As discussed in previous posts, no 2 bikes are the same. We modify our bikes to suit our individual riding styles and swap out components to get the pest performance out of them. But as time goes by our bikes and our bodies take a hammering so it’s important to stay on top of which components and gear are starting to fail. The last thing you want is poor performance or failing components on your ride.
So here are 8 affordable upgrades (Around or under the £80/$100 mark) to re-invigorate your ride.
Service your forks
Over time your forks lose their smoothness and you won’t really notice the difference in them because it’s such a gradual change between rides. Getting your bike back after the forks have been serviced feels like you’re on a new bike. To ensure performance of your forks, they need to be kept well lubricated and that the lubrication inside the fork is not contaminated. FOX recommends cleaning and lubrication refills (lower leg service) every 25 riding hours and a full service (strip down, seal replacement and full oil change) every 200 hours.
If you have the know-how you can do this yourself for very little or can be done by 3rd parties for around £80 / $100. If you ride a full sus, consider having the rear shock done too.
Stem & bars
If you’re looking to attack the descents better, you’ll benefit from reducing your stem length and increasing your handlebar width as it will improve you’re bikes responsiveness. On the flip-side, if you’re more interested in improving the XC capabilities of your bike you’ll want to increase stem length and reduce bar width. How much you need to increase/decrease is on rider preference.
There are some pros and cons to going tubeless but the pros definitely outweigh the cons in the long run. Ultimately the key benefits for riders are:
- Reduction in weight
- Tyres are more supple and reduction in rolling resistance because the resistance between the tube and the tyre is removed.
- No pinch flats. You can run a lower PSI for those wetter rides.
- Puncture resistance. The sealant fills small punctures but bear in mind that’s it’s not a miracle worker.
You should be able to upgrade to tubeless for under £50/$80. All you need is some Gorilla tape, Tubeless valves and Tubeless sealant + some basic tools which you should have anyway. Ridermorebikes.com did a good guide on converting: http://www.ridemorebikes.com/mtb-tubeless-conversion-guide/
Finding the right tyres that suit your riding style and the trails you’re riding on can make a massive difference. Not only will it give you the grip when you need it but it will also give you the confidence to push harder without feeling the insecurity of your bike potentially sliding out. I keep 2 sets of tyres at home, one set for summer and another for winter.
It’s also important to keep checking your tyres to ensure they are not getting worn down or damaged and changing them when they are.
This is very much a personal preference. I went through a long stage of trying to find the right grips for me. Because I have ape like hands I used to get pain in my fore-arms from trying to grip something which was ultimately too small (yes I’m still talking about grips, grow up). I upgraded to some ergo grips and made my ride much more pleasant. I can now focus on the trail rather than the pain/discomfort.
Also there is the clear advantages of having grips with better grip. As your drips wear, slippage becomes a more likely scenario which could leave you face down in the mud.
Pedals / clips
Very often switching to clips or flats can prove to be better suited to you depending on your riding style. But as with all components, your pedals are also prone to wear-and-tear which may lead to resistance or slippage. You can pick up a decent pair of pedals for well under the £50 mark or, depending on your pedals, can buy new pins and/or axle.
More an upgrade to your gear but the connection between your feet and your pedals are equally important as the pedals themselves. They too wear out and swapping out those skater shoes for a proper pair of riding shoes will make a noticeable difference to your riding.
Increasing your rotors, front specifically, will drastically improve the stopping power of your brakes. There is the added benefit of getting more life from your pads as less energy is required from them to do the job.
These are 8 areas where you can see some instant improvements but they are not the only areas. You should always take the time between rides to check your bike for components that are wearing out and get them replaced as soon as possible. As one component wears out it can begin to push pressure on others making them wear out faster.