6. New Mountain Bike Stem
If you thought mountain bike stems were just for bike-fitting purposes, think again. A shorter mountain bike stem brings down your overall reach so that you’re able to get quicker response and better control over the front end of the bike. Many downhill bikes will have a super short 40-50mm stem and mountain bike stems on trail bikes often range between 60-80mm; cross-country bikes typically have stems in the 100-120mm range. Depending what kind of riding you do, you should have no problem finding the right length stem under $100 but expect to pay more for carbon (as usual!).
RaceFace Atlas Direct Mount Mountain Bike Stem (Red, 31.8-mm Clamp, Direct Mount, 50/30-mm Length)
$80.70 Amazon AD
7. New Mountain Bike Handlebars
Just like changing out your stock stem, replacing your stock bars can also affect the control and maneuverability of your mountain bike. Some handlebars are better suited for riding disciplines so aside from price, you’ll want to consider things like bar width, clamp diameter, rise and sweep. For specific mountain bike handlebar recommendations, check out our list of the top-rated handlebars.
Renthal FatBar Lite - 38mm Rise Gold | MTB Handlebars
$71.24 Wiggle AD
8. Mountain Bike Chainguide
Do you really need a chainguide? Not necessarily, but if you find yourself constantly stopping trailside to fiddle with your dropped chain… again… then this small contraption could save you a lot of frustration. Try a handy low profile, direct mount chainguide like this one from Oneup Components and say goodbye to dropped chains.
Blackspire Chainguide Standard Roller
$10.99 Chain Reaction Cycles (US & Canada) AD
9. Larger Front Rotor
I’ve often been discouraged by the stopping power of stock cross country bikes. What’s the issue? Do I need to buy a new set of brakes? New pads? What? Well, I’ve found that a simple increase in the size of the front rotor is an affordable, yet very effective, way to increase stopping power. If you buy a cheap rotor and spacer kit, this instantaneous power upgrade is well under $100.
Transfil Shimano MTB Cantilever Brake Straddle Wire - Shimano Silver
$1.86 Wiggle US AD
10. Get a Tune Up
There are so many ways that a mountain bike can deteriorate that it’s a little depressing, but if you’re truly addicted, what can you do? Well, one of the best ways you can invest your money is to keep on top of standard mountain bike maintenance.
In addition to getting a full-blown tune up by a professional (which may be under $100, or may not), here are different components where a little maintenance can mean a big change in performance:
-Cables and Cable Housing: This seems to be a common story with me: I’ll be riding along, wondering why my bike shifts like crap, and I’ll realize that I haven’t had the cables and housing replaced in maybe two years. After a quick trip to the shop and about $30, my bike is shifting and riding like new! Don’t overestimate the value of a smooth-shifting bike
-Brakes: A quick brake bleed can sometimes do wonders for your brake performance! Also, a new set of pads can sometime make a big difference.
-Suspension: Make sure to keep up with the regular maintenance on your fork and shock (if applicable). If you neglect that maintenance and are wondering why your suspension feels like crap… that’s probably the reason.
-Bottom Bracket: Bottom brackets need to be cleaned and greased on a regular basis, and if you neglect that maintenance, you’ll soon be able to tell from the grinding and groaning every time you pedal.
These are just a few suggestions for affordable upgrades that can really improve in how your mountain bike performs. What low-cost upgrades are you a fan of?