New tires and shoes...huge improvement
Bought some store branded 2.35 Maxxis tires and new mid range racing shoes....I'm shocked how different and better the bike feels and rides. The kenda small block 8 2.1 tires were good, and the nike atb shoes from 3 years ago lasted ok...but for less than $120 total my FS XC bike has never ridden better....Moral: the contact points are dang important
Hell yea they are. Tire width and tread pattern change up a bike immensely. I also have a huge appreciation of proper pedals, shoes, saddle, and grips (especially for more than a few hours in the saddle).