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I'm cycling for urban commute, on well-maintained roads and bike paths, Vittoria Randonneur "puncture resistant" tires, and at no point on my ride am I more than 1/2 mile (usually within 1/4, I bet) from a bike shop. I also presume that I'll never be without a wallet and cell phone and am in a city with good public transport.

Given that, is there really a reason to bother carrying a patch kit or extra tube with me?

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I've been running mostly on Kevlar belted tires for 15-20 years now, and I can attest that punctures are incredibly rare with them -- no more than 1/10th the frequency compared to regular tires, and maybe 1/100th. Given that, and assuming you don't ride in an area where junk on the road is an especial hazard, there's no real point in carrying tire repair stuff (patches/tube/pump) if you won't be too inconvenienced by a very rare flat. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 21 '11 at 19:59
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Do note that if you go with patch kit and CO2 cartridge, the total size will be about the size of your wallet. I'd then ask the question why not carry them? –  Jefromi Sep 22 '11 at 23:19
    
Can you afford to be late to work because you got a flat, and didn't prepare? If so, go without. If not, then carry what you need to be prepared. –  zenbike Sep 24 '11 at 12:03
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5 Answers

Well, to answer this, there are a couple things to consider.

1) What are the hours or operation of the bike shops? Do you plan to ride when the shops aren't open.

2) Are you sure that all the bike shops will always have your tube size in stock. Seriously, you think they would always have 700x32 in stock, but I've had it happen enough times that it's annoying. Not to mention the number of times I've settle for using presta when I'm really supposed to be using schraders.

3) How far do you really want to walk, and what is the penalty for being late? Walking 800 m (1/2 mile) could take around 10 minutes. In that time you could have already changed the tire. Do you lose pay when you get to work late? If this happens too much will you be seen as unreliable, and get your shifts cut?

4) How much does a patch kit or extra tube and a frame pump really slow you down? A patch kit can easily be stored in those bags that go under your saddle, or in your jersey pocket. A pump can be mounted on the frame, and you probably won't even realize it's there.

Personally, I don't think there's much reason not to carry a pump and spare tube. Although it does seem useless at this point. I ran over a broken beer bottle on the weekend and heard and felt the glass crush underneath my tires. Thanks to gatorskins and tuffy tape, I didn't even have a flat. I seriously question why I should bother. But then 3 months ago I had a valve fail. It's almost never the case that I get a flat from an actual puncture, but usually from pinch flats or other unexpected things. I don't think I've ever had to use my allen keys on my commute, but I still carry them. That being said, the day you have to walk a mile because you didn't want to carry something as small as a tube and pump is the day you're going to rethink why you don't carry one.

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+1 Great points about the hours and tubes in stock. –  Gary.Ray Sep 23 '11 at 13:31
    
+1 Presta valve fails are a real pain down there, and thei're kind of unpredictable... Also, we carry a spare tire in cars, even though flatting a car tire happens only once a year at most! –  heltonbiker Sep 23 '11 at 13:52
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Never in about 20 years have I had a Presta valve fail. Have seen others have trouble with them, but they generally didn't use the caps. The other big mistake with Prestas is tightening them too tightly. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 24 '11 at 2:04
    
Depending on the type of pump you use, it can be quite easy to bend that top part with the screw on it. I've broken off a couple. –  Kibbee Sep 24 '11 at 2:30
    
@Kibbee: that bending is what I'm talking about. But if Daniel haven't had problems, I guess it is a question of getting used to use the pump without excessive violence... ;o) –  heltonbiker Sep 27 '11 at 13:53
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There is no unique right answer to this, but I can put it two ways:

  1. The way you described (very low puncture risk, good external infrastructure), if it bothers me, I wouldn't carry anything but a good extra tube and a pump.
  2. If it is not an absolute "bother", I would feel WAY more carefree if I did pack a patch-kit.

The second option allows you to change your mind if you want to stray away from your usual route, say, to ride longer, to go to a friend's house, or whatever.

Also, if you don't carry your kit everyday, chances are you will forget it at home when you go out for a non-commuting ride.

Now for the extreme opposite, I definitely would not recommend riding without a spare tube and a pump, EVER! (But that's also a matter of choice.)

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+1 from me. Totally agree. –  Rory Alsop Sep 21 '11 at 18:18
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The point about having them for other occasions is a really good one. A tiny bit of extra cargo is (in my mind) easily worth not having to deal with a flat ten miles away from anything on the one day you decide to ride somewhere different. –  Jefromi Sep 22 '11 at 23:20
    
+1 I am a tube and pump guy at heart - but I did start throwing a couple self-adhesive patches in the handle of the pump after double flatting on a ride a couple years ago. –  Gary.Ray Sep 23 '11 at 13:30
    
commuting in the rain and near industrial parks, I get flats frequently. I ride with tuffies, pump, tube, patches, spare shifter cable, multi-tool and a chain tool. I've had to use all these things on my 8mi commute. –  memnoch_proxy Sep 27 '11 at 4:38
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Think how fortunate you would feel to be able to help a fellow cyclist who happened to get his /her second flat of the morning by handing them a patch to help them on their way.I believe what goes around comes around, maybe they would help you while walking the 1/2 mile to you bike shop to fix your bike.Sometimes it is worth taking a just in case item for the circumstance that you just can't predict.Most of us ride for the enjoyment and a few ounces won't really impact that.

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I gave away a tire iron to a stranded local while on a group ride the other weekend. –  memnoch_proxy Sep 27 '11 at 4:35
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I don't bother to carry a patch kit or any tools on short-distance commutes. My rule is that if I could walk home in a pinch, I don't need that stuff.

FWIW, I've had more instances of running out of spares due to multiple flats on long-distance rides than I've had instances of walking home because of a single flat on in-town rides.

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You have to decide the best balance between

  • The disadvantages of carrying a tube, pump and levers and
  • The disadvantages of being stranded with a flat tyre.

Seriously, that's all it comes down to. Think about what you'll do if you get a flat anywhere along your commute and how much of an inconvenience it is. Then compare that to the inconvenience you experience from carrying spares and fixing a flat on the road.

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