So you just spent all your money on a new mountain bike. It’s your pride and joy. You stare at it, pamper it, and of course you ride it. Still, you want to spoil your bike but you’re totally friggin broke. I’ve got your back, these 10 super cheap upgrades can improve your bike, protect it, or just make it look nicer. Let’s get started.

These plastic cable fasteners are known as c-clips, and I’m pretty sure the C stands for crap because these always come loose and leave your cables hanging. For this reason, professionals use zip ties. Multi colored zip ties are not only slimmer and more secure, but they also can personalize your bike. Rather than matching your frame color, you should try to choose an accent color from your components so they stand out. Zip ties can be purchased at a hardware store, or online for just a few bucks.

Since you have a bunch of zip ties, why not use them to neaten up your brake and shift cables. Try to find a way to keep the cables from hitting into each other, but still move freely as you steer. This will make your whole bike neater, quieter, and better looking.

When you take a hard landing, your chain will sometimes hit your frame. This is called chain-slap, and the affected area is called your chainstay. Look closely and there’s usually a clear sticker there which offers some protection. To really protect your paint you can wrap your chainstay with electrical tape. Of course this comes in many colors. If you use the high quality 3M stuff, it’ll come off without leaving any residue. When the tape gets chewed up from the chain, you can pull it off and replace it again to keep your bike looking fresh.

Another way to protect your chainstay is with a neoprene guard. These are often given away for free when you order stuff, and they can be had for just a few bucks on Amazon. Since they’re fastened with velcro they can be easily replaced or removed for cleaning. Keep your bike fresh and protect your chainstay.

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# Comments

  • Alvin Mullen

    Some good Ideas,,, note on the skateboard grip tape. No need to buy, for those small pieces go to any skate shop and get the scraps from when they build their boards. Also most people don’t know it, but they make clear grip tape.

  • marvinmartian

    I’ve been wrapping my chain stays with electrical tape for nearly 20 years; one additional thing that I do is wrap the chain stay with a strip from an old tube and then wrap that with the tape. It helps dampen the chain slap noise

  • drcbrath

    I wrapped my chain stays with self fusing silicone tape. The stuff fuse to itself, no adhesive at all. It is much thicker than electrical tape, providing more protection and less noise. I color matched mine. Still the pattern of the wrap give it a little visual appeal—much better looking than the inner I used to use.

  • SZonian

    Zip tie the velcro style chain stay protector…will help keep it from rotating around. They also sell vinyl applique sheets in various colors and clear at MC shops that you can use to provide additional protection against rock dings/chips, especially on the down tubes…rock hits are common where I ride and this stuff can be molded to fit by using a hair dryer while applying.

  • Entrenador

    I’ve tried electrical tape, clear 3M tape, inner tube wrap, and purpose-specific chainstay protectors – neoprene + velcro, and the pre-cut adhesive type available from various sources. It’s a simple function, so not a lot of wrong answers out there, but the product I like most:


    Trims easily with scissors, sticks like crazy. Thick stuff that deadens chain slap.

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