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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok guys, feed into my upgradeitis... what should I do with this... where to begin. I'm selling some stuff on ebay and I want to put the revenue into the bike.


Frame Trail SL, double butted, mechanically formed, 6061 alloy
Fork RST Deuce 1.5 Coil with rebound adjust and lock-out, 100mm travel
RearShock N/A
Rims Maddux DC3.0, double wall with eyelet, disc specific
Hubs Formula DC20, 28 hole, 6 bolt front,
Spokes Stainless steel, 15g
Tires Kenda Nevegal, 26 x 2.1"
Pedals Wellgo Platform w/steel cage
Crank FSA Dyna-Drive, 44/32/22
CrankOption1 N/A
CrankOption2 N/A
BottomBracket Tange Cartridge type
Chain KMC, 9-speed
RearCogs SRAM PG-950, 11-34
FrontDerailleur SRAM X-5
RearDerailleur SRAM X-5
Shifter SRAM X-5, trigger
Handlebar Cannondale C3, 650 x 20mm riser
Stem Cannondale XC3 1.5"
Headset Tange Custom 1.5
Brakes SRAM BB5 Mechanical, 160/160mm
BrakeLevers Cannondale C4
Saddle Cannondale C3, ergonomic design
Seatpost Cannondale C4, 31.6mm
Sizes S, M, L, X, J
Extras
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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Upgraditis is a slippery slope to step out onto and once you're out there, it's hard to stop and it's very expensive to 'polish that turd'. "Turd" being a relative term in this case because if you sold your current bike and took the same amount of money you would spend to upgrade (even if you sold the existing parts) and bought a complete new bike, you would come out with better parts on a better frame.

Some of us learn this the easy way and listen to the sage advise of those that have been down this path themselves, and others have to experience it themselves to learn the lesson, but we all learn it eventually. For me, it was unfortunately, the latter. I started with a $325 rigid steel GT and pumped over $750 into it. The only original parts left (I actually still have the frame) are the frame and the front derailleur. I could have bought a nicer bike for $1,000 back in the 90's when I fumbled my way through this exercise. The reformed are always the loudest opponents ;)

If you're just sentimentally attached to your frame for some reason, take your bullet with a smile and please accept the unspoken gratitude of the aftermarket parts industry and their various channels of distribution (they really do love you), and then at least upgrade smartly (ie; don't put a long travel fork on an XC frame or other stupid *S* like that). The frame has an intended purpose. If your interested in another type of riding, definitely sell the current whip and get something appropriate for that type of riding. An XC bike will not suddenly make a good DH or DJ sled by putting a different fork and wheels on it.

If you're deadset on doing this, I would start with the fork (this will make a big difference), wheelset (this will also make a huge difference), and BB5 brakes (BB5's are a bit of a PITA to setup and keep adjusted and the pads have a pretty small surface area).

Lighter, better rolling tires than the Nevegals could also be of benefit (some might suggest doing this first), but that depends on what terrain you ride. I would at the very least get a different rear tire and save the Nevegals for use as a front tire (I think they are a better front than a rear tire, JMHO).

Good luck.
 

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Braille Riding Instructor
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While everything in the above is true, there's an alternate perspective.

Say $600 is all you can afford for a bike--any more money and you'd be stealing from your rent or from supporting your family. In that case, buy the best bike you can afford, ride it, and be happy--sure beats standing around, doing nothing but "saving."

Then, as the seasons go by, replace the items that get worn out with upgrades. Sure, it will set you back some money and it won't be as efficient as buying a complete bike with the nicer stuff on it from the start, but you would still have to invest money into that bike to keep it running because **** is always going to wear out and need replacing.

Just my $0.02.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was following the understanding that since the f5 is the lowest model that jumped the frame upgrade (trail SL) that it may be worth putting some new parts on, as its cannondale's best frame below the flash. Eg. its just a matter of parts to make it an F4.

Wrong thinking?
 

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Braille Riding Instructor
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I'm not a Cannondale guy so I don't know, but if the frame is the same as the higher-end models, then I'd say you've got the right rationale.

jeffj is right though in that upgrading is a slippery slope. Don't do it just to do it; a better part here or there won't make much of a difference, and wholesale substitutions aren't cost effective (you would have been better off buying the higher-end model from the start).

