Big Performance Gains Don’t Have to Break the Bank

Whether you’ve just bought a new mountain bike or are looking to breathe new life into an old trusted steed, upgrading key areas of your bike setup can make your bike lighter, faster, more confidence inspiring, and more fun. But, upgrades to your bike don’t have to cost an arm and leg to get a hefty bump in performance. We’ve put together a quick guide of affordable upgrades with big results.

The cost of upgrades can add up, but luckily most can be done one or two item(s) at a time. We suggest building an upgrade plan that allows you to target the most important upgrades that match your budget. We organized the list below by order of biggest improvement to your riding. If you’re bike already has good parts within a category, skip to the next category to see what can bring you the most bang for your buck.

MTB Upgrade #1


The most noticeable upgrades to a bike will be in suspension and wheels, but these can be expensive. We suggest starting your upgrade process with quality tires and setting your wheels up tubeless. These upgrades are quite affordable and can significantly improve your ride experience thanks to reducing rotating weight and improving grip and cornering. Modern bikes are often tubeless-ready, but tubeless kits can allow older bikes to be converted for tubeless setup.



  • Reduce rotational mass which makes your bike accelerate faster and improves pedal efficiency
  • Trail-specific tread patterns and compounds matched to your specific conditions and type of riding improve grip, increase confidence, lower rolling resistance
  • Reduced air pressures allow for more grip and improved rebound and deflection of the tire
  • Puncture protection allowing you to worry less about flats and keeps your ride rolling

MTB Upgrade #2


Contact points are any part of the bike that meets your body. This includes pedals/shoes, grips/handlebars, and saddle. Why are these so high on our list of upgrades? The answer is comfort and control. If you are uncomfortable on a ride you will not want to ride for long and may limit your ability to control the bike how you want to while ripping along or cranking through a technical section. Upgrading these contact points can improve comfort and control and may even reduce your bikes weight allowing you to ride longer and charge harder.




  • Improve grip or connection which increases bike control and efficiency
  • Reduce rotating weight at your cranks
  • Provide ample support for your foot improving comfort
  • Can be matched to your specific riding style, foot shape, and color scheme


  • Matching your saddle shape to your sit bones will make long rides comfortable from beginning to end
  • Shape can be matched to your riding style to meet your demands
  • Light saddles can reduce overall bike weight
  • Dropper posts allow you to be ready for anything the trail throws at you making you ride confidently
  • Puts the saddle in the exact right position for climbing, drops the saddle for downhill, hard cornering, tech sections and jumps


  • Multiple shapes, materials, and systems allow you to match your needs
  • Differing sizes and patterns can be selected for improved grip, comfort, and control
  • Can color match your style and bike color scheme
  • Some grips can reduce your overall bike weight
  • Matching handlebar width, rise, and sweep will put your body in a comfortable position
  • Carbon bars and some aluminum bars reduce vibration fatigue allowing you to ride longer
  • Can reduce overall bike weight



If your bike is relatively modern, it is likely that your drivetrain is quite good and may not warrant upgrading. If your bike is older, however, a new drivetrain can make it feel like a whole new ride. Plus, new entry-level drivetrain groups are so good that it often makes sense to replace your older setup with an entire drivetrain group. But if you’re drivetrain is in good working shape, we suggest looking at upgrading your brakes because good brakes allow you to ride faster, with better control and confidence.




  • Improves braking power and control
  • Let’s you brake later allowing you to carry more speed into a section
  • Better brake control lets you use just the right amount of braking power through a section
  • Reduces uncontrolled skidding which reduces bike control and can damage trails


  • Improves efficiency of the system
  • 1x drivetrains reduce complexity and simplify riding while providing ample gear range
  • Can reduce overall bike weight
  • Clutch derailleurs and 1x drivetrains reduce noise from chain slap or cross-chaining

Need Help? Contact a Gear Advisor!

If you need further guidance in finding the perfect upgrades for your bike, please reach out to one of our expert Gear Advisors.  They can help you navigate the various options and match them to your riding style and preferences.  You can contact our Gear Advisors by phone, email, or chat.

Gear Advisor Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:30am to 7pm, Sat-Sun: 9am to 5pm (PST)

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