Have you checked your saddle bag recently? If not, get checking today you got the right repair kit for roadside repairs – you just never know when you’re going to need them.
You need to ensure you take enough repair kit to deal with most mechanical issues at the roadside; short of complete destruction of components. And if complete disaster scenario happens…you still need to get back to the start of your event, or get home!
So here’s a simple list of things to equip your bike and saddlebag with, to give you peace of mind on all your bike rides or sportives:
1. Saddle bag:
Obviously, you need something to carry everything in. These bags are reliable, spacious and don’t get in the way of lights and mudguards etc. We prefer the velco strap versions, because they are more secure than the bracket type. We prefer the toppeak, because the roll-closing system means your zip doesn’t get full of gunk – no point having all the tools in the world if you can’t open the bag to get to them!
2. Two Inner Tubes
The number 1 mechanical issue you are likely to have is punctures. Take 2 inner tubes. Why two? Because it’s surprisingly common to ride over that bit of glass with both tyres…
Note: when replacing an inner tube, do *not* chuck the old one in the bushes – some events have been criticized by local residents for their riders leaving hundreds of inner tubes littering the roadside. Take them home and dispose of them properly.
3. Puncture Repair Kit
And what happens if you have a total disaster, and you puncture three times or more in an event? Well, you need to think about repairing your tubes instead. More time consuming and tricky, but rather that than walk to the finish!
We recommend these, as a lot of riders do; they are glueless, so much faster at the roadside, and less chance of getting glue everywhere!
For the traditionalist, there’s these:
4. Tyre levers.
And if you puncture, how do you get the tyre off? Tyre levers. For such a simple tool, the performance can vary. My advice is to not go for the cheap ones. Guaranteed they’ll be too flexible to actually lift the tyre off the rim or worse – they snap completely.
We have two recomendations – one plastic and one metal. The metal ones are the sturdiest by far and practically guarantee you’ll get the tyre off, but can damage your wheel rim if used improperly.
- Plastic: Park Tools TL1C Tyre Levers
Now, you’ve got the tyre off, you’ve repaired/replaced the puncture, now you need to re-inflate the tyre. You need a pump right? Well, there are literally hundreds of options, but the option we use are the bottle-cage mounted versions, with a steel/metal barrel. Avoid the CO2 cartridge version unless your very confident in your abilities to use one – get it wrong and you waste a CO2 canister and your tyre is still flat!
We prefer this one, because we know it works, and the flexible hose means you’re less likely to stress or even break the presta valve screw while inflating.
There are carbon versions for lighter weight, but frankly, we’d rather have proven reliability over lighter weight any day. But for those who want one, we recommend:
5. Spoke key
Second to punctures, the next most common scenario is a wheel buckle. We’ve all been there…you were too busy watching where you were going to notice that pothole…next thing you know you’re at the side of the road with a wheel that is so buckled you can’t get it through the brakes!
Well, in that scenario, you need a spoke key, to tighten/loosen your spokes to get the wheel back into line. You won’t get it perfect at the roadside, but it will at least be rideable. Also, you need to ensure you get the right tool for the job; some off-the-shelf wheels from Shimano for example use custom spoke ends, which need a special screwdriver!
For “traditional” wheels, one of these will be fine, and you’re practically guaranteed it will fit your spokes:
6. Chain Splitter and Chain Connector
Once you’re off the subject of wheels, the next most likely issue to affect you is a chain malfunction. Chains take a lot of abuse, and breakage is not un-common. So if the worst happens, and you break a link, you need to clean up the join, and replace the broken link.
For that you need two items:
To remove dead links, you need to take off the remainder of the link that’s broken. Go for a sturdy tool. Eg:
Park Tools Chain Brute Chain Tool (more saddlebag friendly)
There are two ways of rejoining a chain.
1. Use a normal link, and use the chain splitter to rejoin the link. The snag with this approach is that you can often introduce a tight link into the chain, and weaken it again.
2. Use a connector. We use these, because they don’t introduce tight spots into the chain, and are very easy to fit (once you realise you need to “stamp” on the pedals to “lock” them). Naturally, chose one which suits your chain.
7. A multi-tool
The final mechanical tool you really need is a multi-tool, to allow you to adjust fitments for all the components on the bike. For modern bikes, this is mostly likely to just be a set of allen keys, but you sometimes need screw drivers and other tools. We use the following, and have yet to need anything else, and it’s saddle-bag friendly:
If you want carbon bling, try this one; though I’d caution against the chain splitter function, as these tend not to be as good as a dedicated chain splitter tool.
Now, the following are not strictly tools, but are essential saddle bag additions:
8. Your ID - Medical data & next of kin
Should the worst happen, these will be essential. A simple sheet of paper, with printed details of blood type, allergies, known conditions (diabetes, asthma etc) and contact details for next of kin are all that’s needed. Keep in a sealed plastic bag if possible.
9. Local taxi numbers and your phone
Ok, you’ve snapped your frame. That’s not repairable…how do you get back? You need a taxi. If you’re doing a sportive in a new area, it’s likely you won’t have the local taxi firms to hand. Do the preparation beforehand, and stick a few numbers in the plastic bag with the next of kin details. And stick them on your phone as well.
And, if you have the iPhone do read Maximise Your iPhone For Everything Cycling!
Now, some may balk at this, but imagine the above scenario: you’ve broken your frame, you need a taxi back to the start, 40 miles away, it’s going to cost you £/$30 to get there. But you’ve only got £/$20 in the wallet, and you’ve forgotten to pick up the wallet from your car! It’s always useful to have an emergency stash of say £/$20-30 in your bag, for dire emergencies. There will be one day when you need it, and you’ll be glad you had it!
Don’t be without! Check you’ve got all your need for your next bike ride AND check you know how to use everything listed here. It doesn’t take long to learn how to tweak a wobbly wheel or fix a snapped chain and you’ll be well on your way again in no time, – rather than standing helpless at the roadside or worse having to make a long walk home.
If you found this post useful, do share with your friends! I look forward to any comments you have so do post below…