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I'm planning a multi-day bike trip, and I want a list of all bike related equipment I'll need to fix / negate the most common bike problems.

The list currently has:

  1. Multi tool.
  2. At least 3 spare Tubes

What else do you think I'll need?

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I've started an answer below, but it matters whether you are doing a supported trip or self-supported trip. Any details? Terrain? Weather? Solo or group? Cooking out or eating out? –  zenbike Aug 7 '11 at 14:17
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Yep, define "trip". Self-supported? Self-contained? Group? Food? Road or off-road? –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 7 '11 at 14:32
    
Related: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/3868/… –  Ambo100 Aug 7 '11 at 17:29
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@Mikle - This question is too open-ended. Can you please narrow it down, as per zenbike and Daniel's comments? –  Neil Fein Aug 8 '11 at 5:02
    
Anyone have any objections to merging the answers here with What are the utmost important things to bring on a ride? The two questions are pretty close. –  Neil Fein Aug 9 '11 at 18:59
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3 Answers

Seems that we are going a bit heavy on carrying the tools here...

I would advise that you prepare the bike beforehand so that it is not going to be a problem on the road. That means getting it working mechanically perfect a few weeks before you go rather than the night before. Far too often a service will introduce problems, e.g. a bolt that has been put finger tight, a brake that squeaks or index gears that want to fall into the wheel. You need some riding time, e.g. on the commute, to pick up these problems before you go. Then, when you do finally go, you can give the bike a quick wash 'n' lube the day before with no adjustments needed.

You also need to have a strategy for flat tyres. New Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres are worth their weight in gold because, to all intents and purposes, you are not going to get flat tyres with them. Part worn Continentals are no good as for lesser brands you might as well stick thumb tacks in them before you go. Due to the reliability of Schwalbe tyres I have not tried Panaracer, Specialized or other quality brands for several years, maybe the Specialized Armadillo range are up to Schwalbe standards, but you will have to find that out for yourself with a bit of online research. If you want to play safe then go for the Schwalbe ones - after all the UK post bikes have them and they don't carry puncture repair kits.

With Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres there is no real need to carry anything more than one tube and some stick on patches. Really. Carrying anything more than that is going overboard. I would ride Death Valley with no more than the one tube just so long as I had started out with the right tyres.

Obviously you will also need a pump. Before you depart, on the day before, check pressures with a track pump that has a gauge. Inflate to whatever it says on the sidewall. On the road you need an inexpensive mini-pump with as few moving parts as possible. Dual action, gauges and fancy handles are all well and good in principle. I have had such fancy mini-pumps only for them to fail when I need them most. They rattle apart and don't do the job. Meanwhile an affordable mini-pump is lighter and more reliable. Currently I carry the one I bought twenty years ago, it has seen off the Blackburn one with the gauge and the Specialized dual action one that I bought to replace it.

As for the mini tool, be realistic about what you need. Are you going to be adjusting your wheel cones? No. Are you going to be re-packing the grease in your bottom bracket? No. Are those crank arms you checked a few weeks before going to work free? No. Go over your bike and work out what spanner and hex-key sizes are needed. If only your bottle cages use 4mm then consider swapping those bolts for 5mm hex bolts, in that way you save yourself from needing the 4mm size. Think how many tyre levers that you need. Chances are that, with proper technique, you only need one, but if you do not know that then get two. If you know you have particularly tight tyres then take all three.

If you are going to have to pack your bike and need to get it to fit some box then you may need to take the pedals on and off. This can be nearly impossible with a two inch long 15mm spanner, as found on multitools. However, you may be able to use your seatpin (if it is affordable alloy) as leverage. If you don't have that option you may well need to burden yourself with a full size 15 mm spanner, just for the pedals.

It would be a brave soul that set off without a chain tool. Even though chains don't just break you are going to be toast if you cannot fix your chain if something happens to it.

So, putting that all together, you may want to carry a Topeak Alien II multi-tool:

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Those are pricey, but my Alien 1 has lasted for more than a decade and I still get compliments when I whip it out to fix someone's barbecue or assemble some IKEA furniture with it (I always carry it).

The Alien series include a spoke wrench. You can ride a long way with a broken spoke and you can also ride a long way without finding a bike shop able to sell you replacement spokes. Replacement spokes are not big sellers in bike shops, however, if you are travelling with tent etc. then you will have more load than normal and spare spokes are advised under such circumstances. As a rule of thumb, if you are travelling some distance with loads of stuff then take spare spokes. Otherwise don't bother. I would ride Lands End to John O'Groats in the UK without them but not a tour of the American South West. If you are taking them then you will need the correct lengths for the front, the back right and the back left. Typically these are all different lengths. These can be glued to the inside of your seatpost or taped to your chain-side chain-stay (to act as a chain guard).

