Bike Commuting 101: A Basic Tool Kit

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).

45 Responses to “Bike Commuting 101: A Basic Tool Kit”

  • bongobike says:

    I’m glad you recommended carrying a pump, not a CO2 cartridge thingamajig. I can’t imagine relying on those things. I prefer frame pumps, but I know mini pumps have come a long way and you can find some very good ones now, though there are still lots of junky ones out there that would make it hard to blow up a balloon. ;-)

  • Pete says:

    Very comprehensive list. I’d add a presta-schraeder adapter if your bike has presta valves. They weight nothing and make it easy to top off your tires at a gas station.
    A lot also depends on your particular commuting circumstance. I have a short commute (3 miles through a city) and because I lock my bike at a train station all day I can’t leave anything on it, like a tool bag. Since I have to carry my tools with me in my messenger bag everywhere I go, I skip the spare tube and carry a tiny patch kit, CO2 inflator, and very minimal multi tool. If something goes majorly wrong, worst I’d have to do is walk 3 miles.
    It would be very different if my commute was 20 miles through the middle of nowhere.

  • Fergie348 says:

    Um, what would you use the pliers for? I can’t imagine needing them, but maybe I’m missing something.

    One other thing I would carry if you ride on city streets or streets where there could be debris is a tire boot – basically a plastic patch that will hold a tire casing together until you can get a badly damaged tire replaced. If a larger piece of metal or glass (or sharp rock) impacts the sidewall of your tire, it could split to the point where the tube cannot be contained by the tire. Slap a tire boot on it and you’ll make it in or home. They’re sold in packs of 3 or 5 and are good insurance assuming you use tires with tubes in them.

    Otherwise a good list, Alan. If you were really mechanically inclined you could pack a spoke wrench in case you broke a spoke and wanted to adjust the tension of the surrounding spokes to allow your wheel to continue to roll unimpeded through your rim brakes.

  • Dell Wilson says:

    I carry the following, which is consistent with your list…

    1. Topeak Hexus 16 multi-tool: allen wrenches, screwdrivers, chain tool, tire tools, spoke wrenches.
    2. Leatherman Squirt P4: pliers, wire cutter and knife.
    3. Patch kit.
    4. Spare tube.
    5. CO2 inflator.
    6. Frame pump (Lezyne Pressure Drive).

    The CO2 inflators are great for speed, but I agree that it is risky to rely on those alone. The pliers can be needed to pull cables, straighten parts, or help tighten hex nuts. This past spring, I suffered a problem with the shift cable to my Alfine hub and the pliers were key to getting me going again. Saved me from having to call the wife to pick me up from work.

  • Perry says:

    In addition to Alan’s list I usually carry a plastic bag or saddle cover for when I have to lock my bike up in the rain (Maryland weather is totally erratic). I can handle riding in the rain but Id rather not have my pants soaked through the seat too.

  • Derek says:

    I recommend a multitool that has a chaintool included with it (as Dell’s does above). I have only needed it once for myself and once for someone else, but it kept me (and the other person) going when chain problems arose.

  • Rob in Seattle says:

    To add to the list: I carry a couple Nitrile gloves stuffed into a plastic film canister. (Remember those?) And don’t forget the Pitlock “pit”! I wrap the whole kit up in a shop rag tied with a short piece of string.

    Also in the saddle bag: A Group Health “Ouch Pouch” which more likely gets used for patching up my seven-year-old adventurer, and a lightweight wire luggage lock. (I typically don’t carry a lock on the commute unless I know I’m going to be stopping off somewhere.)

  • Steve in NC says:

    Add: $20 bill; doubles as an effective, if not inexpensive, tire boot.

  • Rudy says:

    +1 on plastic bags. Also, zip ties, which weigh nothing and take up little space. My basket is attached with them, so they’re mostly for that. But the big ones are very strong, and are great for general lashing.

    RF

  • David osullivan says:

    I have a spare chain quick link with me too. I prefer the connex by wipperman, but whatever works for you. Surprisingly I have needed it twice so far when I used to use cheaper chains and forget to lube.
    I use a co2 for commuting and don’t bother patching by the roadside, that’s a wet weather job for when you have several at home. I carry a pump attatched to the frame for longer rides.

    I use a tool tube by soma to hold everything, it fits in the 2nd bottle cage, is waterproof and easy to move between bikes or take with you if you are leaving your bike for a while.

