Same model, different feature: The stock Kenda Small Block 8
tires are very fast-rolling and a great match for a 29er hardtail.
However, they’re available in several different casings, and these
are the cheaper and heavier wire-bead versions. Once we wear
them out, we’re going to spend a little extra to get a lighter
Kevlar-beaded tire, like these Panaracer Comet Hardpacks.
Go to the bar: Most inexpensive bikes have narrow and oddly
shaped handlebars. The stock Airborne bar measured 26 inches
wide. Before we even hit the trails again, we’re swapping to a
wider bar. For this upgrade, we chose this PRO Koryak bar,
which measures 28. 5 inches. While 2. 5 inches might not sound
like much, it’s going to make a huge difference on the trail.
Stem research: While we’re at it, we’re going to swap the stem
for a shorter one, since many bikes’ handling can be improved
with a different-length stem. Shorter stems offer snappier and
quicker handling, while longer ones feel more stable on the trail.
We’re making a big jump from a 110-millimeter length down to 60
for this demonstration, but even 10-millimeter changes can yield
huge differences in handling.