the last two years I have fitted 4 of them with Microshift Advent levers and rear derailleurs. The R9 levers use the same body and lever as Advent, and both can be purchased individually so I use the right Advent and left R9 (2X).
Love the lever body shape. Ergonomics of the shifting took some getting use to coming from old Ultegra.
Derailleurs are all metal.
It all shifts well.
Rarely need adjustment.
Cost for levers and RD is under $200.

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