11 Super Cheap MTB Upgrades

11 Super Cheap MTB Upgrades


For many of you, your mountain bike is the
love of your life. Even if it put you in the toilet financially
or caused you injury, it’s also given you freedom, confidence, and joy. So you want to tend to and pamper your mountain
bike, but you have no money left to do it. I’ve got you covered today. We’re gonna look at a whole bunch of inexpensive
things you can do to your bike to make it work better, look better, and last longer. The stuff we’ll be looking at is so cheap
that tires don’t even make the cut. Let’s get started. If color coordination is important to you,
plastic valve caps are the cheapest way to do it, hands down. These are available in an absurd amount of
colors, and I could just eat them. In another video I tried aluminum caps, but
they do get kind of crusty over time. This doesn’t happen to plastic, and they’re
available in way more color options. Of course, you can only expect to get tops,
a 5% performance gain from installing these on your bike. If you run flat pedals and ride hard, these
pins will eventually become unrecognizable. Replacing them with new stainless steel pins
will restore your pedals to their original glory—if you can get the old ones out. I’ve used everything from vice grips to
screw extractors to get the job done, and the whole process is an oddly satisfying endeavor. Most popular pedals seem to take this exact
pin, but I have a link to a variety of them below. At the end of your shift cable is an end cap
to protect it, and these can actually be upgraded with anti kink end caps from Jagwire. Like the extension cord on a vacuum cleaner
they provide support a little ways up the housing to prevent kinks, which can impact
your shifting performance. As long as you know how to adjust your derailleur,
these are pretty easy to install, and they add a bit of longevity to an otherwise vulnerable
part. So you adjusted the sag on your suspension
and your bike is riding smoothly. But when you hit a big drop it bottoms out. Don’t add air, add progression. We covered this in detail in another video
which I’ve linked below, but in short, reducing your fork’s air volume with these little
spacers will make it more supportive deep in its travel. Volume reducers don’t cost much, and they’re
very easy to install. As far as cheap upgrades go, this is one of
the biggest if you’re an aggressive rider. Something like an MRP ramp control cartridge
accomplishes the same effect, but it’s not even in the same universe in terms of cost. If you remove your front wheel often, you
appreciate the convenience of a quick release thru axle. If not, you don’t need it, these stealth
axles are much better. They’re simpler, lighter, lower profile,
better looking, and in many cases more secure. If your front wheel stays on most of the time,
this is a no brainer. Just make sure you do a little googling to
get the right one for your fork, and keep a multi tool on hand in case you do need to
remove your front wheel. If your bike has these little threads under
the bottom bracket, you can easily install a bash guard. This Zippa light taco bash is the most expensive
thing in this video at $45, and it includes a spare. Installing it is not rocket science and it
provides clear benefits, absorbing impacts from below that would otherwise damage your
chainring. Even if you don’t have these bolt holes,
you can still install a bash guard around your chainring for even cheaper. If you wash your bike, which you probably
should, you’ll need to re-lubricate your drivetrain. Dry lube is the way to go. This particular stuff is teflon based. You spray it on, cycle your drivetrain, and
it gets into all the nooks and crannies. The liquid part dries up, leaving a slippery
teflon residue behind. But why is this better than chain oil? I’m marking these two lengths of chain. This green one is coated in dry lube, while
this pink one is coated in chain oil. Now to mine some dry dirt off the back tire
of the murder machine. It’s easy to see that the dry lubed chain
collected less dirt. I’ve been having great success with this
stuff, but any dry lube will keep your drivetrain cleaner than chain oil. Just be sure to keep it far away from your
rotors. Speaking of chains, they are one of the cheapest
things you can replace on your drivetrain, and doing so often will increase its longevity. Just count the gears on your cassette and
that’s what kind of chain your need. 10 speed, 11 speed, 12 speed. It’s really that easy. A good 11 speed chain is around $25, and even
a really fancy gold chain is $60. Most mountain bikes these days come tubeless
ready, which means you can remove your inner tubes and run lower tire pressure. The parts you’ll need are not expensive. Just buy tubeless sealant and valve stems. Most tubeless ready rims come with this tape
already on them, but if not you can buy it or use gorilla tape. The process basically involves unseating the
tire, installing the valve stem, pouring in the sealant, closing everything back up, and
pumping up the tire. I’ll spare you the details and leave some
resources below in case you want to do this. Brake pads come in many varieties, and they’re
optimized for different uses. For instance high speed pads work best once
they heat up, while comfort pads work optimally right away but fade in performance if they
get too hot. Upgrading your brake pads it not expensive
in the least, and it’s very easy to do. New brake pads need to be bedded in before
use, and we covered that in another video. Right now, it’s too nasty out to go bed
my brake pads, so let’s see if we can figure out a way to do it indoors. Maybe just watch my other video and do it
the normal way. If you have a two by or three by drivetrain,
it means you have shifting up at the front of your bike as well. While this does provide a lot of range and
gearing options, it’s also more complex. I actually snapped a chain right here because
it got tangled up in my wheel, and I’m not surprised. If you’re okay with losing a bit of range,
you can go one by. This involves removing all your front chainrings,
a length of chain, your front derailleur, shift cable, and shifter. In their place: this relatively inexpensive
single speed chainring. Since single speed chainrings don’t need
to shift, their teeth can be optimized to hold the chain on, and performing such a conversion
can improve reliability, make your bike quieter, increase ground clearance, reduce cockpit
clutter, and reduce the weight of your bike by a whole pound. Of course, in my case I installed a larger
11 speed cassette and Box One derailleur, but that’s going to be out of reach for
this video. I hope you found some of these upgrades useful
or at the very least, entertaining. Do check out the links and resources in the
description, as well as my previous cheap upgrades video that I made back in 2016. Now at any budget you can improve your bike’s
performance, increase its longevity, or at least give yourself the illusion that you’re
doing so. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.

