MTB Upgrades For Beginners
MTB upgrades are a brilliant way of not only improving your mountain biking experience, they’re also a fantastic way to transform the performance and reliability of your bike.
If you want to upgrade your mountain bike and increase your performance, we’ve broken down the top improvements for you to consider.
Best MTB upgrades for your mountain bike:
- Tyres: notice a real difference upgrading to a better set of tyres
- Cockpit: one of the contact points with the bike are also worth upgrading
- Pedals: responsible for the power transfer to make your bike move.
- Saddle: not the sexiest part on a bike but one that thinking about.
- Dropper Seatpost: a game changing upgrade you can make to your bike.
- Clothing: will result in you being more comfortable, efficient and protected.
Check out our video on the best MTB Upgrades
MTB Upgrades: Tyres
One of the most common upgrades you can make to your mountain bike is your tyres. It’s incredible how much difference you can notice when upgrading to a better set of tyres especially tyres designed for the terrain you’re riding on.
Simply put, a poor set of rubber is going to end in a poor ride. Whether they’re the wrong tread pattern and compound for your trails or just simply worn out.
When it comes to upgrading tyres it is important you refrain from being cheap. Like most of the upgrades we will talk about in this article being cheap about your upgrades won’t be worthwhile.
Tyres are the only contact point between your bike and the ground. They are critical to ensuring you feel comfortable and ready to handle anything that comes your way on the trail.
Better tyres will result in a more secure grip on the trail thanks to advanced rubber compounds and improved rolling resistance.
Furthermore, you’ll also get better puncture resistance and more durable tyre constructions as well. If you’re wanting to make your bike as light as possible, expensive tyres tend to be lighter resulting in you shaving off a few grams.
MTB Upgrades: Cockpit
As the rider your contact points with the bike are also worth upgrading. One of the best ways to upgrade your bike is to change your handlebar, stem and grips. Your handlebar is ultimately responsible for how you control and handle your bike. These style of upgrades will help you customise your fit consequently achieving better control and efficiency when out on the trails.
Depending on what type of bike you own and the rider you are, you have a few things to consider.
If you are a cross country rider, you may prefer a longer stem with narrower bars to help you stay in a better position when standing or when climbing.
For the downhill riders out there, a wider bar will give you more leverage through corners. For enduro / trail riders it’s more or less an in-between. You want handlebars that can give you more control for the downhills without being too wide when you need to get into that perfect pedaling position.
Finding the middle ground is the perfect solution for choosing your cockpit upgrade.
Grips are something that can vary from person to person. There is a wide variety of designs. You can choose thin grips if you have small hands or thick grips if you want that extra bit of cushioning. You can also get ergonomic grips and super tacky grips.
Over time you will find that your grips will wear. Upgrading grips will not require spending mega bucks. On top of this, you don’t have to be a master mechanic to remove and install grips.
MTB Upgrades: Pedals
The next contact point you have with your bike is your pedals. There are so many options out there. So many different shapes, colours and designs. Your pedals connect you to your bike and in return are responsible for the power transfer to make your bike move.
Upgrading to a decent pair of pedals will help with power transfer. You’ll be able to put more power through the pedals. In return, you will go faster, further and ultimately have more fun.
For mountain biking you can choose between clipless or flat pedals. Flat pedals have a nice large platform area with metal pins in them to help your feet stay in place by gripping to the bottom of your shoes. Whereas for clipless pedals your shoe is clipped in to the pedal – locking your foot in place.
Both flat and clipless have their advantages. With a flat pedal you can obviously get your foot on and off the pedal more easily and they’re great for practicing and learning skills.
Clipless pedals offer more security when descending and you can have a better power transfer too.
Whatever pedals you choose, they’re a vital upgrade in being able to control your bike better and become a more confident rider.
MTB Upgrades: Saddle
The last contact point to discuss is the saddle. Admittedly the saddle is most definitely not the sexiest part on a bike but one that is worth talking about.
If you’re not sitting comfortably on your bike, you are not going to enjoy the ride. It will more than likely make you want to cut your ride short.
It’s important to understand that as mountain bikers you’re going to be out of your saddle for part of the ride. Despite this, when you are sitting or if you’re out for a long day adventure – having a comfortable seat is priceless.
As with all of these contact points whichever one is right for you will be for you alone to decide. There’s more choice than there ever has been and many saddle brands have clever fitting guides to pair you with the right saddle.
Bottom line, the more comfortable you find your saddle to be, the more enjoyable you will find your ride.
MTB Upgrades: Dropper Seatpost
Not a common sight on entry-level bikes, a dropper seatpost is a game changing upgrade you can make to your bike. Being able to adjust your saddle height at any given time, without the need for a multi-tool or without the need to even get off your bike is incredibly convenient.
If you’re not familiar with what it is, a dropper as it’s commonly called, is a seatpost that can be raised or lowered while on the bike with a simple push of a button. Not very complicated but the benefits are amazing.
When approaching steep descents or trail features, using your weight and with one click of a button you can drop your saddle out of the way – helping you to get into a more appropriate riding position to handle the trail ahead of you. Once you’ve finished, simply click the button again and the saddle will rise back up.
When droppers first came out they were relatively expensive. Luckily, this has changed with a range of affordable options out there.
Let’s be honest, if you’re new to mountain biking and you’re trying to get used to getting on and off your bike without falling all over the place, a dropper post makes it even easier to hop on and off – especially if you’re clipped in.
With a dropper you’re going to have to be able to handle steep terrain and features much more easily, you’re going to be able to have a consistent saddle height, which can be adjusted on the fly – and this will help you try and avoid aches in your knees or back from having a saddle that’s too low down for you.
Learn how to install a dropper seatpost
MTB Upgrades: Clothing
When it comes to clothing, there is no right or wrong answer. Chances are, if you are new to the sport you are repurposing gym gear and other activewear which you already own. Wearing clothing specific to the cycling you are getting out to do will provide you with a number of benefits to make your ride more enjoyable.
Upgrading your clothing to cycling specific apparel will result in you being more comfortable, efficient and protected. When it comes to clothing for mountain biking there is lots to choose from.
It’s crucial to have a jersey that offers good breathability. Regardless if it’s freezing cold or boiling hot temperatures a jersey with good sweat wicking properties and ventilation is crucial.
Jerseys like this will keep your body temperature regulated, helping you to remain comfortable on the bike which will result in a longer, more enjoyable ride.
A good pair of mountain bike shorts will keep you comfortable, dry and warm or cool. If you are lucky enough to live in a hot climate you will need shorts with cooling vents to prevent excessive sweating. It is recommended when upgrading your shorts to look for those with a good selection of pockets.
If you’d prefer to keep your legs completely covered, mountain biking trousers are an advisable purchase. Mountain bike specific trousers offer a good on the bike fit. As well as this, trousers will keep your legs warm and dry while also keeping your legs clean from the mud and dirt of the trails.
A decent pair of mountain bike shoes will provide a range of benefits over normal, everyday shoes or trainers.
Mountain bikes shoes will have a much better grip, allowing you to be more secure on the pedals. Furthermore, MTB shoes will commonly provide more protection to your feet in key areas such as toes and heels. MTB shoes will also better protect you from the elements, you can find shoes that suit whatever environment you ride in. For those who ride in the UK you may want to look into fully waterproof MTB shoes for the not so sunny weather.
Gloves are a brilliant upgrade to make to your mountain bike clothing collection. Not only do gloves keep your hands protected from the elements, they also provide you with better grip. In the unfortunate event where a crash occurs, gloves will also offer some protection to your hands.
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