Bicycles are remarkably reliable vehicles that require very little in the way of maintenance. They rarely break down at the roadside, and even in the unlikely event of a mechanical failure, they can often be repaired in a few minutes with a few basic tools.
Following is the short list of items we carry in our tool kits:
- Bicyclist’s Multi-tool (at minimum, 2-8mm allen wrenches, 8/9/10mm box wrenches, phillips and flat head screwdrivers)
- Small Pliers
- Tire Levers
- Mini Pump
- Spare Tube
- Patch Kit
- Rag or Wet Wipes
- Cell Phone (the ultimate roadside bailout tool)
As you can see, most of what we carry relates to tire punctures. If you’d rather not repair flat tires, you can remove everything from the list other than the multi-tool, pliers, and cell phone. If your bike has nutted axles, you either need to be sure your multi-tool includes a 15mm wrench, or carry a separate wrench just for the axle nuts. We’ll follow-up with a flat repair how-to in an upcoming installment of this series.
You can carry your tool kit in its own bag (typically a small under-saddle bag or tool roll), or in a side pocket in your existing commuter pannier or messenger bag — it matters not. The important thing is to have a dedicated spot for the tool kit so it doesn’t get left at home.
And finally, if you’d rather not do any roadside repairs at all, be sure to carry a cell phone with you and have a plan in place for someone to pick-up you and your bike in the event of a breakdown (assuming a commute that’s beyond walking distance).