January 21, 2017

Emergency Bike Repair Kit: Bike essentials

So why should you really consider having an emergency flat tire repair kit and take it with you on most bike rides?

Because it’s bound to happen sooner or later. You’re going to get a flat tire. And because of the way life works, it’s going to happen at a point that’s the furthest away from your house or starting point, and in a remote area that you can’t get phone service with no one around or passing by.

But being the prepared cyclist that you are, good thing you have a flat tire repair kit and you know how to use it! Although the flat tire might be stressful, it’s not as stressful as not being able to call anyone and not having any way of getting back on the road or trail with your bike!

If your bike rides are under 10 miles, you’re riding round trip from your house, and you’ve got someone at home you can call in case you get yourself into a flat tire, you can probably get by without a portable bike repair kit.

But the longer your rides become, the more essential a bike repair kit becomes, and the more thankful you’ll be when the time comes that you do need it!

If your riding is primarily on mountain biking trails, consider the length of the trail you’re riding, and whether you’re fine to walk the distance back to the trailhead if you end up with a flat. At least with road cycling there’s the chance that you can have someone drive directly to you to transport you and your bike back home. With mountain biking, not so much! With a flat tire and no repair kit, it’s just you and your bike walking back to your car!

<< Also be sure to check the bike travel gear list! >>

Having the right tools for your emergency bike repair kit on your bike ride

So here are a few items that can be helpful to make as a part of your bike repair kit. You can buy these useful tools for a bike repair kit separately, or some of the items you can purchase in a bundle.

Inner tubes

It’s a good idea to buy and carry a few extra spares with you so you can replace a punctured tube. Be sure to buy inner tubes that match your bike wheel size.

Tire levers

It’s also a good idea to have a couple of tire levers to help you remove the tire from the wheel. These tire levers tend to be plastic and may break easily, which is why it could be helpful to have an extra.

Patch kit

Patches can be helpful to seal off the puncture that resulted in the flat tire. These kits come with a way to keep the patch stuck to the tire, either with glue or another type of adhesive material.

CO2 cartridges

You will need a way to get air into your tire. CO2 cartridges are a one-time use option to quickly fill your tire with air. If you use a CO2 cartridge, you’ll want to fill your tire with regular air once you get back home.

Mini air pump

Because of their small size for travel and portability, mini-pumps will take a little longer to pump up the air of your tire than a CO2 cartridge. Even if you carry CO2 cartridges, it’s a good idea to carry a mini-pump also as a back-up in the case that you accidentally mis-use the CO2 cartridges and the air doesn’t make it into the tire. It’s always good to have a manual option just in case.

Multi-tool

A multi-functional bicycle tool is compact and easy to carry along with your flat repair kit. This makes it a convenient tool to have in the unlikely scenario that you may need it! And you never know when you’ll need a multi-tool, unrelated to a flat tire!

Mini bike bag

You can carry relatively small items to make up your bike repair kit in a small bag that attaches to your bike. There are a few different locations that you can place a bag on your bike, and that is really more based on what your preference is.

There are saddle bags or seat bags that are bags that attach to your seat post to go underneath your bike seat. There are also handlebar bags that can attach to your handlebars. And then there are also bags that can attach to the bottom side of your top tube. These are common areas to carry a bike repair kit. The handy thing about these small little bike bags is that they also make good storage for emergency cash or emergency snacks as well.

Knowing how to use the tools you have on your bike ride!

Having the right tools on your bike ride is a great first step in the case you do end up with a flat tire.

Although the best case scenario would be that you also know how to use the tools you’re bringing along, even if you don’t know how to use them, just having them could prove to be very useful in the event of a flat tire. Having the proper tools allows you the opportunity to have a passerby or fellow cyclist who knows what they’re doing to help you out.

So even if you’re not confident in using your tools, it’s better to have them than to not!

That said, there are a few ways you can learn how to fix a flat tire if you’re not sure how to repair one. It will be worth learning if you go out riding a few times a week.

There are lots of videos available online that you can find through a search. It might be helpful to learn both the standard way of fixing a flat tire through manual air pumping, as well as the way of using a CO2 cartridge.

If you get a flat tire with no repair kit, there might be a cyclist who passes by who has a bike repair kit with a CO2 cartridge to offer you. In that case, it’d be nice to know how to use it! Likewise, if you are in a situation to help someone else with a flat tire who has a CO2 cartridge, it would be great if you could help your fellow cyclist or mountain biker!

There are also bike repair and bike maintenance books available, which could be a good resource to have to keep your bike a well-oiled machine that will last a long time!

Another way to learn how to get back on the road or trail if you encounter a flat is if you live near an REI store. REI occasionally offers free bike maintenance classes, so be sure to look into that! And while we’re at it, they also occasionally offer free beginner triathlete classes as well. These are one-day classes that are typically 1-2 hours long.

Once you see the visual demonstration of someone else repairing a flat tire, give it a try for yourself at home for some practice. You’ll thank yourself when the unfortunate time comes! You don’t want your first time changing a tire to be during a stressful situation. By having confidence that you know how to change a flat tire, you’ll be less stressed when you do get a flat tire during your ride.

NEXT: High tech bike lights for safer biking

HAPPY BIKING!

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