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.
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.
Top best mountain bike upgrades
- Tyres buyers guide
- Brake pads
- Cleats/peal pins
- Gear cabling
- Plastic pedals
- Larger rotor
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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 buyers guide: Best mountain bike tyres
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 buyers guide: Best mountain bike flat pedals
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.
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 buyers guide: Best tubeless sealants
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 buyers guide: Best mountain bike grips
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!