I'm considering getting a fixed-gear bike for commuting, and I'm unclear on how one can quickly replace a punctured tube on a bike with bolt-on wheels.

So far, all the bikes I've had (at least, since I started riding enough to actually get a puncture or two) have had quick-release skewers, which made fixing a flat on the road a breeze; pull over, loosen the quick-release by hand, pop off the wheel, replace the tube, pop the wheel back on, and tighten the quick-release by hand.

However, most fixies I've been looking at have wheels that are bolted on and then tightened using a wrench, with no easy way to remove a wheel without using a wrench.

What tools do fixed-gear bike riders carry around to replace flats on the road?

I'm specifically interested in stuff that would fit inside a saddle bag.

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    Normally I add a 15mm ring spanner cut down to the size of my bag. If necessary I use my foot to loosen the nut. For cycle touring I have one with only about ~50mm of handle left, because I carry a suitable lever for other reasons. It doesn't weigh much and it's IMO better than the ones punched out of sheet metal.
    – Móż
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 4:51
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    A wrench suitable for loosening the nuts easily fits in a saddle bag. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 4:53
  • You need a wrench. It need not be anything exotic, but you want it long enough to give you sufficient leverage (be sure to try it). Ideally, for weight, ease of use, and durability you should get a single-size wrench, vs an adjustable. Note that the wrench will almost certainly be smaller and lighter than any decent pump. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 12:06
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    Another option is to replace the solid axle with a hollow one, and use a QR skewer. No spanner/wrench/crescent required. However this will be obvious to the casual observer, and it makes the wheel a little more stealable.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


Option 1 - Nothing

Many fixed gear riders are short distance, and tend to be close to home. The creed is to remove superfluous things from the bike making it lighter and simpler. Why carry tools at all? All you need is a cellphone, or some way to pay for taxi.

Some tyres have a phenomenal puncture resistance, so this makes punctures less likely, at the cost of weight and/or rolling resistance. Solid tyres are the extreme version of this.

Option 2 - Sealant

If you have tubeless tyres with sealant or tubes with a puncture sealant inside, the idea is that punctures will self-seal and retain the air pressure. Personally it just slowed the leak down a bit, and wasn't worth the four-fold cost.

Option 3 - All the tools for the job

  • Adjustable spanner or ring spanner that fits your bike axle nuts
  • One or two tyre levers, generally plastic
  • Air, either a pump (frame or mini) or a CO2 inflator and cannister.
  • Spare tube(s) of the right size. These can be a patched and tested ones. I carry one for each 50 km of riding expected, so 3 for a 120 km.
  • OPTIONAL Patch kit, or sticker patches - these are for when you're used or shared your tubes.
  • OPTIONAL rubber or nitrile gloves, for keeping clean
  • OPTIONAL wet wipes or a rag for cleanups.
  • Something to carry all this in securely.

The larger pumps are likely to mount to the frame, but smaller ones can be bagged with the other tools. Under-Seat nad-bags are popular - I store mine in a high-vis grellow-coloured velcro or zip closed cloth bag, which is velcro-tied under the top tube, straight behind the headtube so its out of the way. On the tandem, its valcro-strapped to the bottom of the front seat tube, just above the keel tube, again out of the way.

You may as well add a bike minitool with all the hex drivers etc. I also carry a presta-schrader adapter, a chain masterlink and cableties in my on-bike toolkit.

Each of my bikes has the same stuff duplicated. I wouldn't want to flat on the road bike and find I brought a 26" MTB tube by mistake!

Finally, littering. Don't be that guy and leave your dead tube on the roadside. Instead take it home and patch it properly with the 10 minute glue in the comfort of home. Test it inflated overnight to 10-20 PSI naked, then empty it, roll it, and its your next on-bike spare. Tubes are fine with a dozen patches, as long as they don't leak, and a 50c patch is cheaper than a $5 tube.

  • 1
    Well say. IMHO, Puncture resistant tyres are best thing since sliced bread. It weight extra 500g++ each tyre, really not much compare to tools and the fixing hassles, and it is insanely long lasting. Long distance touring bikes always fit with one of those.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 8:04
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    Option 3 fits nicely into a little saddlebag. Never detach it; never be caught out again! Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 8:56
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    @headeronly yeah - but be aware its stealable, so do detach it in a bike rack. Else you'll need it, and it'll be gone.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 9:58
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    @Jules : There is already people asking for this bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/27/… Most touring use schwalbe marathon tyres.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 14:11
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    In my experience as a fixie rider, puncture proof tires is the way to go. Don't skip on cost. And just in case; all I carry is a pair of tire levers, a pack of sticky patches, and a mini pump. I have been able to patch a tube without having to loose the wheel. Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 4:21

I did some weighing today

  • Pressed-steel one-size spanners 91g 102g 76g
  • Open-ended and closed 9/16" ring spanner 97g
  • Open-ended and ratcheting 9/16" ring spanner 110g
  • 6" adjustable spanner 131g
  • 8" adjustable spanner 207g
  • 12" adjustable persuader of doom 400-420g (too heavy for scales!)

I don't have a bone spanner here to test but I'd expect around 60 grams of useless. So a 6" crescent is useful, because 4" is too short for leverage and may not open enough to go around an axle nut. 8" gives lots of leverage though.

The lightest tool would be as @Moz suggests, a sawn-off/short ring spanner at ~50 grammes, and big boots or a short length of tube as a lever. Making sure you have the right size spanner for your nuts though.

  • 1
    A length of steel electrical conduit, of an appropriate diameter, makes a decent persuader, and isn't incredibly heavy. Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 11:20

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