Top 5 Mountain Bike Upgrades
TiresA lot of upgrade articles suggest buying new tires, and that makes a lot of sense. There is no better way to improve the performance of your bike than new rubber. But which tires should you be upgrading is the question. I am going to make it easy on you: For aggressive trail riding, I suggest a Maxxis Assegai 29X2.5 up front and a Aggressor 2.5 in the rear. If you want something faster rolling, you can try the Aggressor 29X2.3 in the rear, but I would still keep the bigger size Assegai in the front. For normal trail riding, I suggest a Maxxis Minion DHF 29X2.3 front and the Aggressor 29X2.3 rear. A few notes here: I am running Aggressor’s out back because they provide decent traction, roll pretty fast and are very durable. Sure, a DHF or a DHR will provide better traction in the rear, but they roll slower and don’t last as long. I have to buy my tires. I assume you do too. 2nd, depending on how rocky the terrain is, I would consider running the Double D rear tire. Yes, it weighs quite a bit more, but the extra sidewall provides both stability in corners and flat/rim protection. You could consider the Exo + tires, as well, but the weight is so close to the DD tires, I just run the DD. I also find I can run lower pressures with DD tires. 3rd, the above is my suggestions for riding in general conditions. In the winter, at my home in Santa Cruz, I usually run a Maxxis Shorty up front and a DHF in the rear. This combo works best when it’s wet and loamy and you want the tires to bite. 4th, tire pressure. Don’t be the guy who never checks his tire pressure. Before every ride, I check my tire pressure (and the lube on my chain). Up front, I am running 21psi and out back I am running 23psi. This is low enough to have good traction but high enough to avoid rim damage.
ToolsOkay, so this might sound silly, but I am so surprised at how few people carry tools these days. I guess they really like me because I am the guy who will stop and work on your bike if I see you walking with some malfunction. This is what I carry.
- Multitool with chain breaker-I am using a Wolf Tooth Encase system which fits in the handlebar. It’s pretty sano and seems to dampen some vibration in the bars.
- Quick-link for chain-I carry a SRAM chain link, but I have found it works fine on both Shimano and SRAM 12-speed chains
- Tube and Co2-This is a must. I can’t tell you how many times I have repair other’s flat tires.
- Food-Okay, so this isn’t a tool, but if you eat the food, you can use the wrapper to fix a tire sidewall tear to at least get you home.
Cables and HousingWhenever my shifting starts getting fussy, the first thing I do is swap out the cables and housing. And each time I do this, I am amazed at both how much gunk is down in the housing and how much better (and easier) the bike shifts when I am done. I always, always, always use Shimano shifter cables and housing, even if I have a SRAM set up. I just find the cables and housing work well together, stretch less and function better longer.
There is nothing like a new set of bibs to improve you ride.