Essentials for Mountain Bike Rides
Whether you are a seasoned rider or just starting out it’s essential that you consider which mountain bike tools you need to carry and, especially if you don’t relish the idea of a long walk home or back to civilisation.
Hands up if you missed something and suffered a long walk in SPD shoes because you forgot something. I did it once and it’s an experience I don’t plan on repeating. So, what happened?
I was riding a section of trail on what we call a “green route” in my local area. Local authorities look after these trails and usually once each year they cut back overgrown brambles. They had done an excellent job of that but not such a wonderful job of removing the debris. Result; five punctures in a row on the front tyre and a big one on the rear.
The front tube had to be changed and I had a spare so, no problem with that. The rear was a different matter because the offending thorn was so big, it left a hole that I simply couldn’t repair, and my second spare tube was one for my wife’s bike a 26” compared to my 27.5”. That was stupid, I should’ve checked before starting out that day and the 5 KM (3 mile) walk home in SPD shoes was not a lot of fun. I had no phone signal either so couldn’t call for backup.
I learned later that I might have got away with the 26” tube as a temporary fix.
There is only one way to deal with events like this. Make sure you have the kit you need to conduct trail side repairs and if you use something make sure it’s replaced before your next ride.
What to Carry?
This amounts to personal choice, how much weight you want on your back and how much space you have but there are some things that really are essential especially if you are riding solo and there are no ride buddies to share the load.
These are my essentials . . .
- A backpack that’s comfortable.
- Water; I prefer a 2-litre bladder and an extra 500 ml bottle on the frame holder for longer rides.
- Snack / Energy Bars.
- First Aid Kit. Some injuries need more than trail side treatment but at least carry something to clean a wound and stop blood flow.
- Two spare inner tubes and puncture repair kit. Make sure the tyre levers in the repair kit are up to the job. I’ve had kit included levers snap after minimal force, so I always carry a spare set.
- There’s no point carrying spare tubes and a repair kit if you haven’t got the means to put air back in so carry a tire pump. Some riders prefer C°2 cartridges and for sure they get the air in quickly.
- A multi-tool that can adjust any nut or bolt on your bike. Look at the fixings and make sure you have the tool for the job.
- Chain Tool and Spare Link. Having these can save a ride so long as you know How To. There are some great YouTube videos that show you how to replace a damaged link.
- A phone or Navigation Device. Especially one with GPS navigation so you can check where you are, call for help or, plan an escape route if necessary.
Useful . . .
If the brakes fail, I can manage but I do carry one set of spare pads since a pin snapped and one of the pads disappeared one day and I ended up with 20 KM of no front brake and a lot of gnarly trail to cover.
On another occasion, riding fast down a single-track forest trail I heard a loud crack and my chain disengaged. On inspection I saw the rear derailleur in two neat pieces. I still have no idea what hit me but without a chain tool and spare master link that day, I had the pleasure of a long walk. It would’ve been a simple task to remove the derailleur and fix the chain to one gear to get me home.
Following a particularly impressive wipe-out, a front wheel spoke snapped. If I’d carried a spare and a spoke tool, I could have fixed it but no tools for that job meant I had to bend the damaged spoke around adjacent spokes.
The Bottom Line
Some things are an absolute must, others are down to whether you want the added weight and you have the technical knowledge to know how to use them. It’s well worth knowing how to fix anything than could go wrong, at least well enough to get you home.
I must admit that I’m something of a lazy shopper. Store browsing doesn’t thrill me, so I tend to buy all the small stuff through Amazon and it usually works out cheaper. If you buy something from this link, I may receive a small cash bonus and that helps keep this site going. You won’t pay anymore than if you had gone to Amazon without this link.
Comments or Questions?
Leave them in the comments section below, you will always get a response.