Tread pattern is the final decision and makes a huge difference. This will be greatly dependent on what and where you ride, and so it’s something that members of the local mountain bike club or bike shop are likely best equipped to instruct you with what works best on your local terrain.
Going well past ten years since gaining popularity, tubeless tyres are now a staple in mountain biking. Without a tube to pinch flat, tubeless tyres allow the use of extremely low pressures that award you with increased traction, lower rolling resistance, lower weight, far fewer punctures and a smoother ride.
If your cross country or trail bike doesn’t currently have tubeless tyres, it’s a seriously good upgrade to make. Many bike brands now equip their bikes with ‘tubeless-ready’ rims that are just waiting on some sealing tape, tubeless valves, and liquid sealant. The latter being something you should always use in a tubeless setup as it prevents leaks and can automatically fix small punctures without having to stop.
If your bike makes no mention of having tubeless-ready rims, don’t worry, there’s still hope! Plenty of brands, such as Stan’s No Tubes, Joe’s No Flats, Orange Seal and Effetto Mariposa offer tubeless conversion kits to turn standard mountain bike wheels into tubeless-ready ones. From here, some tubeless-compatible tyres will let you ditch those tubes.
If the tyres are your bike’s connection to the ground, your grips make up one of the three connections you have with your bike. Giving you a place to grab your handlebars from, grips are an easily overlooked, yet critically important item. Poor grip choice will quickly let to arm fatigue (known as arm pump), blisters, sore neck and shoulders through holding the bars too tight, and just generally an uncomfortable ride.
Mountain bike grips are typically made of either rubber, foam or silicon. They either fit the bars with friction or can be bolted in place (known as ‘lock-ons’). Lock-ons never slip and can easily be removed, but carry a weight penalty and may not absorb vibrations as well as a friction-fit grip due to often having a solid plastic core.