Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bicycle Tools to Carry with You on Every Ride

Be Prepared to Patch or Replace Punctured Inner Tubes, Tighten a Loose Accessory, or Make Minor Repairs During You Bike Ride

Somewhere between the stripped down simplicity of the Fixie fanatics and the prepared-for-the-apocalypse crowd, there is a sensible set of things that every cyclist should have with him on every outing.  Helmet, lock, water, cash, and identification are the most critical.  The tool kit is not critical, but it can certainly help keep a minor mechanical issue from ruining an otherwise perfectly fine day.

For those like me who are mechanically inept, you should still want to have the necessary tools and instruction for repairing a puncture flat.  If you live West of Topeka, and don't have tire liners like RhinoDillos tire liners to stop flats, then you most assuredly need to be thus prepared.  The various kinds of thorns littering the roads and off roads in the 11 Western States are legion.

The minimum you will need is a patch kit and inflation device.  If you have QR (quick release) wheels, then this minimalist approach can work for you.  Use the peel and stick patches.  The glue type are messy and tricky to use, though potentially better at a solid repair.  There are plenty of handy types online who suggest you can get the tire on and off without a tire lever aka tire changing too.  Unless you have already been successful in this endeavor, don't even think about it.  You do need a pair of tire levers.

For only a couple of additional ounces, you can save yourself the patching idea altogether.  Carry one or two spare inner tubes.  If you are inclined to be thrifty, carry the punctured tube home and fix it later.

Should you carry a mini pump or a CO2 Inflation device?  Both. possibly.  Use the mini pump to help with the installation, and the CO2 to fill it up.  The CO2 is nice to have if the mini pump breaks.  The mini pump is nice to have if you run out of CO2 cartridges.  Between the two?  Mini pump.

What if your bicycle doesn't have QR.  There are plenty of bikes on the road that are still using a nut on the axle.  Most of these are 15mm nuts.  Thus you will want to carry two 15mm wrenches of some kind.  Avoid the use of adjustable crescent wrenches or cheap tools of any kind.

With tire levers, patch kit, extra tube, and inflation device, you should be completely ready for any flat that doesn't also destroy your tire.  There are nice foldable bike tires on the market that can be added to the tool kit.

Beyond a flat tire, the next most likely roadside repairs would be a stiff or broken chain.  For this you will need a chain tool and a couple of spare chain links.  This is actually an easy repair, but not if you've never done it before.  Use your smart phone to watch a video on the subject as you do the repair.

Most other issues are not going to stop the fun.  But when an accessory gets loose, or your brakes aren't stopping the bike, you might want to take a few minutes to tighten things up.  There are many multi tool kits on the market that include screw drivers and hex tools galore   

The list.  A recap:
  1. Tire levers aka tire changing tool
  2. Pump or CO2 device for inflating the tire
  3. Patch kit
  4. Spare inner tube (2)
  5. Spare fold up tire
  6. 15mm wrench if non QR wheel
  7. Chain tool
  8. Several chain links
  9. Multi - tool
  10. Seat bag to hold these items
Last note.  Quality tools don't cost much more, but they work so much better. 

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