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At some point in your progression from mountain biking newbie (riding a 50-pound department store clunker in jean shorts and high-top sneakers) to ‘serious’ mountain biker, you’re probably going to want to do longer rides, ride more aggressively, and do more on a mountain bike – at which point you may need to spend a few bucks to help you ride faster, harder, or longer.

Here are 12 accessory upgrades that will help you get more out of the sport and ride safer and with more enjoyment. They’re ranked in order from most important to least (get the ones at the top of the list first).

Total expenditure (for really good accessories): ~$2400.  If you buy them all at once, see if the shop will cut you a bit of a deal.


1. An Expedition-Style Hydration Pack

Water bottles that affix to a cage on your frame are the cheapest option, but they generally don’t carry enough water for a long-distance ride. If you’re planning on doing any rides that are more than 2 or 3 hours long you should invest in a hydration pack (i.e. a small pack that goes on your back and has a water bladder and hose). We love Osprey Packs – they’re some of the best-built and feature-rich packs on the market.

COST: $150

2. Dropper seatpost

Unless you’re riding DH exclusively, a dropper post (i.e. a seatpost whose height you can control with a handlebar mount) is one of the best upgrades you can get. It’ll let you adjust your seat height on the fly without stopping according to the terrain you’re riding (high for climbs, low for descents, in the middle for varying terrain).

COST: $300

3. Knee/shin and/or Elbow Pads

If you’re getting serious about mountain biking, you’re probably riding more aggressive terrain, and probably wiping out more often. Invest in a set of arm and leg armour to protect your hide.

If you can only afford one of the two, go for knee/shin protection (your legs tend to get beat up more than your arms). You can go one of two ways with this: a) knee pad only or b) knee and shin protection. I recommend the knee/shin combo – my shins tend to get pretty beat up my pedals on particularly difficult rides.

COST: $120 (for arm and leg protection)

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