  • Nick says:

    I carry a plastic bag like Perry does and a shower cap to cover my helmet in the rain. Other than that its the same as you. It doesn’t seem like you’d need pliers, but I’ve used them. Mostly for the shifter cable on my igh but maybe on brake cables and wiring too. I used to just carry a patch kit and quarters for the gas station air pump or pay phone or in case of bigger trouble, bus fare.

  • Eric W says:

    Water? Here in the arid west; Los Angeles, I carry water just in case. Not to mention $10 & bus change.

    Also, once it’s cooler – a windbreaker jacket, Just in case the weather changes, I usually bring a Clif bar too.

    Otherwise less is lighter. Never needed pliers…carry spare tube, patch kit, small pump, S/Presta adapter, hex wrenches, boy scout knife, spoke wrench, tiny emergency blinky. Just enough to get me (or help another cyclist) make it home.

  • Daniel M says:

    As I’ve started touring more and more, my tool kit has grown in size and weight. Here’s my two cents:

    Commuting/Pleasure Riding: spare tube, patch kit, compact pump, tire levers, Allen wrench set, small adjustable wrench, small reversable Phillips/flat head screwdriver.

    Touring/Long Rides: add second tube, spare folding tire, small pliers with wire cutter, spoke wrench, link tool, spare brake and derailer cables, spare spokes, small cassette spline tool.

    I’m currently on tour from Berkeley, CA to Portland, OR via Central Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge (gotta love the iPhone!) and to be honest, I carry the full touring complement wherever I go. It all fits in an under-the-saddle bag which almost always gets thrown in whatever bag I’m carrying. On this tour I’m riding my nearly-new Sam Hillborne with handbuilt 36 spoke wheels and 40mm Schwalbe Marathon Surpremes, so no spare spokes or tire. Not a single mechanical problem yet (currently north of Bend) but I’ve certainly used the Allen wrenches to fine tune my saddle position and the adjustable wrench and screwdriver to remove the Powergrips (survey says: XXX) and finish the tour on plain old flat pedals.

    The pliers have proved indespensible in the past for replacing/adjusting brake or derailer cables, as well as pulling sharp debris out of the tire tread so as to avoid repeat flats. I’ve used the link tool in the past to perform a temporary singlespeed conversion (thankfully not while on tour) following a destroyed rear derailer; found a “magic gear” and rode home. As for the spoke wrench, I’ve had rear wheels on lesser bikes need constant truing on tour. And as for the cassette tool, well if you break a spoke on tour it WILL be the drive-side rear… but I’m really far beyond the scope of Commuting 101 at this point.

  • Ari Hornick says:

    Multi-tool: Alien – Ideally, carry 2, but 1 is fine.
    Pump: Topeak Morph – works great. 1st one lasted 10 years. just bought another one last year.
    tire levers: I carry 1 or 2 of those little 3 packs that are frequently hanging around bike shop cash registers.
    spare tube: good idea. i don’t always carry one though.
    patch kit: Park speed patch. never had a problem with them in 15 years. very fast and easy to use.
    disposable gloves: look ma, no dirty hands.
    Pliers: I do carry robo grips, but I don’t consider them part of a “basic” tool kit. I also carry a 4th hand, but that’s not “basic” either.
    Cell phone: I didn’t get a cell phone for cycling purposes, but it sure is nice to have!

  • dynaryder says:

    1oz squeeze bottle filled with hand cleaner. While I usually have disposable gloves,several times I’ve come across other riders who needed help and made a mess of themselves.

  • Sharper says:

    @Steve: I’m with you, though in my case, it’s a $5 bill and a $1 bill — enough to get a daily pass on local transit lines, just on the off chance that my tool kit can’t hack it, but not so much that if I lose this tool kit like I did the last one, it doesn’t hurt quite so bad. The bills came in handy, too, when I needed a tire boot after flat number three on a July 4 ride. Oddly, that same ride made me very glad I always patch the old tube on site when swapping it out…

    My ideal daily kit doesn’t differ much from the norm:
    Spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, pump, 15/14mm cone wrench, allen wrenches, mini-pliers, wet sanitary napkins, Philips/flathead screwdriver, spoke wrench. Not a big fan of multi-tools myself.

    I’d also add:
    Cigarette lighter, pen, paper, folding knife, “trial size” dental floss roll — those sorts of things you find a million uses for once you have them on hand.

    All in a 18×18 square of industrial fabric I found at a thrift store, wrapped up burrito-style and lashed under my saddle with a single old white leather toe strap.

