How Mountain Biking Gear Works

Mountain Biking Tools

Mountain biking is serious business and bikers need certain tools to get through them in one piece.
Mountain biking is serious business and bikers need certain tools to get through them in one piece.
Doug Berry/Getty Images

Mountain bikes take a beating, plain and simple. Rock-strewn muddy trails make for jarring, messy conditions that loosen bolts and bearings and muck up gears. Smart cyclists always travel with a small kit containing everything they need to handle the most common mountain bike repairs: tire repairs, gear repairs, brake repairs and general bolt tightening.

One of the best pieces of equipment to carry with you on the trail is also the simplest: a damp towel or bandana to wipe down your bike before you pack it up for the trip home. Keeping your bike clean will help preserve brakes, gears and other moving parts [source: Strassman].

Next, you'll want to carry a basic tire patch kit, which includes a small tire pump, several patches, glue, tire pressure gauge and a tire lever to remove the tire from the bike rim. You'll also want to carry a spare inner tube, in case the patch kit doesn't cut it.

There are also many multi-tools sold exclusively for use with bikes. These tools come with Allen wrenches of various sizes as well as flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers.

If your chain snaps, you'll need a special chain rivet tool to remove the broken link of chain and connect the remaining chain back together. If you're going on a multi-day ride, it's smart to carry an entire replacement tire chain, just in case.

A spoke wrench is a small circular tool for adjusting the tension in a wheel spoke. You might need to adjust the spoke tension if a wheel becomes wobbly, or "out of true" in cycling parlance.

Other tools you'll want to have on hand are some basic pliers and a set of small hex wrenches: four, five, and six mm should work [source: Gronseth]. These are useful for adjusting brakes and any other operation that requires the loosening and tightening of bolts. Check that you have the right size wrenches for your bike before you hit the trail.

And don't forget the old stand-bys, duct tape and baling wire. With some creativity, these two items can fix just about anything, at least long enough to get back to civilization. Which reminds us -- you should probably carry a little money for a cab, just in case you need a ride back to town.

For more information about America's favorite outdoor activities, take a look at the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Gronseth, Ken. "Assembling a Tool Kit" GORP.
  • Outdoor Foundation. "Outdoor Recreation Participation Report 2009."
  • REI. "How to Choose Cross Training Clothing"
  • Schloss, David. "Find Cycling Clothes that Fit." GORP.
  • Strassman, Mike. "Mountain Bike Maintenance." GORP.