Mechanicals and punctures are a fact of life when you ride your bike. If you keep your bike roadworthy then you’ll definitely reduce your chances of them happening. But there will come a day when the inevitable occurs. And when it comes, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared.
That’s where your little bag of tricks comes in – the humble saddle bag. Some may not think it aero, but we think it prudent to carry one on every ride, especially if you ride on your own.
So what should you pack in yours to help you deal with the most common basic roadside repairs?
Saddle Bag Essentials
- Saddle Bag – pretty obvious but you need a bag to put your tools in! They generally attach to the rails of your saddle and sit neatly under your derrière. They come in all shapes and sizes. It’s best to decide what to put in the bag first and then buy one to size.
- Spare Inner Tube – even if your wheels are set up tubeless (check out our blog on the difference between tubeless and clincher set up [insert link]), we advise carrying a spare inner tube. A puncture repair essential, if the weather is bad and you’re going for a long ride you may even want to carry two. Make sure it’s the right size (that the tube fits your tyres and the valves are long enough for your rims). Take the tube out of the box but keep the elastic band round it to keep it together.
- Tyre levers – essential for getting tyres off so you can change the inner tube. Invest in strong ones as the thinner plastic ones often snap quite easily under relatively little duress.
- Multi-tool – these compact pieces of magic come in varying sizes and with different tools. The allen keys on it are essential for getting your wheel off if you don’t have a quick release skewer. They’re also very handy to tighten up any bolts and components on your bike that might have loosened over time, such as a bottle cage. A chain-breaker is also a useful tool to have if you’re multi-day adventuring.
- Hand pump – these come in small sizes that fit in your pocket, attach next to your bottle cage, or under your saddle bag. It may take more time to use a hand pump to inflate a tyre, but it’s better for the environment.
- CO2 cartridge and inflator – this is the quickest way to inflate your tube post-puncture and takes up relatively little space. But you only get one chance to use it! Mess it up and you’ll need another cartridge!
Additional Saddle Bag Items
The above are what you should not leave home without. These additional items are ones that are useful to have but not essential. It really depends on the type of riding you’re doing, space in your saddle bag and your needs.
- Puncture repair kit – including a tyre boot and tube patches. Some might say this is essential, and it doesn’t take up much room in your saddle bag so it’s quite a good idea to carry one with you. This is for those extreme days where you have multiple punctures on a ride and the only option is to patch the tube and re-use it.
- Tubeless repair kit – again, an essential if you ride tubeless. Take some plugs (or worms) with you to jam into a hole that won’t quite seal. It could just save your ride.
- Disposable gloves – changing a puncture or dealing with a mechanical, especially during the winter months, can be a dirty business. You’ll never regret carrying a set of disposable latex gloves to keep your paws clean.
- Chain Quick link – a very small but handy item to carry with you just in case your chain snaps. This is less likely to happen on a road ride than say a MTB ride, but it does happen. The repair itself is super quick and easy. Make sure you bring the right one with you – an 11 speed chain link is different to a 10 speed one.
- Mini first aid kit – one for when you’re venturing off road, bikepacking or on multi-day adventures in particular. You never know what you might need and when!
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail in this game, and we don’t want that! Never leave home without your repair essentials and you won’t get caught short or find yourself having to end your ride early.
What piece of repair kit will you never leave home without? Tell us in the comments below.