Congratulations on pursuing your passion for road cycling and checking out this article. Its sole intention is to help guide you through which drivetrain components to upgrade first and ensure the bike leg of your race shows the best of you.

This article lays out Kogel upgrades in order of priority so if you don’t feel like reading the entire article or upgrading your entire bike at one time, you can come back anytime and continue on where your upgrades left off.

Trek-Segafredo Team Rider Mads Pedersen

Marginal Gains

Don’t you feel these two words have been beaten to death? Just like going on an EPIC ride, I’m a bit hesitant to use this lingo. Let’s talk about optimizing every part of your cycling experience instead. 

Besides training on a plan, keeping your bike clean (and ditching that baggy jersey for a tight fitting one), the drivetrain offers plenty of opportunities to make you go faster with less effort. 

Even if you are not a racer, imagine being the first to the coffee shop on your group ride, or even having a bit more energy to order a cappuccino after your 200km solo adventure. We have proven data from our partners at the NeXT e-racing team that switching to a fully optimized Kogel drivetrain (bottom bracket, Kolossos oversized cage and waxed chain) saved 3% of friction losses between the crankset and rear cassette. Just let that sink in. 3% at 250W sitting in a peloton is 7.5 watts of free speed. 

A while ago I had a conversation with a very high profile athlete, who mentioned he produces 1000 Watts every time he bursts out of a tight crit corner. I asked him what it would be worth to him to have 1030 watts coming out of the same turn. Let’s say his eyes got a bit bigger and in the next few races he was running some components that the team sponsor was not aware of.

Saving Watts

While it is outside of the scope of Kogel Bearings to help you optimize your aerodynamics and position on the bike, I’m going to assume you have already done more than a few things to stay out of the wind. The first and easiest thing is to learn how to ride a foot behind another rider at high speed. After that, get a bike fit and ditch the rain jacket with the open zipper.

When it comes to the bike, every rotating component inherently creates friction. Kogel is here to help you minimize these losses.

Benefits of ceramic bearings 

There are a number of facts that compel top-level athletes, like Mads Pedersen/Trek Segefredo, to utilize oversized and ceramic-based drivetrain components. Here are a few in no particular order:

  • Ceramic bearings are smoother, rounder and harder than steel bearings. Plus, they won’t compress under load. For example, ever watched how a glass marble seems to effortlessly move on a smooth surface? (Try this with a golf ball). A perfectly smooth round ceramic ball is in its natural state when moving.
  • Ceramic balls won’t rust: Although ceramic bearings typically have rings made of steel, the balls are not susceptible to any oxidation. This means the two won’t seize together if any water enters the bearing. This is one of the main reasons why we consider ceramic bearings more durable than full steel bearings.

Benefits of oversized ceramic pulleys 

Now let’s talk a little about oversized pulleys on your rear derailleur. There are also a few undeniable facts related to leveraging larger pulleys.

  • Oversized pulleys require less energy: While traveling up through the derailleur, your chain needs to articulate less around big wheels than around a smaller stock pulley wheel. Bending a chain takes effort, this is the main reason why oversized pulleys save watts.
  • Kogel Oversized cages improve your shifting response: Kolossos oversized cages are designed for stiffness, which results in more accurate gear changes and smoother pedaling. We often hear pedaling and shifting under load as feeling “buttery”. Toast anyone?
  • Aluminum pulleys are harder than stock pulleys: yes, those plastic pulleys that came with your stock derailleur cage will wear down, bend and eventually crack or break. Just one more thing working against maximizing the power from your months of hard work training.

Now that we’ve covered the facts of improving your power preservation via ceramic bearings and oversized pulleys, let’s talk about prioritizing upgrades to your road bikes.

Upgrade 1: Bottom brackets: your first line of defense

A bottom bracket handles 100% of your power output and is the first major point of energy transfer.

Since the bottom bracket handles 100% of your power output, we recommend starting here. Make it rock solid so you can set and forget about it. Make sure to use a generous amount of Aqua Proof Paste for the installation too. It’s called ‘Shut Up Grease” for good reason! Use the paste on any pressed or threaded parts and to waterproof your head set.

Kogel ceramic bottom bracket

Upgrade 1A: Wheel bearings are your secret weapon

Kogel ceramic wheel bearings kit including freehub bearings

I have a tough time deciding between wheel bearings and pulleys. Wheel bearings are probably THE most overlooked upgrade in cycling, which is ironic given their significance in the entire concept of cycling. Wheel bearings are at the heart of the components that gave the bicycle its name.

Wheel bearings are always under load and they are moving as long as the bike is moving. It pays off to save some watts here! Make the effort to get these installed and you’ll enjoy the benefits of going faster with less energy and years of significant performance gains.

Ellen van Dijk - 2022 1hr Distance World Record Holder used Kogel ceramic wheel bearings for her record breaking effort.

Upgrade 1B: Oversize your pulleys

Equally important and highly visible are any modifications to your derailleur. Wheel bearings are stealth, pulleys or an oversized cage show the competition that you’re serious. It's up to you which you prefer. 

The simple facts are that oversized ceramic pulley wheels create less drag on your drivetrain, roll smoother and last longer than your stock steel and plastic counterparts. Oh, and it is also a fact that they look SO much cooler than stock pulleys.

Oversized derailleur cages

To get the most efficiency and performance out of your stock derailleur, choose the Kolossos oversized cage. It’ll add some free speed, a ton of pedaling & shifting smoothness and transform the appearance of your drivetrain. Really the only downside is that you may be answering a few questions from curious riders.

Kogel Kolossos oversized derailleur cage

Oversized derailleur pulleys

A slightly more budget conscious option would be to pick a set of oversized ceramic pulleys in your favorite color and mount them on your existing derailleur cage. You’ll get better performance and longevity over your steel/plastic stock pulleys and a complimentary bling upgrade!

Kogel oversized derailleur pulleys

Upgrade 4: Kogel titanium bolts for free Bling Watts

Most road cyclists I know are certified weight weenies. Even those of us that do not aspire to compete, can appreciate the look and lighter weight of titanium. 

Kogel offers titanium fasteners for stem clamps and face plates, rotors, bottle cages and preload adjuster cinch bolts. That’s a lot of places you can upgrade the look and drop a few grams. You will feel faster on your next Hors Categorie climb. 

Using a full set of titanium bolts will make your bike lighter, but equally important: makes it look 110% personalized and better able to take on the stressors of the sport.

Mads Pedersen's green bottle-cage bolts

Upgrade 5: Brake later with Kogel brake pads

Speaking of that HC climb? What goes up must come down. Kogel’s brake pads have a ceramic coating on the back plate to keep heat in the pads and out of the pistons and oil.

Maintaining braking power while screaming down a monster descent in Colorado is critical for your survival. If you’re leveraging Kogel drivetrain components to go faster with less effort, it only makes sense to get the most out of your gains by wasting less of it slowing down.

Kogel brake pads exclusively use sintered materials, which are less susceptible to contamination and all pads come with a ceramic barrier to keep heat in the pads and out of the system.

Go with our Bia soft compound for the best braking performance and modulation or choose our Kratos compound if you frequently train/compete on wet roads.

Stop faster with Kogel's exclusive brake compounds

Your best road riding EVER!

Want to find out what Kogel components will help your road bike go faster with less effort? Call, email or text us and just ask; "What Kogel parts do I need for my road bike?" and tell us a little bit about the bike you want to upgrade. Easy peasy!

Ard Kessels