The testing Lab: SJ Works first aid kit

I'm always looking for ways to optimize what I take on my MTB rides, smaller and lighter things makes the ride more enjoyable.

Granted, the first aid kit from Decathlon that I was using for a while now is not ideal for my MTB rides, it's fairly big and takes a lot of space in my backpack.

Looking around on Internet and after a bit of research, I found the SJ Works first aid kit and I have decided to give it a try, and see if I can remove from the equation my heavy backpack, especially now when the days are hot.

Despite the small package size, the kit is surprisingly well-equipped, and contains all the items that will fix you up in case of a small injury.

sj works first aid kit
sj works first aid kit
sj works first aid kit

The content of the kit fits well inside of the pouch and there is enough space to add some small items or maybe even a folding allen key set.

Many sterile bandages and antiseptic toweletts in the kit. Quite useful is the sterile eye pad, I don't know how many times I had flies in my eyes.

There is even a space blanket in the kit, small but efective.

Nice touch is the easy access to the patches, easy to take out and to apply on minor cuts.

sj works first aid kit
sj works first aid kit

The sadle pouch fits very well under the dropper post, and doesn't affect the functionality of the dropper. The straps are firm enough and I had no issues during rides on rough trails. As a safety feature, the back of the pouch is made of reflective material making the rider more visible on the road.

For the cross country rides, I found more useful the smart phone solution kit. It's a bit bigger, and it can fit a smart phone,  useful to check a map.

sj works first aid kit

The phone is safe enough, the case is waterproof and dust proof. Also, the touch screen is working through the transparent plastic cover.

There is also a 3.5mm headphone extension cord.

The straps are sturdy and the kit is not moving around on the bike frame.

sj works first aid kit

The content of the kit is identical, same ammount of towelettes and antiseptic bandages.

Pros:

- light box.

- well-equipped.

- waterproof material.

- good price.

Cons:

- The first aid kit smart phone solution doesn't fit in all frames, it's recommended for XC and road bikes.

- A scissor and a tweezer would be nice to have.

Overall, the SJ works kit is a good solution for short cross country rides. fits well on the bike and is very well-equipped.

More info about the product.

How to save your brake levers

We all know that a nasty crash could mean a visit to the bike service. That means no riding for a while 'till the bike is repaired and also could be expensive.

Brake levers could bend since when you crash the handlebar is the first thing that will hit the ground.

There are a few things to do in order to save your brake levers.

brakes.jpg

- Positioning the brakes

When installing the brakes it's important to set them correctly. Be sure to position them so that when the lever is closed, the end doesn't go past the end of the handlebar. In case of the crash the end of the handlebar will take the energy of the impact

- Handlebar clamp screw

Do not over tighten the screw. The brake should not move easily but if pushed a bit more they should rotate slightly. If the brake lever will impact the ground instead of banding, they will just rotate a bit on the handle bar.

 

 

Tips for flying with your bike

Travelling with the bike can be a real hassle, but following some simple basic principles, the bike can survive during the flight. We all know that sometime things can go wrong with the traveler's luggage, bikes don't make an exception. In general, airport workers do pay attention with the bikes (they work in a fishbowl and everyone can see how they are working) .

 If you read the statistics just a very small percentage of the bikes are damaged during the flight, and most of the damages are  occurring during transfer in the airport, sometimes even before the baggage handlers are touching the bike. Incorrect packaging can damage your bike, external pressure can push components and do great damage to the frame.

- Use foam sleeve  to cover your bike

 Foam sleeves, very light.

Foam sleeves, very light.

Foam sleeve is very cheap, very light, easy to find in any hardware store.

 Preparing the bike, covering all important parts, frame and the fork.

Preparing the bike, covering all important parts, frame and the fork.

- Use hard plastic between the bike parts

Something that I have learned on my first flight with the bike, and I learned it on the hard way, use some hard plastic caps between the handle bar and the frame. Same rule apply for the wheels. For example, the EVOC bike travel bag has hard plastic caps between the wheels and the frame assuring the hubs will not push against the frame.

The pressure from outside caused by the other baggage inside the airplane, or by handling,  can push the components like the handlebar into the frame. Or even worse, the hubs or the disk brakes can dent your frame.

 Knee pads  wrapped around the brakes levers, and more foam to protect the bike

Knee pads  wrapped around the brakes levers, and more foam to protect the bike

Some people like to wrap the bike in bubble wrap, but it's heavy and it can't be used many times.

- Use a proper travel bike bag

I see a lot of riders using cardboard boxes when they travel. I think cardboard offers zero protection, and having the bike intact at the end of the flight it's just a matter of pure luck. Also, if the box will stay outside during the airport handling, and it's raining, the box will melt. Good luck with that :)

When I'm travelling I use two boxes, a EVOC bag and a Brand-X Eva Pod, with their advantages and disadvantages.

EVOC bag is very easy to use, easy to move around, wheels are stable, it can be folded, but not 100% convinced it will protect the bike, it's just a soft bag.

The Eva pod, hard to put the bike in, not stable to move around, wheels are not fixed inside (there is an option to use an axle to lock the wheels, but you will damage others bags, or the axle will push into the bike), but the semi rigid case will protect your bike no matter what.

 Evoc bike bag.

Evoc bike bag.

If you can afford a 6k $ bike, buy a proper travel bag.

- Helmet, backpack and small things

All my stuff I need for the trip are in the bike bag. I put the clothes around the frame for protection. The backpack is also used for some protection. Try to put the heavy stuff at the bottom of the case, for some stability. Be sure nothing is moving around and everything is fixed properly. In case the bag's zippers are failing, the content of the bag will not go all over the place.

