Not essential, but I think good ideas and cheap:
- Lube your brake cables, etc, to get the best out of your brakes. If you need a pad change then try to get Kool Stop Salmons.
- If you tweak your own wheels then spend some time with a spoke key before going off road.
- As long as you're re-taping your handlebars for the cross levers (actually I don't use these myself - so I'm not sure that you will have to re-tape to fit them, but if you do...) then add some cheap padding to the bars. Bar Phat, a cut up mouse mat, a second layer of cheap polymer tape, pipe insulation, whatever. A few extra mils of shock absorb are a nice thing to have when you're riding on the rough stuff.
After years of experiment I've found that BMX style pedals with the pins are a great choice offroad. They might be a marginal disadvantage for racing, but the ability to dab down a foot is priceless when you're riding singletrack - especially with a bike that has a higher top tube than an MTB. The pins give terrific grip for pedaling and body english. $20 should get you ok ones on ebay.
Last edited by meanwhile; 10-27-09 at 10:15 AM.