  • patrick says:

    good list, and I think I’m going to have to get some wet wipes.
    I would also add to any patch kit along with a presta adapter a little white crayon (not crayola but a high quality one). The crayon allows you to mark the tire where the valve is and where the hole is on the tube when you find it. Logo positioning the tires over the valve doesn’t really work because there are so many graphics and they are pretty big. Not to mention that sometimes you (the prepared one) are the guy that gets the phone call and does the work (and not everyone logo positions).
    Pliers I agree with as long as they are part of a leatherman tool (the only way to get disappearing wires and glass unstuck from the tire) and the wire cutter works in a pinch.
    If I’m going more than 15 miles I bring a Tube and a patch kit. I get a flat, pull the tube out, find the hole and corresponding tire puncture, put glue on tube, fix tire, insert “new” tube while glue dries, reassemble, patch old tube, and roll it away. (glueless patches are worthless).

  • Jeff G. says:

    Though I see that a couple of posters have already stated that they carry a scrap of fabric for the purpose of wrapping their tools, I would relay a simple tip that I have been using for a couple of years: I carry my tools inside of my saddle bag wrapped in an inexpensive neon orange bandanna. In addition to being useful for cleaning dirty hands (if you don’t pack disposable gloves), the bright surface makes a great and contrasty workspace so that you do not wind up misplacing your tools or parts in the grass. Bandannas have endless alternative uses (bandage, moping sweat, helmet liner on a cold day, etc.), and due to their small folded size easily justify a place in a commuters repair kit.

  • Stephen D. says:

    Call me an optimist or risk-taker, but I only carry a 4-5-6 Park hexwrench that I usually only use for saddle adjustments. With an IGH and nutted axles, I have no desire to make an on-the-road flat repair. I run hardcase tires with a tire liner in the rear. After thousands of miles and decades of riding, I’ve never had a front tire flat, and I’ve never had a rear flat with a tire liner. Touch wood.

  • Androo says:

    Out of curiosity, what do you use the 8/9/10 box wrenches for? I use them a lot when wrenching on ye olde bikes, but nearly every component on a modern bike is adjustable with 4/5/6 hex keys and nothing else.

    My personal saddle bag kit has a small multi-tool, a patch kit, and a plastic bag. It, along with a mini-pump rotates from bike to bike.

    Though in reality, my daily commute is so short (~4 km one way) that I almost never bother to rotate the kit if I ride another bike. In fact, that kit has taken up semi-permanent residence on my mountain bike, which I never use except to ride off-road trails…

  • Bee says:

    Am I alone in thinking its not necessary to carry tools? My girlfriend and I commute 10 miles a day, and neither of us has had a flat en route in over two years.

    In my opinion, buying dense, puncture-proof tires (cheap, heavy, wire-bead models like the vittoria randonneur have never failed me) and a solid floor pump to keep them topped off makes more sense than telling novices to carry a toolkit that they don’t understand and will be reticent to use. Though we wish it weren’t so, many bike commuters simply aren’t capable of changing a flat tire, nor interested in learning to do so. Furthermore, toolkits make bike commuting harder than it needs to be, unless the toolkit lives on the bike, where its likely to be stolen.

    Isn’t telling people to bring a complete toolkit to and from work a bit like telling drivers to commute with a can of gasoline, some engine coolant, a quart of oil, and a set of socket wrenches in the back of their car, in case of a breakdown? Sure, if you’re the sort of person who would fix a flat on your car using the spare hanging underneath your trunk, bringing tools makes sense. If not, dont bother, but make sure your bike gets looked at by a mechanic relatively often.

    Alan, does your daughter bring tools with her whenever she rides?

  • Alan says:

    @Androo

    “Out of curiosity, what do you use the 8/9/10 box wrenches for?”

    We ride a variety of bikes, so I prefer to carry a multi-tool that includes box ends. Certainly, for many bikes and most repairs, they’re not necessary.

  • Alan says:

    @Bee

    “Am I alone in thinking its not necessary to carry tools?”

    Certainly not. That’s why I said, “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).”

    But… keep in mind that bikes are infinitely simpler than modern cars (that’s one of the great things about them), so it’s not a stretch to think even those with little in the way of mechanical skills or experience can make simple roadside repairs with just a tiny bit of preparation.

    “Alan, does your daughter bring tools with her whenever she rides?”

    Nope. She carries a cell phone and calls Dad (or walks) when she breaks down. That reminds me – I’ve been wanting to give her a lesson in flat repair… :-)

    Alan

  • The-Milkman says:

    When winter hits and the commutes are in the dark I include my camping headlamp into my repair kit. Having two hands free and light directed where you need it is nice, especially when it’s cold out. The few times I’ve needed and used it have made it a staple for my winter/dark commuting.

