Updated: Mar 29
You finally bought a bike and the only extra thing you need to buy is a helmet. You're ready to go! Not so fast. While I fully believe the first thing you need to buy along with a bike is a helmet, there are a couple more items to bring as insurance. The most common roadside maintenance you'll experience is fixing a flat tire. Here are the tools I recommend bringing with you.
What I love about this multi-tool is that it has many of the most common bits to tighten/adjust your bike or cleats while you are on the road. On top of that, these have tire levers that sit flush along the sides of the tool (space saving form factor). Of all the mechanic issues I’ve had, I found this to be the most inclusive while maintaining a slim profile.
Ever wonder if all that energy you used to pump your tire was enough? Truth be told, unless you’re a bike mechanic or have had years of experience fixing flats on the road, you might be underestimating how much air is in there. This hand pump with an integrated gauge removes all that guess work and gives you more confidence that your tire is sufficiently inflated. It’s compatible with different valve types as well (schrader and presta). Just be sure to practice using this at home so you get a feel of how it works (tightening and removing) the hose from the valve.
Note: If you ride often, I highly recommend owning a floor pump. Pumping your tire at home takes 30 seconds versus a few minutes (and energy) using a hand pump. You’ll be pumping/topping off air in your tires at least once a week as air does escape (ever so slightly!) over time.
Glueless patches are an easy and seamless way to seal a puncture. Once you identified the hole, use sandpaper to rough up the area (about the size of the square patch hit comes with) so the patch can adhere better. Then apply and firmly press for 30seconds - 1min. I recommend using this method as a plan B if you don’t have a spare inner-tube on hand.
4. Saddle Bag
Saddle bags provide extra storage to chuck your least frequently used, but important, repair kit items in (such as the above). Some are large enough to hold hand pumps. They generally have space for at least one extra inner tube. Depending on your riding style, you may even go smaller for a minimalist approach or run larger to store more items such as snacks on longer rides. This one will get you started.
5. Spare inner-tube
Carrying a spare inner-tube with you is best practice. To determine the correct size, inspect the sidewall of your tire. Because inner tubes vary in size, I suggest searching on Amazon for "bike inner tubes (insert dimensions)" to find the appropriate ones. Or if you’re unsure, bring your bike to a local bike shop and they can help identify the proper tube for you.
There you have it! These 5 items will get you started and feeling prepared for the most common roadside maintenance. Even if you may feel unsure of what you’re doing, there’s a good chance kind cyclists will offer to help you get back up and riding. Overtime, you may find yourself experimenting and discovering variations of the above tools. The more you ride, the more you'll learn about what items best suits you and your style of riding.
Are there other items that you carry with you? Leave a comment below! Would love to hear what you would start off with. Ride strong!