As much as we all love mountain biking, we know that often you’re spending a lot of money on it. It can be an expensive hobby, but it’s one that’s well worth investing in. If you’re smart, you’ll already have a budget, and you’ll know how to get the most out of it. Those that are good at budgeting can often find they have a little left over, thanks to sales and savvy online search skills.
What should you do with this leftover cash? Well, why not use it to invest more in your bike and biking experience? Here’s 14 ways you can spend that leftover budget wisely.
1. Upgrade Your Helmet
Many first time bikers will just pick up any old helmet, thinking that they must all be similar. It’ll be protecting your head, right? In fact, you need to be looking carefully at the helmet you buy. Many aren’t as safe as you’d think they’d be, and if you’re getting it cheap, it may not be the best helmet for you.
If you bought cheap the first time, now’s the time to upgrade. Look for a helmet that’s broad in the back and sides, giving you a more all round fit to protect your head. A breakaway plastic shell is also a good idea, so keep a look out for one in your helmet. This may not come cheap, but your safety is paramount.
This is a piece of equipment you may want to pick up in person, rather than online. In the store, you can try helmets on and find one that fits you like a glove. The better it fits, the better it can protect you should the worst happen.
2. Pick Up Some Sunscreen And Lip Balm
Do you really need cosmetics when you’re out on a bike ride? Does anyone really care what you look like? No they don’t, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t splash some cash on sunscreen and lip balm to keep in your bag.
When you’re out on the trails, you’re going to be there for a while. Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, the sun is beating down on you and causing all sorts of damage that you won’t even see. Even if you don’t get sun burn, you’re going to have damaged skin from all that exposure. Everyone knows the risks, but they still don’t take precautions to protect themselves. It only takes a minute to slap on some sunscreen before you head outside, so make sure you’re packing the highest SPF possible in your bag.
Lip balm can really save you on dry days when you’re out riding, too. It’s amazing how quickly your lips can dry out, and it can get uncomfortable, fast. Buy a small stick of lip balm, so you can apply it quickly, without even taking your gloves off.
3. Put Some Lights On Your Bike
Many bikers neglect to buy lights, as they think that they’ll never be out on the trail after dark. Why waste money on them, right? Well, even if you don’t intend to be out on the trail, you’ll still need to have some lights attached to your bike.
The problem is that sometimes things go wrong when you’re out and about. Tyres go flat, people get lost, and so on. You may not intend to be out after dark, but you may be one day. When that time comes, you want to ensure that you’re visible, and therefore, safe.
You’ll need two lights, one for the front and one for the back, so you’ll be seen from both directions. Pick lights that have high visibility, and make sure they’re on your bike as soon as you buy them. After all, you’ll never know when you’ll need them.
4. Buy A Hydration Pack Or Water Bottle
This is a really simple piece of kit, but something that beginner bikers miss out when they’re starting out. You’re focusing on the important stuff like the bike and the helmet, so it’s easy to forget something minor like a water bottle.
However, a water bottle is possibly one of the most important pieces of kit you’ll have on you when you’re riding. Hydration is essential to keep you going when you’re on your bike. You wouldn’t work out without water, so don’t bike without it either!
You have a couple of options when it comes to water. The simplest option is to buy a good quality, good sized water bottle and a cage to fit on your bike. This is quite cost effective and you’ll have easy access to water when you’re riding. If you want to go the extra mile, a hydration pack will be your best bet. These offer even easier access to water, so you can get a drink without even having to stop.
5. Protect Your Phone
If you’re out on the trail, you’ll already know that it’s a good idea to keep your phone on you. Of course you won’t be checking Facebook or calling your friends when you’re riding, but that phone is vital in case of emergency. If anything should happen, you’ll be able to call for help.
This is all true, but some bikers are wary about bringing their phones with them. What if something happens and your phone gets smashed or broken? It’s a valid concern, as they aren’t cheap.
You have two options here. Firstly, you could use that spare budget to buy a small, cheap mobile phone. Get a pay as you go model, and top it up before you head out. That way you can get in touch with others should you need to, and it won’t be a heartbreak if it suffers damage. Alternatively, you can buy a phone case and screen protector for your current phone. There are cases that are designed to take a lot of abuse, so look for something that’s more rugged and suitable for the outdoors.
6. Get A Good Multi tool
No one wants to be that person who carries their bike back to the trail head, because there’s a minor issue on it that they can’t fix. It’s embarrassing and annoying, so don’t let yourself get caught out.
There’s a lot of different multitools out there, so you’re going to need to use some discretion to find the right one for you. It’s not always better to go cheaper. You’ll want your tools to last, so read the reviews and look for quality over price.
Also, don’t be taken in by a multitool that has all the bells and whistles. It may well have all kinds of things on it, but will you need them all? Also, they’re not going to be any good to you if you don’t know what they do! Pick a multitool that has everything you need for your bike, and that you know how to use.
7. Invest In A Dropper Post
This piece of kit isn’t essential to the mountain biking experience, but if you have some extra cash put aside, it’s well worth spending on this. A dropper post is designed to let you adjust your seat on the fly. If you find the going gets tough and you need some extra manoeuvrability, then you can drop your seat as you ride, giving you extra room and ability to get through.
