18

As most of my riding is limited to intra-city commuting (on bus routes) or on bike paths, I have not really faced a dire need for a repair kit while riding. I am looking into pulling off a three hour ride soon (one way, and then back two days later) and would like an idea of what to pack for emergency repairs while riding.

As I will have camping gear with me I am looking to have a minimal amount that can fit on my back. However, getting stranded two hours into the ride doesnt sound like fun and, aside from flats and a broken chain (?), I am not sure what else to prepare for or what to bring.

What emergencies should I prepare for? Are there repair kits already assembled (I have an old Ross road bike)? And what size pack am I likely to need?

3
  • could someone add 'repair-kit' as a tag? That's really what I need to plan for and have a vague grasp on.
    – mfg
    Aug 27, 2010 at 12:23
  • 1
    Changed gear tag to equipment to avoid confusion.
    – Amos
    Aug 28, 2010 at 10:38
  • See also bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5941
    – Criggie
    Jun 26 at 3:01

9 Answers 9

14

Here's what I normally bring:

  • Spare tube
  • Tire levers (for changing the tube)
  • Pump (or CO2 inflator)
  • 4, 5, and 6mm allen wrenches (for adjusting/tightening the saddle or seat post during the ride, but also to tighten many other things on the bike that could come loose)

To me, for the long rides that I do, everything beyond this basic equipment provides diminishing returns. Any number of things can go wrong, and you can't prepare for all of them. Last year I didn't see a speed bump in the road and was thrown up on the handlebars; the back of the bike rotated in the air and when it landed it bent the rear wheel so badly that I had to disengage the brakes for it to turn at all. No matter how much repair gear you bring, things can always happen that will end your ride.

I think if you take good care of your bike, the chance of your chain breaking is fairly low. But I suppose the chain repair stuff doesn't take up much space, so you could bring that too if you want.

5
  • 2
    Good list. Add a small patch kit for when the second tube goes flat because you forgot to remove the small thorn from your tire :-). While not technically repair items I would also add a cell phone and some cash to help you get home if all else fails.
    – jenglert
    Aug 27, 2010 at 16:07
  • thanks for the reassurance, probably would have neglected to bring the allen wrenches; and the patch kit is a good idea since it takes up a tiny amount of space. i guess i should have noted i will have a phone and wallet, but thanks for the basic list.
    – mfg
    Aug 27, 2010 at 16:34
  • I would add a chain breaker if you don't have an enclosed chain.
    – Ian
    Sep 3, 2010 at 21:16
  • Interesting, never heard of a CO_2 inflator before... for those similarly unfamiliar, check this youtube video for a demo. Looks like a great thing to carry for emergencies.
    – eykanal
    Aug 23, 2012 at 19:43
  • 1
    @freiheit -- I think it inappropriate to modify another's post to and change the meaning he expressed when the question was something of a "survey" -- he could, eg, be violently opposed to CO2 inflators for some reason. Either make your addition as a comment or as a separate post. Aug 23, 2012 at 21:15
5

Here's what usually I'll bring on commuting more than 50km:

  • tire patching kit (tire lever, patch kit)
  • spare tube (actually it goes first, if its get another failure, the i'll go with the patch kit)
  • multi-tool (never hurt for me to add few ounce to more than allen key)
  • human repair kit (aka. first aid kit), you'll never know what happens next
  • additional water bottle (i use one bottle and one hydration pack on my bag). water is very important

note: Mostly i use singlespeed bike, and above package is the one suits me (on my current condition, elevation, and climate), there must be difference

0
5

I might be a wee bit excessive but just for everyday commuting I carry:

  • patch kit
  • spare tube x2
  • hand pump
  • foldable tire
  • multitool
  • pocketknife
  • first aid kit
  • chaintool
  • tire lever x2
  • allen keys
  • dumbbell wrench

Also this is the greatest cycling wrench ever http://www.google.com/shopping/product/17793775178922196830?hl=en

1
  • That spanner is called a "dogbone" and while they're handy and light, they are too short to get sufficient leverage on a wheel nut. One 6" or 8" crescent is a bit heavier but more flexible. There are some which are lighter than the standard garage-mechanic, but they're not cheap. Personally I carry a 14mm and 15mm offset ring spanner which does for wheel nuts and just copes with crank nuts.
    – Criggie
    Sep 22, 2015 at 4:48
3

I never ride far from civilization, so I don't bring any repair kit.

My policy is prevention:

  • take care of my bicycle everyday
  • bring it to a repair shop for periodic maintenance and for checks before a long ride.

Then my repair kit is composed only of a VISA card in case of emergency.