That's why I'd say ride it until the stuff gets worn out and then upgrade as needed.
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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beardcombover, it's your money and you should spend it in a way that makes you happy. I just felt (since you asked) you should know that upgraditis is not economically prudent. But, that is not always super important to everyone. I like Cannondale frames as I have owned three (still have two of them) myself along with my daughter's Jekyll. Your frame is not a 'bad frame' per se, and you do show some logic if it is indeed the same frame used on higher end models. If it fits you well and you like it so much it makes you smile just thinking about, you should end up with a nice rig.

Since you know the (perceived?) downside to your course of action and still wish to proceed, I won't go on any further about that and am extending a cheerful offer to help advise :) so let's get busy.

What is your budget?

Tell us more about the riding you do?

How much do you weigh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
205 lbs @ 5'10" - overall athletic build with a little extra - top heavy, meaning my weight is the limiting factor, making this bike lighter will not improve performance. It is currently 29 pounds. Long legs, short torso... this is why this bike means so much, the frame is ideal for my body, keeping a good riding position in a frame while comfortable never seemed to work in the circa 850 dollar purchase price range (it was either a dozer of a trek frame that fit nice, but was heavy and more entry, or being laid out beyond comfort in a rockhopper or XTC). Eg. It looks like the best frame that fits my body under a 1600 dollar purchase... so I'd rather build than rebuy.

Budget is open. Depends on how useful the upgrade would be really. My prompt was really to identify a weakest link and go from there. I'm not really money-restrained. I do have a 1.5 inch head, so the bike can fit some pretty front suspensions, currently it's somewhat equivalent to a coil Tora in spec, options, and feel.

I do have a nice single track near my house and get creative on some pretty treacherous hiking trails at times, although over 50% of my riding is speeding around a trail at my local park with my wife. This is where it may actually pay off... her Rockhopper Comp is about 1 tier in spec below my bike, if I upgrade, I can pass it on.
 

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It's about showing up.
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I see the point of keeping the frame

however I think that few individual upgrades of your bike will make much of a difference. If you were to take a look at your frame after upgrading all aspects of the frame and you through your leg over the bike your eyes would pop out. Upgrading just one thing or even two is something you may not even feel.

The embarrassing thing about bicycles is that even the most modest bike has more abilities than many of the riders who ride them. This is not to put down the riders but to complement the basic bicycle for its abilities. Your bike as it stands is a pretty neat machine which only pales when viewed in the context of some of the Exotica out there.

My basic approach to upgrading after 25 years of riding and 10 years of running teams is replace stuff when it breaks otherwise save your money. However, I have seen the sparkle of the upgrade Jones in a rider's eyes and know when it cannot be turned away.

As such, I recommend a new set of wheels, preferably handbuilt. You may have the experience to feel the difference in the crispness of the handling of your bike. Once you've felt that you will understand. Given your current setup the second improvement I might make would be in the fork. Yet unless you spend a lot of money the difference will not be great.

Yet in all of that I just want to remind you that a few key tools and key pieces of like clothing would go a long way to helping you to enjoy your riding. Having said that, one of the great places to upgrade your bike which is not very expensive is at the contact points; grips, seats, and pedals.

Welcome to the world of mountain biking and goodies. You have been warned.:thumbsup:

Good luck.
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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Berkley Mike always gives good advise.
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MG-1's are a great value and respected pedal if you're not into being attached to the pedal. Since you're onto pedals, you may also like some shoes to complement the pedals. 5.10 shoes are VERY popular with the flat pedal crowd.

If you think you'd like to try clipless, I'd look for some Shimano 520 SPD's and some nice shoes. I think the Specialized MTB Comps are an excellent shoe, but best to try many different shoes.

Grips, I would take a look at the Ergon GA-1 or something like an ODI Rogue lock-on (or the Ruffian if you have smaller hands which it sounds like you would not).

Saddle? I really like the WTB Pure V saddles as do quite a few riders, but only your tush will know for sure as we're all a little different in the undercarriage.

As Mike said, the fork and wheels will yield the greatest 'seat of the pants', 'dang, this feels great' difference, but it's also the most expensive things to go after.

As mike says, a nice handbuilt wheelset is wonderful. There are also some good deals occasionally on 'factory' type wheelsets like these:

http://www.jensonusa.com/store/product/WH271A03-Easton+Xc+One+Disc+Wheelset+09.aspx

Hard to beat at $299.
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If you're not up for the fork and wheel upgrade, there's likely a few other things that may improve your experience. If you could do only one (fork or wheelset), in your case, I would choose the fork. The RST stuff is mostly very basic.

Also, I would go after some better rolling tires than the Nevegals. I really like the Karma (also from Kenda) as they roll really well and have surprisingly good traction from what looks to be minimal tread.

