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A road bike does not offer a lot of storage space, yet you need to be prepared for the unforeseen like a flat tire, loose bolt, or broken chain. What if there’s no bike repair shop nearby and you need to cover a long distance. You would require tools to help you quickly fix and repair your bike for an uninterrupted ride.
We all always been in situations when we get stuck in a problem and repent not having that one tool in the gearbox. For the starters, you will always need water and maybe food depending upon the distance, weather condition, and the type of road.
As an owner of a bike blog and a passionate cyclist myself, I am often asked about various coaching and bike riding questions. One of the most frequently asked questions by both beginners and experienced roadies is ‘what essential tools to carry on-road bike?’ In most cases, people already have a few things in their mind but they are constantly worried about missing some important things out.
If that sounds like you then you have come to the right place. Before going over to the list of essential tools you need to carry in order to overcome any adverse circumstances, let’s take a look at some basic requirements. These are things you must always carry with you when stepping out of the house, regardless of whether you are going to the grocery store or for a long ride.
Basic Things To Carry On A Road Bike
Always remember to carry your mobile phone because it’s not only useful to call for help but also shows the location, direction, and map. On a long trip, a mobile phone can tell you about the nearest bike repair shop. Other things include house keys, bike lock keys, insurance card, credit card (optional), some cash, and an ID card (photocopy of the license).
We suggest that you carry all these stuff in a small plastic bag and stuff it inside your jersey pocket. When you start venturing on longer rides that typically take 2 to 4 hours on the roads, you will need to carry some essential tools/ items with you. Read on to find a checklist of the most important things you will need.
9 Essential Tools To Keep In Your Road Bike
#1. Spare Tube
A seemingly fine and healthy tire can go flat in the middle of the road. If you don’t have the time to identify the puncture and patch it up, consider carrying a spare tube with you. The puncture can be taken care of any other time. Changing a tube is comparatively easier and you only need two tire levers to replace tires.
As the tubes are light and compact, they are easier to carry in your bike pouch or backpack. Most tubes are highly affordable so you don’t have to worry about the cost. Furthermore, the tubes come a variety of materials and different types such as the following:
· Lightweight tubes for racing bikes
· Standard tubes for general riding or club racing
· Latex tubes, the lightest of all used for racing only
· Puncture-resistant and heavy tubes that don’t go flat
· Self-sealing and heavy tubes with the sealant already included
Always make sure you choose a type of tube material that matches your purpose of riding. In general, the standard materials works best for smooth surfaces. Those who plan to go racing may opt for a lightweight latex or butyl tube.
#2. Patch Kit Or Puncture Repair Kit
Some people may prefer to fix the puncture with a patch and for this, you need a puncture repair kit like this that comprises of a full patch and glue set. While a traditional patch does a better job when time and weight are no issues, you may opt for a quick stick patch instead when in hurry.
For the cost-conscious, each tube can be fixed three times with patches. When it goes flat for the fourth time, it’s time to throw it out.
#3. Mini Hand Pump
Whether you need to inflate the spare tube when changing a flat tire or simply top-up the tire pressure when you are fixing a puncture, you will need a mini hand pump to do this. The pumps come in different sizes and you may choose one depending on the space available in your bicycle. The mini and lightweight pumps usually weigh less than 100 grams and they work best for longer rides.
#4. CO2 Inflator
These are alternatives for those who do not wish to carry a mini hand pump on their cycle. Sometimes hand pumps tucked inside a jersey or back pocket can be fatal in an accident. To stay safer, choose a CO2 inflator system instead and the kit comprises an air chuck and 1-2 CO2 cartridges. With this system, you will no more need to carry along a patch repair kit.
Make sure you buy the right type of CO2 cartridges as there are threaded and non-threaded ones available in the market. The cartridges are battery-sized and meant for one-time use only. These highly pressurized gas cylinders do a quicker job of inflating a flat tire. The cartridges come in different capacities such as 12g, 16g, and 25g.
#5. Tire Levers
These are absolute essentials you cannot do without when you need to take a tire off the rims of your wheel in order to patch fix a puncture. They are more useful in removing road bike tires than mountain cycle tires because the former tends to fit very tightly on the wheel rims. When you have a flat tire, you will need to first remove it from the wheel to identify damage and repair the inner tube.
When going for a long ride, make sure you have at least 2-3 tire levers to help you take out the tire and put it back again. The levers come in three different materials – plastic, heavy-duty steel, and plastic with a steel core. You will need to choose the one that suits your requirements best and here are some of my observations regarding each type.
Plastic tires tend to break easily when you remove or replace a tight tire. Plastic with steel core tends to come apart where the steel part ends. Steel levers should be avoided on modern road wheels, particularly the carbon wheels. Use them only for kid’s bikes. For safety, always wear eye protection when removing or putting a tire to prevent plastic parts from hitting your eyes in case a lever breaks.
#6. Tire Boot
If you are someone who goes on long bike rides often then you have probably come across such situations when you run over a piece of metal or glass in your tire. This leaves you with two options – call for help and wait till it arrives, or else you can boot the tire and help yourself.
#7. Mini Multi-tool
This comes as a life savior when you need to do some repair or fixes in the middle of nowhere. Simple jobs like tighten up bolts, handlebars, mudguards, and adjusting the seat height may require specific tools. This not only ensures your safety but also comfort when riding long distances. A multi-tool is a good value because it can handle various types of repairs.
The small and compact size helps you tuck it into a backpack or saddle pack with ease. A good quality multi-tool kit (see Amazon) in the market comprises of different varieties of Allen wrenches, open or hex wrenches, a Phillips screwdriver, a chain tool, and a flathead screwdriver. There are a plethora of multi-tools available by different brands. When unsure, ask your riding buddies which one they use.
