What do you bring with you on a ride? It depends on how confident you are to make basic repairs; how far you are going; what are the weather conditions; and how familiar you are with the area.
Do you absolutely have to bring anything on a ride? Nope. Will some of the items listed below make your life easier if you do need to make a repair or give yourself a boost of energy along the way? Yep.
“What if I don’t know how to make a repair?”
If you have the basics with you, there may be a bike rider that comes along who can help. What you bring can vary depending on if you are a commuter, a leisure rider, or don’t have to go too far from home.
The best advice I have been given is “don’t ride farther than you are willing to walk if you don’t check your bike before you go”. (See ABC Quick Check for the basics on that.)
It’s totally OK to rely on a bike shop for bike repairs. Consider some of the YOU repairs you might need along the way (bandages, hand wipes, snacks, napkins) as more important.
Things to bring
This is what I usually bring with me on a ride (already packed in a seat bag or in my saddlebag), along with potential prices for products. I also will typically have a cell phone (doesn’t always fit in a seat bag) and a bottle for water ($5-25 depending on if it’s an insulated bottle or not).
- Seat bag (fits under saddle) or handlebar bag – if you have a rear rack, you can add a pannier/saddlebag instead for more carrying capacity $15-70 for seat or handlebar bag; $70-120 for rear rack/pannier combo
- ID & credit card (if I know I’ll be stopping for lunch or buying something)
- 1 or 2 tire levers (I prefer Pedro’s, they feel great in my hands) $3-5
- Spare tube (make sure to get the correct stem style – Presta or Schrader – as well as the correct size) $5-10
- Inflation method (can be on-bike pump or a CO2 cartridge – be forewarned, a tube inflated with CO2 will not stay inflated long-term and needs to be reinflated with O2 as soon as you get to an air pump; plus, once you are out of CO2 you are OUT of inflation method – can you tell I prefer an on-bike pump?) $20-80
- 1 or 2 rubber/vinyl gloves (so your hands don’t get gross when you’re changing a tire or dealing with a chain) 50¢ – $1
- Hand wipes (the kind from restaurants or a wing place are perfect) free if you snag some at a to-go place
- Mini-tool (it will have the hex wrenches you’ll need to make adjustments & minor repairs) $10-40
- Couple of small bandages 10-25¢
- Emergency snack(s) (energy gel from Gu or Clif will be shelf stable for a long time) $2-5
All of this will fit in a small seat bag that you can just pack and carry with you.
It’s a good idea to check to make sure everything is in working order at least twice a year.
Extra bonus items to bring
- Cash for purchases along the way (convenient marts etc) or to use as a tire boot (inner liner of tire) in case of a slash to the sidewall
- Patch kit $3-6
- 1 or 2 electrolyte tablets (like Nuun or Skratch) to add to your water bottle free – $5; your local bike or running store may have free samples individually packaged
- 1 small ziplock bag to keep small items together 10-25¢
- 1 or 2 zipties 5-10¢
- A few napkins free if you snag them from a to-go place