01 January 2015

Let's Talk About Bicycle Tool Kits- Field Repairs

On a hot and humid Virginia weekend in July I went out for a quick ride in the park. This was one of the few days that I took my Wingnut pack with me on a ride. I had loaded it up with some water, tool kit and a mini pump. Just a few miles into my ride I rode up on a female rider walking her bike. I asked if she needed anything and she said a pump.

Long story short her and her adult daughter were out riding and she got a rear flat tire. Neither of them had a spare tube, pump, patch kit or any tools. They also did not know how to fix the flat. I had everything with me that was needed to make the repair. I told them that the local REI gave basic bicycle repair classes and that it would be good for them to attend. She wanted to get my contact info to send me money for the repair. I told her I would not take the money but she could give to one of the local trail groups that take care of the local trails.

Back on my bike,I had rode off from them and five minutes later wouldn't you know it I get a flat tire. I will let you guess where my spare tube is and the first two don't count. Yep, that's right it's on the other bike I just fixed. Okay no problem. I have a Park Glueless Patch Kit with me. I am down to one Co2 cartridge. I make the repair and what do you know, there is another hole in the tube. One patch later and about 100 million strokes with the pump I got the tire fixed and I call the ride short.

On my way back to the house I was thinking I was pleased that my repair kit set-up was able to fix three flats. But it did get me thinking did I have everything that I needed for repairs in the field. So for the next couple of weeks I research the internet to see what others were carrying and different methods of repair.

I was amazed of all the different types of kits that riders had put together. What I found covered about every type of riding out there. But one of the things I could not find out was what were people thinking about when they put there kit together. I mean they had tools and a patch kit but there seem something was missing. Riders carry their kits in seat bags, zip-lock bags, stuff sacks inside backpacks and tool rolls.

I have posted before about building a tool kit. You can read here,here,and here.

After my research and reviewing my own set-up I figure that there needs to be more of a system than a kit. Now this works for me and might not work for you, but I hope to get you thinking about what you carry on your rides for making field repairs.

Here are some of my requirements:
1) No seat bags/saddle bag/seat wedges are to be used. Sure I have used them in the pass and I do not like them. It seems to me that I either have to much room (makes noise)or too little room(can't fit the tube in with the tools). I also don't like them other other riders bikes. It just kills me when someone has a nice sweet ride and their seat bag just kills the look of the overall bike.

2)I have to have the right tube for the right bike. I have three bikes, two of which are 26" and one being 700cc. Depending on my tire set-up I could have couple of different tube sizes. In the pass I have had the wrong size with me or forgot the tube.

3) The basic system should cover everything I need from a one hour ride to all day. Both road or mountain.

4) There is a reason for every item in the kit and that I don't need to carry five ways to fix a flat.

5) The tool Kit has to fit in a jersey pocket.

Since I do not ride a tubeless or disk brake set-ups, I am not going to cover that here. For those that do please share in the comments section on what you carry. I think my system method would still work for you.

The first part of my repair kit system is the tube/Co2/tire lever. I like using the Backcountry Research Tube Tarp and CAMRAT Road Saddle Mount. On my cross bike

Tube Tarp and CAMRAT no bigger than my cell phone.

The Tube Tarp and CAMRAT mounted under the saddle. There is a 20g Co2 cartridge and a Pedros tire lever packed with the tube.

I use a Co2 inflator (threaded) as my first means of putting air in my tire. Yes these are pricey but I want to ride, not pump a tire up all day. I notice that a lot of riders carry two tire levers. Most of the reasons stated online was if one breaks. In almost 20 years of riding I have never had a tire lever break. Matter of fact I still have the Park tire levers I purchase in the mid 90's. I like the wide Pedro's lever for a couple of reasons. One is I can get a better grip with the wider style lever than a narrow lever. Second the wider lever helps when strapping down the tube, Co2 cartridge, and lever to the seatpost or steam. Park Tools, Pedro's and I know Bontrager all make wide levers.

One the mountain bikes I use a ByeKyle Strap on the seat post. Same set-up tube/Co2/tire lever. There is a bit of an art to fold the tube up to make it small and flat.

Here is an example of my tube/Co2/lever kit strapped to the seatpost of my MB-1 with a ByeKyle strap.

The second part of the system is the tool kit it's self. The Backcountry Research Tulbag is what I use to carry my tool kit components in. It meets the requirement of fitting in my jersey pocket. The Tulbag has a anti-slip or a grip side to it that keeps the tool kit in your pocket no matter how rough the road or trail gets.

The items that I have selected for my style of riding might be different from yours. If you carry something different that is great. I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to carry in the kit. Remember the same kit had to fit in my jersey pocket and it had to work with both road and off-road riding.

The components in the kit are:
Bicycle multi-tool-(I use use the Crank Brothers 17 tool. The brand is not important. What is important is that you have the tools needed for your bike and know how to use them).
Multi-tool- (I use a Leatherman Micra. It has all the tools I can think that I would every need in a tool kit.)
Tire Boot- (Park Tools tire boot. Yes a dollar or a energy bar wrapper will work!But the Park tire boot will hold up better in off-road conditions. )
Co2 Cartridge and Inflator- (I wrap a couple of feet of 100mph aka duct tape around the cartridge. I can use it to make a tire boot or treat a blister on the back of a heel. The uses are endless.I could use a smaller inflator head but I have this one and it works.)
Zip Ties-(Just like duct tape you can fix about anything with a few zip ties. One I had not thought about but I have had it happen to me before is that the freehub breaks. You can zip tie the cassette to your spokes so it will turn with the wheel and just not spin free.)
Chain oil
Quick links and section of chain
Chain pin
Presta Adapter
Glueless Patch Kit- (I use the Park glueless patch kit. Tip Use you tire lever to smooth the patch and put pressure on the patch. Wait a few minutes to let it set before putting air in the tube.)

Adding a mini-pump to this system should round out the kit. This system should take care of all the repairs that you would need to make from that hours ride on your favorite trail or that training ride on the the road. Since I do not ride tubeless or disk break set-ups you will need to make adjustments for that. I would like to hear what they are so please post in the comments section.

Without a doubt the best tool you can care with you is knowledge. Learn how to make repairs in the field. Find a Park Tool School at your local shop or REI Has basic repair classes just to name a few.

I will follow-up with another post that will add to this kit for all day epics, touring and bikepacking.

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