Like preparing for your next backpacking trip, you also need to learn to pack light when going on a bike ride. That way, the ride will be smoother, and it’ll be easier for you to change plans and take detours, as you don’t need to haul a lot of stuff. But we get it—it can sometimes be difficult to know which items you should put in your bicycle saddlebag.
To help you narrow down your list, here are nine essentials for your saddlebag. These tools and items will help you fix roadside problems and other incidents. After all, it’s important to stay prepared with these things just in case anything should happen.
- Inner Tube
To avoid getting stranded on the roadside, be sure to carry an extra inner tube for your tires. Since it’s unlikely you can bring a new tire as you go on a long bike ride, an inner tube can be a lifesaver. It can help you endure the ride home—or until the next bike shop in your destination.
- Tire Levers
Some cyclists don’t recommend using tire levers when changing a flat tire. That’s because tire levers might pinch tubes when you place the tire back on. Still, tire levers can be a huge help—especially when you need to work on tight new tires.
The key difference between multi-tools is the number of tools available. At the bare minimum, bring one with the Allen keys up to 6mm, a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver. If any of your bike parts use a T-25 screw head, then make sure to have it, too. Other multi-tools come with a chain breaker. That’s a practical choice if you know how to break your chain and bring a spare chain link connector.
- Patch Kit
A double puncture can happen to the best of riders. If you’ve only got one tube, you could be in trouble, especially if you’re riding alone. The problem is you might not have enough room for two inner tubes in your saddlebag. This is where a patch kit can be a huge help. This kit is small and can help repair small holes in your tube pretty quickly. Generally, there are two types of patch kits you can buy. The first one is a vulcanizing type. You’ll have to apply the glue to the patch and then stick it to the tube. The other option is pre-glued and self-adhesive.
- CO2 Canister
A pump is always an option, but a CO2 canister is a lighter alternative. It also makes it faster and easier to air up bicycle tires to the required 90 psi and above. The only risk you have here is if you can’t attach the nozzle correctly, as it can lead to leaking air that goes everywhere except inside your inner tube. As such, it’s usually a good idea to carry two canisters.
- Zip Ties
Zip ties can be your lifesaver when the most unexpected and unfixable thing happens. As many bikers would say, “If all else fails, use a zip tie.” While it isn’t a permanent solution, a zip tie is a good temporary fix until you get the nearest bike shop. You just have to be creative in using it.
- Spare Cash
Snacks, coffee and an emergency cab ride home are possible if you have extra cash on hand. Of course, a credit card or a digital payment app could be used for such things, too, but there’s always a chance something happens and only cash works. So, it’s best to be prepared.
- Personal Items
There’s only so much stuff you can fit in your saddlebag. But if you’ve still got room after packing the other essentials, add some personal items. Use a freezer bag to bring an extra pair of contact lenses, sunscreen, gauze, Tylenol or any other items that can make your ride smoother and more enjoyable.