A pack of 'Handy Andy' wet-wipes are useful if you do get having to get your hands dirty. They are dual use in that you can also use them to freshen up for when you meet 'civilians' and clean yourself if you have an accident.

Speaking of which, be realistic about what you need in case of an accident. In practice I have only ever found a roll of bandage tape, track mitts and warm clothing to be useful. If you get larger wounds or other problems you really need to be phoning for a taxi or flagging down a car.

Sun cream is also of great use, remember that tarmac reflects UV light and you can find yourself burning up on the nose and the back of you calves before you get to tea-time.

As for your bike in an accident, the aforementioned multi-tool should have everything you need to straighten the handlebars out with.

For longer trips a spot of oil is useful for the chain but even then you do find bike shops on the way and you can delay that purchase until you need it.

It is your choice as to whether you go risk adverse and carry everything or take the chances by carrying next to nothing. For me less is definitely more preferable. I learned this the expensive way, a week into my first tour, at the sight of my second really big hill, I dumped off a small fortune of clothing and bike spares into a bin. Thereafter I could travel further and faster plus I had space to amass a small library of books, postcards and other goodies that I would not have been able to carry otherwise. This was not the end of it though, further into the tour I threw out a perfectly good set of high-end front panniers and slimmed down to absolute essentials (I had a two-week rule - if I did not use it in two weeks it went).

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Some great points here. 30 years ago, it may have made sense to have 4 tubes an extra tire and maybe a wheel for long trips, but with the advances in kevlar tires and double walled rims, it's not likely that one would have a need for much of this stuff. –  Kibbee Aug 7 '11 at 17:07
    
My last metric century, I had 3 flats. I was riding Schwalbe Ultremo DD tires. Just saying', new tech doesn't mean no issues. And these recommendations are deliberately as self sufficient as possible, since we don't know what kind of ride he wants to do. –  zenbike Aug 7 '11 at 19:13
    
@zenbike Road-race tyres such as the Ultremo are built for speed, not endurance. I actually ride standard 'Marathon' on the front and 'Marathon Plus' on the back. The tech for the Marathon Plus is entirely different to the road tyres and the marketing spiel is 'Punctures are a memory'. Also a tour is about different things to a century ride, it is about putting in a good amount of miles, pacing your day to make time for stopping off to see things and the logistics of finding a bed for the night. Like how the lorry driver puts in more miles than the sportscar driver, speed is not everything. –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Aug 7 '11 at 20:22
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@ʍǝɥʇɐɯ - This question really should be closed as a duplicate or too-vague question - But this is a really, really good answer, and I don't have the heart! :) –  Neil Fein Aug 8 '11 at 5:05
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In terms of bike equipment, if the ride is reasonably supported (such that any major repair is either taken care of by a repair van or by hauling the bike to the nearest town) all you need is a couple of spare tubes, a pump, and maybe a multi-tool. A box of tube patches is also nice to have, in case you have bad luck with flats. (Though it doesn't hurt to carry spare spokes of the correct sizes, especially if your bike uses odd-sized ones.)

For less well-supported rides you should have a tire "boot" (or a dollar bill to fold up for this use), a chain tool and a few spare links, a few wrenches beyond the multi-tool, a few zip ties, and some sort of tape (I prefer hockey tape). Also some spare spokes (possibly 3 different sizes on your bike) and a spoke wrench, plus whatever tools you need to remove your rear cluster (though perhaps relying on a nearby farmhouse to provide the large wrench required). Or, alternatively, you can carry one of the spoke replacement cable kits. Spare brake and shift cables may be worthwhile (with some sort of cutter), but only if your bike has a history of "eating" them.

For a long ride out West, where it may be 50 miles between towns, you'd want a few more items, possibly including a spare tire.

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Emergency tool/parts kit:

  • pump
  • tire levers
  • patch kit
  • tubes (and possibly tires)
  • multi tool or various tools
  • chain links to fit your bike
  • spare derailleur hanger
  • spare seatpost clamp
  • spare spokes in each of the up to 3 sizes you have.
  • emergency food (energy bars)

Hydration:

  • bottles or pack
  • 1 liter every hour on the bike
  • water filtration or purification

Shelter:

  • tent for you (hammock, weather dependant)
  • cover for your bike
  • light and heat source (firestarters)
  • sunscreen
  • bug repellant

First Aid Kit

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Sorry for the formatting. I'm on mobile. Will fix later. –  zenbike Aug 7 '11 at 14:26
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