    These are what I’m referring to….. http://www.rei.com/category/40006352

  • Pete says:

    The question about “should you bother to carry tools” is a good one. First, how important is it that you get where you are going? For people who commute to work, the answer is probably “pretty important.” Of course, if you are going on long ride out into the country, having tools and knowing how to to use them wouldn’t be a bad idea. My “sunday ride” bike has a frame pump and better tools than my commute bike, precisely because I’m likely to be farther from help if something happens. I could probably get away with no tolls on my commuter bike.
    I don’t think the comparison to car repair is necessarily accurate either. Jacking up a car to fix a flat can be very dangerous – especially with the crummy tools car makers supply these days (BMW doesn’t even equip cars with spare tires anymore – they give you run-flat tires and tell you to drive to a gas station). Even worse if you are trying to do it on the side of a busy road. Not so with a bike.

  • Garth says:

    @Bee.

    Wow. Here’s a story for you. So, my wife and I were out on a camping trip driving across Nebraska at about two in the morning. You know, with the owl’s swooping down in the headlights and snakes hanging out on the warm asphalt. So we stopped at a closed gas station in a closed down town because I forget why and without meaning to we locked the car doors with the keys in the ignition and the car running!

    What to do?

    Reach into my wallet and take out the spare, that’s what.

    Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared!

    I’m flabbergasted to think so many people could really be so helpless and not have a problem with the fact that they are helpless?!? Perhaps someone could enlighten me more on this – is pride an issue?

  • Duncan from Australia says:

    I recommend a few business cards and a pen – so that you can exchange details when you have an accident, and note down the particulars of the other party.

  • Phil Barns says:

    I always carry a Topeak multitool which incorporates a good chain tool and spoke keys, a spare tube ( it’s quicker for me to whip the old one off and repair punctures at leisure ), a puncture kit, Park self-adhesive patches ( which work pretty well ), a 5mm Allen key ( to adjust my rear brakes ), a bone spanner for the 15mm front wheelnuts, an old Fedex bag to cover the saddle when I’m parked up in inclement weather and a 1972 VW short wheelbrace for my 17mm rear wheelnuts.

  • Jazz says:

    Anyone mentioned black electric tape?

    Saved my life a couples of times.

  • Teddy says:

    As for the gentlemen who asks, “Am I alone in thinking to not carry tools?”, I’d like to say it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Although it is a little extra weight to carry, maybe a few hundred grams, that is such a small price to pay in order to get where you need to be in my opinion.
    Here’s what I have in my every day carry.
    -Spare Tube*
    -Tire Levers
    -Patch Kit
    -Mini Frame Pump
    -Shrader-Presta Adapter
    -Multi-Tool with Chain tool
    -Spare Links*
    -Mini First-Aid Kit*
    -Lights
    -Small Bills and Change
    -Cell Phone

    I used to never carry a spare tube thinking that a patch kit would just do, however I have encountered some nasty gashes to the tire and tube which a patch kit could not take care of. Once however, the valve took some damage and not having a tube on hand, I had to resort to pulling electrical tape off the bars to hold me up until I got home. Lesson learned.
    As for the spare links, they’re not a necessity but I like to have them on hand in the event that the chain breaks, at least I have a few extra links to put it back in shape. Having a chaintool on hand is also great in the event of derailleur damage where one might have to convert their bicycle into a singlespeed.
    My preferred pumps would be the ones that come with a hose that screw onto the actual valve. Lezyne makes such hand pumps, and they work wonders without risking any damage to the valve. I tend to lean towards hand pumps because you can never run out of air, but co2 is another story.
    Someone had also mentioned having a tire boot in the event that one’s tire is gashed in such a way that the tube is exposed or sticks out. It’s just as easy to use a piece of paper, dollar bill, or food wrapper as a replacement for the boot, and just place it between the tire and tube before pumping. Just as effective.
    I’d like to add that the Presta-Shrader adapters aren’t entirely necessary, but I keep them on hand just to top off at gas stations. They’re so light, and all you need to do is replace a valve cap with the adapter instead. Minimal weight difference.
    Lastly, my mini first aid kit is nothing more than antiseptic wipes, tape, gauze and a few band aids.

  • Ted says:

    Add a small chain tool, spoke wrench, and basic first aid kit (alcohol wipes, band aids, eye wash)…I’ve had more chain failures than flats! And it’s for more than just a broken chain. If your rear derailleur or hanger fails, you can shorten your chain and single-speed it home.

