Essential Items to Have Along on a Ride

When you're out on a bike, you should be as self-reliant as possible. Here are some items to carry with you that will help you fix the most common problems you'll encounter. The good news is that these will all fit in a little pack that attaches underneath your seat. And, if you don't already have these items, you can pick them up pretty reasonably and without a major outlay of cash.

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Spare Tube

New Tube
Windell Oksay/Flickr

If you're going to be out and about, the most likely problem you'll have with your bike is a flat tire. So bring along another tube specific to your bike. They are fairly compact, easy to change out, and you'll be back riding in no time. 

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Patch Kit

A typical bike tire patch kit with sandpaper, rubber cement and an assortment of patches.
This is a typical patch kit, consisting a sandpaper, rubber cement and an assortment of patches. (c) David Fiedler

In addition to a spare tube, you'll want to carry a patch kit as well. But isn't that redundant, you ask, when you're already carrying a tube? Not really. Murphy's Law means that you'll get a second flat in the new tube just as soon as you've replaced it. 

"The patch kit [I carry] is for other riders that may need help," says Pennsylvania cyclist Brad Morris. "Luckily I have used the patch kit 6 times, while still need to use the tube."

Plus, ​patch kits are typically quite small and are a nice "one-size-fits-all" insurance policy against tire problems.

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Tire Levers

Tire tool removing a bike tire.
Use a tire tool to remove the tire from your rim by wedging the tool underneath the tire and then lifting upward. (c) David Fiedler

If you're going to fix a flat tire, you'll need tire levers. These small tools slide under your tire and help pull it off your rim so that you can remove the tube to patch it or replace it with a spare. They fit easily in your pouch or jersey pocket, and you really don't want to be without them.

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Pump (or CO2 inflators)

Blackburn Frame Pump
Blackburn Frame Pump. (c) Blackburn

Whether you carry a patch kit or spare tube, if your tire goes flat, you will need to find a way to get air back into it. That's where a nice bicycle frame pump comes in. Usually clamped to your frame, these mighty little dudes will put enough air in your tire to get you back on your way.

Some riders prefer to carry CO2 cartridges - little battery-sized cylinders that deliver a burst of pressurized gas and refill tubes in a fraction of a second. They are lighter but require a bit of practice to use, else you can blow out the tube you've just replaced. Plus, they cost about a dollar ​apiece, for what is typically a one time use.

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Multi-tool by Topeak. This particular gadget contains 26 tools total, including Allen and hex bolt wrenches, screw drivers, chain tool, spoke wrenches, pedal wrenches and more. (c) Topeak Corporation

For any number of potential fixes or adjustments you might face on the road, a multi-tool is a handy gadget that you'll want to take along no matter how short or long your ride. A multi-tool typically comes equipped with a dozen or more individual tools in various sizes, including Allen wrenches, hex bolt wrenches, screwdrivers, a chain tool and more. Tucked neatly into one small package, it's like a portable toolbox​ for fixing your bike - in more ways than you can ever imagine. Plus, many come outfitted with a bottle opener too, when the situation becomes particularly severe.