#8. Chain Link
Chain break is an unfortunate yet common occurrence during a long ride. You will need to replace the broken link with a new one, or remove the broken part and reconnect the chain without replacing. The second option is a short-term solution as a shorter link will not last long.
We suggest that you carry a spare chain link and use a chain tool to fix the broken chain. You must ensure that the chain link is compatible with the chain type in your bike. You will just need to insert the link where it broke and get the chain moving once again.
#9. Lubrication Supplies
If you are planning to go on a long ride on dirt roads, you may need to clean and also re-lubricate certain components of the bike. Doing this regularly ensures a good performance. So, try to bring along a container filled with chain lubricants and some rags to keep your cycle running smoothly.
There are several types of lubricants available in the market. You may choose either wet or dry bike lubricant depending on the weather. A small can of lubricant in the backpack or saddle bag (see my reviews) can be handy in case of a breakdown.
#10. Bike Lock
There are several types of bike locks available, depending on the type of bike and your purpose. When riding around the city, you may not need one or a low-cost chain lock may do. However, if you are going on a long-distance road trip that may take a few days, we suggest that you invest in high-quality U-lock.
Make sure you keep your bike tied and locked securely to a frame while you take a break. The u-locks provide a perfect balance between practicality, security, and balance. They are lighter, simpler to use than the chain locks, and easier to carry in your backpack.
Related Article: Where To Put Your Bike Lock While Riding
Spare Parts Required For Long Bike Tours
When you are a touring cyclist riding on cross country roads, you may need to carry some spare parts for emergency situations. Here are some tools that may be needed.
Although it’s rare for you to have to replace a tire, it comes handy when you are touring in remote areas. In remote areas, you may find it hard to find a bike repair shop or a replacement. Hence, it’s a wiser to carry a spare tire with you. We recommend getting the foldable tires that you can easily carry with you.
Spare brake cable
Also known as derailleur cables, they do not break so often but in case it does, you will need to replace it immediately. So, when touring long distances, make sure you carry spare brake cable like this with you. To ease things out, cut the cables into exact length before leaving home and this will avoid the hassle of cutting on the road.
Spare nuts and bolts
Normal cycling on town and city roads can also loosen up the tightest nuts and bolts in a few month’s time. If you are a touring cyclist planning to go on a long-distance trip, we suggest that you check with your local bike shop to find out what type of nuts and bolts you must carry.
Not many cyclists think of these, but they may come handy if you know how to replace them correctly if damaged. The spokes should be sized correctly at a bike shop. To carry it along, tape it to your bike rack of frame securely.
Key Tools You Must Have In Your Shed Or Garage
There are some repair and replacement job that you may not be able to do on the road, and wait until you get back home. Whether your bike needs some regular maintenance or has loose seat, nuts, and bolts that need to be adjusted, here are some must-have tools at your home garage or shed:
A Good Set Of Brushes
Even if you don’t go dirt biking and only ride on the town/ city roads, your bike still accumulates a lot of dirt and dust from outdoors. Over time, this can impact the performance of your bicycle hence we recommend you to invest in a good set of brushes to clean different parts and components with ease.
A good quality set should include a large brush for the bike frame, a paintbrush for derailleurs, nooks, and crannies, and long-handled brushes for the difficult to reach areas.
Cycle Repair Stand
If you are a passionate touring cyclist then chances are when you get back home, there will be a lot of repairing, tightening and adjusting jobs to be done. Having a special cycle repair stand like this comes handy to keep the bike firmly in one place while you work on it.
We suggest you to look for a light and portable bike repair stand with a tripod base to get enough stability to provide support to the heaviest bikes. A frame made from high-grade aluminum construction will last for years.
Chain Wear Checker
If you are planning to go on a road trip soon, it makes sense to check your chain to ensure that it does not break in the middle of your tour. For passionate cyclists, we suggest investing in a good quality chain wear checker.
Please bear in mind that the 11- and 12-speed drivetrains have a much different life span than the 9 and 10-speed drivetrains. The latter needs to be replaced much quickly and a chain wear checker helps in taking the guesswork out of this.
Chain Cleaning System
Take a closer look at the cycle chain and you will probably find all types of dirt and grime accumulated there. Leaving a dirty chain as it is can greatly damage your drivetrain by infusing grit into each component, and this eventually damages the shift quality.
A quick and simple way to clean the chain is using a spinning brush with rollers. There are special chain cleaners available that come with a reservoir that you can fill with warm soapy water. They contain rotating brushes that can scrub away all dirt from the chain.
Bike Cleaning Kit
After you back from a long road trip or before embarking on one, we suggest that you thoroughly check and clean your bike to keep it in best condition. Regular cleaning is also very important to keep it running smoothly and for this, you need an extensive cleaning set.
You can find several bike cleaning products that can help you remove all dirt and debris on the cycle frame, and other parts. Don’t skimp away from quality and invest a little more if you have to do get a good quality cleaning kit.
How to carry the essential tools on a road bike?
After you have created a list of tools to carry with you on a road trip, next you will need to think of a way to carry them with you. Some of the best options you have are backpacks, saddle packs, rack trunks, frame bags, handlebar packs, and panniers.
When going on a short recreational ride, a saddle pack may be enough to carry the essentials like a patch kit, spare tube, and a multi-tool. For long-distance tours, you may need a larger handlebar pack or backpack to carry a repair kit, food, water bottle, smartphone, credit card, and so on.
How often do you need a servicing of your road bike?
The repair, service, and maintenance of the road bike depend upon how long you ride, conditions in which you ride and how often you ride. In general, we recommend a complete thorough service every 12 months with minor checkups to be done with every change of season. Even if the bike stays unused for long, make sure you keep tires inflated and do a complete check before taking it out for a ride.