Emergency gear or repair kit comes in many forms, here’s my take on the essentials. The setups can vary greatly and are very dependent on types of bikes you have and general bike lifestyle, commuting, recreation, competitive and so on.
I ride a bike almost every day for commuting. I also ride on weekends for pleasure and I sometimes race. I have a few different bikes and I ride on a few different types of road, mainly smooth and off track gravel / forest. Thus a lot of variables. These are key considerations when thinking about your flat repair setup.
Saddle bag or no bag?
I’m rider that in general goes with no saddle bag, some of you will be thinking this is crazy and not very smart. Several factors for me determine a mobile repair kit. Often I switch bikes and don’t want the hassle of moving saddle bags, but also when commuting I switch rucksacks / backpacks so, I prefer to have a small repair kit that can go in a jersey pocket or go in a work commute bag. Versatility being the key.
About the only time that I use a saddle bag is on pre-planned long distance routes, where a use a simple pouch that has a durable velcro strap and attaches under the saddle, often in addition to tools in my jersey pockets the pouch contains 2 spare tubes. These are for long distance rides on road and gravel. The one shown below is called ToolRoll by Chrome and is a great option or this one by Mettle Cycling
A Good Pump
Having used what feels like 50 pumps, there are many poorly designed and engineered ones out there, For the past 4 years I settled on a small pocketable pump. (If you have pump pegs on your bicycle frame, that is a great way to carry a pump)
My choice pump is the Lezyne Road Drive , it’s small, light, efficient, serviceable and works great. Its top features are flexible pump hose for easier inflation, fast high-pressure ability requiring a minimum amount of work to get a road tyre above 100psi. It also comes with a bike mount should you wish to attach.
Patch Kit $5
In my small pouch, I have a traditional small tube of glue and a few patches. Never overlook these, they can save your bacon on a bad day. I also now carry the Park Super Patch kit , self-adhesive, fast, and small.
EMERGENCY and Ride Cash – $20
In my mobile kit, I always have a $20 bill. Emergency money, always have emergency money, whether you hide it in your shoe, pocket, or even better, lives permanently in your mobile kit.
Tire Lever <$5
Even if you think you don’t need one and you normally just use your hands, take a lever – there will be times when it’s needed, even if to lend to a friend who has a really tight bead / wheel combination. Having used many kinds I have settle with what I think are the most invincible ones. It’s plastic, well designed and engineered, light and virtually unbreakable. I carry just one of these, you buy them in pairs and they interlock, but one is all I need.
Spoke Tool $5-$15
There are some small spoke tools on the market, and often fancy wheelsets with proprietary spokes come with a small spoke tool. They are small and light. The kind I have also have valve core removers which are useful if you are using deep section wheels.
Tyre Boots <$5
If you are riding gravel, these are an essential piece of kit. The tyre boot enables you to fix larger gashes / slices in a tyre, and in the case of gravel riding sidewall slashes can be a common occurrence from sharp rocks. The tyre boot is a thick multilayered non-stretch self-adhesive sticker that gets placed on the inside of the tyre. It’s a lifesaver. Ensure these are in your kit, road, mountain, gravel. I use Park tire boots, here
Mini Tool $20
I carry a Crank Brothers M5 in my mobile kit, it has the basic features, but all the ones I have ever needed. It’s lightweight and compact. A good choice might be the M10 which is an m5 with the addition of a Torx 25 , Some people may also like the Crank Brothers M19 which adds a Chain tool and spoke wrench, but this is a little too large and heavy for my liking. I think the m5/10 is a better.
My Multi Bike / Multi Mode Setup
My basic mobile / back pocket setup that is small enough for a jersey and easy enough to throw in a commuting bag. You can see the tube for a size comparison. This tried and tested setup has saved me for many years.