Whether you’re heading out for a short ride or taking a weekend trip, mountain biking is an activity that perfectly blends exercise with exploration of the natural world.
For new riders and experienced veterans alike, it offers a unique sense of freedom and discovery. But with that freedom comes a responsibility to be prepared for a variety of challenges that can come up when you’re out pedalling.
Jamie Owen, marketing manager for Thule SA suggests this list of essentials that will help you make the most of your time on the biking trail and ensure that you have a great ride.
1. A bike
Make sure your bike fits you well and has been serviced recently to limit the possibility of mechanical issues out on the trail.
2. A bike rack
While some may live within riding distance of their favourite trails, most of us have to drive to the trailhead and loading a muddy bike into your rear hatch isn’t a lot of fun. A good bike rack can make that task much easier. When purchasing your next bike rack, it is important to know the various ways to transport your bike(s) on your vehicle, the features and benefits of specific rack models, as well as knowing the capacity and limitations of certain styles and vehicle placements.
The new Thule OutWay 2 and 3 Bike carriers are premium rear door mounted bikeracks (no tow bar required) for an easy getaway. These carriers can be mounted to a variety of vehicles and not only do they lock to your vehicle, but they also include locks that lock your bike to the rack. For those whose vehicle has a tow bar you have the option of a hanging type bicycle rack that can accommodate up to four bikes or a platform carrier such as the popular Thule Euroway G2 which is not only compact, but also fully lockable and tilts for easy access to the boot.
There has also been a huge growth in sales of e-bikes for those who want to enjoy the trails with a bit less effort up the hills. The Thule EasyFold XT bike rack (now also available in a black version) is a fully foldable, compact, and easy-to-use towbar-mounted bike rack for all types of bikes, including e-bikes.
3. A comfy & well-fitted helmet
A quality helmet that is both safe and comfortable will give you the confidence you need to push your riding a little further each time you ride.
4. Hydration pack
A good pack is not only a great way to stay hydrated, but it’s also an easy way to carry many of the essential items on this list. The innovative Thule Rail hydration packs (8L, 12L and 12L Pro) have been designed specifically for the downhill and enduro rider. The secure-fit design wraps the torso and eliminates bounce or movement when jumping or railing corners for unsurpassed control, comfort and safety while descending rough trails. The 2.5L HydraPak reservoir features a locking valve to prevent leaks and you will be able to stay hydrated without slowing down, thanks to the hands-free ReTrakt magnetic hose return. The Thule Rail range also includes hip belts in three sizes that enable you to bring the items that you need on your ride with a little less bulk than a normal hydration pack.
5. Spare tubes
Even if you ride tubeless, carrying a spare tube or two is crucial. Flats can happen in the trailhead parking lot or at the halfway point of your ride. Make sure you grab a tube that is sized properly for your tire too.
6. Tire lever
Some multi-tools have a built-in lever, but a standalone lever will always make it easier to get a tire on and off your rim.
7. Tire pump or CO2 cartridge and inflater
A CO2 cartridge and inflater doesn’t take up much room in your pack or saddlebag, but a good tire pump is the most reliable way to ensure you’re ready to inflate a new tube.
A decent multi-tool is a must-have. Most smaller tools will have flathead and phillips head screwdrivers, a T25 torx and a variety of hex wrenches. If your multi-tool has a chain break, then ensure you have the correct chain link so that you can do the repair.
Most of us don’t go anywhere without our smartphones these days and mountain biking should be no exception. Obviously, you can call home in case of an emergency, but your phone is also a good way to navigate using the GPS or plan a route with one of the many available MTB apps.
10. Rain gear
Sometimes rain can roll in faster than the forecast predicted, so it’s always a good idea to stuff a packable rain jacket in your hydration pack.
Make sure you’re prepared for the environment in which you’re riding. Heading out on dry and exposed trails? Pack some sunscreen and lip balm.
While not an essential for every ride, if you’re planning a longer session, it’s a good idea to put some type of nutrition in your pack. And always replenish before your body’s fuel tank runs low!
13. A gear bag
A good gear bag helps you keep all of the above organised and ready to go every time you get to the trailhead. It also improves the post-ride cool down by giving you a spot to put sweaty or dirty items. The Thule RoundTrip Bike Duffel offers a variety of dedicated gear compartments to ensure you’re always ready to ride.
14. A good travel case
If the trail involves some long distance travelling then choose a durable bike travel case that is tough on the outside and smart on the inside and allow you to transport your bike safely, securely and without hassle. Most bike cases are designed, built, and tested to withstand the stress and strain of modern travel and each case has rollers for easy handling and navigation when you’re on the go. Certain bike cases even have integrated work stands so that you can assemble your bike once you’ve reached your riding destination. It is important to ensure that your bike is compatible with the fork mount in the bike case.
14. Take the kids along for the ride
There’s nothing better than getting out in the fresh air and exploring nature with your little one, especially on a long ride. A child bike seat will allow you and your most treasured possessions to enjoy everyday bike rides, safely, easily and in style – it’s also an opportunity to introduce children to the joys of biking.