Mechanicals, changeable trail conditions and sometimes even injuries are part and parcel of mountain biking, but they don’t need to put an end to your ride, whether that’s an ambitious full day out or an evening power hour.
Handy tools that make light work of tedious tasks, accessories to winter-proof your ride and make more of the limited space on your frame, kits to repair any trailside flats or bumps and grazes: these are the nifty bits of gear that can turn a disastrous situation into a mere blip.
The best bit is that these won’t cost you the earth either, but could just make the difference between a grin-inducing spin, or walking home deflated.
Rob Warner heads to Kenya with freeride pro Matt Jones to ride Mount Kenya.
1. Schwalbe Tire Booster
Tubeless tyre technology is widely accepted in mountain biking, allowing you to run lower pressures with less risk of pinch punctures and easily fix most flats on the trailside.
Setting up your tyres tubelessly can be a little more tricky though, and that’s where the Schwalbe Tire Booster comes in handy. Rather than forking out for a whole new tubeless-specific track pump, this canister system is used in tandem with your existing pump. Pressurise the container first, then let the air into the tyre in one hit to easily seat the bead onto the rim.
2. RideGuard MTB fenders
Price: £17 set, £10 front, £9 rear
Riding year-round can get a little mucky, so why not add a lightweight mudguard to not only protect your face, but also your fork stanchions and kit?
The front and rear mudguards from Bristol-based RideGuard are easy to fit and effective. If that wasn’t enough, they’re made in the UK entirely from recycled post-industrial plastic waste, and are recyclable too.
Choose from the many vibrant designs on offer or perhaps something a little more stealthy.
3. Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite DX
Perhaps one of the handiest tools you can own, this little ratchet kit from Topeak is a brilliant addition to either your workshop or riding kit. With interchangeable bits for different bolt sizes, the two-way ratchet easily reaches places where a multi-tool can be too bulky, like fitting bottle cages or adjusting a seatpost, and makes loosening or tightening super quick and easy.
This kit also comes with a slender set of tyre levers and extension for when you need a little extra reach.
4. Granite Design Rockband+ frame carrier strap
A really simple yet effective design, the Rockband+ strap from Granite Designs allows you to carry a spare tube on your frame. No more forgetting to pack one or bringing the wrong size, as you can leave this on your bike between rides. It also gives you a bit of extra space in your pack. More snacks?
The sturdy design means it won’t be going anywhere either, even on the roughest of trails, and you can choose between plain or patterned colourways, mixing and matching to suit your bike and personality!
5. Muc Off Puncture Plug Repair Kit
For the nastiest of tubeless punctures, sealant alone won’t do the job, so you’ll need to plug the hole. While there are many different plug kits on the market, the Muc Off Puncture Repair Kit is one of the simplest and most effective.
The tool features a wide, ergonomic handle, reamer and plug applicator, and the plugs are supplied in two widths for varying hole sizes. You can also get refill packs from Muc Off for £4.99 for 10.
The kit is supplied in a small cloth pouch, handy for also storing your other kit like a split link and tyre boot.
6. Lifesystems Trek First aid kit
You never know what might happen on your ride, whether that’s to yourself, a friend, or someone you might meet on the trail. Having a few first aid essentials can allow you to fix up any minor injuries, or help you prepare for getting more specialist help. You can pick and choose elements from a full kit to suit your ride.
What’s even more handy is the knowledge of how to administer first aid well: it’s definitely worth considering booking yourself onto an Outdoor First Aid course if you enjoy riding in more remote areas.
7. Specialized Zee II side entry bottle cage
For full-sus bikes, and especially smaller sizes, space in the main triangle can be limited, making fitting a bottle tricky. Here, a side-entry bottle cage like the Specialized Zee II can be really handy, allowing you to add or remove a bottle without interfering with the shock.
The Zee II is available in either plain black or with a fluro green streak. Be aware that this model opens to the right, so might be better for right-handed riders!
8. Rapha Pro Team full frame glasses
Protecting your eyes when riding is really important: not only from potentially harmful UV rays on brighter days, but also from dirt, bugs and stones that fly up from the trail.
These oversized, wrap-around style cycling glasses give you a full field of vision on the trail, and also stay fog-free when you pause at the trailhead, thanks to an anti-fog coating and vents around the lens.
The Pro Team trail glasses also come with an interchangeable clear lens for riding in shadier conditions, and a handy microfibre case for storage and cleaning.