It’s that time again! Summer is just around the corner, and with it comes the fair weather that riders of all ages and abilities love! It’s going to be a strange cycling season, however. With the Covid-19 pandemic arguably in full swing, and many cycling events being postponed or flat-out cancelled, it’s hard for new riders to connect with experienced groups and learn about how to pack for a longer day in the saddle.

So what do you pack if you’re planning to get into longer rides, or trail riding on rough terrain? Don’t let the picture above fool you. You don’t need to pack a full set of tools and the kitchen sink. Whether you’re riding a fixie or a fully loaded 21+ speed lightweight monster, there are two main problems that can bring your ride to grinding halt: flatting out and breaking your chain.

Repairing a Flat

It’s both unavoidable and a mark of a true rider: if you’ve spent enough time in the saddle, you’re going to have to fix a flat tire. So what do you pack to make the repair as seamless as possible? Getting a portable pump and a couple new inner tubes are no brainers. While inner tubes can cost anywhere between $3.00-$7.00, you really want to splurge a bit on a great portable pump. Many mid- to high-end pumps actually include brackets that attach directly to your frame, which leaves your pockets free for treats and snacks. Although some pumps are a single, rigid unit, we advise getting a pump with a flexible hose leading from the pump to the nozzle. This will reduce the chances of users tearing off the valve of the new inner tube when they’re pumping it up. Alternatively, you can buy pumps that use a CO2 partridge that delivers a measures done of “air” to re-inflate your tire. Each cartridge is a one-time use item. These types of pumps are quick, can get inflate your tire to a higher pressure than a lot of hand-pumps. You should expect to spend upwards from $25.00 on a decent bike pump. Remember, you really do get what you pay for.

Another important set of tools you ought to be looking for are tire levers. It’s important to note, you are looking for tire levers. Flathead screwdrivers and spoons might look like a good idea, but are incredibly prone to pinching your new inner tube. Plus, many tire lever sets either click or slide together and take up very little space.

For some detailed instructions on changing a flat tire, check out this video from the Global Cycling Network (GCN).


Repairing a Broken Chain

Although changing a tire can include a lot of prying and wrenching, fixing a broken chain is a little more straight-forward.

The best piece of repair equipment you need for your chain is a master link or a quick link. These links are designed to make quick work out of a broken chain and take up very little space while you travel. Ranging from $3.00 to $5.00, master links are cheap to get ahold of and are a great “set it and forget it” item to add to your repair kit. In case you need to remove a chain link when installing your master link, you should look for a chain rivet extractor or a chain tool. Prices for a chain tool are pretty variable, but if you can get one with a set of Allan keys built-in, we would suggest going for that (pst… your local bike shop should be able to point you in the right direction for this!) Although we love master-links, if you’re dextrous and not afraid to get your hands a little dirty, you can simply use a chain tool to fix a broken chain, however this will shorten its length which may become a problem much farther down the road.

Before we share a video about fixing a broken chain, please note that if you have a bike with higher-end components, you might want to bring it in to your local bike shop to look things over after using a master link. If you’re using a touring bike or an older cycle, you might be able to get away with keeping a master link on your chain for quite a bit longer.

Check out another video from GCN about using a master link and chain tool to fix a broken chain.

Keeping it all together

Last but not least, lugging around tools and supplies is helpful, but not if it’s taking up too much room in your pockets. Many local bike shops carry saddle bags that sit just under the seat of your bike and are big enough to carry these tools, and small enough to stay out of the way while you’re riding. It also lets you keep your repair tools and supplies on the bike so you don’t have to remember to repack everything each time you go for a ride.

Saddle bags are a great piece of standard equipment or gear for your bike. Instead of just housing your tools, they can be used to store snacks, your house keys, or your wallet to keep your pockets free and your cycling kit feeling light and sleek. Drop in to your local bike shop to see what sort of options they have in stock.


That’s it! With this basic repair kit on your trusty stead, you’ll be able to tackle longer rides and be ready if for a couple of the more common mechanical issues that we all have to deal with from time to time.