Since you're on a hardtail, you might also like the feel of a good quality carbon handlebar.

Just holler when your budget keeper starts to wince. . . . . :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wonderful, thanks for the energy afforded to an upgrade noob. I've been into mountain biking forever, but it was never really a focus. Now my family can enjoy it with me so I'm a bit more enthusiatic. I have to say, I really like this fork actually, it has a confident presence about it. Honestly, there isn't much out there about the RST Deuce, but I gotta say, it feels like a Recon, only a bit heavier. How's the crank, I'm a bit unfamiliar with it (as it's not simply a x.5 is upgraded to a x.9 thing lol).
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Berkeley Mike is quite right, as are the other people telling you to put the brakes on this. But it's more fun to spend money on upgrades than to be prudent. ;)

Sounds like you've already also got some good advice on pedals.

I'm going to give a +1 to wheels. They don't necessarily need to be handbuilt, especially if you can give them a tuneup yourself - I don't think machine built wheels are actually inferior until they're ridden, and if you tension, true and strain relieve them before riding, you end up with something very close in quality to handbuilt, and a set of hubs you can build your next wheels on if that ever comes up. I also think that as soon as the rim on a low spoke-count wheel has to be heavier to make up for the fewer spokes, it's counterproductive. In terms of the rotating behavior of the wheel, weight at the outside, like the rim, tire, tube, etc., is about three times as important as the weight of the spokes and weight at the hub barely matters at all. So a 28- or 32-spoke wheel is very, very difficult to beat if it's a good rim and the spokes themselves are not total garbage. Over on "Wheels and Tires" people have generally been quite pleased with bicyclewheelwarehouse.com. If you want to buy locally, QBP now has an in-house brand of wheels, "Handspun," that are designed to compete with custom builders. There are probably some conventional wheels in the catalog too, but it's nice to be able to get a wheel with nice hubs and a nice rim, complete.

The one thing that I think is important and hasn't been mentioned is a new stem. It's not an upgrade, per se, but the right stem will make you a lot more comfortable on your bike. Try a size longer and a size shorter, if you don't know what you're doing, and you'll get a feel for what changing stem length will do for your handling and position. Where it is in the spacer stack matters too, so you might start by getting your handlebar position with the existing stem as good as possible. It needs to fit that big steerer tube you have.

My experience of BB5s is that new brakes will make a really big difference in how your bike performs if it's gross out. Not much of a difference in more pleasant conditions.

My experience of FSA chain rings is that you should hold back a little money, and see how your current ones are wearing. You may be in the market for a new crankset sooner than you think. Especially if you ride in gross conditions.

And it never hurts to get a bell. :D
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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beardcombover said:
Wonderful, thanks for the energy afforded to an upgrade noob. I've been into mountain biking forever, but it was never really a focus. Now my family can enjoy it with me so I'm a bit more enthusiatic. I have to say, I really like this fork actually, it has a confident presence about it. Honestly, there isn't much out there about the RST Deuce, but I gotta say, it feels like a Recon, only a bit heavier. How's the crank, I'm a bit unfamiliar with it (as it's not simply a x.5 is upgraded to a x.9 thing lol).
Cranks, unless they are really heavy as in a DH type, for the most part, they spin and move the chain :cool: Some might shift a little smoother. Some are definitely a little 'stiffer' as in they transfer the power a little more directly. There can be a difference (as Andrew mentioned) in durability of both the chainrings and the bottom bracket.

Probably not worth swapping out the crankset sooner rather than later unless something fails, but Jensonusa has been having the Shimano LX crankset on sale for quite a while for $89. Deals like that don't last forever. . . . This is a nice external bearing crankset, includes the bottom bracket, and is hard to beat (make sure you get the right length - it's usually stamped into the backside of the crankarm - 175mm is the most popular length):

http://www.jensonusa.com/store/product/CR303A00-Shimano+Lx+Fc-M582+Crankset.aspx
 

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Braille Riding Instructor
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I can vouch for that crank personally. I upgraded to it last year after the stock BB on my Raleigh hardtail started to whine and my chain rings were showing some wear. Paid the same for it then as what it's on sale for now, but as jeffj noted, that price won't last forever.
 

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Disclaimer - I suffer from upgradeitis.

Yes, it may not be cost-effective, but one advantage of upgrading as opposed to buying a new, better bike is that you get to learn how various upgrades feel and you'll learn what you want in your 'dream bike'.

