No matter how well looked after your bike is, going on a ride without taking the basic tools and spares is a risk that shouldn’t be taken. There are currently many different multi-tools available on the market that are compact and lightweight, and in most cases will provide you with the correct tool to get you home. Here we will advise you on the basic tools needed for the everyday mountain bike.
1.Innertubes, tyre levers and puncture repair kits.
The number one spare. It does not matter whether you have tubeless tyres installed. A damaged tyre is, unfortunately, all too common, and no tubeless system will save you from a sidewall tear. Remember to make sure that it is the correct size for your wheel, and that the valve is compatible with your rims. To change an innertube, in most cases, tyre levers are needed especially with the more rigid tubeless tyres. Buy a good quality set, preferably not metal, as these can damage and mark your rims. Cheap tyre levers will break easily and will leave you stranded. A good set of self-adhesive patches will allow you to seal any tear or hole in the tyre before installing the tube. If you are planning on a short distance ride, then one extra tube will be sufficient. If you are planning a long ride, then take an extra one just in case.
Together with innertubes, this is probably used the most during your rides. It can allow you to make small adjustments to your transmission, brakes or ride position and can also help you to tighten any number of bolts that can work loose during an outing, or replace a whole gear cable if need be. Choose a model that has the at least the following bits; Torx T25, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 and 8mm allen keys (this will allow you to tighten some pedals and crank bolts). Flat headed and Phillips screwdrivers. If possible with a chain breaker as well, as long as it is good quality. Remember that the more tools it has, the heavier and less compact it will be. This will depend on your needs. Always buy well known brands and the highest quality you can afford. Cheaper, lower quality units can break easily, or can damage the bolt heads you are working on.
3.Tubeless repair kit
Even if you carry a spare innertube, always take a tubeless repair kit with you. Most punctures can be repaired by the sealant in the tyres, but some are too large to seal and will need repairing. There are many options to choose from, and all are compact enough to take with you on a ride. Remember that the rubber strips used to repair the tyres can deteriorate in hot weather, and will be harder to use if they are. Periodically check the kit before rides to make sure everything is in order and nothing needs to be replaced. It is a good idea to practice repairing an old tyre, if you have one, as this will make the process much easier and quicker when on a ride.
Whether you have tubeless or not, Co2 cartridges will allow you to repair a flat tyre quickly and easily, with less effort needed than conventional pumps. Always carry at least two with you at all times, and the larger sized versions. It is also important to carry a release valve, to allow you to inflate tyres safely, and close it if any air is left in the cartridge. Like the tubeless repair kits mentioned above, practice using them at home before heading out, as they can be wasted if not used correctly.
Another common repair is a broken chain. To be able to correctly repair one, you will also need a chain splitter to remove the damaged/broken links. Before purchasing, make sure it is 100% compatible with your transmission, both in speeds as well as brand. It is also important to install it in the correct direction (especially with 12sp transmissions). If you have never installed one before, look at the tutorials on the internet that show you how to install one correctly. The good thing about quicklinks is that they are easy and quick to fit, and allow you to get home, even with a shorter chain that recommended.
To be able to fit a quicklink and repair your broken/damaged chain you will need a chain splitter. This could be already part of your multi tool, if not, then it is recommended that you carry one with you at all times. Invest a bit more in a decent model, or it will not last you long. Always check that it is compatible with your chain and/or transmission before purchasing.
Even if you carry Co2 cartridges, a good hand pump is recommended to finish inflating your tyre to the correct pressure, or if you run out of air cartridges. Here the same principle applies, buy a good quality hand pump, even if it costs more, it will be easier to inflate to higher pressures. The size of the pump will depend on whether you will be carrying it in a bag or mounted to your bike. Obviously, the bigger the pump, the easier it will be to inflate your tyres.
If you have enough space, it is good practice to take a compact foldable knife, which could be useful in certain scenarios. There are many sizes available, some which almost take no space up at all. If you are planning a multi day trip, and will be carrying more luggage, other models can include pliers, like the Leatherman brand. These can be very helpful in more complicated repairs.
There are small extras that are not exactly the tools that are sometimes needed. Plastic cable ties are always recommended, a spare gear cable, these all weigh little and do not take up much room, a small first aid kit with at least a disinfectant and latex gloves, a few plasters, and self adhesive patches as mentioned before, and always take some cash with you. We recommend to leave a small amount of money in your bag, this way you will always have it at hand in an emergency. Another idea is to carry with you a medical note of any allergies to medicines, or medical history that may be important to know in case of an accident, as well as blood type and emergency contact details.