12 cheap and pleasing bike tweaks

Little spruce-ups that you can do quickly and simply to your bike to make it feel like new again. Almost all of these upgrades come in at less than £20 too. Cheap treats!

P10401651. New bar tape (or grips)

Contact points are where all your bike experiences begin. If your hands cop a feel of something fresh, you’re off to a winner straight away. It literally feels like you’ve got a new bike.

2. Decent brake pads

Cheap pads – or pads that come supplied on bikes – simply don’t work as well as good aftermarket pads. If you want, you only really need to replace the pads in the front brake because that’s the brake that deals with the vast majority of braking forces.

3. New jockey wheels

It is surprising how rough and rumbly a set of worn-out jockey wheels can make your pedalling feel. Let alone how blunt they can make your gear shifting. Have a look at your neglected jockeys – if they resemble ninja throwing stars, replace them.

20041_dirt_juice_less_gnarl_general_bike_cleaner_degreaser_1_litre4. De-black your chain

Grimy chains cause drivetrain drag and noisy gears. Take your chain off your bike. Give it a proper going over with some decent degreaser. Do the same to your cassette and chainrings if you can. Once done, try not to use heavy thick cheap chain lube anymore – it’s the Devil’s juice!

5. Tidy up your cables

You can replace your cables if you’re feeling flush but sometimes all that’s needed is to remove the outer cable ferrules and neaten up/trim the rusty pokey-out ends. While you’re there, sort out the inner cable ends with a trim and capping too.

P10401576. New seatpost collar

This will have next to zero effect on the function of your bike. But the seat collar clamp is located at a crucial aesthetic sweet-spot on a bike. An ugly or inappropriate clamp can spoil the vibe of an entire bike. A cool collar will always make you happy.

7. You can’t have too many tyres

If you’re a road cyclist, try one of the new breed of fatter performance tyres (check your frame has the clearance first!). If you’re a mountain biker… well, you shouldn’t need a reason to buy some more tyres. There are a thousand different types of dirt out there and you need a tyre for each and every one of them. Preferably two in fact.

P10401198. Eat proper stuff properly

It’s not just serious racers who benefit from proper nutrition. Everyone messing about on a bike as their main pastime should have exercise-specific food and drink. No need to go crazy about it. Just a bit of energy drink and an energy bar or two. Feel the difference.

9. Get a decent bottle or bite-valve

Gulping on the go isn’t easy at the best of times. Make it easier by getting yourself a fast-flowing bottle or better bite-valve for your Camelbak. If it’s easy to drink, you’ll drink. If it’s not, you won’t. Simple as.


10. Change your chamois

Decent padded shorts are now available at affordable prices. Yep, our own new clothing range is worth looking at (shameless plug!) but there’s great stuff to be found in the sub-£50 price range from lots of brands.

11. New gloves

19352_merlin_wear_core_cycling_race_socksThis is similar to ‘New bar tape (or grips)’ above. Fresh gloves = fresh feel.

12. You also can’t have too many socks

Sock fashion is rapidly changing and you run the risk of not owning a pair in the ‘correct’ length. Nightmare scenario!

Quick shop links:
Bar tape
Brake pads
Jockey wheels
Chain cleaner
Cable cutters
Seat post collars
Bike bottles
Cycling shorts
Cycling gloves
Cycling socks

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