You don't have to spend a shed load to improve your ride
For under the price of the average round of post ride beers, here are our top choices for how to spend that upgrade money wisely.
Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. If there’s one thing us riders like to do it’s spend money on bits that might make your bike perform a bit better, look better or even last longer.
Mostly we think about the big things and whilst it would be great to be able to afford the latest suspension fork or dropper post, these are normally way beyond the budget. Can you get any kit that could make your life a bit easier or your bike perform better for under £20?
Decent tubeless valves
There’s nothing worse than a leaky valve, well maybe one that seems to clog up or let go of the valve core could be worse. Don’t suffer the ‘will it or won’t it’ approach to pumping your tyres up simply by upgrading to a decent set of valves. Check out these ones by Peaty’s Products, classy alloy with a valve core remover tool built in and available in loads of decent colours. Even better is the fact that Peaty’s Products offer a lifetime warranty on these. And all for £17.99!
The key to a reliable tubeless set up is changing sealant regularly as it tends to congeal and become ineffective over time. Now most of the time it can be a real faff to take the tyre off and add more sealant (not to mention potentially causing problems sealing the system again). A sealant syringe will allow you to add the sealant of your choice through the valve. Use a valve core remover tool such as found on the Peaty’s valves above and attach the syringe tube to squeeze in the fresh new gunk.
If you want to improve control and comfort then you want to be looking at the bits of your bike that you touch with your body, or your ‘contact points’. Saddles and pedals are a bit out of the budget but a decent set of handlebar grips can make a huge difference to how you get on with your bike. We totally rate the DMR Deathgrip for it’s awesome levels of grip and range of options. The best news is unlike many lock-on style grips, most varieties of Deathgrip cost just £17.00.
Okay, so we mentioned that a good set of pedals will probably be off the cards within this budget but if you want to spruce up your existing flat pedals you could treat them to a new set of pins. DMR users can get a new set of pins for as little as a fiver (a little tip – these can also be used on other brands pedals, but check first). If you want a little extra grip then some brands do longer pins for that real shin ripping experience!
Use SPD style clipless pedals? When was the last time you fitted new cleats? Chances are your cleats are pretty worn and this could lead to accidental unclipping when you least expect it as well as a bit more unwanted play.
Good cleaning products
A clean bike is a happy bike. Take a bit of time to look after it and it will run smoother and more reliably than a dirty, neglected bike. The least you should have in your collection is a good quality cleaner, a degreaser and chain lube. All things you can pick up for less than a tenner each.
Suspension tuning bits
Volume spacers can be used to dramatically alter the way your suspension performs and it’s something we think all riders should have a play round with to get the most out of their shocks. Compared to shelling out for a new suspension fork or shock, volume spacers are relatively inexpensive. Volume spacers for Fox forks start from just £2.99 and RockShox from £4.50.
Proper tyre levers
How many cheap tyre levers have you snapped trying to get on that really tight tyre? Or worse how many times has your lever damaged your tubeless tape and stopped everything working properly? Invest a few quid in a well thought out and executed tyre removal device and you’ll wonder how you survived without it. Try the Crank Brothers Speedier Lever for £6.50 or the classic £3.49 Park TL-4.2 for stress free use.
Want to save lots of money? Buy a chain checker. This little bit of metal measures how worn your chain is and will tell you when it’s time to buy a new one. Use it regularly and change the chain when it tells you to and you’ll dramatically increase the life of your cassette and chainring. For an even better money saving tip, buy a cheaper version of the chain you normally use and then you won’t stress as much about paying out for a chain every few months.