With Spring around the corner, riders are knocking the dust off their bikes to prepare for the 2021 season. For many, this is the time of year where a full upgrade is a considerable option. Due to the variety of terrain and abundance of trails in Colorado, it is not uncommon to see intermediate and advanced local riders swap their bikes out every 1-2 years. Traditionally, PPBT would follow the same model and sell out fleet-bikes annually to provide our guests with fresh, new bikes to enjoy during tours. Unfortunately, with the increasing demand and manufacturing complications bike companies are adjusting to, it may not be an option to make the full upgrade you were hoping for this year. As we have been discussing ways that we can rejuvenate our fleet, we figured you may want some tips on how you can freshen up your ride for the upcoming season with some high-value upgrades that don’t break the bank. 

Grips

Yes, the grips on your handlebars can make a huge difference in the feel of the bike. After all, they are one of the three points of connection you have with the bike. Grips can get worn out or be an improper fit causing arm fatigue, blisters, and soreness in the neck and shoulders after long rides. We recommend lock-on grips for the ease of maintenance and slip resistance. As a rule of thumb, riders with smaller hands should look for skinnier grips while riders with bigger hands should go for wide grips. 

ORIGIN8 PRO PULSION LOCKING GRIPS  ($10)

Durable and cost effective grips for when your handlebars need a revamp.  

Pedals

Pedals  are another significant contact point which is often overlooked. High-end bikes are sold without pedals to encourage riders to select platforms or clip-ins best suited to their personal riding style. Bikes sold with pedals are often equipped with platforms to accommodate test-rides. Stock pedals tend to lack the durability or functionality of aftermarket pedals. Choosing whether to go with clipless or platforms is really a matter of personal taste. We have guides that swear by both.  

CRANKBROTHERS STAMP 2 (about $80)

Optimized for performance with a minimal profile and 8mm adjustable pins to keep your foot in place through the roughest terrain. 

CRANKBROTHERS MALLET DH SUPERBRUNI EDITION ($170)

Another excellent option from CrankBrothers, these clipless pedals shed mud and maintain stability with customizable float and release angles. 

Tires

It cannot be emphasized enough how important quality tires are to the feel of your ride, after all, they are your only point of connection with the ground. Tires are without doubt the highest value upgrade to attain maximum performance from your bike. A few suggestions we would make when swapping tires is to go tubeless and go wide. Why tubeless? Tubeless tires provide better traction due to lower tire pressures, reduced weight as you don’t need an inner tube, and way fewer flats.  No matter if you’re a 29er or if you’re more of a 27.5 kinda guy (or gal), there are a variety of options to choose from when swapping rubber. It may be a good time to measure the inner dimensions of your fork and rear triangle (or just stop by your local bike shop) to see if you could fit tires that are a little bit wider in your current frame. For Colorado trails, like the ones on our Singletrack Experience, we prefer tires that are at least 2.3” wide.  Look for the letters “TR” in the title when shopping for new tires. This indicates that the tires are made “Tubeless Ready.” Many rims can be set up using a tubeless conversion kit which includes rim tape, valves, and liquid sealant. Setting up your tubeless is almost as easy as changing out an old tube. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there to help you through the process.  If you’re looking to level-up even more you could look into installing CushCore inserts to add additional protection to your rims and tires. 

MAXXIS MINION DHR/DHF EXO/TR TIRE ($80-$120 for set of 2)

With EXO sidewall protection and aggressive corner lugs, the Maxxis DH combo is what we use to maintain traction on slick Colorado trails. 

ORANGE SEAL TUBELESS CONVERSION KIT ($36)

Comes with everything you need to make to make that swap to a tubeless system.  

CUSHCORE (about $150)

A padding system for the inside of your rims reducing impact by 50% while increasing sidewall stability with 35% more support to help you dig in to those hairpin turns just a little bit more. 

