Mountain biking is an exhilarating activity for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors. The sport ranges from strenuous and technical to flat, easy and enjoyable for all abilities. Given the potential for breaking down on the trail in hazardous, exposed conditions miles from civilization, the need to pack the proper tools is important for every mountain biker. Here’s the essential tool kit.
A pack to store all tools is the first item needed. The easiest, least expensive option is a small bike pack that attaches to the seat post or frame. Bike packs are compact, lightweight and shouldn’t cause any performance issues. A backpack or hydration pack, with room for storage, are also options, but may be more uncomfortable to ride with.
No part of the mountain bike is more prone to breakage than tires. While a patch kit is important, an extra tube is the quickest and easiest way to mend a flat tire and should be carried on any mountain bike ride. A patch kit will repair most flats and should include rubber patches, sand paper and glue (or self-adhesive patches). Also tire levers or two flathead screwdrivers will be needed to pull the tire off of the rim. A compact pump is the final tool in repairing a flat—CO2-powered pumps are quick and easy to operate, but are exhaustible. A hand-powered pump may take a little extra effort, but is very reliable.
Another part on the bike prone to debilitating breakage is the chain. A chain tool serves to detach and reattach the individual chain links that make up a mountain bike chain. In the case of a bent link, the chain tool is essential toward removing the faulty link(s). It is also necessary to repair a chain that snaps in half. Chain tools can be purchased as a part of a mountain bike multi-tool or separately. Carrying extra chain links will ensure that the chain can function on all gears.
Obviously, a fundamental part of the mountain bike, a faulty wheel can quickly render the bike useless. In some instances, such as a bent rim, there is little that can be done and the only option is to hike out. However, a spoke wrench can true a wheel that is slightly bent or wobbling from side to side. Carrying extra spokes is also important in the event that spokes break.
It’s difficult to plan for every possible contingency, so carrying multi-purpose items can serve one well. Some general items that can be invaluable are duct tape, Swiss Army knife, adjustable wrench and mountain bike multi-tool with various allen wrenches.
In the end, some simple, inexpensive tools and preparation will allow for a thrilling, but safe experience. The right tools ensure that the mountain bike serves its purpose as a means of transport rather then needing to be lugged along on an extended hike.