- Book your bike into the flight

Notify the flight company that you are travelling with your bike. Let them know about it in advance, in many cases you have to pay extra for the bike. Very important, don't forget to specify the size and the weight of the bag.  Give them a heads-up, you would like to get your bike at the arrivals in the same time with you. Waiting for a few days to get your bike could ruin for good your trip.

- Be early in the airport

If you are travelling with your bike, the two hours rule doesn't apply to you.

It will take time to move around, to find airport carriages (sometimes you have to pay for it), and after you check in, you will have to take the bike  to oversize baggage on the other side of the airport and go again to the check-in and claim your ticket. And yes, and a short visit to the airline company office to pay for the bike.

- Transfer from/to airport

Another thing that I learned on the hard way, if you book a transfer from/to airport, notify the transfer company that you are travelling  with  big bag.

Book the transfer in advance, calling a taxi two hours prior your flight it's a very bad idea. 

Bike bags don't fit  well in small cars. Or just ask for a van.

- Be nice with the check-in staff

No matter what is the airport policy regarding bikes, the check-in staff will decide how this policy is applied. Just be nice, no point getting angry with the check-in staff.

Don't fight with them, if they made an error  and they overcharged you for the bike call the info-line and you will get a refund later.

- Insurance insurance insurance

Buy insurance for your bike, just in case, you never know. In most cases it will not cover the value of your bike, but anything is better than nothing, right?

I'm flying everywhere with my bike for a few years already, and so far my bike have survived, in part because in some extend the airport baggage handlers do care, in part that I take care when I pack the bikes in the bags.

There are marks of abuse on the bags, they are scratched badly, a small hole in the EVA Pod, but and the end as long the bike is protected, the bike bag did it's job :)

Pack the bike properly, and your trip will be fun.

P.S: don't forget your axles home ;)

What to carry when mountain biking

I have been asked so many times what I have in my mtb backpack.

Having a long experience in mountaineering I know for a fact(and I learned it hard way) what you have in your backpack can make the difference between a very good ride/hike and a very bad ride.

- Backpack

The backpack should be big enough to fit all the things you take around and must be comfortable on long rides.

Backpack with camel bag. Having a camel bag is very useful when you don't want to stop :)

- Bikepack content

 

- First-Aid Kit

Accidents happen, so it's a good idea to have some patches for your body and not just for the bike. Use a basic kit, a small pair of scissors, bandage tape, steri-strips and antiseptic wipes, some band-aids, a whistle in case you want to signal for help. Also, it's very good idea to have a 'space blanket'. It's very small and light.In case you need to spend a night in the woods it can help avoid hypothermia.

Another thing that I like to have in my first-aid kit is a small spray for treatment of minor skin wounds and scratches.

Very useful in case of broken legs or arms is to have a lightweight reusable splint.They are very light and easy to use.I use it also as a protection for my camera :)

- Mini pump

Flats are by far the most common cause of unintended ride interruption. If you can't fix your flat tire, you go home hiking your bike, not fun. Some people do use CO2 canisters.

- Patch kit

Handy to fix a punctured tube. Easy to use, and you will reuse the tube.No need to get rid of the tube yet.

- Spare inner tube

Even you run tubeless, it's good idea to have a spare tube. Just in case. For long rides, take two. Even if you ride 29'' or 27.5'', a 26'' tube can save you, it can stretch to fill the 29''/27.5'' tire without problems.

- Tire levers

They come in handy when you need to take of the tire.We all know how fun is to change a tire. They are made of plastic, very light.

- Shock pomp

I have mine all the time with me, you never know when you need to adjust the pressure inside of the suspension.

- Derailleur hanger

This is one small thing that can ruin your ride. They are design to break easily. They should brake first before your expensive deraileur. Keep in mind they are different for every bike. Take one with you on every ride.

- Multi-tool and folding knife

We've all seen 127 Hours movie. You never know when you have to cut something, or to open a beer :)

- Bicycle multi-tool

Having a multi-tool hex wrenches is a must have. You can fix a bike on the trail with this. 

I used to carry also a chain tool, but it's heavy and I want to cut some weight of the backpack.

- Micropur water purification tablets

To be honest, I never had to use them. There is enough clean water on the mountains, but you never know. Statistical,  fatal accident on the mountain is due to dehydration. Good to keep this in mind.They are very light and small, so no reason not to have some of those with me.

- Action camera and spare batteries

It's clear why I have this, no need to explain.

- Glow/chemical light sticks

I always have one of this glow sticks with me. They are light, not expensive and they will give some light if your flashlight batteries are dead.

- Other things

If I go in long rides, I carry with me also a flashlight/headlamp. It happen to me to be on the mountains in the night without a flash light, and that was not a happy experience. Take one with you. It can be used also to signal for help

Rain jacket, weather can change fast, especially when you are in the mountains. It's good to have something to help you stay warm and dry. Having a hypothermia on the mountains it's very very bad.

Zip ties and duct tape. From a broken shoe, or a hanging cable, they are in handy all the time.

Matches or lighter. A very important piece of survival equipment. You should have this all the time with you.

Food and gels

ID card and money.

GPS&Map. Golden rule in mountaineering is not to go alone in remote&unknown areas, unless you are looking for trouble. Take a map with you and a GPS(I use my phone for this)

In case of emergency software. I have installed on my phone Emergency kit software. It will replace your lock screen with useful information, like contact number in case of emergency, allergies, blood type, birth date. Also, it can send a SMS with your GPS location, work as a SOS flash light.

With water and all this stuff, my backpack is 2.6kg. Try to have all the heavy stuff(spare tube, keys, first aid kit) on the bottom of the backpack. Having a low center of gravity will help to be more stable on  the bike and you will fill much more comfortable.

In conclusion, try to be safe, don't do something stupid. And be prepared for everything, learn how to use your tools, go to some first aid training. Having a tool without knowing how to use it, it's like not having a tool at all.