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While commuting or touring I use a off road trekking bike with racks, a water-proof bag and some tools in case of flat tyres.

In my day trips I prefer my fitness bike and I want to be "fast and light" so I have no racks and bags. In my saddle minibag I have only a multitool and a tube. What else should I carry (e.g a pump) and with which way?

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Related: What are the utmost important things to bring on a ride? (This focuses on shorter rides.) –  Neil Fein Sep 7 '11 at 17:16
    
Interesting that no one else has mentioned water. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 7 '11 at 18:25
    
@Daniel - Good point, have added it to my answer. –  Neil Fein Sep 7 '11 at 18:40
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7 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

In my opinion, minimal set of what to carry:

  1. Water (bottle in a bottle cage)
  2. pump, CO2 valve and a couple CO2 cartridges, or a pump with the CO2 valve and 1 CO2 cartridge. CO2 is faster and smaller, but you can basically only handle as many flats as you have cartridges.
  3. tire levers (2 is easier, 1 might be sufficient)
  4. 1 spare tube
  5. patch kit (pre-glued patches or patches and glue)
  6. cell phone
  7. ID (I prefer both a photo ID such as driver's license and something useful to emergency personnel like a Road ID. So I can buy a beer at the halfway point and have something useful in case there's an accident and I'm unconscious)
  8. Some form of payment (cash, atm card, credit card, whatever)
  9. (optional) energy bar or some other sort of small portable food item
  10. (optional) small multitool that can adjust brakes, derailers, and at least temporarily deal with saddle issues

Basically, the most likely problem on the road is getting a single flat. The next most likely is getting two flats (running through some glass that gets both tires or not getting the first flat quite fixed right). So you need to be able to handle a flat and preferably two. If you have a few small bills you can use one to temporarily patch the tire if there's a big hole in the tire itself.

I like having 1 tube and a patch kit because swapping a tube is faster (especially with slow leaks) and it's possible to get a flat you can't really patch (too big, valve stem sheared off while pumping, etc).

After that everything else is much less likely to go wrong. Brakes having an issue or the saddle sliding back are possible. Running out of energy is possible. But those other non-flat things are unlikely enough that being able to call a friend or taxi or something like that is a sufficient backup plan.

That's a small enough set of things you can carry it in a jersey pocket or saddle bag. Pump can mount next to the water bottle cage or might fit in the bag.

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+1 for the payment. No matter how much gear you've got with you something could go wrong necessitating a trip to the LBS, a train or taxi home. –  Mac Sep 8 '11 at 0:08
    
In addition to ID, in the US I carry a health insurance card. –  Mike Samuel Sep 2 '12 at 16:06
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Not much point in carrying a spare tube if you aren't carrying a pump. On road rides, I carry

  • two tubes (in seatbag)
  • patch kit (in seatbag)
  • multitool (in jersey pocket)
  • mini pump (lashed under seat bag). I have a yard or so of gorilla tape wound around the pump to use for…whatever.

It all comes down to whether you want to be prepared for 90% of the situations you're likely to encounter, or 95%, or 98%. Each step up that preparedness ladder requires that much more stuff.

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Multi-tool, 1 tube, patch-kit, tire levers, CO2. Anything else fits nicely in jersey pockets.

Whether you use a CO2 or a pump depends on how likely it is for you to get a flat. If it happens rarely and you're good at finding cause of flats-- CO2 is better.

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  1. Water
  2. Cell phone
  3. Phone number of a reliable buddy to call if you need help
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I'd bring a spare tube and a CO2 inflator; these are light and small, and you might even be able to fit a spare cartridge or two. Actual pumps are bulkier, and the smaller pumps without a hose tend to do a terrible job, particularly with the slightly more Presta valves you find on road bikes. (I'm assuming from "fitness bike" that you're talking about a road bike.)

You already have the saddle bag to carry all this in.

That multitool is pretty vital, so hang onto that. One that has a chain tool would be best.

You'll want a pair of tire levers to get the tire off the rim. There are some multitools that have these built into the tool housing, but I've not had luck with those.

It makes sense to bring along a patch kit in case you have more than one flat. Something else to boot the tire in case of a sidewall puncture can be handy. You can use a dollar bill or an energy bar wrapper for this, though. You can also bring duct tape wound around a stubby pencil for this: It takes up little room, and you've got duct tape with you. (A million household uses!)

Of course, as one of the commenters has pointed out, you'll want a water bottle and a bottle cage. How many bottles you bring depends on your mount. You can toss some energy bars in a jersey pocket as well.

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That's about covers my kit, except that I still carry a hand pump (catalog.alamedabicycle.com/product/…). I find it works quite well even with presta valves, and the high volume/high pressure modes actually allow filling a new tube to a reasonable air pressure in no time. –  zigdon Sep 7 '11 at 17:33
    
@Neil Fein. Well my "fitness" bike is Specialized Sirrus. In my country that's how they describe all these "almost" road bikes. I don't know if its an international term or not. –  kostas Sep 7 '11 at 17:40
    
That's what we would call a hybrid; no change in my answer, though. Is this a UK term? If so, maybe this term should be added to our Dictionary of regional vocabulary differences (US vs UK) –  Neil Fein Sep 7 '11 at 18:38
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On my road bike for a 45-50 mile ride, I'll end up with:

  • photocopy of drivers license with emergency contact info written on it (in jersey pocket or hydration pack, because that way its connected to me instead of the bike, incase the bike and I are separated. Think of being side-swiped by a car and how far you might end up from your bike.)
  • pack under seat:
    • tube
    • multi-tool
    • CO2 inflater
    • pair of tire levers
    • patch kit
    • a $5 bill, folded up, incase you are in need of emergency food or drink. I figure on most road rides a gas station of convenience store is never that far away. Sometimes it comes in handy for that occasional roadside lemonade stand run my some kids that you just can't say no to.

When I'm mountain biking and farther from home, I have a larger hydration pack, and also carry:

  • small chain tool
  • spare chain link
  • long cotton tube sock (McGuyver tool... can be used as a glove, rag, tie things, wipe up in case nature calls (eeew), a bandage in case of a large wound, etc...)
  • actual pump, instead of CO2
  • spoke wrench
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All mountain riding needs additional support than just what is listed above. I have used each item below for myself or more often, others during Tahoe back country rides:

  • A couple magic links for broken chains, used ones are fine for trail repair.
  • A rear derailleur hanger specific for your bike.
  • Duct tape.
  • A cable, to replace the rear derailleur one trashed when the derailleur hanger breaks.
  • Large bandaids.
  • Topo map and compass (or ones uploaded to your smartphone).
  • And, for the truly compulsive, a shock pump.
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