Last season, I got a good laugh out of a fit, fast racer with pink streamers on the handlebars of her tricked-out mountain bike. I loved the “don’t take me too seriously” humor. The streamers were hysterical … but I’ve seen many other people perform perverse acts on perfectly nice bikes – all by fitting them with ill-advised accessories. Here’s a roundup of the six most horrible things you can put on your mountain bike. (And when you’re done laughing, check out 3 Awesome Things People do to Their Mountain Bikes.)
Kickstands have their place: on beach cruisers, commuting bikes and kids’ bikes. They don’t belong on a seriously sweet trail bike. First, it’s dangerous – with all the jarring of off-road riding, the kickstand will never stay in place. Second, you should be riding way too much to need a kickstand. If you want a way to get to the local coffeehouse, get the right bike so you don’t have to desecrate a real off-road machine.
Smooth tires are great. They let you pedal over pavement with a lot less resistance, letting you go faster. Notice how I said “over pavement”? That means smooth tires belong on bikes meant for riding in their milieu. Why buy a mountain bike and put slick tires on it? The most egregious example I’ve seen recently was a Santa Cruz Blur with a full XT group all dressed up for road riding. I actually felt sorry for that poor bike.
There’s something sad about a off-road racing machine with platform pedals. I can understand a bit of newbie fear factor when getting into mountain biking. But if you can afford a $4,000 bike and are willing to spend that much cash, you’d better already know what’s best for your bike. And platform pedals are not it. I suppose I’ll cut downhillers some slack – but nobody else!
A Gas-Powered Motor
Nothing says “I’ve had one DUI too many” like retro-fitting a gas engine to your bicycle. This is already bad when the bike in question is an ugly POS. But it becomes an epic travesty when said putting engine clings to the side of a decent bike.
A Pump – On the Wrong Side
Frame-mounted pumps are great – they’re always around when you need them. I really like the kind with a bracket under the water bottle cage on the downtube. But obey this one rule: Make sure you mount the bracket so it holds the pump on the non-drive side. In other words, the side that doesn’t include the cranks. You wouldn’t want some off-road shaking and shuddering to knock the pump loose and into the chainrings.
Some grizzled, mulleted old ex-1970s BMX racers love to combine the current reality of mountain bikes with the BMX looks of their youth. The result? An abominable collision of styles – a horribly upswept handlebar desecrating a mountain bike. Combine this with the gas motor, and you’ll be the ultimate two-wheeled hillbilly.