I don't think there is one component (including the frame) that hasn't been upgraded on my hardtail. Wheels can make a big difference. One advantage of hand-built wheels is that you can get exactly what you want- i.e. almost instant-engagement hubs with beefy rims, light-weight hub & rim combo, etc. On the downside, it's tough to find a really hot deal on hand-built's like you can on factory wheels. With forks, I upgraded twice. I went from a coil to an entry-level air, then to a high quality air. I really should have gone higher in the first place.

Is there anything about your bike that bothers you? My husband had BB5's and they were 'spongy'--replacing the cables and housing with much higher quality (I like Jagwire Ripcords) solved that problem.

Then, there are the fun, upgrades that have little to nothing to do with performance....like anodized chain ring bolts, or derailleur bolts.

I like Odi grips.

Depending on what you ride and the conditions, if you don't need the sticking power of the Nevegals, you could definitely find faster rolling tires and that may give you the biggest difference in feel for your buck. I would change one at a time. I had Nevegals and I tried various tires in an attempt to improve efficiency, but for my all mountain bike, I always ended up with the Nevegal or something like it because the other tires just didn't stick as well. I moved away from the Nevegals on my trail bikes, but they don't see the same slimy conditions as my all mountain bike and the consequences of slipping on trails I ride with my trail bikes aren't as bad as on the more technical rocky trails.
 

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Odi rouge Grips, charge spoon saddle, cateye micro cycle computer, time atac z clipless pedals, panaracer fire xc pro 2.1 tires, and sette spd mtb shoes are where i started. Those upgrades were basically purchased using the money i saved from buying my bike at my lbs, plus they helped make the bike mine with a little personalization.

Then i got bit by the upgrade bug....hope qr gold seatpost clamp, thomson elite seatpost, and 2011 easton ea70 monkey bar handlebars came next. I could not stand how Cannondale put their name on every single part of my bike, so i decided to only keep the Cannondale name on the stem and frame.

My next purchase will be fairly cheap, and interesting. I want to do a 1x9 conversion with a black 34T race face chainring, a paul mfg chain keeper and some gold ncnc chainring bolts.

I want wheels someday, been thinking azonic outlaws?

I have a 2011 cannondale trail sl3.
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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miatagal96 said:
Disclaimer - I suffer from upgradeitis.

Yes, it may not be cost-effective, but one advantage of upgrading as opposed to buying a new, better bike is that you get to learn how various upgrades feel and you'll learn what you want in your 'dream bike'.
And you get to put the money where you feel it will do the most good andmany times, where the bike manufacturers tend to skimp: fork, wheels & crankset are good examples of that.

miatagal96 said:
My husband had BB5's and they were 'spongy'--replacing the cables and housing with much higher quality (I like Jagwire Ripcords) solved that problem.
:thumbsup: This is a major reason many people have less than satisfying experiences with mechanical disc brakes. Good quality housing doesn't compress as much. If you grab a handful of brake and the loop of housing near your handlebars moves more than just a little bit (say 1/4" to 1/2"), you might want to look into some better cable housing. Makes a very noticeable difference. Full length housing on a rear mechanical disc will feel spongier than a setup with a break in the housing along the top tube and front mechanical disc brakes should feel even better than that due to the shorter housing length.

Next time you're in a bike shop, try grabbing a handful of brake on a lower end mechanical disc brake setup and see if the housing moves two inches or more :nono:

miatagal96 said:
Depending on what you ride and the conditions, if you don't need the sticking power of the Nevegals, you could definitely find faster rolling tires and that may give you the biggest difference in feel for your buck. I would change one at a time. I had Nevegals and I tried various tires in an attempt to improve efficiency, but for my all mountain bike, I always ended up with the Nevegal or something like it because the other tires just didn't stick as well. I moved away from the Nevegals on my trail bikes, but they don't see the same slimy conditions as my all mountain bike and the consequences of slipping on trails I ride with my trail bikes aren't as bad as on the more technical rocky trails.
I like Nevegals much more as a front tire, although they do hook up well in the back too. If you still want a rear tire with excellent grip that rolls better than a Nevegal, try the Kenda Telonix in 2.2". Absolutely mad grip (best grip of any tire I have tried) and isn't as slow even though it looks like it would be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Truthfully, my slow rolling Nevegals started this whole mess :). My wife's Hopper comp rolls right past me downhill and I'm 60 lbs more than her lol. Awesome info btw... you are all teaching me a lot. Nice trail sl3 btw... its looking rather identical to my 2010 f5. I've been recommended the wtb weirwolf or the raptor. Any smooth rolling grippies out of this knowledge base?
 
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