Commuting by bike is a great way to stay healthy, do your part to save the environment and save money on car payments, gas and insurance costs. On top of that, a bike is significantly less expensive to maintain and easier to repair than a car when something goes wrong. Don’t want to give up the car for good? For the best of both worlds, drive and cycle, keep your folding bike in the trunk and drive part of the way then ride the rest of the way.
A typical bike commute is under 10 miles and is less than 30 – 45 minutes. Even though this is a shorter ride than the weekend warrior’s two or three hour ride, mechanical problems can come up
With regular maintenance the chances of having a mechanical problem on your commute are slim, but in case you find yourself needing to make a repair, here are a few of the essentials you can carry with you to be prepared.
Tire Repair Essentials
The most common type of repair on the road is for a flat tire. No matter how well you maintain your bike, there isn’t much that will prevent a flat when hitting a nail or some broken glass. Here are your essentials:
Tire irons (also called tire levers or tire wrench) – These are needed to remove the tire from your rim. They are sold individually and also in a set of two or three. You’ll want at least two to make getting the tire off easier.
Tube - While this one may go without saying, one thing to be aware of if you are fortunate enough to not have a flat for a long time is that your spare tubes are in good condition. Folded tubes sitting at the bottom of your commuter bag or in a seat bag for several months can get dry rot or damaged making them unusable when you need them most. Make it a practice to periodically check your spare tubes condition.
Air – Once you’ve replaced your tube, unless you were lucky enough to get a flat next to a service station or bike shop with air available, you are going to want to carry your own air. The most common option is a small hand pump that attaches to your frame or can be stored in your commuter bag. If you would like a more compact option there are CO2 cartridge systems that include the attachment to your tire plus a CO2 cartridge that has enough air for a single refill.
Patch kit – As an alternative to replacing your tube, a patch kit can be used to repair your existing tube and tire.
Bike Repair Tools
Bike Multi-tool – A multi-tool will likely have more tools than you’ll need for your daily commute, however, it is a compact set of tools that will allow you to make many repairs should the need arise. If you don’t want to carry a multi-tool, make sure you have these in your bag:
Hex wrenches – These can be used to tighten/loosen your handle bar stem and several other parts on most bikes.
Small screwdriver – This can be used to tighten some types of accessories to bikes such as racks or lights, make a derailleur adjustments or tighten shoe cleats.
Adjustable wrench or 15mm wrench – These can be used for pedals and to remove wheels if you don’t have a quick release.
What other tools are in your commuter’s toolkit? Share them in the comments below.
Ride (Commute) Safe!