If you've just begun your journey with recreational mountain biking, you probably already know that you're in for the adventure of your life. Mountain bikers get to see close up views of parts of the country that most people aren't lucky enough to experience, and there's a fun camaraderie among mountain biking enthusiasts that means you'll have friends wherever you ride. However, to get the most of those rides, you should be prepared for the possibility that your bike might break down on the trail. After all, mountain bike terrain is rough, and you'll be far from a bike repair shop if something happens. Following are several strategies designed to help keep you safe on the trail and optimize your mountain biking experience.
Fixin's for Fixing Flats
Getting a flat tire on the trail may mean that you'll end up walking your bike down the mountain. However, if you've got a spare tube or a patch kit, basic bike pump, and a set of tire levers, you can fix the flat yourself and get back on the trail in no time. Those who routinely ride long distances on rough terrain usually carry a patch kit and spare tubes because a small glueless patch kit is invaluable in the event of multiple flats and running out of extra tubes. If you aren't able to practice fixing flats before embarking on a rough ride, make sure you've got the procedure written down and stashed where it can easily be found.
A Spare Set of Brake Pads
Navigating steep terrain on a mountain bike means that you've got to be able to depend on your bike's brake system to keep you safe. Your brakes should be able to stop without wobbling or squeaking while you're going 15 mph if you are of average weight. Making a habit of checking your brakes thoroughly before embarking on trail rides will help keep mishaps to a minimum, but because muddy trails wreak havoc on brake pads, keep an extra pair tucked in your pack, especially if you're going to be biking over terrain in a location where sudden rains may be likely to occur. Replacing brake pads is a fast and easy procedure, but keep in mind that you need to buy pads manufactured for your bike's specific make and model.
A Mountain Bike Multi Tool
This is probably the most important thing that you can put in your pack before you take off on a long ride. A good multi tool will have both Philips and flathead screwdrivers, a small pair of pliers, an Allen wrench, a knife, a gear brush, a chain breaker, and a tire lever. Mountain bike multi tools should be lightweight and compact, and along with the basic tools mentioned previously, you should consider purchasing one with a bottle opener so that you can easily enjoy your favorite beverage when taking a break from the trail.
A Bottle of Chain Lube
Mountain bike terrain is often dry and dusty, especially out around bike meccas such as Moab, Utah and Bend, Oregon, and this means chains can dry out rapidly. Bike chains that have been allowed to dry out run the risk of breaking, which is one of the worst things that can happy while you're on a steep trail. Keeping a full tube of lube in your pack and checking your chain often while riding through dusty, dry country will prevent unfortunate chain mishaps. Purchase a product specifically made for use on mountain bike chains, and keep in mind that the type of lube you choose will depend highly on the kind of terrain that you normally ride on.
A bike repair shop provides an excellent resource for both fledgling and veteran mountain bikes, so don't be afraid to pay a visit to a shop like Random Bike Parts and ask for their advice.