The bicycle is an astonishingly reliable bit of kit; I ride up to 10,000 miles each year and seldom experience anything worse than a puncture. Furthermore, when something does go wrong, it is almost always fixable at the roadside provided you carry a small but well chosen set of bits and bobs.
There is an old saying that you can fix everything using just gaffer tape and WD40 – basically if it moves and shouldn’t you use gaffer tape and if it doesn’t move but should you use WD40. In reality it is a bit more complex. For what it’s worth, here is what I carry when I am touring (or riding sweep on a cycling holiday):
Puncture Kit (I am constantly astonished that people go cycling without the means to mend a puncture!)
- 2 tubes (you are most likely to get a flat immediately after replacing a tube!!)
- Patches and glue (or self-adhesive patches)
- 2 tyre levers
- A good pump. The best pumps have a fold-out foot and T-handle and will get a tyre up to 130 psi without excessive effort!
- Good multi-tool. Make sure it includes a chain-breaker as the chain is a real weak spot in bicycle design. A swiss army knife is also very useful – it has screwdriver heads, a sharp blade and, vitally, the means to open beer and wine bottles!
- Small pair of pliers incorporating basic wire cutters.
- Spoke key. You may not know how to true spokes but someone else might!
- Next Best Thing 2. Huh? This is a fantastic little gizmo that allows you to remove the cassette without any bulky tools. If you break a spoke it will almost certainly be on the cassette side of the rear wheel; without this tool you are going nowhere.
- Quick links. These handy little rascals can fix a broken chain in moments.
- Spokes. Remember that your wheels may use spokes of 3 different lengths. It really is a good idea to learn how to replace a spoke but, again, at least if you carry them a passing Samaritan may be able to lend a hand.
- Gear cable. Brake cables seldom fail and won’t stop you getting home but a snapped gear cable can spoil your day. They weigh nothing and take up no space.
- Assorted nuts/bolts/screws. Go over your bike, identify the most common types/sizes and carry a few spares. Also carry spare bolts for your cleats since these are prone to disappearing.
- Cable ties. Carry a few of varying sizes – you will be amazed at what they can mend.
- Gaffer tape.
- Tyre patches. These are rectangles of strong plastic with a sticky back that can be used to line a tyre that has a split. Alternatively, forage in the verge and you will find something that can do the same job and get you home.
Obviously the above takes up space and adds weight but, if you are touring, the addition is negligible. If you are just out for a day ride……take a credit card and phone and call a taxi!