Five Tools Every Mountain Biker Needs

Mountain bikers tend to be a self-sufficient lot, and for good reason. We like long rides in the backcountry far away from crowds, noise, and our to-do lists. So when things go sideways, we need to think on our feet, fix the issue, and get rolling again. And, no one wants to be THAT rider. You know the one, they are always borrowing your multitool or need a tube.

When things go sideways, we need to think on our feet, fix the issue, and get rolling again.

To that end, here is a list of items that every rider should bring on every ride. Put them in your pack, carry them in a saddle bag, or lash them to your bike. However, you like to carry your gear, don’t hit the trail without them.

1. Cycling Multitool

    Carrying a multitool gets you out of most issues after a trailside mishap. You’re back to railing turns, pinning descents, and floating up climbs in no time. There is a variety of tools ranging from lightweight minimalist ones to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink types.

    So what constitutes a “good” multitool? At minimum, it needs to have a good range of hex sizes, including 8mm for tightening pedals. A Torx bit for your rotor bolts is key, as well as a chain breaker and a flat and Phillips screwdriver. Always bring one, a good tool prevents you from walking home.

    2. Pump

      Speaking of walking, nothing ruins a ride more than a flat tire. And notice that I said “pump,” not “inflation.” I mean an actual pump, not CO2 inflators, leave them for the triathletes. I can’t tell you how many weight-obsessed riders I have bailed out because they only carried one CO2 cartridge and they are begging on the side of the trail after their second flat.

      Bonus tip: wrap some Gorilla tape around the shaft of the pump. You never know when you need it.

      3. Tire Repair
      These days, the majority of us probably run tubeless and we can go months without getting a flat. Don’t get cocky, when was the last time you checked your sealant? Carry a tube and/or a patch kit as well as quality levers. Tubeless tires have nice, tight beads; having a good lever saves your sanity and your knuckles.

        Carrying a tubeless repair kit with plugs is an excellent idea was well. If your sealant isn’t super fresh, it might not be up to sealing a larger hole. Speaking of sealant, if you’re going more remote, carry a small bottle as well.

        4. Replacement Chain Link
        A broken chain means the end of your ride, full stop (pun intended). Storing a quick link makes this repair quick, painless, and easy. Remember, you’ll still need a chain breaker to remove damaged links. If you have multiple bikes with different groupsets or speeds, carry the appropriate link.

        5. Random Parts

          Rotor bolt. A loose rotor is a serious injury waiting to happen.

          Cleat bolt. If you’re running clipless pedals, a spare bolt means you can get in and out of your pedal again.

          Derailleur hanger for your frame. If your shifting is off after a rock hit or crash, you can break or chain, or worse, slip a pedal while climbing hard and lose teeth on your stem. Sure, you can bend one back into place, sort of. But it will never be perfect. Again, it’s small, light, and makes a difference in your riding happiness.

          Extra shift cable. Crashes happen. Rocks and twigs love to grab that loop behind our derailleurs.

          Zip ties. Countless uses.

          Now, if your local loops are short and you’re never too far from the car, maybe you don’t need to carry all of the above. But, all together, this kit really doesn’t weigh much and takes up very little room. Make up your own mind and weigh the risks of not carrying a particular item.

          Bikes are really good these days, they are marvels of technology and engineering. And we beat the hell out of them. We ride them through dust, mud, snow, and rain, then do it all over again. We rip through rock gardens and take to the air with wild abandon. It’s a fact, at some point, something is going to break. Fortunately, armed with this list, you are ready for most anything. Have fun, ride safe, and see you on singletrack.