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?


9 Answers 9


In my opinion, minimal set of what to carry:

  • Bare Minimum: (able to call a taxi and pay them to get you to a bike shop or to home)
    1. Cell phone.
    2. ID (I prefer both a photo ID such as driver's license and something useful to emergency personnel like a Crash Tag/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)
    3. Some form of payment (cash, atm card, credit card, whatever)
    4. Water (bottle in a bottle cage)
  • Optional, but I'd never leave home without these: (because a flat tire is your most common problem)
    1. Pump, or 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.
    2. tire levers (2 is easier, 1 might be sufficient)
    3. 1 spare tube
    4. patch kit (pre-glued patches or patches and glue)
    5. Any tool needed for wheel removal (not needed for quick-release hub)
  • Optional, but I always have for a ride longer than half an hour: (dealing with most problems)
    1. Energy bar or some other sort of small portable food item (low blood sugar when you need to pedal for another hour sucks).
    2. Small multitool that can adjust brakes, derailers, and at least temporarily deal with saddle issues. Also good to include chain tool, spoke wrenches...
  • Really optional, but I usually have these: (and they're all quite tiny)
    1. A couple nitrile gloves, so you can deal with drivetrain repairs more cleanly. Especially if you have handlebar tape/grips in any color but black. Useful when doing any chain repairs, but also comes in handy if you encounter a medical incident along your route.
    2. A masterlink for your chain (if chain breaks, use chain breaker in multitool to remove broken link, masterlink to put chain back together and avoid your big ring until you replace the chain)
    3. Medications. I usually have a few Ibuprofen and a couple Benadryl. Ibuprofen for aches and Benadryl in case I get stung by something I'm allergic to. (not allergic enough to need epipen)

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 (or an energy bar wrapper) 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.

  • 7
    +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
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 0:08
  • 2
    In addition to ID, in the US I carry a health insurance card. Commented Sep 2, 2012 at 16:06
  • 1
    To all this stuff I would add a pack (10pcs) of paper tissues. Not only for nose-issues...
    – krzyski
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 14:42
  • 1
    The multitool is optional?! That's the most important item on the list and absolutely not optional. Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 20:44
  • 1
    @CareyGregory Most important? I'm guaranteed to get thirsty. I'm more likely to get a flat, get hungry or want to buy something than I am to need anything that calls for the multitool.
    – freiheit
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 2:03

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 fragile 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 found they don't work as well as decent standalone tire levers.

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 carrying capacity. You can toss some energy bars in a jersey pocket as well.

  • 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
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 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
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 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) Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 18:38
  • @NeilFein As a British cyclist, I've never heard the term "fitness bike" and, for example, Evans Cycles (a major UK retailer) refers to the Specialized Sirrus as a hybrid, which is the word I'd use, too. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 9:29
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    @NeilFein I've just discovered that, ironically, Evans describes my own bike as "a perfect fitness bike"! Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 15:50
  1. Water
  2. Cell phone
  3. Phone number of a reliable buddy to call if you need help
  • 5
    4. Reliable buddy <=== these are incredibly hard to obtain. :-)
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 8:01

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.

  • This is indeed enough for most situations, especially on the road. Most of the lists in other answers are more like bike-packing-in-wilderness lists. I carry only one spare tube because most saddle bags simply won't fit two. Instead of the other one I use the patching kit and patch one of the bad ones. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 18:13

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
  • Time's moved on - a $20 is probably a better idea in 2020.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 12:24

All the answers above are good. I also carry these items permanenetly on each bike that I ride regularly. So yes I have 4 sets.

  • Plastic cable ties / zip ties, about 10.
  • Plastic bags (well fresh dog poop bags live in my pocket normally)
  • 1x Master link for rejoining chain - the right width for that bike. The bike with the long chain, I carry 3 of them.
  • 6" piece of brake inner cable with soldered ends, for undoing a tight master link
    DROPPED now I carry some plastic tyre levers that can form an X to be master link pliers.
  • Presta-schrader valve adapter thread-on boss.
  • Personal first aid kit - very small.
  • Metallic heat blanket - never needed it but if I did there'd be no substitute
    DROPPED cos I literally never used it. Would only carry on a long trip nowdays.
  • The cloth bag for carrying all this - once I used it as a helmet liner/skull cap because it was a cold day.
    Replaced by a frame bag on each bike, or a rack bag on the bent commuter.
  • Spare tube/s for that bike
  • Normal levers
  • A ring-spanner to suit any wheel nuts on that bike - 15mm on the bent.
  • Stickers! The pre-glued patches that can mostly seal up a puncture. These are for last-resort if I run out of spare tubes, but I have only ever needed them to lend to other riders who were unprepared. Stickers fit any size tube.
  • A mini pump, or on the bent I carry a small track pump because it used to get a lot of flats. For a race I'd carry CO2 cartridges instead.

Additional items since 2017

  • Small/cheap USB battery and a short micro and a mini power cord. My phone's a bit temperamental and sometines goes flat hard and fast.
  • Food. I have a small gel or two in every toolbag. These get turned over every year or so, more to prevent the plastic bag from wearing through and leaking, than the contents going off. Gels might taste bad after their best before date, but its not a use-by date.
  • Fitted to each bike I have at least one headlight and tail light, even if riding in the middle of the day only. I carry a pocket torch/flashlight as a spare-spare.
  • Batteries - each bike has at least some way to change out spare batteries for at least one headlight and tail light.

Also if your bike has clipless pedals, I now carry a spare Cleat bolt and that odd squared-off washer. If your shoe loses a bolt it can be hard to get the shoe out of the pedal. Yes you can often use a waterbottle cage bolt temp, but that's not ideal.

  • can you explain the setup for undoing the master link?
    – stib
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 12:37
  • @stib I started a CW here bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/45958/19705 about Master Links, because we were lacking in answers about them.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 19:56

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.

  • Remember CO2 leaks out fast because it permeates through butyl tubes. You'll need to re-fill the tube the next morning.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 2:22
  • @Criggie I've not found it to leak anywhere near that fast. Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 20:46

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.

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.

  • I like your idea of carrying specific tools rather than a multitool. What screwdriver and chain breaker do you use?
    – moinudin
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 3:03
  • I use specific tools because multitool having all of the same tools is (1) probably not available, and (2) even if available, would probably weigh the same. The screwdriver is a wrench-type screwdriver, a zig-zag "Z" shape, I'm not sure where I originally obtained it. The chain breaker is from Finland from Biltema, it also has notches for using it as spoke nipple key, and the wrench is not integrated but rather an external Allen key is used as the wrench.
    – juhist
    Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 9:36

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