As the weather starts to improve, more and more of us are ditching the indoor trainers in favour of outdoor adventures. Unlike our indoor turbo sessions however, our outdoor rides need a few little extra pieces of kit, just to prepare us for any impromptu mechanical or unexpected event.
You needn’t bring the whole toolbox with you, just a small handful of items that you can easily stow in a saddlebag. Here are some of the main essentials you should carry with you on a long ride…
A trusty saddlebag
First and foremost, you’re going to need a trusty saddlebag to carry all of your tools and trinkets. These come in a wide range of sizes, volumes and styles but the best are those that can easily fit under your saddle and attach with a simple Velcro strap or buckle.
Patch kits are fantastic, as long as you can find the hole to patch, of course. Otherwise they can be quite annoying as you’re fiddling around, looking for an elusive hole as the rest of your group wait impatiently for you to fix it.
A spare tube, on the other hand, can be fitted quickly and with little effort – they’re a great alternative and just a little bit more expensive. It’s a good idea to take at least one with you; we suggest packing two just in case you suffer a dreaded double puncture.
You won’t be fixing any punctures without one of these. Don’t scrimp on a cheap option, rather opt for a trusted brand with a large volume that can get your tyres inflated to a high enough PSI. CO2 cartridges and inflators are a viable alternative and arguably better at reaching a high PSI, but for reliability and repeated use, the mini-pump wins hands down.
These handy little tools are life savers for all kinds of untimely mechanicals. Pick one with a wide range of Allen keys, or a set that’s specific to the bolts on your bike. The best also come with a Philipps and flat head screwdriver, as well as a spoke key or chain breaking tool.
They’re among the smallest items to stow in your saddlebag but arguably one of the most important. A snapped chain often spells the end to a long ride with most riders unequipped to fix such a mechanical on the fly. With one of these however, and a chain breaking tool to hand, you can get up and running again with relative ease (compared to calling a taxi!), finishing your ride and securing those Strava KOMs.
Never leave home without a pair of tyre levers – they’re really your only hope for getting your tyre off the wheel. You’re welcome to improvise – with numb fingers if you’re really desperate – but a sturdy pair of tyre levers is the best and only way.
We’ve all experienced the dreaded ‘bonk’ at one time or another – the feeling of complete emptiness after you’ve drained the tank. Sometimes we forget to carry food with us, other times we scoff it all within the first hour, and that’s why it’s important to pack a few emergency gels. Throw one of these down your neck and you should stave off the ‘bonk’ for at least another few miles.
Not all the tools we pack into our saddlebags are necessarily designed for bike maintenance. Here are just a few handy – and some very niche – extras that could prove useful in a sticky situation:
A new plastic bank note: as well as buying your cakes and coffee with it, you can also use it as a pretty effective tyre boot.
Nail clippers: the perfect tool for taking tiny thorns out of inner tubes and tyres.
Zip ties: you can fix almost anything with these things, we promise.
Sandwich bags: store your dirtier tools or use them to keep your phone dry and muck free when stored in your saddlebag or even jersey pocket.
If you can think of any more saddlebag essentials, please let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page. Planning your first outdoor adventure of the season? Why not head down to the store for a quick bike check-up to make sure everything is ticking over.