3
2

Gus's recommendations are solid. The only other things I would recommend is:

  • quick link (I carry an 8, 9 and 10spd regardless ... help out others!)
  • money of some sort
  • tyre boot (thicker plastic liner that can be placed in the tyre if tyre gets sliced)
  • duct tape (yeah, it CAN solve everything)
2

Remember to bring tools that are specific to the bike you are riding.

I took one of my fat tire bikes up to an event. On the way there, I got a flat, which wouldn't be a problem, except that that bike had theft-prevention skewers on the wheels that only a specific wrench can unlock, a wrench I didn't have with me. I couldn't remove the wheel to fix the flat. This would not have been an issue on my regular commute because there are bike shops on the way, or I could easily catch a bus home.

The kit on most of my bikes includes: patch kit tire irons 4/5/6 Allen keys

I have decent frame pumps from another era. The ones they have now, including CO2, are only meant to get you limping again, but they're often better than nothing.

There's also something to be said for swallowing your pride and making a phone call.

1
  • Your first line is absolutely right - I managed to move a toolkit from one bike to another, without realising the valves changed from Schrader/AV to Presta, and the pump I had was schrader-only, AND I didn't have the little spin-on adapter. That was a 2 hour walk and I couldn't use a service-station pump either. Now every bike has that adapter, regardless of valve type.
    – Criggie
    Jun 25 at 1:11
1

My tool kits are custom to each bike that gets ridden regularly, and while there is minor difference they all have similar things:

Tool Why
Pump Inflating tubes - a minipump is adequate, but on my bent I carry a mini-floor pump which is about twice the speed of a minipump.
CO2 cartridge I only carry these during a race or group ride. At $5 a shot locally they're pricy.
Presta valve adapter Cheap thread-on adapter to use car pumps on presta valves - even on bikes without presta valves. They're cheap and small
Three plastic tyre levers Removing tyre from rim, installing tyre to rim. These can break and doing it with one can be a challenge. Orange ideally to not get lost in the grass/dark
Spare tubes x2 Because they can wear holes while in the toolbag if not used for a while. Patched ones are ideal.
Sticker patches Sometimes you have a bad ride and run through all your spare tubes, or might run across someone else stranded/walking because they're under-prepared but you don't have the same tube sizes.
Multitool or hex/torx tools to suit your bike Changing bolts from closed to open and back again
Chain breaker Luxury tool, but I've needed them several times.
Chain joiners/master links These things break over time, having a couple spare pairs on hand is light and nothing else does the job
Cable ties and duct tape Versatile
Cleat cover My one clipless bike has some rubber overcleat covers strapped on to aid walking. If I broke down unfixably I'd walk, but that could be slippery and dangerous. Cleat covers go over cleats to add some rubber sole. I'd use the cable ties or duct tape to retain the covers too.
Cleat bolt/washer If the bike has clipless pedals then losing a cleat bolt can cause the shoe to become stuck to the pedal. Can also be used for other things on the bike
Gel I've bonked before, its unpleasent. A single gel can be the difference. Rotate them out periodically
Water Good for drinking, washing out wounds or eyes. Plain water is best for this, additives may sting. For long rides I'll keep one bottle for plain water and perhaps have a touch of lime juice in the other.
First Aid Kit and space blanket Again I've never needed these, but if I did they'd be critical. The Kit is a small plastic box with some bandages etc, and the space blanket is one of those cheap mylar sheets that can be used for warmth or anything
USB battery and 3 short USB cables My gopro needs a new battery to span the commute, so this is my short term fix. The cables are enough to charge my work phone, personal phone, gopro, or a light
Spare batteries If this bike has a replaceable battery light I will carry a 18650 or CR123A as required
Spare lights I hate running out of light on the dark commute, so each bike has normal-use lights and there's at least one spare rear light I don't use unless the others are going out. I have a pocket torch/flashlight as well and have sometimes carried this wedged between cheek and helmet strap
Rubber glove and pill bottle This is for holding all the small parts, and the glove fills the spare space so they don't rattle. I've never needed the glove, yet but silence is its own reward
Leatherman tool The original multifunction tool - not bike specific but a knife is always handy as are pliers

Right now, my road bike has a suspicious cut in the rear tyre. It is too new to just replace so I've added a new tyre to my bag in case it does, but for now I'll keep getting wear out of it. Not a usual item to carry, but in this case its justified. Example of tailoring the gear to suit the needs.

There's also the normal loadout of EDC stuff like wallet/cash and keys and cellphones.

