MTB Essentials: Everything You Need to Have in Your Bike Shed
So, if you're anything like the Get Dirt Box team, you've probably got shelves of random bike kit falling out the door - and yet tonnes of stuff you never seem to use.
We're looking at an awesome summer ahead of serious trails and extreme MTB adventures, so now is a great time to clear out the rubbish and work out the essentials that will serve you well through the rides to come.
OK, DON'T panic buy. That's not what we're driving at.
But, some necessities are the quiet heroes of MTB days out, and we're likely to see a fair few shortages coming as everyone dusts off their knee pads, polishes the helmet and drags their dusty bikes out into the sun.
MTB Tyre Sealant
How many tyres do you reckon you change a month or a year? Switch out your spare inner tubes for some decent tyre sealant, and you're P for prepared.
It makes sense to buy a good stock, as while a massive tube of sealant isn't top of your Christmas list, it's one of those things you'll be happy you've got when the need arises.
Wait, you've got tubeless tyres.
Do you need sealant?
You sure do.
- As the name implies, tyre sealant fixes punctures, but it also has another purpose in a tubeless system.
- The adhesive coats the interior of the tyre, creating a barrier against air loss.
The lifeblood of a fully functioning tubeless system is tyre sealant, which is why it's critical to invest in a product that works.
Bike Chain Lubricant
Just like sealant, you need chain lube and never want to be that person who's stuck with a dodgy tin of 3-in-1 oil from your garage when desperation hits.
Get in touch if you'd like a few pointers about maintaining your MTB chain, but the aim is to keep your chain clean, free of dirt build-up, and adequately lubricated between rides, so it doesn't let you down at the crucial moment.
Bicycle chain lubricant (or chain lube or chain oil as you wish) is an essential component of bike maintenance.
It guarantees that your bike chain's busy moving parts can pass each other smoothly, prevents the chain from wearing down or rusting, and makes your ride more comfortable.
Stoking a bit of controversy, but in general, most MTB riders need gloves. They're not just a fashion accessory!
Decent, robust MTB-specific gloves keep your hands protected from nasty cuts and graze, and taking a month off because of an infected palm isn't a good look on anyone.
Cycling gloves won't prevent a sprain or break, but they will protect you from abrasions and bad injuries.
Falling off your bike without a pair of gloves on may keep you off for weeks, whereas a decent pair of gloves can help you get back in the saddle and finish your ride.
Keep a spare pair, and you're golden.
Spare Brake Pads
OK, so it might not seem that your brake pads are about to fail you, but their durability depends on so many factors:
- Braking habits
- Riding style
- Type of pads
Generally, you're looking at about 500 to 700 miles of performance from resin brake pads, or maybe 1,000 miles to 1,200 or thereabouts from sintered metal pads.
If you're unsure, go for semi-metallic (or semi-sintered).
You can opt for resin or sintered pads, but you need to know how to bed them in correctly and use them appropriately to ensure you're riding safely - semi-metallic bulk brake pads are otherwise a good buy.
A Set of Decent Tyres
There is more to talk about here than we have space for, but a spare set of tyres are always a good investment - you're going to use them eventually, after all.
Maybe you have a preferred brand, and we're not here to argue, but having a backup is wise, particularly if you've left your MTB bike in the shed all winter and haven't got any guarantee how well they're going to hold up.
If you're not sure what to go for, think about tread pattern as a fundamental property.
Shorter tread blocks roll faster and are more predictable on hard surfaces, whereas tall, widely spaced knobs are perfect for muddy or sloppy terrain.
Most MTB tyres come in various rubber compositions because it's the rubber that absorbs energy from bumps. Therefore, softer compounds grip better on roots and pebbles and make your ride feel more grounded.
But, a softer rubber will wear down more quickly, so it's worth thinking about how soon you're willing to replace them before you fork out.
Extra MTB Bike Chains
Your chain is the most crucial component of your drivetrain, as it is responsible for propelling your bike ahead and shifting performance.
Chain compatibility and durability are essential, as are mechanical serviceability and even mechanical friction.
Without a working chain, the most innovative MTB bike is a pretty aluminium alloy clotheshorse at best, so don't neglect this crucial part of bike maintenance!
If you're lucky, you won't need to buy spare chains constantly, but it's a real asset to have in your shed since a good quality chain can be incredibly light and make such a difference to the quality of your ride.
Good Quality MTB Bike Cleaner
Last but not least (you knew it was coming) - stock up on cleaner!
No, cleaning isn't exhilarating, it won't shock your pulse into the atmosphere, and it isn't the most fun part of MTB.
Still, without it, you're going to be pedalling your way through miles of muck, so it's one of those necessary evils.
Imagine you have a sleek racehorse with astonishing speed, but you haven't bothered to replace their shoes, wash them - you get where we're going!
Bike maintenance is probably just as crucial as any of the vital MTB essentials we've mentioned here. It also means you're far less likely to be spending every spare penny on replacement parts that would've lasted way longer if you'd given them a little TLC.
Chuck in a few minutes of cleaning after every ride, and your bike will absolutely run smoother and last longer.