Essential Upgrades For Your Affordable Mountain Bike Hardtail
Bagged a new MTB and looking to squeeze the most out of it? Here's a few ideas for how to upgrade your hardtail mountain bike for even more fun and even less hassle.
Welcome to Hardtail Club!
You’ve taken the plunge and bought your new Marin hardtail mountain bike - congratulations!
All of Marin’s mountain bikes are ready to hit the trails straight out of the bike shop door, and even our most affordable hardtail mountain bikes come with a set of pedals to get you moving.
But to get the most out of your riding, there are a few upgrades that you might want to consider.
Here’s our guide to upgrading your affordable hardtail mountain bike and our essential accessories for hardtail mountain bikes, designed for riders who are just spreading their wings.
A Mountain Bike Multitool
It’s a great idea to carry some basic bicycle tools with you on every ride.
Your Marin mountain bike will arrive assembled and checked over by a qualified mechanic. But, it's still worth packing a few essential tools to make adjustments or to fix issues on the trails.
Most things on your new Marin mountain bike will be adjustable with a set of hex keys and some other basics.
We’d recommend grabbing a decent quality bicycle multi-tool that contains 2-8mm hex keys, T25 and T30 torx keys and a flat-head screwdriver. You might also like to get one with a chain tool and brake-pad separator to really cover all your bases. Shop around and you’ll find a tool that contains all of those for as little as 20 or 30 bucks.
All of these will let you make lots of basic adjustments to tune the feel and fit of your new bike, as well as tighten up anything that shakes loose. Many such tools include neat and tidy ways to attach them to your frame, meaning they’re hard to forget and easy to grab in a hurry.
Looking for some tips on how to set up our new Marin Bike? We gotcha.
A Decent Bike Pump And Puncture Repair Gear
One of the handiest bits of basic maintenance is knowing how to fix a puncture. To do this you'll need a tire lever or two, a spare inner tube or puncture repair kit and a bike pump.
Looking for the best bike pump for mountain biking? Try and get one that's designed specifically for high tire volumes and low pressures. We’d recommend a mini bike pump, which is small enough to strap to your bike frame or fit in a bag or pocket, making it easy to carry on your rides.
If your wheels are setup tubeless, it's worth springing for a tubeless repair kit and some Co2 canisters and an inflator. Tubeless repair kits let you plug holes in your tire from the outside, and most of the time this will let you get rolling again without having to put a tube in. Canisters and an inflator make the job of reseating your tubeless tires much easier when you’re away from the workshop.
And which inner tubes for mountain biking? Grab the best your budget can afford, there’s no point fixing punctures with paper-thin tubes that’ll leave you stranded!
Mountain Bike Frame-Straps, Frame Bags, Bar Bags and Hydration Packs
There’s a surprising amount of gear needed for a big day of mountain biking. Food, spares, tools, a jacket, your phone. It all adds up. And when it comes to hauling all that gear, there are a few options.
Hydration packs and mountain bike backpacks are the classic solution, and a bike-specific pack will often have handy water-carrying capacity, plus plenty of room for spare gear. Hip packs have less carrying space, but are ideal for shorter rides as they mean less bulk and a less sweaty back.
Many riders choose to attach their gear directly to their frame, which can be comfier and cooler than wearing a pack. Onboard bicycle storage comes in all shapes and sizes, with the most common being frame straps, bar bags, frame bags and seat packs.
For mountain biking, we’d recommend a frame strap for your basics, such as a tube or a pump. The Marin Bear Hug Gear Strap is a great choice, attaching neatly to your frame using your bottle-cage bosses, and is available here on our webstore.
Carrying a bit more gear? We’d recommend a bar bag as your first option, these are often easy to fit and don’t need you to dismount your bike to access your gear.
Frame bags often allow you to carry a decent amount of gear and make use of that big, empty space in your frame, but, don’t work with all designs of bikes, especially full-suspension frames.
Seat packs are also great, but sometimes need some fine-tuning to keep them stable, especially if you have a dropper seat post.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s stable and won’t rattle around when you’re shredding your favourite trail.
A Bottle Cage and Water Bottle
Nearly all of Marin's affordable mountain bikes are designed to fit at least one water bottle cage, meaning you’ll never go thirsty on a ride.
A bottle cage attaches to your frame using those little bolts, and then your bike water bottle slots into the cage, making it easy to grab and gulp during a ride. No stop, no fumbling in your bag, no hassle.
There's a whole load of different designs of bike bottle cages out there, but two basic types.
Front-loading bottle cages are the traditional design, while side-loading cages let you take your bottle out from the side, just like the name suggests. It's worth tracking down a side loading cage if you ride a smaller frame, you’re on a full suspension bike or you're planning on using a frame bag, which takes up valuable space.
Fun fact - many bottle cages are available in left or right-handed versions, so you can match them to your style.
Looking for a mountain bike water bottle? Our own Marin Water Bottle provides 620ml of liquid goodness and is available to order on the Marin Webstore.