If your bike is broken in a way that allows it to roll still, you can scooter the bike by putting your right foot on the left pedal, lean the top tube against your right thigh, and push off the ground with your left foot (or mirror this if you prefer) It can help to turn your saddle ~80 degrees to the left so you can lean into the corner formed. Expect to do 10-14 km/h on the flat so its faster than walking.

Never ignore the value of knowing when to quit too. A one-hour ride at 30 km/h can turn into a 6 hour walk at 5 km/h. Ringing home for a ride is the last resort, but if you've run out then this can be best.
Carrying a bus/train card might help if the routes are in your favour. Sometimes taxis or uber etc can provide bike-transport services, just ask when you call.

Depending on your country, the local Automobile Association may or may not provide assistance. If you're already a member then check their website or ask.

It is possible and reasonable to flag down other riders if you're really stranded. A coworker once "towed" a stranded cyclist home using a spare tube as a towrope because the bike had some mechanical issue but could still roll.

1

Prepare yourself with some knowledge about your bike and techniques.

I straightened a wheel by hitting against the lawn after being run over by a car.

See this question about temporary repairs for more of those.

0

(Copying my answer from https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/71580/33932, I assume self-plagiarism isn't plagiarism here)

Here's my toolkit. A mini pump is carried separately external to the toolkit because the mini pump does not fit into the limited size toolkit. When I ride a fatbike, I carry its fat spare tube in a bottle holder, not using the spare inner tube in my toolkit.

The toolkit is 20 cm x 10 cm x 4 cm leather container originally intended for a lux (light) meter. I reused it for my bicycle emergency toolkit, realizing it has a very useful size and is durable. The leather container has a zipper closure mechanism.

Total weight: 685 g

  • leather container only: 63 g
  • spare inner tube (Continental Tour 28 All, 32-47 / 622): 167 g
  • Allen keys 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8: 120 g total
    • 8 mm: 56 g
    • 6 mm: 29 g
    • 5 mm: 18 g
    • 4 mm: 10 g
    • 3 mm: 5 g
    • 2.5 mm: 3 g
  • Stein mini cassette lockring tool bag with extra spacers and longer pin: 60 g
    • The extra spacers and longer pin allow using it for brake disc lockring too
  • mini combined chaintool / spoke wrench: 55 g
  • 4 inch adjustable wrench: 52 g
    • I use this as leverage to cut the end of a Shimano reinforced chain pin, and in those rare cases I need something to turn six-sided nuts. Can also be used to true disc brake rotors.
  • tire levers (two of them, blue levers from Park Tool): 26 g
  • Torx keys T25, T30: 26 g
    • T30 Torx key: 17 g
    • T25 Torx key: 9 g
  • tube patches, glue and sandpaper in plastic package: 18 g
  • wrench-type Phillips / slotted screwdriver: 18 g
  • wheel security skewer wrench (similar to Allen but 5-sided): 16 g
    • I use security skewers instead of quick release skewers to make wheel theft less likely
  • plastic zip ties: 10 g
  • three Park Tool TB-2 tire boots: 8 g
  • five Shimano 8-speed reinforced pins in ziploc bag labeled with speed count: 7 g
  • disposable cloth, anti-microbial wipe and adhesive bandage: 6 g
  • small KMC chain lube tube: 5 g
  • three 10-speed Shimano reinforced pins in ziploc bag labeled with speed count: 5 g
  • two 11-speed KMC Missing Link quick-links: 5 g
    • My fatbike came with a quick link chain. I'm planning to replace it with a reinforced connecting pin chain when it wears out. Usually I don't use quick links.
  • US Shelby Co P-38 can opener: 5 g
  • DIY rim tape tire boot (narrow and long): 4 g
  • three 2mm spoke nipples: 3 g
  • rubber band: 2 g
  • two spare long spoke reflectors: 2 g
  • DIY duct tape tire boot: 2 g
  • razor blade: less than 1 g (the scale said 0 g)
    • I use this for removing tube seams before patching

The mini pump I use is Quickex Quicker Pro, no longer sold (unfortunately, as it as a double action two-chamber pump allowed very quick inflation for its size). It weighs 181 g.

When riding, I also always have a mobile phone with me. The mobile phone case has a credit card pocket where I always keep a credit card.

The total weight with mobile phone, pump and toolkit is about 1 kilogram. I carry them in a shoulder bag. And in case someone wants a recommendation for good shoulder bag for biking, I use Marimekko Urbaani. It's of perfect size for small laptops and small items needed when cycling, and you can put the entire bag away after commuting to your workplace, no need to manually remove every single item from a jersey pocket so that you can sit in a chair with backrest.

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