My Top 10 Favourite Bits of Kit (for now)

I was sat contemplating the RWR reviews section (see the Articles section on the website) when I started to think of what bits of kit give me the most pleasure. With lots of time on my hands this naturally morphed into the top 10 favourite bits of kit.

This is so subjective that even I might come up with a slightly different list on any given day, but given 10 minutes today, this is what I came up with. You will note that there is no clothing on here. While I have been bowled over by some garments, normally they wear out due to water/mud/use quite quickly, so normally within this category there is some level of disappointment. I am still seeking reliable waterproof shorts!

I’d love to hear which of these you’d leave off your list, and what things you think are missing, so please comment in the facebook post and I’ll do a ‘readers reply’ article if there are enough of them. I don’t ride an e-bike by the way, otherwise “a spare battery” would definitely appear on my list! – anyway:

1: THE DROPPER POST

As a ‘Sit and Spinner’, I always annoyed my riding buddies by stopping to drop my saddle at the top of descents, and fiddling with heights on flowy trail, so the invent of the dropper was just such a happy time for me. The use of them in Enduro has simply fired an explosion in development and a slow (mostly) drop in price. My original was the first (?) – Gravity dropper, and is still going. Not too technical, just a pin, a wire, and a big spring it was often talked about in hushed tones as folks were concerned about accidentally releasing it at full velocity into their nether regions, but I’ve not jet had that problem. It’s so simple that although it isn’t very refined, should you get it full of mud, it is possible to service it in the field – can’t say that about many of those that followed (although they are probably less likely to need it too) – so for adding flow to the trail, and happy riding buddies, the dropper definitely gets in there.

2: THE HOOKA-BIKE

Having spent many years carrying stuff up hills, and admittedly getting the bike carry sorted I was still limited to how far I was prepared to carry, and lets face it, it was quite a short distance. And then I discovered the Hooka-Bike. This revolutionised the whole idea of carrying and boosted those exploratory hikes into the steeper areas of the highlands ordinarily missed out due to pain and discomfort. This steady growth in advdnture levels has eventually got me to the Ben Alder inner circuit, where carrying uphill for over an hour allowed me to sample some sublime singletrack otherwise not accessible without and out and back. This has changed the whole face of mountain exploration for me and given me a whole new lease of life.

3: THE TIMBER!BELL

Riding around hillwalkers has always left me with a level of unease about the best way to let them know I’m behind them so I’m not a surprise. Honesty that’s all I want to do. It would be nice if, knowing that I am behind, they decided to let me past – but the primary reason for a warning from me is to not scare them out of their skins (unless they have earphones in and are listening to music rather than the wildlife). I experimented with calling out “hello” to them, but they just interpreted anything I called as a shout of “coming through!!!” and dived angrily for cover as I slowly pootled past, and I even experimented with an old fashioned bell, but it shook itself to bits and spat the ringer off the bars one day and hit a walker as I went past. And then came the Timberbell. It’s not an exaggeration to say that as soon as I put it on I start to smile. It has the same effect on walkers too, which is great! – In effect you are carrying along your very own mini cowbell, and the tinkling is completely un-threatening. The usual response from walkers is a smile and maybe a laugh and a happy step-aside 99% of the time – it’s great. It also has the advantage that you can switch it on and off and don’t have to operate it while you’re riding as it’s actuated by the vibration of the bike, so you are even less likely to stack the bike while you try to ring the bell too. Winner.

4: LIGHTWEIGHT KNEEPADS

I have a pair of gel kneepads (Troy Lee Speed Knees as you ask) which have now been everywhere with me. They are not very sophisticated, just a knitted tube with a polymer kneepad attached (which hardens on impact but is like foam normally), but I find I wear them all the time. They are not noticeable, so I wear them everywhere, they slip under trousers, and protect me from even the most innocuous slip – because I am wearing them. Some of my best scars are from slow speed (usually in the carpark admittedly) but I rarely break skin on my knees by wearing these all the time. They have been everywhere from Bike-packing round Mont Blanc to 3 days in Whistler and are still going strong after 3 or 4 years too.

