Everyone on the internet wants to tell you what you
should include in your tool kit.  From chain
breakers to spoke tools, they will have you loaded down with enough tools and
gear to start your own repair shop. Unless you know how to use all of those
tools, however, or even whether they are useful on your particular bike, you’re
going to wind up with a ton of dead weight. Literally. There are a few things
everyone should consider when amassing their kit:

LENGTH OF
YOUR RIDE

Depending on the length of your ride and the locale in
which you’re riding it, you may or may not need a buncha stuff in your would-be
tool kit.  The tools needed on a commute
through an urban area will vary drastically from the tools needed on a
long-distance rural tour.  If I get a
flat on my way to Target or on my way to work, I’d much rather grab a bus or
train and continue my journey than sit on a curb along a busy roadway sweating
and swearing while fixing the flat. This means that I don’t carry an extra
tube, pump and whatever other “essential” tools around with me at all times
while I run errands.  If I’m going out
for a leisure ride on a Sunday morning, however, I will most certainly bring
and tube and pump so I can keep on keepin’ on.
            Touring
is a whole different beast altogether. Depending on where you’re riding, you
may not see a bike shop or even a gas station with air for a hundred or more
miles at a time.  This means that you
will need to be prepared for anything.  Spokes
break.  Inevitably, it will always be a
drive-side spoke that breaks and you will have to remove your cassette to gain
access to the spoke holes.  This problem/procedure
alone requires a slew of parts and tools that you would never ever bother to
carry in your day-to-day zipping around.

KNOW YOUR
BIKE, KNOW YOUR TOOLS

So you’ve done your research and your shopping and
have a kickass and appropriate kit for the riding you do.  You read the reviews, you compared features
and prices, and you spent the extra money to get the good stuff, but can you
use it? A beautiful high-polished Lezyne pump won’t do you an ounce of good (or
a pound of pressure for that matter) if you haven’t learned the difference
between a “presta” and “schrader” valve. Practice with your new tools in the
safety of your own driveway or living room. 
Don’t be afraid to ask your local bike shop how to use the stuff they’re
selling you.  If you’re just a little
rusty, you can count on YouTube to have a tutorial for just about anything you
can think of.  Still not sure? Shoot me
an email or give me a call. Really.
Getting a flat is a real bummer.  Standing on the bike path waving your
pump/chainbreaker/arms around, waiting for a Good Samaritan to pull over and
help you is an even bigger bummer.  One
of the best feelings, other than the wind in your (helmeted) hair, is the
feeling of successfully navigating a technical problemo and getting back on
your bike and back on the road.

UNCOMMON TOOLS
For the most part, bikes are all pretty similar. Almost
everyone should carry a patch kit and a multi-tool.  For those of us with uncommon or
unconventional bikes, there may be some specific tools that you’ll need but generally
won’t be part of most people’s kits.  I
have a travel bike with S&S couplers, for example. To loosen or tighten
them, a special spanner is required.  This
is a tool that I would never expect anyone else to carry, but is pretty
essential to my bike.  Older American bikes
may not always use metric or hex fasteners. 
This means that the rider may want to add couple of odd-ball things to
their loadout. With carbon fiber and/or high-end bikes, it may be imperative to
make sure something is tightened to a specific torque value.  Torque wrenches are available in preset values
and are fairly inexpensive.  I have a Thomson
stem on my travel bike (which is occasionally taken apart) that specifies a
torque value of 5 newton meters, so I carry a 5Nm Torque Key for just that
purpose.

One Comment

  1. Awesome post, Raina! I appreciate the mention of tools required when touring and a drive-side spoke breaks. I never thought of that and would have been stuck.

    After forgetting our patch kit and getting a flat 25 miles from home last weekend, Hiro just sewed together a little kit pouch with pockets for the various things we need for med-length rides. I'll test it for a bit and then we'll make one for each bike. 🙂

    Looking forward to more posts, Raina!

    Kris

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