These can get expensive, so it can be something you’d save up for, rather than buying right away. You’ll soon see the difference when you’re out on the trail though. It can make rides a whole lot easier, and you’ll appreciate being able to make adjustments while you’re on the move.
It’s best to do some research before you buy, as there are several different models out there and they all have their pros and cons. Again, read the reviews, and look for something that will suit you best.
8. Get A Good First Aid Kit
You may have been lucky up until now, but eventually you’re going to have some kind of accident on the trail. Most accidents are very minor, and will probably involve scrapes and bruises. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared. A good first aid kit is essential, so if you don’t have one, now’s the time to get one.
You’ll want a first aid kit that’s small, lightweight, and easy to fit in your bag. It should ideally be waterproof too. You never know when it’s going to start raining, or you’ll run through a muddy puddle, and you’ll want your kit to be protected.
The kit should contain all the basics to fix up any minor injury. Look for bandages, gauze, tape, and antiseptic wipes. You’ll want everything you need to clean up and protect an injury while you’re out riding.
9. Buy Some Padded Shorts
As a beginner rider, you may not have thought too hard about what you’re wearing when you’re out on your bike. As you get into the sport and spend more time riding though, you’ll soon find that that saddle can get uncomfortable. There are a couple of options to help combat this. You can buy a longer, fatter saddle, but it often doesn’t fix the problem long term. Instead, spend that extra cash on some padded shorts.
Good padded shorts will help relieve that discomfort and keep you riding for longer. You don’t even need to spend a lot of money on them. If you’re riding as a hobby, you can buy down the cheaper end of the spectrum and still see a real difference.
The great thing with padded shorts is that you can wear them on their own, or under other clothing. Many people like to throw on baggier shorts over their padded wear, giving them an extra layer of cushioning. It’s really up to you how you wear them.
10. Try Clipless Pedals And Shoes
When you first start out, flat pedals are probably the way to go. You can move around the pedals and get a feel for what you’re doing. You also don’t need to worry about falling over on your bike if you’re locked onto the pedals!
If you have the cash though, it’s well worth looking into clipless pedals and shoes. These work together to keep your feet in the right position on your pedals, which leads to a much smoother ride. It’ll also help your body, as your feet will be in the right place and so there will be less stress on your joints as you ride.
The best thing to do will be to go to your local bike shop and try a few models out. Getting the right pedals and shoes that work together will help you get the most out of your ride, without a lot more effort.
11. Buy A Good Fix Kit
It’s amazing how many bikers will start out biking with nothing on them to do quick repairs with. You can be anywhere and a puncture can get you, so you need to be prepared. After all, no one wants to be that person asking if others have a spare inner tube they can use.
If you don’t have a kit yet, or you don’t have a full kit, now’s the time to update it. There’s lots of kits online that give you everything you need to carry out quick fixes on the side of the track, before you jump back on and keep moving. Look for kits that contain things like multiple inner tubes, pumps, and patch kits.
When you look around, you’ll see that some come with mount kits so you can mount them to the bike itself, saving valuable room in your bag. These are worth looking into if you think you’ll need that room.
12. Pack A Rain Jacket
Yes, you’re a mountain biker, and you’re used to the elements. You’re no stranger to coming home sunburned, muddy, or soaked. Just because you’re used to it though, doesn’t mean you should do it. When it comes to sudden downpours, you want to be protected.
If you’ve got a little extra cash, it’s a good idea to buy a small, packable rain jacket to protect you from heavy rain. You want to keep your core dry, to make biking more comfortable and avoid having to dry off in cold and rainy weather.
A small packable jacket will be thin and flexible, perfect for biking in. It also should fit nicely in your bag, without taking up too much room.
13. Pack Some Snacks
Many people get into biking because they want a fun way to work out, and possibly drop a few pounds. It’s a great way to get active and enjoy it. Even if you are looking to lose weight, you’re going to need to pack some snacks with you while you’re out and about.
When you’re riding, you need to keep your blood sugar up to keep your energy levels high. The best way to do this is with energy bars, or even energy gels. There’s a lot of options out there, and you can find breakdowns of what every option contains online.
If you don’t have any of these on you, there’s even sweets and candy, if you’re in a pinch. You’re looking for anything that will keep you energised while you’re on a long ride. Keep some packed away and you’ll be glad to have it.
14. Just Stash The Cash
Got that extra cash in your budget and not sure what to do with it? A very good option is to simply keep it in your bag for emergencies. You’ll never know when you come across an unexpected situation and will need some cash to tide you over.
Find a small tin to put your cash in, and secrete it somewhere safe in your bag. The tin should keep it dry in case of rain or puddles, and the tin will look inconspicuous, so no one takes it from you. That way you know it’s nice and safe, and you’ll have it when you need it the most.
Some may think that bringing their credit card with them would be enough, and there is some security in knowing that if it goes missing, you can call and deactivate it without losing any cash. However, when you’re out riding you’ll find that cash is easier. Everyone takes cash, and you don’t have to worry about having signal in order to swipe your card and have the payment go through. As this is the case, having cash on you wins, every time.
As you can see, there’s a few things you can look into getting if you have some spare cash in your budget. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get if you shop around. It’s all about balancing price against quality. Use that cash to your advantage, and buy in equipment that will keep you going when you’re out riding.