Mountain bike upgrades

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    • #269303

      So I am am relatively a noob to the mountain bike scene also this is my first time posting…but I have fallen head over heels in love with everything about it. I got myself a 2020 Trek Marlin 5. Nothing amazing or fancy but I love the bike. I have done alot of reading about bike upgrades and there benefits, I am absolutely looking into upgrading some components of the bike I’ve done the very little things like grips and pedals. But where I hit a wall and what I am asking advice about is where to start when upgrading?

      I know I will upgrade the tires (I live in New England so the cold months are upon us and I have no intention on stopping), probably put a drop seatpost on, get wider handlebars and a shorter stem also have been looking at forks like the Rockshox. I know some people may think upgrading the trek marlin is stupid, but I like the bike and want to customize it to make it my own.

      Any advice on where to start or what order to do upgrades if there is any. Thanks in advance!

    • #269305

      Your question has many possibilities. You have a reasonably good XC bike for your skill level. My suggestion would be to ride is a few hundred miles and start to decide what you like and what needs improvement from the hand grips all the way to the tires. You should also try and figure out your riding preference. For example, are you attracted towards speed and competition or challenging features like jumps and drops? You will find your preferences the more more you ride.

      You have just started your MTB journey… Congratulations and enjoy the ride! The more you ride the more you will want to.

      PS, expect to crash and get banged up a bit, it come with your new found attraction.

      • #269306

        Your def right, I am not really trying to jump the gun with all these huge upgrades more of a question for down the road. I was just wondering where people start. Like are there certain upgrades that should be done first might be a stupid question lol I just like to plan ahead I guess.

    • #269313

      Tires are an awesome place to start. New tires can make a bike feel totally different.

      Personally, I’m a big fan of Maxxis. Tough tires, tons of tread and compound options and excellent tubeless ready options.

      Check out the internal width of your rims and try to match new tire widths to your rims.


    • #269314

      Things I’ve upgraded so far: grips, handlebar, pedals, tires.

      • #269331

        Things I’ve upgraded so far: grips, handlebar, pedals, tires.

        These important components of the bike will definitely make your bike better. Recently helped a buddy upgrade his bike after we finished installing the brake kit and cosmis wheels on his Mustang. New handle bar and better Maxxis tires make the bike more comfortable to ride now. Next will be the new grip that is better of shock absorption.


    • #269329

      Making significant upgrades to any Mountainbike is seldom worth it because parts cost so much.  Wheelset $500+, drivetrain $400+, fork $400+, dropper post $250+.  Making any of those upgrades cost almost as much as your bike is worth.  It is better to buy the best bike you are willing to afford, ride it until it’s beat while doing the fewest upgrades possible, save your money, sell the old bike when you’re ready for a new bike, and then buy your new best bike.

      However,  there are a few upgrades which are reasonable to make.  A new saddle but only if the stock saddle is literally a pain in your ass.  A new stem but only if you are unhappy about your fit.  Hopefully, your bike shop helped you get the fit correct and this is a non-issue.

      There is one other upgrade that your bike might benefit from and that is better tires.  Your bike came with some very narrow lightly-treaded rubber.  A set of 2.4in or wider aggressive trail tires would make your bike much more capable.  However, if you’re happy with the tires you have, wear them out before getting new rubber.

      • #269332

        That is COMPLETELY dependent on the bike and person!

        I’ve upgraded my wheelset, dropper, bars, tires, drivetrain…

        I’m currently looking at upgrading my rear shock.

        All of the upgrades have been worth while.  I have zero desire to upgrade my frame for several years and the better I can make the bike surrounding my frame, all the better.

        Best part, when I do switch frames, many of the parts can go right over to the new frame.

        Plus I have a lot of “back up” parts for my mountain bikes. Awesome for long distance trips, friends and when problems come up on your own bike and you have to order new parts.

    • #269383

      I say grips, saddle and pedals were the first upgrades for me. If your not comfortable on the bike it won’t matter if it grips to the trail.

    • #269589

      Ride for a while and replace as things wear out, this will give you time to learn what is important to you.  Except for the dropper post, this will improve your riding and fun- a must upgrade!  Stem and bars are reasonably inexpensive upgrades and will help your fit and ability to ride tech.  When you’re ready for high end fork, drive train or wheel set it’s time for a new bike.  You bought a great starter bike, but these last few upgrades are too much for this bike- you’ll outspend the new bike upgrade.  Good luck and keep the passion going!

    • #269675

      There’s a lot of good advice posted above. As someone who has both (a) upgraded a bike and (b) purchased a new (2nd) bike here’s what I would offer to what’s already been said.  When you first get started you really don’t know what you like/need/want so there’s no reason to rush to any upgrades aside from those of comfort first.  That includes grips & pedals.  I wouldn’t swap out the saddle immediately unless you KNOW it doesn’t fit you.  Riding can be uncomfortable for anyone starting out and it’s amazing what a good pair of chamois can do. While not everyone would agree, I would put a dropper post pretty high on the list (especially if you ride a bit more aggressively) as well as going to tubeless.  Personally, I would ride the tires you have before upgrading.

      As for the debate about upgrades vs purchasing new, it’s much more important to get a feel for what you like about your bike in terms of how it handles the trails you ride, specifically the sizing, geometry and overall feel.  Figure out what you and the bike do well, i.e. how well does it climb, descend, handle more technical roots/rocks, etc.  During that time, you’ll also begin to figure out what type of riding you enjoy, e.g. XC vs enduro, smooth, fast and flowy vs technical roots/rocks, racing vs casual riding, etc., etc.  And while you’re doing that demo a few bikes when you can to get a sense for how other bikes feel when riding similar terrain.  You don’t want to spend a ton of money upgrading a bike that you come to determine doesn’t suit you or your riding style.  Conversely, you don’t want to go buy a new bike before you know what you really want/need for what/how you intend to ride.  To emphasize this latter point, I bought my Kona Hei Hei DL new in 2013.  Within the first year I upgraded grips & pedals.  Year 2, I went tubeless, replaced the worn out tires and installed a dropper.  Year 3, I went to a 1x drivetrain and replaced a worn out saddle, Year 4 I upgraded the wheels.  To date, virtually everything else has been upgraded and the bike rides great. Had I decided to buy a new bike my choices would have been different Year 1 vs Year 2 vs Year 3 etc as I have gotten more experience, know the types of trails I want to ride and how I want to ride them, and understand the strengths/weakness of my bike for that riding style and terrain.  In short, start small, ride the heck out of your bike and invest where/when it makes sense.

    • #289807


      All good advice from vets.  I will throw in one idea.  For me, the biggest advancement in mtb is the 1x drive train.  Makes more difference on a single track than almost anything.  If you feel like spending some cash, I would convert to either Shimano or SRAM drivetrain.  Many will may say it’s too much money to put in an inexpensive bike (which is probably true) but you can transfer this drivetrain to most bikes in the future (and there will be more).  The performance change will rock your world and you’ll drop some weight.

      just sayin’

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