5: CRUDCATCHER XL FRONT MUDGUARD

There are loads of different mudguards, most of which are great, but this awesome mudguard has a distinct advantage for me. Without tools it takes around 30 seconds to put on or take off this mudguard, meaning that as long as its in the van, I can decide on any given day whether I want a front mudguard or not. This is revolutionary – and fantastic as you consider that it loses nothing as a mudguard either. I was on a particularly wet and muddy event in 2019 where I was asked several times if I had been changing shirt between stages as I was so clean – it was so effective that people wouldn’t believe my cleanliness was simply due to a mudguard. If it’s good enough for Danny Hart, it’s good enough for me.

6: LEZYNE TYRE PLUG

This is included just because sometimes you just have to appreciate something that is well thought out and designed. Is it a container for your poo sticks? (sticky strips of rubber for shoving into holes in tubeless tyres to stem the flow of sealant when the whole gets too big) or is it the tool to push the poo-stick through the hole, or is it a smooth black lozenge, or is it all three AND one that doesn’t dig into the palm of your hand and allows you to push really hard for those most difficult (meaning almost all) repair jobs? Answers on a postcard.

7: MELON OPTICS GOGGLES

This is just a personal thing, but as a lifelong glasses wearer I have often felt that around the face area, spectacle wearers are often an afterthought. Not in this case. The normal Melon Goggs fit over my glasses no problem. This means I have as full a choice of designs as anyone else – which for me is a massive selling point. Add to that their modular selling process which allows you to choose strap, frame and lens, and I can now design my own goggs. Yes, for the first time I am the only one to blame for the blue strapped, orange framed, blue mirror tinted googles I wear, this wasn’t the only design available for speccy people. You may be able to design your own, but there is no taste filter either! Oh, and their customer service people are really nice too.

8: LOBSTER GLOVES.

These are lovely and warm, although the ones I’ve got were really cheap from Planet X and aren’t waterproof, but they do keep your hands warmer, and of course, and for me, the main selling point is the joint comedy value and the ability to wish people to “Live Long and Prosper” which continually makes me smile. Always in my bag as soon as it starts to cool off.

9: WINTER RIDING BOOTS.

Always well out of my price range, I have been wearing ‘normal’ riding shoes with sealskins for years, but after a very wet winter like our last one I found that a) they didn’t always work if water ran into the socks, and b) my shoes were all starting to die from being soaked and dried continually. Along came an Indonesian copy from On-One about half the price of the Shimano ones, and the job, as they say, was a good ‘un. No where near as sophisticated in features or fit, these FUR LINED!!!! Shoes were an absolute revelation. An early January bog trot with two mates in the Lake district was all it took to convince me these were the way forward. They are a bit more bulky than other shoes, so make sure you can still unclip properly when wearing them (yup – comedy moment)

And finally

10: BANANAGUARD.

Not a massive fan of fruit, but also not a fan of cramp, and I find a banana in the middle of a long day helps keep the cramp away. Unfortunately pre-bananaguard this also meant me hunting round for something to put the skin in after eating it (could be a plastic bag admittedly), and also of course often grabbing the banana from my bag miss-shapen, squished, or even (on several occasions) with something embedded in it and definitely sub-optimal (and blackened). All of this is just a bad dream with a bananaguard – the offending fruit comes out pristine, and you always know where to find the skin afterward. It’s even so well designed that the change in curvature allows for everything from straight bananas, to massively curvy ones, and ones that change their mind half-way down. Amazing.

 

Anyhoo – thanks for reading, and please – send me your favourite items of kit, what would you keep from this list, and what wouldn’t you include – what have I missed?:

The humble magic link, the fabric waterbottle, Superstar El Plastique pedals, Pedro's Tyre levers?.......