Ten items that either help your bike feel like new again or help you better battle the winter filth
Jeez, January has been a long month. If it’s your pay day today, now’s the time to celebrate and splash out on the one you love: your mountain bike.
Now, there’s no need to go crazy. There’s still the Xmas-shredded credit card balance to think about after all. But there’s little harm in spending a modest amount of pennies on some bits and bobs to spruce up your bike, and yourself.
Here are the top ten best things to buy if you want to treat yourself without breaking the bank. We aren’t doing any of the usual boring (sensible) things like ‘new cables’ or ‘brake bleed kit’. Yawn. These are ten items that either help your bike feel like new again or help you better battle the winter filth.
1. New grips
By far and away the best bang-for-buck instantly-pleasing things you can get are fresh grips. Either get a fresh pair of your existing favourites or dabble in some new models. Although we do keep banging on about DMR Deathgrips, I’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest you also consider the Nukeproof Sam Hill grips; they aren’t just another hard-compound ODI Ruffian rip-off, they are super softies.
2. New gloves
What better to go with new grips, than new gloves? Again, feel free to simply buy another pair of your current favourite gloves (in a new colourway obviously) or invest in something new entirely. If you’ve yet to experience the sheer hand-y brilliance of 100% Brisker gloves, do so now.
3. Short(er) stem
Keeping with the cockpit theme. It is the year 2020AD and no-one left on planet Earth is running a stem on their mountain bike that is longer than 50mm. Okay, that’s not strictly true. Anyway, the point here is: go shorter, even shorter than that. Running a 50mm? Go 40mm. Running a 40mm? Rock a 35mm. You have nothing to lose. Apart from reach. And that can be clawed back with a slight foll forward of your riser bar if need be. A shorter stem will make your whole bike handle like a new bike.
4. Think about your pedals
Now then, you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy a whole new pair of pedals. Good ones aren’t cheap after all. By all means, goferrit if you really want to but for most of us, a simple re-grease or re-fit of (longer) pins if all that’s needed to make your pedals feel like new again. Honestly, this can make a world of difference. I had a pair of Shimano XT M8040 ML flat pedals that were deeply unimpressive… until I got hold of the longer pin kit for them. They’re now excellent and some of my favourite flatties. The same sort of thing goes for servicing; it’s amazing the difference in feel you get after you qquickly clear-out and re-grease a battered pair of pedals. Oh, if you clip-in, then get yourself some new cleats.
5. Storage solutions
Frame straps, saddle bags, storage bibshorts, clever bottle cages, bumbags and so on and so on. Start the new riding season by leaving your salty old Camelbak at home and riding without a backpack. You very probably won’t look back. Read: The best ways to streamline your gear and still carry the bare essentials.
6. New helmet
Put aside your battered, stinking lid with its scratty straps, bent visor and missing or split pads. A new helmet is perhaps not that small an outlay. Modern mountain bike helmets can cost way into three figures these days. The ting is though, they are worth it. Loads safer, laod comfier and loads better looking than lids of yore. And, let’s face it, helmets are always in the sales somewhere aren’t they? With a big of digging around you can find a modern MIPS-equipped trail helmet for well under a hundred quid.
7. New rear tyre
Back tyres matter. Depending where you live and the sort of terrain you like to ride, you may currently be floundering a bit. The UK winter has been a soggy one. It’s placed high demands on your skills, patience and your bike’s capabilities. One thing a lot of people don’t think about is thier rear tyre. Or, if they do, they think that rear tyres don’t do a lot. The front tyre is where it’s at. And while that is true for 90% of the time, there are plenty of times in winter when a suitable rear tyre cna make the difference between something being rideable or not. I’m not tlaking climbs here either. This is entirely about surviving slippery, steep, tech descents. Terrain where your front tyre is already overloaded with steering duties. Terrain where the only slowing down function is going to come from a aggro knobbed rear tyre. Stick a mud tyre (Maxxis Shorty, Specialized Hillbilly etc) on the rear of your bike and marvel at what you can get down.
8. Pressure gauge
Nerd out about PSI. And also have consistent bike handling at modern low tyre pressures. Win win. Watch: How to set your tyre pressures.
9. Tool bling
If your bike is fine and you’re happy with your riding apparel, then they is still someting you can treat yourself with. Tools. Especailly those sort of tools that aren’t essential tools but are nice to have. Or maybe get a really bling OTT version of a tool type that you already have. Suggestions: chain tool, track pump, Allen key set, downhill tyre lever, torque wrench and pedal spanner/Allen key.
10. THAT thing you didn’t get for Christmas
You know the one. Go get it.