Since the introduction of tubeless technology, we’ve encountered remarkably few trailside issues. So much so that we often debate the need to carry spares with us on rides. But that Murphy chap is a wily old bugger and he waits in anticipation, snickering and rubbing his wrinkly old hands together until the day you finally head out with empty pockets to execute his cunning plan. – By Paulo Conde and Gresham Enerson
At last year’s Fedgroup Berg and Bush we headed out with a full arsenal of tools and spares knowing full well that the route is both tough and isolated, perfect conditions for old Murphy to strike. And he did. Not once, but twice. On the first occasion we were able to sort out a broken spoke resulting from an over-enthusiastic corner into a rock with little fuss, but on the second occasion we ran out of luck.
Another broken spoke pierced the rim tape which resulted in a rather epic series of sealant eruptions that provided great entertainment for the guys behind us. We’d hoped that more sealant and a bomb would resolve the issue, but the rim tape was too badly damaged. So the next option was to put a tube in. After getting the tube into the tyre, we lost a bomb – thanks to a faulty inflator – and then, after getting the tube inflated, we discovered that the valve was faulty and leaked all of our precious air out in a matter of seconds. We had a valve core remover on us to get the faulty valve out, but we had no spare valve and we were out of bombs. Had it not been for the friendly assistance from a roving mechanic who literally had a bike shop in his back pack (thanks again Grant Dinkel!) we’d have been in for a long walk of shame back to the start line.
Thanks to this recent debacle, we thought it fitting to put together a handy list of spares and tools that we highly recommend all average bro’s carry with them on a ride.
These little guys pack a lot of punch with gadgets for just about everything. It’s worth investing in a high-quality one that has all of the basics plus a few extra goodies like a chain breaker. It’s common for these tools to have 20 or more functions so they should see you through most issues. Remember to check that the tool specifications are compatible with your bike setup, especially when it comes to Allan/Torx keys.
We’ve owned a number of inflators over the years and have recently resorted to going for a simple inflator with a tap to regulate air flow, as these secure tightly with both the CO2 bomb and the valve, allowing you to control how much air you want to let through. At 16g each, we recommend carrying a spare bomb or two in case the first one doesn’t do the trick or you have a really unlucky day on the trail.
Gators and Plugs
Some tyre cuts are too big for sealant to reseal by itself. For smaller holes caused by thorns or glass you can insert a ‘plug’ using a special needle into the hole before attempting to re-inflate the tyre. Larger holes like sidewall cuts are unlikely to re-seal so you will most probably need to resort to using a tube to get you home. Before fitting the tube, apply a patch (also known as a gator) to the inside of the tyre to keep the tube from popping out when you inflate it. These fixes may be good to get your home, but take a closer look after the ride to make sure the tyre is still in working order.
Spare Tube & Tyre Levers
If your tubeless system isn’t holding air, you’re going to have to put a tube in to see you home. Most tubeless tyres seal tightly with the rim so you may need to use tyre levers to help you get the tyre off the rim. In terms of tubes, you get normal tubes and tubes filled with slime. The ones with slime are slightly bulkier but offer another layer of defence against punctures, so carry whichever one suits the terrain you’ll be riding in. We’ve found all tubes fit all wheel sizes, so don’t worry if you have a 26-inch tube and a 29-inch wheel problem.
Valve Core Remover & Spare Valve
Valves have a nasty habit of sealing tightly shut thanks to the effects of sealant and over-zealous tightening. A valve core remover fits over the valve and allows you to loosen or completely remove a valve core. Pack a spare valve core, just in case.
If your chain snaps out on route, you can use a Quick Link to re-join it. These are specific to your drivetrain speed so make sure you pack the right one. Some chains and quick links are directional (i.e. they can only be run one way) so make sure that you install the quick link the correct way. Directional chains usually have arrows to indicate the direction that the chain must move when pedalling forward, or they have writing on the side that must face outwards on the drive side.
You should carry some form of identification that lists any medical conditions and emergency contacts to speak on your behalf when you aren’t able to. This could be in the form of a bracelet like the ICE-ID or a medical aid card carried in your pocket or strapped to your bike. It’s also advisable to have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact programmed into your phone.
If you’re riding alone or you’re doing a long out-and-back loop, we’d recommend you carry a phone to call for assistance in the event of a mechanical or medical emergency. On group rides, make sure that at least one person has a phone on them. Use a waterproof pouch to keep the phone protected from moisture like rain, sweat or an unplanned river dunk.
That covers the essentials for a regular ride. If you’re doing a longer ride, a stage race or you’re just the overly cautious type, you can also look at adding some (or all) of the following to your list:
Lube – preferably a light one that soaks in easily so that it doesn’t attract dirt
Sealant – a small 60ml bottle will be enough to help re-seal a tyre
Replacement derailleur hanger – in case you crash and bend/break the one the bike
Money – for food and drinks
More CO2 bombs – just in case…
Hand Pump – in case the bombs aren’t sufficient (it happens)
Cable Ties & Electrical Tape – for some last-resort bush mechanics
We’ve found that it helps to package the tools and spares into some small zip lock bags and pouches, as it makes it easier to transport them and also to stops them from rattling against each other while out on the trails.
Please be aware that these tools are only going to help you if they’re in working order, and if you know how to use them. Spend a bit of time getting used to each of tools, watch some online videos that teach you how to use them, practice using them in the comfort of your home and check them often to ensure that you’ll be ready to combat that Murphy guy.
Follow @Rookie_Project on twitter for more useful tips.
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 33, 2015 – All rights reserved