Where you plan to tour and how long you’ll be out there play a big factor in deciding how much repair equipment to bring. If your tour is in the US on highway and state roads, chances are that you can get away with bringing fewer repair items. However, if you are touring in the Siberian Tundra, you might want to bring everything, including a spare bike if you can! Here are 5 things I think every cycle tourist should bring.
- Multitool. Do not leave home without it! Instead of having separate tools in varying sizes, the multitool makes it so much more convenient. You will need this at some point on the tour to make adjustments, or to make repairs. A proper bicycle multitool with the appropriate sizes for your bicycle is very, very important. If you are going around the world the Topeak Alien III has every tool you can cram in. For something simpler try the Avenir Woodsie 10.
- Spare tubes. Even with the world’s best, toughest tires, you will have a flat tire at some point on the tour. Road debris or nails or thorns will most likely cause a flat. Make sure you have at least two spares; we have had valves fall off and other oddities that would have left us stranded if we didn’t have more than one spare. Tube manufacturers recommend no more than 2 patches per tube, however we have easily doubled that. Slime tubes can help prevent tiny holes, but are still susceptible to large punctures; we found them less useful than we hoped. Tubeless tire systems are touted as being better, however a common complaint is the difficulty of riding with them. It is easiest to bring along spare tubes and know how to change a flat before you leave.
- Tire Levers. It is much easier to change a flat with these. They are usually cheap and you can pick them up at any bike shop or store that sells bicycles. Make sure you get a sturdy pair; the flimsy thin ones will break. They come in packs of three typically however two is all you really need.
- Hand Pump with Gauge. Many hand-held pumps are difficult to use and impossible to tell how much air is in the tire. With a gauge, you know you’re putting the right amount of air in. We’ve tried several small pumps and the Topeak Turbo Morph G Mountain Mini Pump was by far the best. I would recommend it to any tourist.
- Duct Tape. When all else fails, duct tape can be the difference between having to walk and being able to hobble to a bike shop for repairs. We like to keep a roll wrapped around parts of our pannier racks for emergencies. You can use duct tape as a tire boot, to patch clothing/tents, an emergency bandage, and much more.
If you are traveling to extremely remote areas, consider bringing along some extra tools. For example, a chain tool, extra spokes, lube, extra tires, cassette removal tool, pedal wrench, and spare derailleur cables might come in handy. These tools all add weight and take up space, but might be necessary if you are hundreds (or thousands) of miles from the nearest bike shop.