  • Stephen says:

    For those who think, based on evidently sheer luck, that they don’t have to carry tools or even just a patch kit, remember Murphy’s Law of On-the-Road Bicycle Repair: If you carry a tool kit, you’ll never have to use it (and vice-versa).

    Seriously, I can’t believe anyone would NOT carry at least a basic tool for adjustments and at least a minimalist patch kit. Every car has (or should have) a spare tire, tire wrench, and jack, and most decent cars have their own wee tool kit. You may never need it, but if you haven’t had a flat or a minor adjustment to make to brakes, shifters, or whatever, then you’re not riding enough. And if you have a flat tire on that family trip through west Texas or Kansas, you’d be a damn fool not to have a spare tire.

    I carry at a mimimum a saddle cover, small patch kit, multitool, small Leatherman with pliers, and a pump. In fact, I just ordered a PDW pump because my too-cool-for-school minipump’s plastic head threads stripped out as I was trying to pump up a colleague’s flat tire at work. I’ve gone on local tours and rides where I was the only one with a tool kit, or even fenders and lights. It’s bloody amazing the faith people have that they’re not going to need anything resembling a tool kit or protection from the elements, but invariably they do.

  • Jolep says:

    In 70.000 miles of commuting I experienced nearly every possible failure on my bikes’ parts (including stolen saddle, broken seatpost and freewheel, bend fork, quadruple flat, loose bottom bracket – you name it.) You cannot be prepared for everything. I’ve reduced again to:

    < 2 miles: nothing
    2-20 miles: pump, patch kit (old style), tire levers, cell phone
    20-50 miles additional: allen wrenches, money, spare tire and most important: something to eat (We have a lot of fine wells where I take my rides.)

  • Steven says:

    I commute before dawn, so in addition to a tool kit (individual tools are easier for me than a multi-tool), spare tubes (2), CO2 inflator & cart and mini pump I take a tiny Petzl headlamp. For a long time I thought how silly it would be to bring the headlamp, but after a few unscheduled roadside repair sessions with a Planet Bike Blaze headlight in my mouth, the headlamp is always with me.

    Also I take a bandana with me. I’ve used it for everything from wound care to stuffing it in a tire when I realized I didn’t have any folding $$.

  • Doug P says:

    @ Jeff G and Steven; bandanas are the BOMB! I started carrying one 30 years ago or so to wipe my nose. I have since come to see bandanas as the cowboy McGuyver tool, capable of being everything from a hat to a coffee or water filter, to a tourniquet! I love the idea of wrapping my tools in one.
    Each of my bikes has a tool kit in a bag on the bike, with the tools necessary for that particular bike. The Craftsman 15MM stubby wrench is the real blue collar singlespeed tool, BTW. I peeled off the tread on an old sew-up,cut up the casing into squares, and I carry them for booting materiel. They fold up nicely in the patchkit box. Also check the glue in patchkits regularly as it dries out, especially if one does not carefully reclose the glue after use, removing bubbles of air inside that will dry it out. It’s not a happy surprise to find your glue has dried out, believe me!

  • Richard Masoner says:

    Your photo shows the prettiest tool bag I’ve *ever* seen on a bike! Mine is your standard nylon saddle bag with a missing seatpost strap, stringy threads hanging from the saddle rail strap, and a zip tie in place of the little metal tab you use to pull the zipper. I bought this bag sometime in the 90s. My multitool is a roadside find, my CO2 inflator and patch kit were a giveaways at bike events.

    It’s funny because one of my co-workers *just* asked me what tools he should carry. I opened up my saddle bag and showed him: multitool, tire levers, air, spare tube and patch kit. Then I fire up Google Reader and here I am!

  • Alan says:

    “Your photo shows the prettiest tool bag I’ve *ever* seen on a bike!”

    That’s a Zimbale bag on my wife’s Betty Foy.

    “It’s funny because one of my co-workers *just* asked me what tools he should carry. I opened up my saddle bag and showed him: multitool, tire levers, air, spare tube and patch kit. Then I fire up Google Reader and here I am!”

    Great minds… ;-)

  • j. pierce says:

    I’d also add, use your travel tools at home – sure, it’s easier to use real tools; but you don’t want to find out on the road that you don’t have enough leverage with the folding multitool, or that it’s bulky body won’t let you turn it in a tight space with an important bolt.

    Make sure that when you have a flat far from home isn’t the first time you’re changing a rear tire on an IGH.

