Tested: 5 Cheap Upgrades For Your Mountain Bike You Didn’t Know You Needed

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Upgrades for your mountain bike aren’t always about 1×12 groupsets and carbon wheels. Sure, throwing hundreds and even thousands of pounds at those sorts of things can result in some big changes in your ride, but thankfully there are plenty of other ways to improve performance that don’t require you to shell out quite so much.

Here are five little upgrades that I’ve been using on my test bikes over the past year, all of which cost less than 20 quid.

Dee-Dar Peaty’s Push-On’s

peaty dee dar valve cap
A silicone penis for a valve cap?

When we first got wind of Steve Peat’s new penis-shaped valve caps, everyone in the office genuinely thought it was a joke. Indeed when Peaty proudly showed me a prototype back at the Birmingham Cycle Show two years ago, all I could do was purse my lips and give him the old ‘smile & nod’ while going ever so slightly red in the face.

Yes, these are silicone valve caps that look like little dicks. Unfortunately there are no flesh-coloured options, but you can get black, green, red, yellow, blue and orange. They come as a pair in a neat little tub that you can reuse for storing chain links and spare brake pads in your riding pack.

peaty dee dar valve cap valve
Easy to pull off too.

Aside from adding a splash of colour to your bike (don’t pretend like you don’t care), Push On’s offer your tyre valves a little extra protection, while being super easy to whip off when checking tyre pressure – something I engage in regularly. No, they’re not essential. But have you ever had a standard plastic valve cap unthread a valve core with it when you’ve gone to pump up your tyres? I have. It’s only happened a couple of times (usually when there’s some residue sealant or a slightly bent valve that causes the cap to stick), but that was enough to make me appreciate the simplicity and functionality of these Push On’s. I also really enjoy the reaction of new riders when they burst into laughter when they realise I have rubber penises on my bike.


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Right, so there’s my list of five upgrades. But what about you? Are there any little upgrades you’d recommend to your fellow mountain bikers?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Comments (11)

    Haha… £11.60 for a small patch of grip tape.
    You can get the same ‘Weather proof Endurognar’ griptape on ebay for a fraction of the price. You just need to do the cutting & shapping yourself.
    Fools and their money…

    “But have you ever had a standard plastic valve cap unthread a valve core with it when you’ve gone to pump up your tyres?”

    Nope. Schrader valves don’t do that 🙂

    Unless the concept of scissor is confusing for you, you can’t consider that grip tape cheap. A couple of meters can be had on fleabay for couple of quid.

    Has to be a small fork mudguard – £8 – £15. Brilliant thing to be left on year around.

    Decent cables, quite often.
    Fork-mounted mudguard – never comes off.
    KS Post Paste on all stanchions, quite often.
    Spare DMR pins to keep the Vaults spiky.

    I’ve got some fresh Death-Grips waiting to be fitted… 🙂

    hey Will, is this the correct cable you were on about? seems cheap…


    also, i scoffed at peatys little dicks at first too, but i found one on the trail once and its been a resident on my rear wheel ever since!! (front has a stem core removable jobby) its great for exactly the reasons you mention. not sure id spend real money on em tho…

    re the sintered pads. I’d always thought they generated *more* heat so were worse for steep/long euro descents?

    Additions to the list?
    Mudhugger rear guard. Keep clean in filthy conditions and get a longer life from your shock, post, saddle, shorts, bag. The first rear guard for a mountain bike that actually works and stays in place. Bargain at about £20

    @pooceq – Not confusing, I’m just not allowed to use them anymore without adult supervision 🙂 That’s a good shout though, and I’ve seen front mudguards made out of old plastic milk bottles, so there’s another way to save yourself a few quid if you’re handy on the arts ‘n’ crafts.

    @matt_outandabout – Agreed! Normally the first thing our test bikes receive is a tie-on front mudguard. They are invaluable.

    @BigDummy – Good suggestions! I like the stanchion paste and the pins suggestion. Small and relatively cheap things that can make noticeable improvements.

    @mahalo – Yes, those are the cables! Not a brand that I’d really heard of before, but those 7×7 Extra Smooth cables work exceptionally well.

    @simons_nicolai-uk – Yes, sintered pads can generate more heat. However, the key with sintered pads is that they are much better at withstanding that heat – so they’re a much better choice for steeper and more aggressive riding, where brake fade becomes a problem.

    Hope that helps explain!

    ST Wil.

    “however, the key with sintered pads is that they are much better at withstanding that heat – so they’re a much better choice for steeper and more aggressive riding, where brake fade”

    learn something new. I was suffering on my hopes the other week out with Basque Mtb when I hadn’t before. I’ve always run standard Hope but seals are old in one brake, discs are worn below min thickness and I was had some Uber pads in there.

    @simons_nicolai-uk – Sounds like those brakes could use some lovin!

    @simons_nicolai-uk – Sounds like they need some Fibrax lovin’

    As Wil said, Sintered can handle the heat better than a semi-metallic / organic pad.

    Basically, differences are…
    Organic – (OEM pads) made of fibres and glue – great in the car park, instant bite, lever feels mint, as soon as they get hot, the glue melts, pad hyper-wears.
    Semi-Metallic – (what we make as our “standard” pad) is an Organic base, with flecks of ceramic, copper and Kevlar in them, this allows them to transfer the heat out of the calliper better and therefore stay in a useable temperature range for longer, as the extra fillers are harder, you also get pads that last longer due to both of material and the fact that they run more efficiently.
    Finned – (our finned) use a semi-metallic pad on an aluminium backing plate, I developed them to work like a CPU heatsink so they’re 3.5 times more thermally efficient, therefore cooler under harder braking (brill for uplifts or long fast descents)
    Sintered – Full metal [jacket] brake pad, mostly made of copper and some other cool bits, they heat up super quick but also drop temps quickly, the downside is that they’re very hard when you compare them to organic so will wear out your rotors, make more noise (more friction) and only work well when significantly hotter than a “normal” pad.

    So, if you’re on draggy techy bum over the back stuff and they’re going to suffer constant heat cycles without a long rest between each section, I’d run sintered.
    If there will be a long rest between each heat cycle like doing uplifts but you still want better feel at lower temperatures then finned.
    If you’re doing Trail centres / Natural (UK) riding and want something that can handle a bit of a thrashing but won’t have massive heat cycles in quick succession then I’d go Semi-Metallic.
    Then if you’re after old school long day XC rides without significant draggy bits, organic.

    Shout if you need anything!

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