mbr digital editor's everyday carry ons
Want to know what stuff we use on pretty much every ride we go on? Here are 15 staff picks. Tools, tyres, clothing, smartphone apps and plenty more.
1. Louri Frame Strap, £18.99
There’s no getting away from the fact that Backountry Research invented the modern frame strap. But there’s also no getting away from the fact that I prefer the Louri Frame Strap. It’s the better overall size and the shaped plastic eyelet/loop/thing is great at keeping the strap in check when tightening up.
2. WTB Volt Race saddle, £39.99
A genuine life saver. Well, maybe not life but way-of-life certainly. After a prolonged period off the bike with ischial issues it was this padded flat-top saddle from WTB that got me back on a bike. There are probably more ergonomically-efficient-for-pedalling saddles out there (with rounder profile tops) but for those of us with delicate sit bone zones, the WTB Volt is a must-have.
3. DMR Vault pedals, £99.99
A hundred quid is daft for a pair of flat pedals isn’t it? But the proof is in the riding and after various dalliances with rival brand pedals, I keep coming back to Vaults. They just offer greater feel and back end pick-up. I run the longer King Pins in my Vaults for even more grip and concavity.
4. CamelBak Podium Dirt 620ml bottle, £14.99
Another high-priced item (fifteen quid for a water bottle!) but there’s no getting away from the fact that this bottle hits its design brief perfectly. It doesn’t leak. The nozzle cap stops you consuming flung filth. It jets loads of liquid into your mouth upon command. Pricey but perfect.
5. Topeak Ninja TC Mountain, £49.99
I reviewed this a couple of months ago so feel free to read the full blather about it. In a nutshell, this is a bottle cage with a multi-tool stowed in a swivelling box under it. The tool is excellent (and includes a chain tool). The tool box is weather sealed. The tool doesn’t rattle around in the box; it’s kept snug by its rubber sheath.
6. Mudhugger, £25.00
Yet another item on this list that initially looks overpriced but out on the trail proves its worth. It keeps more stuff out of your face compared to the cheaper, smaller ziptie-on mudguards. Is it more-than-twice-as-expensive better? Well, it’s better. So, yes, it is.
7. Giant Swage Lock-On grips, £19.99
Finally, something on this list that is a bit cheaper than its rivals. The Swage grips are kind of like Ergon’s G-series lock-on grips but cost almost half as much. I also prefer them over Ergons anyway. Essentially the idea of the Giant Swage grips is a tapered grip with more rubber under your hand where it counts (and less inner sleeve plastic). It’s like a fat grip under most of your hand but a narrower grip under your thumb and forefinger area. Comfort and control combined.
8. Specialized Hillbilly GRID 2Bliss tyre, £42.00
This is not just a mud tyre. I use this tyre all year round. Specifically the 29 x 2.3in version. Maybe it’s because my riding involves so little in the way of smooth hardpack off-road trails (where this tyre might roll a bit slow), who knows? It steers, it corners, it brakes, it clears, it’s accurate, it’s tough, it’s predictable. And when conditions really are disgustingly wet and slippery, I put this tyre on the rear (and put a Michelin Wild Mud up front) for a riotous ride.
9. Birzman Zacoo Macht 300 mini shock pump, £39.99
Now, I’ll admit that not everyone needs this item. It’s pretty much for serial bike tweakers and/or bike testers. It’s not a substitute for a full size shock pump for home use (it takes ages to pump a rear shock up to pressure) but its diminutive size means it’s no trouble to take it out on rides, often just in a jersey rear pocket.
10. Gorilla Tape 25mm x 9m, £2.95
Sooner or later every wheel I use ends up being Gorilla Taped. Even the best tubeless rim tape may work at first, and for a few months, but after a while it either splits or starts to lift. When that inevitably happens, I rip off the existing rim tape and slap on some Gorilla Tape.
11. Pedro’s Downhill Tyre Lever, £16.99
I’ve tried other tool brands’ versions of this tyre lever but none are as good as Pedro’s. Most tyres I can get off with just my hands but those that I can’t, require this brute. In the modern age of tubeless, every single thing you can do to make the job easier, quicker and more reliable is worth its weight in gold.
12. 100% Brisker Cold Weather Glove, £26.99
I very nearly dismissed these gloves, before I actually used them. I’ve ridden similar idea gloves before (thermal back with thin palm gloves) and have always been disappointed. But the Briskers are different. The genius thing is the microfleece lining to the backs. It’s this lining that retains body heat and keeps your hands warm in cold, wet conditions.
13. Polaris AM Apex MTB Gilet, £54.99
As a British mountain biker a large part of my life is spent wondering what to wear on a ride in changeable weather. Do I not wear a jacket and risk freezing to death? Or do I wear a waterproof jacket and end up sweating to death (and having nowhere to stow the jacket because I am #soenduro and no longer wear a backpack)? The answer is a weatherproof gilet. They are surprisingly few and far between. This Polaris one is the best option I’ve come across so far.
14. Topeak Compact Torque Wrench. £21.99
Torque wrenches aren’t just for geeks and OCD mechanics. The best thing about using torque wrench is that it really does reduce the amount of clicking and creaking on your bike. Over-tightened and/or unevenly tightened bolts are a big cause of annoying sounds on a mountain bike.
15. Ordnance Survey MapFinder phone app
On-demand Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale maps at my fingertips. The app itself is free but you’ll need to fork out for the mapping tiles, which I think it fair enough considering Ordnance Survey maps are one of the best things in the whole world.