    I always carry way more tools than I need to, so I can fix other folks bikes, too. I stumble across somebody grumpily pushing a bike down the sidewalk every few weeks and do what I can to help.

  • Garth says:

    Forgive me for my earlier harshness on being “flabbergasted”.

    The day before this post I was working on revising my toolkit. It’s been in a plastic baggy and I wanted to put it into a roll-up cloth. Bicycle Quarterly compared tool kits for an old Alex Singer to what a typical modern person might bring along. Weight was a comparison. It was found that a multi-tool with allen wrenches and screwdrivers is considerably heavier than taking only the necessary wrenches as well as perhaps a stubby screwdriver, if even needed. I love my little “bare bones” multi-tool but will switch back because of being so small, it’s harder to tighten certain things up, like the seat post. I also have a little, tiny crescent wrench. I’m thinking of ditching the patch kit, I mostly commute, and do carry a tube. I have not had a flat in three-four years using the Vittoria Randonneur tires. But I’ll carry a tube because it’s a lot quicker when I’m already late for work.

    At my Favorite Bike Store, they had an aluminum mini-U-lock for forty dollars that I was considering getting in order to lighten my saddlebag kit. I know it would fit around parking meters but those have largely been removed from Chicago. Would someone suggest a cable alternative? Right now I use a big Fuji U-Lock, and I’m just running into stores in less crimey neighborhoods.

    Thanks!

  • Dottie says:

    I carry no tools for my commute. If an emergency arises, I have a public transit pass and a cell phone, but I have not had to use them. In two years I haven’t had a flat tire (Schwalbe on both bikes).

    I bought some stuff for a little tool kit when I first started commuting because I thought I was supposed to, but soon stopped carrying it.

  • Bee says:

    @Stephen

    As an experienced cyclist, I disagree with your “sheer luck” assertion. Running durable, fully inflated tires (at least 28s with heavy, stiff rubber) makes it very unlikely that you will flat. Having performed dozens of roadside flat repairs on my other bikes, I am well aware of the relative ease with which I am capable of repairing a flat. And in a perfect world, in which I have infinite space in which to carry everything I could possibly need on my bike, I would carry tools, and advise my mechanically challenged girlfriend to do the same.

    But I dislike the attitude that riding a bike must be accompanied by extensive training on how to repair a bike, as well as purchasing and carrying at least $40 worth of tools. Most of the bike commuters I know do not carry tools or understand how to fix a flat. Two of the three mechanics at my local shop do not carry tools. Some people are bike enthusiasts, and enjoy tinkering, perfecting their toolkits, and carrying lots and lots of fun gear with them. However, if this is Bike Commuting 101, it is not meant for those people.

  • William Seville says:

    Everyone’s forgotten one key item – hand wipes.

    I like the wet ones from a certain fried chicken vendor, plus a piece of rag to dry up with.

    So much better than greasy and/or grimy fingers!

  • Teddy says:

    @bee While I agree that running decent components and a quality, thicker tire will help avoid any road side repairs, it doesn’t guarantee that something will not happen. I know that for some of us, carrying extra weight isn’t very appealing, but having a few items like a pocket/c02 pump, patch kit, levers and a multi-tool in your saddle bag can go a long way in making your ride more enjoyable in the event of a mishap.
    I can understand how one can feel off-put by those who think that “a bike must be accompanied by extensive training on how to repair a bike”, but I simply don’t think that is the case. To me, knowing how to fix a flat or make minor adjustments is equivalent to learning how to change a tire on a car, or adjusting your seating position in the car. It’s all about having the confidence in my ability over the confidence in my parts, which can and will eventually fail. This is especially important for commuters who often need to be somewhere within a certain time-frame, and do not have the convenience of bussing/walking back home or to the store, or who do not have someone to drive them the rest of the way, such as myself. I find that this basic tool kit is the very least that one would need for a sure commute.

  • dave says:

    @j. pierce

    +1

    Last night I came across a guy fixing a flat by the side of the road. He had the wheel off and the tube out and a new tube in hand and was holding his tire pump, but I stopped anyway and asked if he needed anything. He said that his pump was broken and he couldn’t pump up his tire. I looked at his pump and it was set-up for a schrader valve but his tubes had presta. I opened up the head and flipped around the insert and the gasket and “fixed” the pump. He was a happy camper after that.

    Familiarizing yourself with your tools is important so you know how to use them when you break down.

  • James Adams says:

    Michelin City-The very best tire for commuters.

 
© 2011 EcoVelo™