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Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
I hope you find my Tweaks and Tips section helpful. If there is something you want to know about, send me an email and I will try to add that to one of my upcoming articles.

Riding with a back pack is miserable. It will move around regardless how many straps singe it down. The weight of it will slowly wear away at your skin, spine and your motivation to ride at all. So why ride with one?


According to magazines, hydration packs are one of the “top ten greatest mountain biking inventions,” sometimes ranking in the top three for greatest inventions of all time. Could this be the reason why so many riders suffer? Does every rider believe everything the magazines say? I doubt it.

The real reason we ride with packs is because radical mountain bike frame designs have eliminated water bottle mounts in favor of freaky rear shock linkage or tin can style hydro form frame materials.

Actually, that’s not the reason we ride with a back pack either. The answer is so simple. We ride with back packs because seat packs make us look like dorks. No, No, that’s not the answer either.

OK, by now your patients is wearing thin. The real reason why: We wear them because when you flip over the bars the pack will protect your back.

You should already be carrying water, a pump, a tube, patch kit and a multi tool. (The multi tool should have a chain tool that actually works. Try using it before you ride). What are you missing? Not much, just a bunch of little things that nobody thinks of.

If you already have a pack that can carry 100oz of water and has a few pockets, you can bring everything that I bring. I’m not going to list every single item. I’m only listing things that may interest you. Hopefully after reading this you too can “save the day”.

Water Bladder Tip that has nothing to do with this article: After cleaning with wands, soap and water, I dilute 3 denture tablets in water and let sit overnight. I clean it one time every month.

Bring extra long zip ties. Zip ties are perfect for holding wet grips in place. They can be used for just about anything. I once made an arm sling using a tube and one zip tie.

Pack a Razor blade. Razor blades can be used to trim off zip ties, make two patches out of one, cut a tube in half, and help open a stubborn energy bar. Store it in your patch kit. Replace the original blade cover and tape it in place.

A black magic marker is perfect for marking damaged side walls (bring a section of heavy rubber for side wall repairs. Hold it in place with duct tape). Circle an area on the tube that need a patch, or just use for writing down information. Wrap the outside of the marker in duct tape.

Bring a small first aide kit. Do not forget medical tape, rubber gloves, Band-Aids, Neosporin, and gauze. Always pack clean towels. Store your kit in a zip lock bag, just in case the water bladder leaks.

Put a five dollar bill in your patch kit for emergencies. While you’re at it, drop in a lower pulley wheel and bolt, a presta valve adapter, and a Schrader tube valve tool.

One inner derailleur cable.

A lower pulley wheel and bolt.

Two condoms. They can save your feet in a freak rain storm.

One extra bite valve.

A section of chain. Three or four links and one master link. I also carry a 3” piece of wire bent on each side to hold the chain in place during repairs.

A professional spoke wrench.

A T25 Torx wrench.

Bring a whistle. Luckily I’ve never used mine. It’s a great call for help.

Also carry a small flash light.

Try bringing a presta tube. It will fit both Schrader and presta drilled rims.

Wrap your patch kit with a rubber band.

The type of gear I bring depends on the weather, style of ride, length of ride, and what bike I decide to bring. Always reorganize and clean your pack just after your ride.

A cell phone is a good idea. I only bring one on a DH ride or if I ride alone. Please leave it off. There’s nothing worse than a rider stopping to answer his cell. It is always his wife bitching that he’s been out too long. I’m sure a lot of women will hate me for that last comment, but it’s true. A tip for the wives: The only legitimate call to your hubby is if your water broke.

Bring a camera. You know, to photo the UFOs.

1 Update


How in the hell do you fit all that in your pack? I have a 70fl.oz. camel pak, and in that I can barely fit my pump, leatherman, spare tube, and energy bar. Forget any first aid supplies.

Update from: Ryan [Visitor] — 06/03/08 @ 21:01

You are not authorized to write a update.

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