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Mend a puncture perfectly    Recommended Stuff    Trail Fix - Bent Wheel

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Philip's Navigator: The ultimate road atlas and they don't pay us to say so. Some may balk at the list price of 19.99 and think last years AA 4 miles to one inch good enough. 4 miles to one inch is great for scouting out a long route but it's when you're lost on minor roads that the Philips Navigator comes in to it's own. Every piddling little road and tiny hamlet is clearly marked. Ever had trouble with complex motorway junctions? The Navigator shows the junction in it's full glory so you can see if it's a clover leaf or just a simple roundabout. Invaluable if you're traveling long distance to all those quality MTB hot-spots.

Shock Covers: Neoprene shock covers, you want them you do really. OK so you need a full suspension bike first, but you want one of those don't you? Well anyway if you did have one you'd  cover the rear shock with a neoprene boot as this keeps grit away from the seals and extends shock life considerably. But what do you do with them at the end of that mucky ride? The answer is throw them in the washing machine with your Lycra on a cool wash. While you're at it put the removable pads from inside your helmet in a sock and bung those in as well. Synthetic palmed gloves, neoprene overshoes, headset cover, mobile phone, wait a minute back up, strike that last one, got a bit carried away there. All of these things can stand a fast spin and won't take long to dry. Finally when you're cutting your shock cover to length, the bit left over gives you a free headset cover. Don't cut the shock cover too short though or it will slip off at both ends.

Tyre Wear: The front tyre is the most important one. If it's worn, control will suffer and lead to a crash sooner or later. The front tyre therefore needs to be a lot sharper (newer) than the rear. Front tyres usually have a chevron type pattern, which points forwards and downwards in to the ground. Rear tyres have chevrons pointing backwards or blocks straight across the tread. The rear tyre wears much faster and so looks to need replacing sooner, but doesn't need to be sharp. The trick is to buy a new front tyre, then put the slightly worn front tyre on the rear, with the chevrons facing backwards. Throw away the badly worn rear tyre and repeat as necessary. Do the swap when the rear tyre blocks are very rounded, or if you notice more slipping when you climb. This will save money and maybe even some of your skin.

Bike Make Over: Are you a bike tart like me? Do you covet that show room shine? There is an easy way to keep your bike looking like new.
1. Use outdoor Sellotape to protect your frame from cable rubbing (wherever cables can touch the frame) Don't forget to use Meths to clean the area before applying.
2. Cover paint chips and cable worn areas with car touch up paint. You don't really need to use a primer as long as you clean the area thoroughly with Meths before applying.

3. Spray the whole frame and all plastic with silicon (car trim spray). Avoid the rims, brake blocks and grips though. No need to polish and mud sticks less as well, result!

Chain Tool: You can make a chain whip out of a long two inch square cross section piece of wood. Nail one end of an old chain along the top six inches of the baton (use at least four nails one between each link) The soft wood will dig in to the sprocket's, giving grip without harming your precious teeth.
Cheapskate pump trick: have you got a little stubby one? Sorry I know that's a personal question but mini-pumps are often just too small for serious pumping action. My favorite and ultra cheap alternative is to shorten an ordinary MT Zefal bike pump. One of these will fit inside most Camelbak type packs (in with the water bag) if you cut down the spring in the handle. Get something to hook the spring, stretch it out of the handle and cut it short with wire clippers. This makes it 2 inches or so shorter and it will fit better. Some loss of 'rebound' handle action is a small price to pay for very fast tyre inflation. I've done it this way for years and everyone is so impressed they all borrow it to pump up their tyres on our group rides. Kept in the bag it never gets fouled with mud either.
Pocket Tissues: It took me a long time to realise how incredibly useful pocket tissues are on a ride. Their main use (apart from the obvious) is to wipe your glasses. It sounds like a small thing but it really can make a huge difference. On a rainy day you can dry your lenses and see the trail again (especially when the rain eases somewhat). On a sunny day dust and sweat impair your vision almost as much. Using water from your drinking supply to rinse off first is good if they're muddy, this avoids scratching your lenses. Finally if sweat really bugs you ,dripping in to your eyes during the ride, you can use them to squeeze the helmet brow-pad dry and dry your face and the front of your hair (if you have it...).
Windproof Lighter: This is a tip for the expedition riders amongst you. A windproof lighter has many uses, the least known has been featured recently in the MTB press and it's a good tip. Heat a small section of gear cable where it's to be cut and it can be easily severed with the wire cutter found on ordinary pliers or a Leatherman type of tool. I carry a spare gear cable and end cap so a cable can be quickly (and professionally) replaced out on the trail.

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