Some of the most important things you need to carry with you when you ride are the tools and items needed to fix a flat. At some time or another every cyclist is going to experience a flat tire. If you haven’t already you will so it is best to be prepared.
Fixing a flat is something that is relatively easy to do especially if you have the right tools. Even if you don’t know how to fix a flat you will have what you need to make the repairs. That way when a fellow cyclist comes along they will be able to assist you. They may not have the right tools to fix your bike but since you are prepared you will be all set. It is in the cyclists creed to offer assistance to a fellow stranded cyclist. If you don’t know how to fix a flat you should head to your local bike store for some lessons. We offer classes throughout the year as do many shops.
So here is what I carry in my fix a flat kit:
- Seat/saddle bag
- Spare tube
- Patch kit – Park VP-1
- Pedro’s Tire levers
- Genuine Innovations Ultraflate Plus Inflator
- Spare 16 gram CO2 Cartridge
- Pedro’s Multi Tool with screwdrivers
- Park Tire Boots
If I get a flat I always replace it with a new tube. If I get a second flat I then have two tubes to choose from to patch. I pick the better or easier of the two tubes to patch. When I ride my road bike I use a CO2 inflator. When I mountain bike I use a mini pump designed for a mountain bike. These pumps push a larger volume of air. I used to use a frame or mini pump for the longest time. They are reusable and less expensive than a CO2 system in the cost per use. Unless you have the patience of a saint you’ll likely be unable to inflate a road tire to 100 plus psi. That isn’t a problem with a CO2 system it is quick and easy and great for group rides when you don’t want to hold others up. They make CO2 systems for mountain bikes which use a 25 gram cartridge called Big Air.
I like the Ultraflate Plus inflator because it is a system that has a trigger that makes it easy to control the air flow. Some people will prefer a more minimalist system to save weight. Look at the different options available to you and pick what will work best for you.
One thing I recommend doing is once you have picked your inflation device take it home and get familiar with it. Try using it in the comfort of your home. So when the day comes that you need to use it you’ll be comfortable doing so.
Saddle bags come in different sizes depending on what and how much stuff you want to carry. One of the features I look for in a saddle bag is a place on the outside to hook a flashing light to for those rainy rides, dusk and night rides.
Another thing that I used to carry in my kit was a luggage tag that I had my emergency contact information and medical information on it. I printed it out and slid the paper in the luggage tag and sealed it with packing tape. Now I have upgraded that system to a RoadID that I wear. One advantage to the luggage tag is you can place a lot of information on it. What is nice about the RoadID is that it is attached to you and doesn’t require a first responder to search for your information. RoadID also offers a way to register your tag to a web site that will allow you to have more information available.
I’ve started carrying tire boots for those bigger cuts in the tires. In the past I have used dollar bills or old energy bar or gel wrappers. Tire boots just do a better job and make it easier to get the job done.
Getting a flat on a ride really sucks, but it is even worse when you don’t have the right tools and equipment to fix it.
Have a great ride!