Mountain biking on a budget – everything you need to know

Mountain biking on a budget – everything you need to know

With the best mountain bikes costing thousands, as well as the raft of accessories upping things even further, mountain biking is naturally a rather expensive sport. But it doesn’t need to be, and here, we’ll show you how to can save some cash, while having the best time out in the woods.

Go second hand

One of the greatest joys of riding any kind of bike is New Bike Day but it’s also one of the priciest days a cyclist can face. 

Mountain biking on a budget – everything you need to know

With many brands offering direct-to-consumer bikes, as well as shops taking orders online, it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of buying new – this can sometimes become a very expensive exercise.

Don’t forget about the second-hand market where you’ll find pre-owned bargains. Sometimes the bikes found on Pinkbike, Gumtree or eBay are as good as new – only hundreds of pounds cheaper. Some will require a bit of love but taking it to a mechanic for a once-over will probably still be cheaper than buying a brand-new bike.

Ride what you’ve got

Though if you’ve been riding for a while, it’s likely that the bike you have is already more than enough, unless you’re looking to shift into a new genre of riding or if its standards are obsolete. New bikes aren’t the be-all and end-all so if you’ve already got a bike, keep on riding it and maintaining it – it’s also sometimes cheaper just to buy a few extra upgrades. That way, you’ve already saved yourself thousands.

Buy last season’s kit or wait for Black Friday before making your next big purchase

Every year bike shops drastically reduce the price of their bike stock in order to make way for the next year’s models. There’s nothing wrong with these bikes and often, it’s just a change of colourway or specification. Waiting for sales is simply the best way to get a great deal on a new bike.

2022 lapierre spicy CM.jpg

Black Friday is another excellent example. We saw an £8,000 top-of-the-range Lapierre Spicy have its price halved in last year’s Black Friday sales. So when the time comes, get trawling your favourite stores.

Keep on top of your maintenance

They call it preventative maintenance for a reason. Keeping your bike in tip-top condition by taking your suspension in for servicing and keeping the pivots working properly only extends the life of your bike’s vital components. Get caught sleeping on this and you’ll be left with a hefty repair bill.

2021 smoove universal chain lube application.jpg
2021 smoove universal chain lube application.jpg, by Liam Mercer

Similar goes for your drivetrain. Keeping it clean and lubricated will extend its lifespan, saving you from having to spend on fresh kit more often than you should.

Learn how to work on your bike

While I don’t want to be taking work away from our mechanics, the lifeblood of our sport, learning how to do a few simple tasks on your own bike will save you cash in the long run.

2021 granite design stash chain repair tool action.jpg
2021 granite design stash chain repair tool action.jpg, by Liam Mercer

A lot of what can be done to your bike is easy enough to do at home with a bit of know-how. Indexing your gears for instance, as well as knowing how to convert your bike to tubeless is an easy way to save yourself from a trip to your local bike shop.

If you want to go one step further, learn how to bleed your brakes. It’s a simple task that should be done annually to keep your brakes running as best they can. 

Though, if you’re uncomfortable doing any of this, just bite the bullet and take your bike to a professional. That way you won’t go wrecking anything should things go wrong, saving you cash.

Bling doesn’t always mean better

Us mountain bikers, we’re like magpies, always attracted to the cool and shiny kit on the market but more often than not, that bling comes at a price. 

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You may be tempted by the latest Fox 38 Factory fork with that lovely Kashima coating and factory orange colourway but just because it’s more expensive, doesn’t mean that it’s a better choice for you. Products like this come with a load of adjustments that could actually make, or break your ride if you’re not sure of how to set up your mountain bike suspension. If you’re a rider who prefers simplicity, you’ll save yourself a good chunk of cash by choosing a lower-end fork, with a simpler damper.

2022 Silca ti spd cleats-1.jpg

2022 Silca ti spd cleats-1.jpg, by Suvi loponen

The same goes for cranks, taking the beautiful Cane Creek eeWings for example. They’re titanium and look excellent but do they provide £975 worth of a performance boost? They might be lighter but they certainly don’t.

And this isn’t just reserved for componentry as there are brands out there who charge a premium for a product that performs exactly the same as another that’s a fraction of the cost.

‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ isn’t true

Even though in many cases it is, many brands have been working very hard to make the sport more affordable and in doing so, they have created some cracking kit. Hunt, for example, has the exemplary Trail Wide V2 wheelset for just a pound short of £350, which makes for a fantastic upgrade if you’ve broken your current wheelset.

2023 hunt trail wide v2 logo 2.jpg

All you need to do is put in the research, and read a bunch of reviews to uncover the absolute gems that can be picked up for impressively little money.

You don’t need the most expensive helmet

The sub £100 helmet space is one that’s improved in quality massively through the past couple of years, with many offering a similar build quality, comfort, and tech as what’s found on helmets far beyond that price point. Nowadays, you don’t have to spend more than £50 to get a helmet kitted with Mips or similar.

2020 Lazer Chiru MIPS hero.jpg

While pricy helmets do have their place by offering tech not found on more budget-friendly lids, brands are working out ways of integrating rotational impact protection, such as Mips into offerings that are much friendlier on the wallet. So not only are you getting similar levels of comfort and build quality, but you’re also getting a comparable level of protection.

Use non-MTB-specific gear

Just like the bikes, mountain bike-specific kit can be mighty pricy. The best glasses, for example, can reach up to the £230 mark for something such as the POC Devour and even clothing can leave a smoking hole in your wallet.

With that in mind, think of what can be used instead. Safety glasses can be picked up for a few quid and they’ll do almost as good a job of keeping your eyes dirt, bramble and wind-free. And while the best mountain bike jerseys look cool, and are built especially for riding in with dropped hems and the like, you don’t need this kit. Any moisture-wicking sports t-shirt will keep you comfortable while being a lot cheaper.

Ride to the trails

Ok, so this is one reserved for the lucky few who live close enough to trails to ride to them but riding to the trails doesn’t just benefit the wallet and your car’s fuel tank, as it’ll also improve your overall fitness.

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