About the Author: Michael Flood

88 Comments

  1. Had to subscribe, and I don't even own a MTB. I could watch this all day. It's so relaxing and informative and entertaining… Gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, even on the rainiest of days. 🙂

  2. i dont even have sticky rim tape on my tubeless setup and my rims have spoke holes in them. stan's race sealant does the job

  3. Best way to get those studs out is with left handed drill bits, they either grip and spin it out or drill it out so you can tap it. They sell them at harbor freight

  4. Hey Seth, I was thinking about converting from 2 by 10 gearing to 1 by 20. Does that even exist? Also what would you recommend if it's possible?

  5. Add a dab of anti-seize (auto store) to the peddle pin threads and they won't stick next time you have to change them out.

  6. I allways use 10-speed chains for 8 and 9 speed bikes, it makes for smoother shifting and less contact noise.
    The only downside is that your front deraileur might drop the chain if it's cage is wide, this can be modified.

    I had huge issues with noises on my trek road bike, the chain was touching the front deraileur or the bigger sprocket depending on what gear i chose on the cassette, went from 8 to 10 speed chain and it's perfect!

  7. Chain oil is actually great, Seth's experiment is misleading.
    Apply oil to the individual rivets of the chain so that it soaks right in. Before riding again use lint-free cloth or newspaper to wipe all excess oil off the chain and it won't attract dirt.

    I use car gearbox oil on my chains, it's high-performance and has the right viscosity and composition for the job. It's also a third to a quarter the price of bicycle-specific oils by volume.

  8. Keep 2 hands on the angle grinder as much as possible i cant tell u the things they will do to fingers and i was lucky

  9. If you switch to schrader valves you can get 10% performance gain from performance valve caps.

    Left hand drill bits are great for removing stuck screws (like pedal pins).
    Buy a cheap set & use them only when you have to – or buy a good set & use them more. They spin the opposite direction and will usually back out the screw when they bite in. If not, you'll have a hole for a screw extractor.

  10. every human is born and dies with teflon in their blood/brain/lymphnode glands. even in the most remote unpopulated areas. the only blood we have without it for studies is historic blood banks from pre korean war.. its known as duponts gift to the world. extremely carcinogenic.. it biopersistant impossible to break down by any means heat light organism.. dont spray that shit

  11. I have never replaced a single pin in a pedal haha. Usually when they are done the threads look about the same. You just have to life with that if you ride hard.

  12. Silicone based lubricants, at least the one I have is amazing. Mine is made by a Co called Platinum Professional Products-Silicone Lubricant spray.

  13. do i have a mtb? no
    do i like riding the bike? no
    do i have any knowledge about bikes? no
    do i still binge watch seth‘s videos? OUH YES

  14. you are a giant inspiration for me.i had a mountain bike ($300 one) and it broke.that motivated me to save all my money just to buy a diamondback release 2 and start everyday with 3 hours of going to the forest.thanks alot ;)))

  15. Try wax lube, for me it is clear winner over classic lubes, now I only have to decide which is the best one of them :-).

  16. Hi…geiles Video…..Frage sind alle Amerikaner so verückt und halten einen Winkelschleifer ans Bike 😉 mfg Hans Germany.Hi … awesome video ….. Question: Are all Americans crazy and hold an angle grinder to the bike 😉 best regards Hans Germany.

  17. Just bought 2 radrovers and added a few essentials for ous in our recent ebike video review, watching this one now to get MORE ideas hehe.

  18. Can you do a video on how to make a cheap mtb serviceable? I love riding but my bike is always messing up somewhere

  19. how can aluminium get crusty? i've been using the same pair of aluminium caps since about 2005, not a single issue, ever!!

  20. Instead of converting to a 1×11 I left it 1×10 and used the oneup 42 tooth conversion. It works well and I think I found it for 50 bucks.

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