This week we’re taking a look at some cheap (or at least best bang-for-buck) upgrades for your mountain bike to improve its handling and ride. We’re looking mainly at contact points here — so your cockpit, your tyres and your saddle.
Consider a CaneCreek Angleset if you want more progressive geometry without a whole new frame, or some new, wide Spank Spike bars for improved control and comfort, or why not add some ODI grips to keep a grip when the riding gets challenging. You could also improve your traction with Maxxis’ Minion DHF tyres, upgrade to tubeless for puncture-free bliss or add a dropper to transform your descending prowess.
CaneCreek AngleSet headset kit —
Adjust the geometry and get more slack with the Cane Creek Angleset Cane Creek
While it’s by no means the cheapest option on our list here, replacing your current headset with a Cane Creek Angleset is likely to be the most bang-for-buck you will get for improving the handling of your bike for a relatively low investment.
We’ve found that once you go slack you never go back, so update your ride by slackening your head angle by up to 1.5 degrees. There are two options (for different head tube styles) available as a kit, with a range of angle options from Evans Cycles.
Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore handlebar —
The Vibrocore adds a foam inside for improved vibration damping and comfort Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
Naysayers may claim they’re happy with their narrow bars, but we imagine they’ve never tried wide ones. Increased control is the name of the game, and remember you can always cut a wide bar down.
Recently we’ve really liked the Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore bars, which add a little weight for improved vibration damping and comfort thanks to the foam insert.
ODI Elite Flow grips —
Improve your contact points with our favourite grips — ODI’s Elite Flow Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
Grips are a quick and easy way to upgrade one of your key contact points on the bike. The Elite Flow grips have been one of our favourites with a good combination of grip, comfort and price.
Maxxis Minion DHF TR 3C EXO tyre —
The Maxxis Minion DHF tyre has been around for a while, and remains a firm favourite Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
It’s easy to skimp on tyres, but consider that tyres are the only thing that keep you connected to the ground and you’ll quickly realise that decent rubber is a key investment.
The Maxxis Minion DHF tyres have existed for quite a while, but remain one of our favourites and are very versatile for all round riding. Pick them up now with a substantial discount from ACycles, who have them in both the traditional 2.3-inch width and 2.5-inch Wide Trail version.
Orange Seal tubeless kit —
We’ve had the best performance with Orange Seal for tubeless tyres Russel Burton / Immediate Media
Tubeless technology is now widespread in the mountain bike world, and if you haven’t joined the party yet it’s time you did. Improved puncture resistance and better traction along with a little saved weight mean we’re completely convinced.
In our opinion, Orange Seal makes some of the best sealant around, so either invest in a tubeless kit or restock your sealant supplies now!
RSP Plummet Stealth remote dropper post —
Droppers don’t have to be expensive. Descend like royalty for a bargain price David Caudery / Immediate Media
We think that dropper posts will absolutely transform your ride, and you don’t have to spend hundreds to get decent performance. While RSP’s budget dropper may only have 125mm of travel and be externally routed, its impressively smooth action and sturdy build won us over.
This might just be the perfect option if you’re still on the fence about whether droppers are worth the upgrade or not.
There are lots of other more substantial upgrades you can make and we are regularly picking out the best deals for you. Find everything you need from upgrading your drivetrain or wheels, adding a dropper post to your ride or even getting a whole new frame. Check out our other BikeRadar Bargain articles to find great deals on anything you may need.