Question: Some of my riding partners carry only a spare tube and tire lever for emergencies while others haul a whole bike workshop. What should I have for rides up to 100 miles in rural areas? — Javier G.
Coach Fred Replies: It depends on your comfort level. Some riders feel fine with the minimalist approach while others have a nearly neurotic need for preparedness. They ride with a sense of impending doom if they don’t have a 40-piece multitool, a cell phone and $20 in cash.
In conditions that you mention, I think you’re safe with the following:
- 2 tubes
- 2 tire levers
- patch kit
- material for booting a gashed tire (paper money works great in a pinch)
- multitool with allen keys
- spoke wrench, small screwdriver and chain tool (the last two of these could be on your multitool)
- $5 bill and three quarters
- ID with emergency contact information
- cell phone
Do you have a different take on what you should include in a seat bag? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts!
Read more: RBR Coaches Roundtable: What to Carry on a Bike Ride.
Fred (yes my name is Fred too) says
Like you said Fred everyone has a different idea as to what to carry, I know a few guys who don’t carry anything but a cell phone, problem arises be it even a flat, they call their wives to come get them. I was riding bikes long before cell phones came along so I became independent from calling for help, plus I treat my wife as a wife not my mom.
Anyway, I carry just one tube because I’m very proficient at using a patch kit on the side of the road, in fact I rather patch the tube first than go to the backup tube first as most people do since I can patch as fast as I can replacing the tube. But everything you carry I also carry with the addition to a bit more cash just in case I need a new tire and I can get to a LBS (I use to carry a spare tire in my seat bag back before tires were made as well as they are today, it was also a carry over idea from the days when I rode on tubulars and had to carry two spare tubulars so it was a security blanket for me to want to carry a spare tire which I had to use twice, once for me and once for a total stranger). My mini tool has all the small stuff you added so the only small stuff I carry in tools is tire levers of course, and a small folding pliers. Other than that I do carry a presta to schrader converter in case my pump breaks I can use gas station air, hand wipes to get grease and dirt off my hands, allergy, diarrhea, and pain pills just in case, Superglue can be used from filling tire cuts to keeping body cuts closed that a band-aid won’t help with. When I tour I carry a bit more including two instead of one tube, fiber fix spokes, black Gorilla tape, and zip ties and some other stuff, and that spare tire!
And so all that small stuff doesn’t move around and get all jumbled up in the seat bag and have to pour the bag contents all out to find stuff, I designed a Altoid’s tin to hold it all, and that goes into the seat bag.
David Lankford says
I guess I fall into the minimalist camp. I have two loads I take, one for local rides and one for longer rides. I figure I can carry Giulia (my bike) for 5 miles easy enough. On shorter club rides, I carry a small pouch with three allen wrenches, tube patches, tire levers, and a CO2 air tank and valve, Duct tape wound on a plastic card and a cell phone. I rely on Strava Prime with Beacon turned on, to alert help and record my location if I need to be picked up. On longer or less supported rides I add an inner tube and multi tool to the under seat bag.
I spend so much money reducing every ounce of weight from my bike, that I can’t imagine adding a lot of gear weight in “what if stuff”. I do my own maintenance and check my wheels, spokes, tires, valves and tubes often enough to be confident they won’t fail from neglect. Out in the country, during the shorter days of winter, I add a back up battery for my phone, bike lights, and garmin computer. I changed most of the bolts on Giulia to accept one of three allen wrenches so I get by with a lighter set of tools.
Brad T. says
You’ve covered most of what I carry. The one thing I’ve added that makes everything nice and tidy is a pair of latex gloves. I slip them on, make my repairs, and then pop them back in the bag with clean hands for the rest of the ride.
Sheri Rosenbaum says
I always carry a valve extender because I have deep dish wheels and if I need to borrow a tube, many wont have a long enough stem. I also carry a piece of Tyvek in case I need a boot. A dollar bill or energy bar wrapper work too.
Andrea Matney says
Three quarters? That’s a new one on me — do tell!
Larry Best says
I carry everything listed in your article with a couple of exceptions. I carry only 1 tube, my I.D. is on my wrist on a Road I.D., My cell phone is in my pocket, & I carry two $10.00 bills. What are the 3 quarters for?
Larry Best says
Sorry…I forgot to mention that I carry a CO2 inflator & 3 16 gram cartridges. I don’t carry a pump.
Tom in MN says
I added a generic tiny multitool (Gerber Dime) to my bag last year after a couple of flats where it was really tough to dig the sharp (glass and flint) out of the Kevlar tire plies.
I carry only one tube, so I patch the punctured tube and put in the new tube. This is my attempt to avoid Murphy showing up.
I also carry a valve adapter in case I find a gas station and need to add more air and get the pressure right. I think I would take more quarters. At least 4 would be more handy.
Gregory Przybyl says
My friends know me as the roving sag wagon. In addition to everything else mentioned, I also carry, spare brake and shifting cables, extra master links with some chain, 2 tubes + patch kit, spare energy pack to charge my cell phone (I use ridewithgps app on my phone), emergency food, travel pack of baby wipes (cleans grease really well), a S&S wrench, spare tire, and a well stocked first aid kit. People may laugh, but I have used or loaned out everything I carry at one point in time or another. I also don’t differentiate between touring or day rides as to what to carry. As a backup plan I make sure my road service includes covering my bikes as well.
I replace my patch kit yearly. (The tiny tube of “glue” doesn’t last forever.) I write the date on the box (month and year). I carry two patch kits. I can give the year-old one away to a fellow cyclist in a pinch (pun intended). ~0le
Andrew Kundrat says
Enjoy the site and article and comments. I learn a lot from y’all..
My modifications and comments on the list:
I carry a patch kit and one tube, using either to repair a flat. I head back to the start if less than 50% out at time of flat – not knowing the pressure in my tires and so as not to press my luck.
I have a CO2 cup inflator and cartridges, usually 3 or 4, in the kit. Two are for others, if I need to help them.
A nickel to drop in the bottom of my inflator cup because I have many 12 gram CO2 cartridges that are too short for the 16 gram cup and the nickel is high enough in the bottom to allow the puncture of the 12 grammer. Sometimes this is what others give you, too, when you forget to replenish after being frustrated from the occurrence of the flat! (* Note: I use the Performance SpinDoctor model – a dime or penny isn’t high enough.)
Schraeder to Presta converter. You need to be (un)lucky enough to flat near a gas station or someone with a pump with such.. But unfortunately, even with that, most gas station pumps only go to 50 # PSI, not 80 to 100. So again, another reason to head back home.
Phone is usually in the rear pocket of the jersey.
Never thought about a spoke wrench. See what I mean about learning from you all.
That’s a novel idea… Carry extra parts and tools when I ride. Now that I have posted something about this I hope I don’t have a problem when I ride. Some good ideas about what to carry on a ride. (On a road bike for 45+years)