You don't need to remortgage your house to spruce up your pride and joy. The best mountain bike upgrades guaranteed to be good for your bike.

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.

Read more: The pedant’s guide to mountain bike setup

Top best mountain bike upgrades

  1. Tyres
  2. Cockpit
  3. Saddle
  4. Brake pads
  5. Cleats/peal pins
  6. Gear cabling
  7. Plastic pedals
  8. Larger rotor
  9. Tubeless
  10. Grips

‘View Deal’ links

You will notice that beneath each product summary is a ‘View Deal’ link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay!


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. mbr testers’ pick: Schwalbe Magic Mary


best mountain bike upgrades

This stem is a bit too long

2. Cockpit

Stem and handlebars. Possibly try changing both of them in fact. Off-the-peg bikes often come with stems that are too long and bars that are too narrow and a general stnace that just don’t suit you. If possible, get your bike shop to swap the bits at time of purchase and haggle for a good deal.


best mountain bike upgrades

Fabric Scoop saddle

3. Saddle

Are we sitting comfortably? If not, begin with a new saddle, like the SDG Bel Air 3.0 or the Fabric Scoop. Both are great all-rounders with enough padding to cosset your behind. mbr testers’ pick: SDG Bel Air 3.0


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 power. Or go with sintered pads if riding through wet stuff. 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 shoes to their former glory, bringing back that positive connection and making you feel faster. And for flat pedal riders, a set of fresh (and longer) pins for your flats can really up the grip and feel factor.


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 clunky. Swap them out for a Shimano or Jagwire or Fibrax mtb gear cable set.


ht pa03a

HT PA03A

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. mbr testers’ pick: HT PA03A


best mountain bike upgrades

Dinky rotors aren’t worth it

8. Rotor power

If your brakes still lack bite after replacing the pads you may need to up-size your rotors. Box-fresh trail bikes typically arrive with a 160mm disc at the rear; try upgrading to 180mm.


Mountain bike tubeless set up on the cheap

Bye bye inner tubes

9. Go tubeless

This is easier – and cheaper – said than done. But if you’re plagued by pinch flats, tubeless is a Godsend. Going tubeless at least means shelling out for a pair of decent tubeless tyres and may also involve purchasing a tubeless conversion kit if your current rims aren’t tubeless ready. And even then you’ll be faced with the task of getting the system to inflate and seal. mbr testers’ pick: Muc-Off No Punctore Hassle


DMR Deathgrip

DMR Deathgrips still the best

10. Grips

Much like tyres are your bike’s principle contact with the ground underneath you, your grips are your first point of contact between you and your bike. Despite this, they are often the least well-specced item on any new bike. Ditch the hard and slippery cheap ‘n’ nasty grips off your bike and slide on some rubbery joy. mbr testers’ pick: DMR Deathgrips


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