25 Bike Upgrades For 25 Bucks Or Less

Tour de France champ Bradley Wiggins needs those $4,000 wheels. The rest of us should consider these clever, intuitive, and eminently affordable improvements first

November 9, 2012
Cycling Upgrades on a budget
Corbis Images

1. Drink Clean - Specialized 26-Ounce Purist Watergate bottle, $12

Made from BPA-free plastic with a glass-infused inner surface, this bottle keeps potential chemical nasties from leaching into your water. More important: The Heart Valve cap delivers a robust stream of fluid with each squeeze and prevents drips-even if you leave the top open in your gear bag. It's available in a rainbow of hues to go with any frame color.


Info: Specialized.com

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2. Save Your Bottom Bracket - Deda Dog Fang, $16

It's a little-known fact that a dropped chain can damage your bottom-bracket shell. (Search: What's a bottom bracket?) The Dog Fang sits unobtrusively on your seat tube behind your crank and guides a misdirected chain back onto the little ring.

Info: Dedaelementi.com

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3. Roll Smoother - Bontrager XXX latex tube, $20

Latex tubes save you (a little) weight. Even better: The thinner, flexible material can help improve road feel and decrease rolling resistance.

Info: Bontrager.com

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4. Be Heard - Mirrycle Incredibell, $10

Sound a friendly warning to pedestrians as you approach them, or just express your unbridled enthusiasm for riding a bicycle. This classic bell is one of our perennial favorites because of its bright, high-volume ding.

Info: Mirrycle.com

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5. Wrap It Up - Cinelli bar tape, $15

Make your bike feel new again with Cinelli's cork tape. It's grippy enough to keep your palms in place-even when you're sweating-and provides just enough cushion to prevent sore hands. There are colors to match just about any bike.

Info: Cinelli-usa.com

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6. Coordinate Colors - Far and Near brake hoods, $25

Brighten your cockpit with these colorful hoods for Shimano, SRAM, or Campagnolo levers.

Info: Farandnear.com.tw

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7. Fuel at Your Fingertips - SpeedSleev retention system, $19

Instead of cramming one more gel into your jersey pocket, use this elastic strap to secure snacks to your stem.

Info: Speedsleev.com

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8. Fend Off Chain Slap - Frame Wrap, $13 for 7 feet

Wrap this rubber tape around your mountain bike's chainstay to shield the vulnerable spot. Seven feet offers plenty of protection for even the most abused bikes.

Info: Framewrap.com

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9. Carbon-ize - Zipp carbon road bar plugs, $10

Whether you ride a Bush-era beater (the first Bush, that is) or an $11,000 race bike, Zipp's bar-end plugs add a touch of flair that even the most jaded rider in your pack will notice.

Info: Zipp.com

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10. Reduce Pedal Play - New cleats for clipless pedals, $25

Sometimes you don't realize how much play is in your pedals until you get new cleats. Most cleats have wear indicators that show when you're due-check them regularly and replace them before they're worn out.

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11. Extend Your Reach - Control Tech drop-bar extender plugs, $24

Drops too short? These aluminum end plugs lengthen your reach by a few critical centimeters for extra leverage.

Info: Controltechbikes.com

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12. Preserve Your Cleats - Kool Kovers, $19

Cleats wear out quickly when they come into contact with pavement. Kool Kovers-available for Shimano, Look, and Speedplay-help them last longer.

Info: Koolkovers.us

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13. Beat Down Gunk - Muc-Off Nano Tech bike cleaner, $13

Wet your bike, spray on this biodegradable cleaner, and use a brush to loosen dirt. Rinse thoroughly, then admire the sparkle.

Info: Muc-off.com

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14. Baby a Chain - ProGold ProLink chain lube, $9

This thin lubricant contains a special formula that discourages grit and grime from accumulating on your chain so it stays cleaner for longer.

Info: Progoldmfr.com

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15. No-Mess Tubeless - Stan's NoTubes universal valve stem, $16

Whether you run tubeless tires on your road or mountain bike, Stan's valves make setup smoother. Instead of pouring sealant into the tire before seating the bead-and risking a spill-unscrew the valve's core and inject the liquid through the stem for a mess-free install. Lose your core? A new one is just $2.

Info: Notubes.com

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16. Got a Light? Planet Bike Blinky 7 taillight, $20

Stay safe by making yourself visible on rides that stretch past sundown with this low-profile, easy-to-install light. Seven LED bulbs provide 220 degrees of illumination for visibility up to a mile.

Info: Planetbike.com

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17. No Mudslinging - SKS Adventure Clip-On fenders, $15

Clip these plastic mudguards onto any 26-inch bike for rattle-free protection from water and grime. Your feet still get wet, but your butt stays dry.

Info: Sks-germany.com

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18. Tame Your Chamois -Paceline Products Chamois Butt'r, 8-ounce tube, $16

Protect your private equipment from chafing with a healthy dose of chamois cream. There are many options, but Paceline is known for its consistency, easy application, and long-lasting comfort.

Info: Pacelineproducts.com

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19. Trick Out Your Headset - Niner Y.A.W.Y.D., $13

It's no more functional than a standard headset cap, but this kit lets you install a beer-bottle cap on your headset, boosting your bike's character. The acronym stands for "you are what you drink." Cheers.

Info: Ninerbikes.com

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20. Cradle Your Bottles - King stainless cage, $17

Handmade in Colorado, these elegantly simple cages are the perfect counterpoint to bold carbon frame shapes. The steel holds your bottle tight so you'll never suffer pothole-induced thirst again.

Info: Kingcage.com

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21. Stand and Deliver - Greenfield kickstand, $10

Not just a classic accessory, this is a near-mandatory addition to your around-town ride.

Info: Greenfieldny.com

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22. Finesse Your Shift - Shimano PTFE-coated shift cable, $20

These slick, corrosion-resistant cables ensure smoother shifting on any bike, but especially ones with internal routing.

Info: Shimano.com

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23. Righty Tighty - Ritchey 5nm 4mm torque key, $17

It's surprisingly easy to damage costly components by overtightening bolts. Increase the longevity of your parts with this incredibly useful and money-saving torque wrench. It's set to the ideal force for cockpit components on most bikes and is small enough to fit in a jersey pocket or seat bag.

Info: Ritcheylogic.com

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24. Secure Carbon Parts - Tacx Carbon Assembly Compound, 80-gram tube, $16

The gritty texture increases friction so carbon stems, seatposts, and handlebars stay in place with less torque than they'd otherwise need. That way, there's less risk of overtightening and ruining expensive parts.

Info: Tacx.com

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25. Stow Essentials - Jandd Mini Tool Kit bag, $17

This tiny bag has just enough space for a spare tube, CO2, tire lever, and a wadded-up Jackson, making it perfect for riders who reserve their pockets for food, clothes, and a phone. Three hook-and-loop straps secure it to your saddle and seatpost. Once installed, the bag all but disappears-until it's time to fix a flat.

Info: Jandd.com

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