Can't afford a new bike but have a bit of cash burning a hole?
Sometimes we all just have an urge to splurge. To drop some cash on something bicycle-related. But wait a minute! Don’t make a poor choice. You want to get the most out of your moolah don’t you?
Here are 15 things that you can buy that will actually improve your riding enjoyment.
Although suspension forks tend to come with eye-wateringly high price tags these days if you shop around you’ll be able to find some great deals.
Replacing your OEM fork that came with your off-the-peg bike with an aftermarket fork usually results in a fork with much more sophisticated damping and adjustments. Meaning you can really liven up – or calm down – your front end.
Approx cost: £600
Rear shock custom tuning
A lot of riders are much more interested in buying a whole new rear shock ather than tweaking what they already have. This is a mistake.
It’s far, far better to send your current shock off to knowledgeable suspension tuning company and discuss with them how you ride, where you ride etc. They’ll carry out a full overhaul of your shock, rejig the internals of it, send it back to you and it really will be like having a whole new bike.
Approx cost: £150
Throw money at the problem. That’s the classic way of dealing with a problem. When mountain bikers begin to struggle on certain terrain they buy a new bike. Which helps as a placebo for a little while but doesn’t address the root cause: lack of skill.
Rather than buying a new bike, throw your money at a trained skills coach who can unlock your inner Danny MacAskill. Very probably the best money you’ll spend on this whole list.
Approx cost: £80
Go on a riding holiday
Without spending silly money there’s two options here really. Somewhere in Europe out-of-season served by a budget airline. Or somewhere in the UK in the summer, such as Scotland or the Lake District.
Approx cost: £500+
Enter an entire enduro series
Motivation, it’s a great thing. A typical enduro series consists of five or six events spread from early spring through to late autumn. By entering them all you’re ensuring yourself a number of things.
Loads of fitness improvements. Loads of skill improvements. Loads of minor injuries. Loads of grief at home for being away all the time. Loads of new friends made. Loads of new exclusive trails to ride.
Approx. cost: £240
If you’ve got a ‘supercar’ of a bike already, get yourself some carbon wheels. If you’re not as wealthy as Queen Elizabeth II then browse the sales for a decent alloy wheelset.
Aftermarket wheels will be significantly lighter and better made than OEM wheels on your off-the-peg bike.
It’s a good idea to embrace the modern vibe and get yourself some wide-as-you-can-fit wheels too – something with 30+mm internal widths.
Approx cost: £500 for alloy, £MEGABUCKS for carbon
Get a tow bar fitted to your car
Bit of a boring ‘grown-up’ one this but almost certainly one of the more constantly rewarding purchases. Get your bikes from off your roof, or out of your boot, and bung them on the back of your car.
Easier to get bikes on/off (especially for smaller people), more fuel efficient, sturdier, no minimum height parking restrictions.
Approx cost: £200-£300
The era of the 10 speed expander sprocket drivetrain ‘hack’ is almost at an end – its death no doubt prompted by the release of much more affordable 11 speed 1x drivetrains.
SRAM just about retain their step-ahead-ness with 1x if you’re looking at entry level systems (the amazing value SRAM NX groupset) but it’s Shimano’s XT drivetrain that is gaining the reputation as the one to go for.
Approx cost: £300-£500
Employ a personal trainer
Don’t bother buying weights or other dust-gathering white elephants. Don’t join a gym. Do a bit of Googling or asking around and find yourself a local trainer who will beast you within an inch of your life.
We don’t like to admit it but if you’re fitter you have more fun. You may also find that you tend to get fewer injuries than you used to.
Approx. cost: £30 per hour
Proper GPS device with mapping
Free yourself from just riding your usual local routes and hammering the same old trail centres. With a whole load of free routes available to download online it’s never been easier to find great places to ride. And having a bar-mounted GPS device with built in decent mapping makes exploring easy and faff-free.
The maps are what costs the money (as opposed to the actual device) but it’s well worth it if you want to spread your scope of where you ride.
Approx. cost: £300
It costs a lot of money to save a bit of weight but that’s always been the case with bicycle components. At least these days expensive carbon stuff has improved performance characteristics rather than just being lighter.
What carbon stuff is (just about) worth it? Carbon handlebars for sure. Carbon cranks if you need cranks anyway. Carbon stem? Not really. Carbon rail saddles? Nah. Carbon seatpost? Get a dropper instead.
Approx. cost: £130 for handlebars, £300 for chainset
Re-stock your tyre pile
If you’re anything like us, chance are you have a pile of redundant 26″ tyres in your shed/garage that are no longer likely to see the light of day. Chuck ’em out and go on a wild rubber-spending spree.
Equip yourself with an array of correct wheelsize-d tyres for any and every eventuality. There’s nothing like being able to pluck out a suitable tyre from your ‘stock’.
Approx: cost: £200
If you haven’t got a dropper seatpost yet stop reading this immediately and get yourself to a bike shop and buy one. Now.
If you already own a dropper then consider buying another. Let’s face it, they sometimes aren’t the most reliable things ever so it’s good to have a spare. Most of us will also have more than one bike. This bike often never gets ridden because it doesn’t have dropper on it. What a waste of money!
Approx. cost: £300
Stop using your multitool for everything. It’s not good for your knuckles or your bike parts. Get yourself some quality dedicated workshop tools and a workstand.
You should also consider getting some quite specialist tools (headset/BB press, disc bleeding kit, wheel truing stand, tubeless tyre inflator etc) and learn how to use them, as this will really save you money on future bike shop repair bills.
Approx. cost: £200+
Buy a £500 hardtail
Either for yourself (always good to have one more bike!) or maybe for your other half to get them into riding. The choice of great handling £500 hardtails is better than ever.
Approx. cost: £500