Brakes

Most mountain bikes on the market these days will come with disk brakes. Upgrading your brakes and rotors can be a low cost option for squeezing a little more performance out of your bike this year. One tip for checking the quality of your current system is to look at the rotor (the shiny disk next to the wheel) to see if it says “Resin Pads Only.” If you see this stamped on the rotor, it means you can upgrade your rotors to be compatible with sintered metal pads to increase brake performance and durability. New brake levers and calipers can be a high value upgrade to give your bike that high-end feel you’re looking for this season. Even if you have these components, a solid brake bleed and tune-up can do wonders- rejuvenating your current setup. 

SHIMANO MT420 CALIPER & MT 4100 LEVER SET (about $200 for set)

With powerful 4-piston performance, these brakes are reliable in the worst conditions. Compatible with resin and metal pads. 

SHIMANO SLX SM-RT66 ROTOR ($30 each)

These affordable rotors are compatible with metal pads and come in a variety of sizes. 

1x Drivetrain

All high-end mountain bikes, like the Full Carbon Trek Fuels we use on our Adventure Multi Day Tour,  are equipped with a 1x drivetrain system, and there’s a good reason for it. A 1X drivetrain or sometimes called a “one-by,” refers to a single chainring up front (where the pedals are) and any number of gears on the rear cassette. A 1x drivetrain offers a majority of the qualities found in a 2x or 3x system in a lighter, simpler package. A smaller chainring near the bottom bracket could give your bike the extra clearance you need to overcome that intimidating obstacle. A clutch rear derailleur maintains proper chain tension so that the chain doesn’t rattle off on rocky terrain or aggressive climbs. The simplicity of a 1x drivetrain offers the value of having less mechanical issues, ensuring confidence on the trail while requiring less maintenance between rides. If you’re a tech-nerd like us, you may want to consider installing an oval chainring as a part of the upgrade to give your bike a little more torque during technical climbs. 

SRAM NX GROUPSET ($375)

All you need to make the 1X12 conversion. The NX offers the best of SRAM’s engineering and design at an entry-level price.  

ABSOLUTEBLACK RACE FACE OVAL CHAINRING ($85)

Oval chainrings optimize pedal strokes while boosting traction during technical climbs. The narrow-wide tooth design keeps you from dropping the chain over the roughest terrain. 

Dropper Seatpost

Talk to any Enduro rider and they will tell you that the invention of the dropper seatpost is the bee’s knees. It’s kinda one of those things where you don’t think you need it until you try it. Approaching an obstacle such as the ones on our Adventure Multi Day Tour, without your seat in the appropriate position can add additional challenges to your ride. A dropper seatpost allows you to adjust your seat height on the go with the push of a button (or lever). This way you can quickly get in the most efficient pedaling position to attack those big climbs or get your seat out of the way, lowering your center of gravity, allowing more stability over tricky terrain. Dropper seatposts are compatible with multiple seat-tube widths. You can measure the inner dimensions of the seat tube or just take it to your local bike shop to get some input about which dropper might be right for you. Aftermarket dropper posts are compatible with internally and externally routed frames. For a little extra cash, you could even get a WIRELESS dropper post and skip the cables altogether.  

KS LEV  (around $200)

Kind Shock has a variety of dropper posts to accommodate for 27.2, 30.9, and 31.6 mm seat tubes. Some droppers are configured for inter routing while others are compatible with externally routed frames. Remember, remotes and cables are sold separately. 

FOX RACING TRANSFER PERFORMANCE SERIES CR (about $300)

A quality option that prides itself on compatibility with a variety of cable configurations. 

MAGURA VYRON eLECT (about $550)

Pamper yourself with cutting edge technology featuring a hassle-free WIRELESS remote system. So cool huh?  

As always, PPBT is your #1 resource for all things cycling related in Colorado Springs. If your bike is looking like it’s due for an overhaul, let us know and we’ll get you fixed up. From basic tune-ups to suspension services, we can do it all at a competitive price. Feel free to stop by or give us a call and we’ll see what we can do to get you ready to hit the trails this season.