You’ve got your bike, your cycling clothes, you know where you’re going, but do you have the tools to get you back on the road if disaster strikes!?
Hearing that sigh as the air escapes your tyre is frustrating to even the most season cyclist, but to the under-prepared cyclist is can straight daunting. To save you a painstaking walk or expensive taxi home, here are a few of the things you should consider carrying in order to get you back on the road:
A spare inner tube
The first step to fixing a flat is the spare tube, there’s many ways to get a tyre off, even a couple of ways to blow up a tyre, but if you ain’t got a tube, you ain’t getting home. Carrying one or two spares is always good, but it’s also important to make sure you have the right size.
There is a bit of leeway when it comes to tube size, but if you check the side of your tyre you’ll find a few numbers that will tell you what size your inner tube is. Sometimes it’s stylised in inches i.e. 26′ or it could be stylised by the ISO number, i.e. 559, plus the width that is generally given in cm. If in doubt ask in your local bike shop!
Yes, yes, when you were a kid you used to take your tyres off with a spoon, but that ain’t the best way to do it. In order to ensure minimal damage to the tyre and the rim, and maximal tyre removal easiness, get yourself a set of two, or three, tyre levers. They come in some different shapes and sizes, but what you want at the very least is something made of hard plastic, with a decent hook at the tip for getting under the tyre. Having two makes it miles easier. Having three means you have a spare if you break one.
You’ve got your tyre off now, planted your spare tube, remounted the tyre, next you need to get some air in the tyre. The most common choice for the job is some sort of hand pump. Cheap to buy, even without compromising quality, they can be so small that they fit in a cycling pocket on the back of a jersey, and many even come with mounts to put them on the frame.
There are other options, such as a Co2 inflator. Usually even more compact, the Co2 inflator uses a tiny cartridge that you secure to the valve of the tube and pull the trigger, and voila, instant tyre pressure! Although slightly more costly, and useless until you replace the cartridge, for quick and easy inflation the Co2 wins every time.
Puncture repair kit
For the traditionalists among us, the thought of discarding a tube with only a wee puncture on it would command a loud baulking. Puncture repair kits consist of wee patches, a tube of adhesive solution and a bit of sandpaper minimum. If you’ve used your spare tube out on the road, or are bored of strictly come dancing on a Saturday night, these are the tools you need to fix a hole in a tube.
A decent multi tool
By decent, we mean with lots of tools. Take a look round your bike. It’s likely you can count at least three sizes of allen bolt sizes, philiips and flathead screw types, there might even be some you’ve never seen before! That’s why a decent multi tool is essential to carry when you’re out on the road. If a bolt loosens, or you want to change your saddle height or the position of any of your levers, a multi tool can help you there.
It’s also quite useful to look for a multi tool that has a chain splitter included. Not everyone will know how to use this, however, possibly the second most common roadside incident is the broken chain and to get you back on the road you need a chain splitter.
If you have any questions about the equipment mentioned, then pop in to our unit at Thomson Court, Rutherglen and one of our friendly staff will be glad to help. As for the procedures mentioned above, we are planning to run more maintenance classes, so that you can use the tools in your kitbag properly, stay tuned!