Maintenance kits for on the road/trail – what to carry and why.

When heading out for a cycle, there are a few essential items that you really should ALWAYS carry with you, it will give you peace of mind knowing that if you have any issues you can get going again, it will make the cycle safer and more enjoyable.

1. A spare inner tube, one is bare minimum, two would be better. You never know how many punctures you will get, however if its only a short spin (under an hour) one tube may suffice, for a longer spin definitely take two. If you are touring or doing any multi day event you will certainly want to carry more. Make sure you have the correct tube for your bike, not just the size of the tyre but the valve type and length, it’s no good having a tube with a schrader valve if your rim is only drilled for presta, or having a short valve when you have deep section rims and need the extension!

2. It’s no good having a spare tube but nothing to inflate it! Always carry either a pump or a gas canister. A frame fit pump is always better than a mini pump, it’s bigger so allows you to push more air with each pump – this is more important for road bikes where pressures are up around 100 psi (depending on the tyre). A gas canister on the other hand will allow you to inflate the tube faster, just make sure you carry enough canisters to inflate the amount of tubes you are carrying! Also gas canisters will freeze when the CO2 rushes out, so if the canister isn’t covered make sure your hands are!

3. To remove the tyre from the rim you’ll need tyre levers, at least two. Slide one under the bead of the tyre, then put the second one in a few inches along the rim. Hold one in position while sliding the other one around the wheel rim which will release the tyre. Whatever you do, don’t put the tyre back on the rim with the levers, you’re likely to pinch the tube between the lever and the rim. This should be done by hand. For advice on how to replace an inner tube easily and correctly see our other blog post (https://evolutioncycles.ie/proper-puncture-repair-tube-replacement-in-easy-steps/)

4. If you can’t carry more than one tube, you will need to pack some emergency patches. If you manage to cycle over a load of glass, or a pile of thorns you could find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere calling your significant other for a lift! An emergency patch kit will do the job of a dozen tubes if you hit problems. You can also give one to your cycling buddy who has inevitably git a puncture and forgotten to bring a spare tube!

5. If you manage to tear a large hole in your tyre, split the sidewall, or seriously damage the tyre in any way, you won’t be able to just replace the tube and head off again, you’ll need something to cover the hole in the tyre. I always carry a piece of plastic, credit card size that can be placed inside the tyre so that when the tube is replaced it’s not bulging out of the tyre and causes a pinch puncture or a blowout. A cut out from a bottle of shower gel, washing up liquid or plastic bottle works very well, alternatively you can also carry a section of old tyre to do the job (road bike tyres only, this wont work with a knobby mountain bike tyre).

6. Nine times out of ten you will run into trouble the furthest point from home, and there’s a lot that can go wrong on a bike. Most things can be fixed with a four or five millimetre allen key, however there’s always an odd job that will require something more! Your best chance of carrying the right tool all the time is to get a bike specific multi-tool with all the tools you may need. There is a huge amount of choice out there, from the smallest lightest ones that will have a few tools to the bigger ones that will pretty much allow you to fully strip and rebuild your bike at the road or trail side. Carry whichever one you have the room for and the technical knowledge to use, but I would advise always carry one with a selection of allen keys and chain tool!

7. Lastly, I would always carry a phone, in emergencies it allows you to contact someone to come collect you – either your significant other or an ambulance depending how much of an emergency it is! Also if you have your bank card in your phone it allows you to make purchases in shops etc but not have to carry money or your wallet with cards in, Apple Pay or Google Pay are excellent services!

Keep all these things in your saddle bag, cycle pack, or jersey pockets and never leave home without them, you’ll be grateful you have them when you have that puncture or breakdown. If you can think of anything we’ve missed please leave a comment below.

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