On the Road

Carry it all in your jersey pockets (points for style), or in a seat bag (in direct violation of rule #29, but far more practical).

  • Two spare tubes

    • valve type: Presta

    • check the tire size, 700 18-25mm should fit in most cases:

      700 is the circumference of the tire, 18-25 is the width in mm. You will find the corresponding numbers on the sidewall of your tire:

      You can ignore everything but the last two numbers. In this example, the size is 700, and the width is 35mm. We’ll cover tire sizes in detail in a future blog post.

    • Check the valve stem length – it depends on your rim depth. The 48mm valve length In the example picture above is fine for flat rims, but you may need a longer stem if you have a profile or even deep (carbon) rim. Don’t pick a stem that’s too long – it gets awkward when pumping up the tire.

    • If you use a deep rim, you may need a valve extender – always bring two as they break easily.

    • NB: when you need to replace a tube, take the damaged tube with you. Some throw it into the garbage, others prefer to patch it once.

  • Tire levers

    • Look for solid levers with a gap at one end to hook into the spokes; two are minimum, three are best (for example). Make sure your levers are plastic and not metal.

  • Pump

    • Capable of reaching at least 7 bar – with you pumping! Look for a model with a lock or screw-on hose for secure fit on the valve. A T-handle may also be helpful.

    • CO2 canisters and head – good complement to a pump (can be much quicker to fill a tire, but you’re limited to the number of canisters you bring) – or great if your hand strength is not enough to handle a pump; note that there are many different types of CO2 canisters and many different models of inflators (the part that attaches to the tube valve). If you’re considering one because of hand strength, look for a model with a valve. If you need to depress the inflator on the valve, you may need quite a bit of hand strength, and you need to make sure that you don’t push the tire out of the rim. Make sure to get canisters compatible with your head. NB: practice using the CO2 – it’s not that easy!

  • Small chain tool (could be part of multi tool)

  • Quick link (for your chain type and number of gears!)

  • Zip ties – like duct tape, they come in handy when you least expect it

  • Small rag – optional

  • Energy bar – use the wrapper as a patch for any small gashes in the tire

  • Waterproof pocket (a ziplock bag works well) with your phone, bank card, health insurance card, some money and your ID.

  • Corkscrew/bottle opener (optional for some of us)

At home – Everyone

Keep these tools in a dedicated box, so you can find them; invest a second box for spare parts, rags, and odds & ends.

  • Floor pump – check for models with a metal body and a pressure gauge

  • Set of full-size hex (Allen) keys from 2mm to 8mm or even 10mm (example)

  • Torx keys – esp. if you have a newer Campagnolo group – Decathlon 8€

  • Chain wear guide – Decathlon €10

  • Phillips screwdriver (cross)

  • Flat screwdriver (slot)

  • 15 mm pedal wrench – depends on your type/model of pedal. Most pedals can use a 6, 8 or 10 mm hex key

  • Degreaser and toothbrush

  • Chain lube – not WD40! – stick with wet lube, stay away from anything with teflon; dry lube is ok if you know how to use it

  • Lots of old rags

  • Latex or rubber gloves – keep your fingers clean(er) and can give you more grip

  • Zip ties

  • Swiss Army knife

  • Pliers

  • Patch kit

  • Wine (French or Italian) or beer (Belgian)

The above list applies to most modern bikes. If your bike is very old, you may need headset wrenches. Similarly, if you ride a single speed bike, a unicycle, or folding bike, you may need some special tools.

At Home – Semi-Pro Level

Great to have, makes your life easier, and may help you to actually do those maintenance tasks

  • Repair stand – optional, but excellent for your back

  • Torque wrench and bits – good to have, esp. with carbon bikes

  • Chain tool – full-size, optional, you can use the one from your road kit

  • Cable and housing cutter

  • Cable and housing ends

  • Quick link tool

  • Spoke wrench – make sure you have the right size/type for your wheels

  • Lithium grease

  • Cassette removal tools (chain whip and cassette tool for your model)


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