Mountain bikes are amazing machines, letting riders explore deep into the wilderness, and to kick up their adrenaline levels. The price of a bike, however, can quickly climb into the thousands of dollars. Rather than dumping out the dough for a brand new bike, there are many upgrades that you can make to you current bike. While some additions, like lightweight carbon-fiber wheels, may cost a pretty penny, there are plenty of smaller and cheaper changes that can help dial in your ride. Check out our guide to mountain bike upgrades for any budget for more information.
Still rocking that old bike helmet your parents bought you a million years ago? It’s time to upgrade. Not only can it be unsafe to use an old helmet, but you can likely shave some weight off your dome. It’s a smart idea to up the protection level with newer technologies like MIPS, too. Get that weight off your head and let it breathe with a nicely ventilating new helmet.
Your old skate or street shoes have been doing just fine on your bike, right? Well, you’ll be in for a surprise once you enter the good life with real mountain bike shoes. These will go a long way toward keeping your feet solidly in contact with your flat pedals, or keeping you locked in to your clipless pedals. The grippy soles of bike shoes made specifically for flat pedals are an awesome improvement with stiffer soles that will keep your feet happy, and push power to the pedals.
Adding a dropper seat post is easily one of the best additions that you can make to any bike. If you don’t have a dropper post already, you will be kicking yourself for not getting one sooner. With a remote mounted on your handlebars, a dropper allows you to change the height of your seat without getting off your bike. This means no more messing with quick-release clamps, or even more annoyingly, fishing out a multitool from your backpack. While a $350 dropper post might not seem cheap, it’s some of the best money you can put into your bike.
Brakes are undoubtedly one of the most important components on any bike – the last thing you want is to be second guessing your ability to stop safely. Upgrading your mountain bike brakes will give better stopping power, more adjustability, and less “brake fade” on long descents. In other words, nicer brakes give you more confidence and less hassle.
Handlebars & stem
The size of your handlebars and stem are super important to the way your bike fits. While starting with a properly fitting bike is step number one, dialing in your bars and stem will help personalize your fit. Changing the length of your mountain bike stem changes the effective reach, putting you in a more crouched, or more upright position. In general, wider handlebars will give you more steering control.
Chamois & bike shorts
While these two are not bike components, they’ll make a huge difference in the comfort of your ride. Chamois bike liner shorts come with padded protection to keep you backside happy even after miles on the trail. They’re a must-have for every mountain biker. Likewise, shorts and pants not made for mountain biking tend to wear out quickly in the backside, and don’t provide the same level of padding or protection. Mountain bike shorts are durable enough to stand up to the wear and tear of your saddle, as well as the occasional crash you might take.
Swapping out the rubber, your tires that is, is a great way to shed some rotational weight or better equip your mountain bike to handle the unique conditions where you ride. More so than almost any other cheap mountain bike upgrade, new tires have the ability to change the feel of your bike. Different types of tires will perform better on different kinds of trails, so this is a great opportunity to customize your bike for your local trails. Finding the right balance of weight, width, and tread can be a bit tricky. Check in with your local bike shop to get an idea of what might work best on the trails you ride the most often.