For mountain bikers, having the right bike can make all the difference. Buying a new bike can be expensive, and if you’re on a tight budget, it might seem like there’s no way to get into mountain biking.
Luckily, plenty of affordable upgrades make your old bike feel like new. That’s why, I’ve put together this list of ridiculously cheap mountain bike upgrades that won’t break the bank but will dramatically improve your ride.
Super Cheap Mountain Bike Upgrades You Can Try Out
Before starting these upgrades, it’s essential to make sure you have the right size bike for your body and riding style. If you’re unsure which size to get, check out our sizing guide for tips and additional help to get the best fit possible.
- Zip Ties
These plastic cable fasteners are known as C clips. C stands for crap because these always come loose and leave your cables hanging. For this reason, professionals use zip ties.
Multi-colored zip ties are slimmer and more secure and can also personalize your bike, rather than matching your frame color.
You should try to choose an accent color from your components so they stand out zip ties can be purchased at a hardware store or online for just a few bucks.
Since you have a bunch of zip ties, why not use them on your brake and shift cables. Try to find a way to keep the wires from hitting each other.
- Protect Your Chainstay With Tape
When you take a hard landing, your chain sometimes hits your frame. This is called chain lock, and the affected area is called your chain stem. Look closely, and a clear sticker usually offers some protection.
To protect your paint, you can wrap your chain with electrical tape. Of course, this comes in many colors. If you use the high-quality 3m stuff, it’ll come off without leaving any residue. When the tape gets chewed up from the chain, you can pull it off and replace it again.
Another way to protect your chain stay is with a neoprene guard. Since they’re fastened with Velcro, they can be easily replaced or removed for cleaning, keeping your bike fresh and protecting your chains.
- Lock On Grips
Entry-level bikes come with standard grips, which work great but are hard to get off and on for servicing. What’s worse, they’ll start to slip around when they get dirty. Lock-on grips slide on and off easily and securely in place with screws.
They’re faster and much easier to work on, so all high-end bikes come standard with locks for 20-40 dollars. You can have a set of your own, making them a massive upgrade for the price. To install them, all you need is an Allen key.
- Custom Handlebar Caps
Another part you’ll see on the handlebars is the cap on the end, usually made of plastic or rubber. Aluminum bar ends are more durable and easier to get in and out during service.
You can find them in lots of different colors, too. So they’re a great way to personalize your bike for just a few bucks. The sizing is universal, so pick the one you like, and it should fit your bike.
- Chain Lubricant
After a few rides and cleanings, you’ll need to leave your drivetrain. You can use cheap bike oil, but synthetic or dry lube offers better protection. Since a perfect Lube still doesn’t cost that much, it seems like a no-brainer if you want to take good care of your bike.
Your shift levers are smooth, making them slippery in muddy conditions. I don’t personally have this problem. Many riders use zip ties or sandpaper to give them a gripper fill.
- Grip On Levers
Skateboard grip tape is a great way to make grip pads for your shifters. I think it’s pretty cool, and normal rip tape can be used in many different colors to personalize your bike, and like the other upgrades, it’s super cheap. You can even use it, and you guessed it protects your chainstay.
- Colored End Crimps
There’s a little cap at the end of your shift and brake cables to prevent fraying. It’s almost always a boring silver cap, but it can be easily replaced with a cooler-looking one.
With a pack of multicolored cable ends, you can add that finishing touch to your bike. It’s a tiny detail, but other riders who like to tinker with their bikes will notice it. These can be squeezed on with crimpers or pliers so anyone can do it themselves.
- Dork Disk
This plastic spoke guard is sometimes known as the dork disk, and you’ll rarely find it on a high-end bike or custom wheelset. It protects your spokes if your change shifts off the cassette, but a properly maintained drivetrain won’t have that problem.
So assuming you take good care of your bike, the torque disc rattles around, traps dirt and your cassette, and eventually turns yellow. With some difficulty, you can cut it off with the right tools you can eat or profile your bike much cleaner.
Although this makes your motorcycle look way better, you should only remove your dork disc if you truly understand the implications.
- Sick Looking Valve Stem
I rarely put valve caps on my bikes, but a damaged stem can be costly and messy to replace on tubeless wheels. If you’re going to protect your valve stem, why not do it with an anodized aluminum cap that’s functional and attractive.
They sell these online packs with lots of different colors to choose from. Everyone hates valve caps, but at least these look cooler than the plastic ones.
- Carbon Headset Spacer
Headset spacers are boring, but you can easily replace them. These carbon spacers are probably the cheapest carbon part you can get for your bike, and everyone knows that carbon is always better.
Just remove your stem, replace the spacers, and put everything back together like it was. Before securing the pinch bolts, don’t forget to tighten the top cap first. Technically, you have carbon parts in your body, so this upgrade will give you major style points for cheap.
Can you put 29-inch wheels on a 26-inch bike?
Yes, you can put 29-inch wheels on a 26-inch bike, but it won’t be easy. You’ll need to use a rim brake adapter and you may need to buy a different type of tire that is narrow enough.
What should I upgrade first on my bike?
It really depends on what your primary goals are. If you’re looking to put more power on the wheels, you’ll likely want to upgrade the front and rear derailleurs. However, if your main goal is comfort or endurance, then upgrading the wheels or frame can be a good place to start.
Are 29ers better for climbing?
The short answer is that 29ers are better for climbing. 29er wheels are larger and have smaller spokes, which translates into a slower rotation at greater speeds. This makes them great for your transition from cross-country riding to trail biking.
So there you have 10 ridiculously cheap mountain bike upgrades. Until you recover financially from your bike purchase, these mods should hold you over and give you some tinkerer time while you save up for more crap.
Let’s have a great ride!
I am Ryan Ford, a mountain biking enthusiast who loves to explore the outdoors. I also like to go on adventures with friends and anything else that involves being outside. I love my bike because it gets me out of the house and gives me an opportunity to enjoy nature.