You don't need to remortgage your house to spruce up your pride and joy. These ten best mountain bike upgrades are guaranteed to be good for your bike and your bank balance.

Here are ten upgrades that will transform your ride and protect your purse: tyres, cockpit, saddle, brake pads, cleats, pedal pins, gear cabling, plastic pedals, rotors, tubeless and grips.

If upgrading your current bike feels like it might a waste of time and money, head over to our guide on choosing the best mountain bike and think about starting afresh.

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Schwalbe Magic Mary

1. Tyres

The tyres that come fitted to off-the-peg bikes are usually not the best. Quite often in fact, they’re awful. Even if they bear the name of a well-reviewed tyre, chances are they’re a cut-price version made of sketchy, slippery rubber and a unsophisticated carcass. So upgrading a front tyre could transform your grip levels, allowing you to descend faster and corner harder. While changing the rear tyre could give you more climbing traction, better puncture-resistance or faster rolling, depending on your needs.

For a more in-depth list of recommended rubber head over to our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike tyres.

 


Race Face cockpit with 800mm-wide bar puts in you in full control

Race Face cockpit with 800mm-wide bar puts in you in full control

2. Cockpit

Stem and handlebars. While stock cockpits are much better nowadays, with shorter stems for more direct steering, and wider bars for more control in the rough, it’s can still be worth customising your contact points to suit your riding style and position. Changing a stem length, stem rise, bar width, bar rise or even bar geometry, can let you tune your weight balance and get you in the right place for more confident riding. Read our guide to mountain bike geometry and weight balance find out more.

For a more in-depth list of recommended models, head over to our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike stems and the best mountain bike handlebars

 


best mountain bike saddles

Fabric Scoop Pro Team saddle

3. Saddle

Are we sitting comfortably? If not, it’s time to change your saddle and start enjoying your riding again. While saddle choice is a personal thing, firm and not-so firm favourites, like the SDG Bel Air 3.0 or the Fabric Scoop are a great place to start.

For a more in-depth list of recommended models, head over to our buyer’s guide to the best men’s mountain bike saddles and the best women’s mountain bike saddles.

 


best mountain bike upgrades

Get the correct pad

4. Brake pads

You don’t have to get down to the metal backing for brake pads to fail; they pick up contaminants and wear unevenly too. Replace with some organic pads if you want maximum bite and quiet efficiency in the dry. Or go with sintered pads if you want durability and wet weather performance. Or do what a lot of riders do: go organic up front and sintered in the rear.

 


best mountain bike upgrades

That fresh cleat feeling

5. Fresh cleats or longer flat pedal pins

New cleats can return SPD pedals to their former glory, bringing back that positive connection and making you feel faster and more secure. And for flat pedal riders, a set of fresh (and longer) pins for your flats can really up the grip and feel factor.

For a more in-depth information, head over to our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike clipless pedals and best mountain bike flat pedals.

 


best mountain bike upgrades

New cabling every year

6. Gear cables and outer

Cables stretch over time and water and grit can get inside the outer too, making even the poshest of shifters and dropper posts feel slow and clunky. Swap them out for a Shimano or Jagwire or Fibrax mtb gear cable set and feel like you’re in charge again!

 


DMR V11

7. Plastic pedals

A good set of metal flat pedals can cost around £100, but slash that spending with composite versions of your fave design. DMR, Burgtec and HT have grippy, durable and lightweight composite pedals for as little as £30 and they can actually end up lighter and more durable than their alloy counterparts in some cases.

For a more in-depth list of recommended models, head over to our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike flat pedals

 


SRAM G2 brakes with 200mm rotors offer plenty of power

SRAM G2 brakes with 200mm rotors offer plenty of power

8. Rotor power

If your brakes still lack bite after replacing the pads, you could try increasing your rotor size. This is also a great mod if you are planning on taking your bike to the alps. Save weight by choosing a rotor with an alloy spider, and don’t forget you’ll probably need adaptors to space the calipers away from the frame.

 


Tubeless plus sealant

9. Go tubeless

New bikes generally come with inner tubes fitted, so the sealant doesn’t dry up in transit and the tyres don’t do flat on the showroom floor, but you’ll want to convert them to tubeless before you hit the trails. This will save weight and reduce the risk of punctures. Most new bikes will come with tubeless-ready rim tape installed, but you may need tubeless valves and sealant to complete the job. Buying one of the best tubeless charger pumps will also make the conversion painless.

For a more in-depth list of recommended models, head over to our buyer’s guide to the best tubeless sealants

 


DMR Deathgrip

DMR Deathgrips are still the best

10. Grips

Just as tyres are your bike’s principle contact with the ground beneath you, your grips are your first point of contact between you and your bike. Despite this, they can often be places where manufacturers save money. Ditch the hard and slippery cheap ‘n’ nasty grips off your bike and slide on some rubbery joy.

For a more in-depth list of recommended models, head over to our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike grips

 


With one or more of these upgrades, you’ll love your mountain bike – and your mountain biking – even more than you did before. Bargain!