So there we were… staring at Jaime’s mountain bike. Her pedal snapped off the crank and we were tool-less, gear-less and totally out of luck. Fortunately, this only happened a 1/2 mile from the house but it really knocked some sense into us. We suddenly realized mountain biking is just like backcountry skiing. You need to gear up and be prepared for the worst and shoot for the best. After our rookie realization, we reached out to Shoreline of Tahoe for help creating a list of essential items to ALWAYS bring on a ride.
Things you need for Mountain Biking
One of the major issues that happens out on the trail is getting a flat. From rocks, stumps, bumps, sticks, and twigs, there’s a good chance something will happen. Without a pump, you’ll be stuck in neutral! Picking up a small pump is easy, right? Wrong! There’s MULTIPLE sizes, so how do you choose? Similar to Goldilocks and the three bears, you need to find the one that’s perfect for you. Well, you can go with the smallest pump available but if you do get a flat, you might be there for a LOOONNGG time trying to pump it up. But if you get the biggest one, you can pump up the tire quicker but it’ll be a lot heavier to carry. For us, we picked the middle size one. It’s big enough to pump in air quickly but not too heavy to carry for the ride.
Spare Inner Tube
This is your first line of defense if you do flat-out. Inner tubes are as cheap as a cup of coffee so why even mess with a patch kit? Grab that tire, rip out the tube, throw in a new one in and you’re good to go!
It’s just a good idea as a backup to your spare inner tube(s). If you’re 10 miles from your car, you’ll be glad you brought a patch kit with you. It might take a bit more work, but a patch kit can cover MULTIPLE flat tires if it happens out there. Better to be safe than sorry with a ride like that!
Multi-tool with pliers
A multi-tool is THE standard backcountry tool you should always carry with you, sun or snow. From a pair of pliers to a knife, this is something you should carry any time you’re out in the wilderness. A Leatherman is the standard most outdoorsy folk use as they fold up nicely and stay out of the way till you need it.
Besides a normal multi-tool, there’s a good chance you’ll need something that’s specific to a bike. That’s where the bike multi-tool kit comes in. From hex keys to tire levers, it’s critical to have this if something unexpected happens out there.
Rims on a mountain bike aren’t cheap. If you don’t have a tire lever to pop the tire off correctly, you could damage not just your ego but the rim itself. Be sure to pick up at least a pair of these because they are known to break. And if they do, replace them before your next ride.
Chain Tool / Master Link
The bike chain is an essential piece of gear on your bike. When riding over stumps, rocks and sticks, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll bend the chain. You might be able to bend it back, but if you have a chain tool and a master link, you can pop off the problem link and put on the new one with no issue. Each “speed” (8, 9, 10 speed, etc.) has different thicknesses and lengths for their links. So, when buying a master link, be sure you pick up the right one.
Similar to run-flat for a car, zip-ties are a great option to temporarily fix your bike until you can get somewhere to fully fix the problem.
If something snaps, just like our pedal, some good ‘ole duct tape could’ve helped keep that piece of the bike together.
When planning your next mountain biking adventure think about the following:
- How close are you to the nearest road?
- Can someone come and get you if something bad happens?
- Proximity to civilization/wilderness aspect?
Depending on how you answer the questions above, adding things like a headlight, water, and snacks might also be good ideas. It’s always fun to head out into the wilderness but be responsible! Stay tuned as we talk about going tubeless.