Front and Rear Mountain Bike Fenders
If your rides are often rainy, a front mountain bike fender will help keep the mud off your face, as well as protecting your suspension against grit and grime.
Front mountain bike fenders come in different designs, ranging from full moto-style mudguards to simple flexible bits of plastic that zip-tie in place. Generally, the bigger the fender the more coverage it offers. Watch out when ordering, not all designs fit all forks.
If you’re braving the worst of the weather you might want to also consider a rear mountain bike fender or mudguard. These attach to the rear of your bike’s frame or your saddle and protect your back and butt from a soaking.
A rear mountain bike fender adds an extra layer of protection in the wet and is especially useful for those wet rides that end with a beer at your favourite bike-friendly bar!
A Mountain Bike Lights
Summer is the perfect season for mountain biking. But, nothing lasts forever and you’re going to need some decent mountain bike lights to ride all year round.
Which lights should you choose for mountain biking? You’ll need something that’s super bright (the higher the light’s lumen rating, the brighter it'll be), has plenty of battery life, is weatherproof and has a good beam pattern that’s designed for off-road riding. Your commuter lights won’t cut it on the trails, sorry!
We’d always recommend you ride with one light on your handlebars and one light on your helmet. If you can’t afford both, just get the helmet light as it’ll allow you to always illuminate where you’re looking. And, of course, don’t forget the rear light for the ride to and from the trails.
Given the huge variety of lights available, we’d recommend asking your local bike shop for some advice. They’re the experts and will be stoked to help with your first jaunts into mountain biking at night.
A Trail Bell
A bell might not be the height of cool, but if you ride on shared trails, they’re super useful.
You don’t have to fit something that looks like it belongs on a kid’s bike - there are loads of small and beautifully designed bells out there, designed especially for mountain biking.
A mountain bike trail bell is a simple and easy way to let other users know that a bike is approaching and it’ll make your interactions with them a lot smoother.
Upgrade To A Dropper Seat Post
A dropper seatpost is the ultimate upgrade for your mountain bike hardtail, providing a whole heap of added comfort and control.
A dropper seatpost allows you to adjust your saddle height up and down, using a small button on your handlebar. Push the button and sit on the saddle and it’ll go down. Push the button and stand up, up it goes. No need to stop, dismount your bike or even slow down.
A dropper post allows you to quickly drop your saddle out of the way for technical descents, then quickly pop it up again for climb. And then fine-tune the height for everything in between.
Almost every Marin hardtail mountain bike can be upgraded to take a mountain bike dropper post, with ports included to route the cables for the handlebar remote. You’ll need to check your bike’s seat-tube diameter to find the right size post, then pick the right ‘drop’ (the amount the post extends) to fit your height.
Tubeless Your Mountain Bike Wheels
Tubeless is another one of those evolutions in mountain bike technology that many riders just can’t live without.
Traditionally mountain bike wheels use an inner tube. Tubeless ditches the inner tube (duh!) and replaces it with a sticky, gunky liquid that sloshes around and seals holes in your tires.
Wheels that are setup ‘tubeless’ experience fewer punctures and can be run with lower pressures, increasing comfort and grip. All around, tubeless just offers a much more comfy and hassle-free setup, perfect for mountain biking.
Asking yourself “Can I tubeless my Marin hardtail mountain bike?”. Good question. Going tubeless needs a few things.
First, you need to check whether your existing tires and rims are ‘tubeless Ready’, which you’ll find listed against the model for your bike on our website. If we don’t say that they’re tubeless-ready, you’ll need to upgrade your tyres and wheels.
Where we do say it, you can go ahead and grab some tubeless rim tape, and tubeless sealant and get after it!
Upgrade Your Grips!
You only touch a few parts of your bike - and upgrading your mountain bike grips is an easy and affordable way to boost how it feels.
Many of our most affordable mountain bikes come equipped with Marin Single Clamp Locking grips. These comfortable and simple grips should work for all manner of off-road adventures, but jumping up to the Marin Grizzly Grips is a real treat. They're deep and cushy, have a comfy thumb recess and offer high-end performance for a peanuts price.
For long-distance rides where comfort is key, there's the Bear Paw Wing Grip which has a built-in 'wing' to relieve pressure on your palms.
Or Why Not Upgrade Those Pedals?
As strange as it sounds, it's common for mountain bikes to be supplied without pedals as manufacturers expect riders to supply their own. We make sure to supply basic pedals with all of Marin's mountain bikes, so that there's nothing keeping you from diving straight into the trails.
Those basic pedals are just fine for your first jaunts into off-road riding, but you'll soon find you want something with a little more oomph!
The Marin Oso Pedals are high-performance, lightweight and grippy. They're designed for every type of terrain you'll encounter and are suitable for all mountain bikes with modern cranks. They're an awesome upgrade for any mountain bike, with an equally awesome price tag.
You can buy the Marin Oso Pedals here on the Marin webstore.
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