There’s nothing like the feeling of buying a new bike and taking it out for a first ride. But there’s also nothing like the feeling of immediately poring over possible upgrades to said new steed. So without further ado, here are five great upgrades for any passionate mountain biker.
Most riders say once you go tubeless you’ll never go back, and there’s a good reason for this. First it saves weight by eliminating those nasty inner tubes, but more importantly it allows you to run lower pressures without fear of pinch flats.
This means more grip and less time fixing flats. So whilst the initial setup may seem costly and time consuming, the payoff is less weight and more grip, two gold standard upgrades for the modern mountain biker.
They might not be cheap, but if you’re after an upgrade that will instantly make your riding life better, look no further than the dropper post. Many a rider laughed when they first came out, and the reliability issues didn’t help. But these days dropper posts are solid and come with only a small weight penalty.
Most importantly, if you like ‘earning your turns’ they’ll help you climb efficiently… then, with a quick press of a button, will drop the seat for rapid descending. These days a modern trail rider blurs the lines between downhill and XC disciplines, and this is in no small-part-due to the humble dropper post.
Not all tyres are not created equal, and bike manufacturers will often spec the lightest and thinnest tyres to keep the weight down on the spec sheet. We’ve heard many a tale of woe where a rider has taken a new bike out on a hill, only to puncture both tyres within the first hour.
Cheaper tyres often have harder compounds, so while the tread may look the same as more expensive offerings, the grip and performance on offer is not quite the same. Those bling carbon bars may look the part, but an upgrade to better tyres is what’s really going to make the difference next time you hit the trails
Think of this not as a direct upgrade to your bike, but more as an upgrade to your technical knowledge. Some riders still look at their shocks as an item to fit and forget, but modern mountain bike suspension has a whole host of great features which can totally change the performance and character of your ride.
Words like sag, compression damping and rebound damping can seem daunting, but understanding them well enough to get your settings dialled, will see you grinning from ear to ear next time you hit the trails.
It's a massively overused claim, but SRAM genuinely changed the game when it first brought out the 1x11 XX1 drivetrain. Dumping that front derailleur eliminates various mechanical hassles and offers a significant weight saving.
It was also eye-wateringly expensive, but has now trickled down to the lower price points, making it more accessible to all.
Shimano is now in on the game with its XT and XTR group sets, and bike manufacturers are starting to embrace one-by – to the point where they’re designing single-ring specific frames. So one thing's for sure, it’s here to stay and is a worthy upgrade to any bike.