A Quick Guide on How To Upgrade Mountain Bike
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. I’ve got your back, these 10 super cheap upgrades can improve your bike, protect it, or just make it look nicer. 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. Since they’re fastened with velcro they can be easily replaced or removed for cleaning. Keep your bike fresh and protect your chainstay. Entry level bikes come with standard grips, which work great but are hard to get on and off for servicing. What’s worse, they’ll start to slip around when they get dirty.
Lock-on grips slide on and off easily, and secure in place with screws. They’re more secure, and much easier to work on, so all high end bikes come standard with lock ons. You can have a set of your own, making them a huge upgrade for the price. To install them all you need is an allen key. Another part you’ll see on the handlebars is the cap on the end, usually made of plastic or rubber.
Aluminum bar ends are not only more durable, but easier to get in and out during service. You can find them in lots of different colors too, so they’re a great way to personalize your bike for just a few bucks. The sizing is universal, so just pick one you like it should fit your bike. After a few rides and cleanings, you’ll need to lube your drivetrain. You can use cheap bike oil, but synthetic or even a dry lube will offer better protection.
Since really good lube still doesn’t cost that much, it seems like a no brainer if you want to take good care of your bike. Your shift levers are smooth, which can make them slippery in muddy conditions. While I don’t personally have this problem, many riders use zip ties, or even sandpaper to give them a grippier feel. Skateboard grip tape is a great way to make grip pads for your shifters. Honestly I think it feels pretty cool and gnarly.
Grip tape can be had in many different colors to personalize your bike, and like the other upgrades it’s super cheap. You can even use it to, you guessed it, protect your chainstay. On your shift and brake cables, there’s a little cap at the end to prevent fraying It’s almost always a boring silver cap, but it can be easily replaced with a cooler looking one. With a pack of multi colored cable ends, you can add that finishing touch to your bike.
It’s a tiny detail, but other riders who like to tinker with their bikes will notice it. These can be squeezed on with crimpers or pliers, so anyone can do it themselves. This plastic spoke guard is sometimes known as the dork disc, and you’ll almost never find it on a high end bike or custom wheel set. It’s there to protect your spokes if your chain shifts off the cassette, but a properly maintained drivetrain won’t have that problem anyway. So assuming you take good care of your bike, the dork disk just rattles around, traps dirt in your cassette, and eventually turns yellow.
With some difficulty you can cut it off, but with the right tools you can de dorkify your bike in a much cleaner manner. Although this makes your bike look way better, you should only remove your dork disc if you truly understand the implications. I almost never put valve caps on my bikes, but on tubeless wheels a damaged stem can be costly and messy to replace. If you’re gonna protect your valve stem, why not do it with an anodized aluminum cap that’s functional and attractive. They sell these online in packs with lots of different colors to choose from.
Everyone hates valve caps but at least these look cooler than the plastic ones. Headset spacers are boring, but you can easily replace them. These carbon spacers are probably the cheapest carbon part you can get for your bike, and everyone knows that carbon is always better—well not really. Just remove your stem, replace the spacers, and put everything back together like it was. Don’t forget to tighten the top cap first before securing the pinch bolts.
Now, technically, you have carbon parts on your bike, so this upgrade will give you major style points for cheap. So there you have it, ten super cheap upgrades for your mountain bike. Until you recover financially from your bike purchase, these mods should hold you over and give you some tinker time while you save up for more crap.
Tyler Corlis is a 25-year old Cyclist from Italy. He enjoys cycling and biking on a weekly basis, and has extensive experience in cycling for 100’s KMs across Europe.