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Repairing a Flat Tyre in the Remote Mountains of Laos

Tools and spare parts to fix (almost) every problem while cycle touring

When you’re out bike touring for a long while you want to have the tools to be able to fix all the more common failures that can happen to your bike. While some more complex issues may need the help of an expert mechanic (or at least a workshop), flat tires, broken spokes, gear regulation, wheel tuning, brake fixing, and pad replacing, bolt tightening are the kinds of stuff you’re most likely to face when out touring.

Most of them are not hard at all (well, tuning a wheel is not easy), and you can deal with it yourself (better say that sometimes you must). If you don’t know anything about bicycle mechanics you can dive into Sheldon Brown’s website, the bible of bicycle mechanics.

Let me say this straight, you don’t have to be a bicycle mechanic in order to enjoy bicycle touring. When we started we knew almost nothing about bicycle mechanics, dealing with it, struggling, getting headaches and maybe watch some YouTube videos will slowly turn you into the best repairman for your own bicycle. One thing I noticed while cycling the world was the lack of proper bicycle repairmen out there. Most of the time you’ll pull your hair in despair when watching some random dude doing improper things to your beloved bike. Most of the time is just better to do it yourself.

So here is a list of tools and spare to bring on a bicycle trip or bikepacking expedition. We’ll first divide the bike toolkit list depending on the lenght of the trip, and then describe the tools in more detail and explain why you do or don’t need them.

Disclaimer:

Some of the links down below are affiliate links, that means if you purchase something from those linked websites we might get a small commission that will help us maintain this blog. Clicking on the images will bring you to the online store.


This article is part of our series about Essential Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking
This section is about bike tools and spare parts. For the other sections check below.

Check Also

The Basic Bicycle Accessories for Bicycle Touring – Bike Camping Essential Equipment – Electronics to Bring on a Bicycle Expedition

Bicycle Touring Clothing Essentials

23 waterproof panniers compared – 17 ultralight tents under 200$ – The Best Online Stores for Cycle Touring

If you’re looking for a bicycle have a look at

18 Amazing Touring Bicycles Under 2,000$ – 21 Best Touring Bikes Under 1,000$ – 10 Woman Specific Bikes for Touring


Essential Bike Toolkit and Spares for a Day-Ride

Of course everything could potentially go wrong even on a day ride, but that’s very unlikely if you do properly maintein your bike. For a day ride bring with you:

  • Tire levers and patch kit
  • Allen Key or Bike Multi-Tool
  • Chain Link

Bicycle Tools and Spares for a Weekend/Week-Long Bike Trip

  • Tire levers and patch kit
  • Allen Key or Bike Multi-Tool
  • Chain Link
  • Spoke Wrench
  • Chain Tool
  • Screwdriver
  • Lubricant
  • Zip Ties

Tools and Spares for a long Bicycle Expedition

  • Tire levers and patch kit
  • Allen Key or Bike Multi-Tool
  • Chain Link
  • Spoke Wrench
  • Chain Tool
  • Screwdriver
  • Lubricant
  • Spanners
  • Pliers
  • Zip Ties
  • Duct Tape
  • Sewing Kit
  • Hard Toothbrush and piece of cloth
  • Cone Spanner
  • Cable Cutter
  • Spokes
  • Tube
  • Brake Pads
  • Bolts and Nuts
Essential Tools for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking
best tools bicycle touring bikepacking

Topeak Alien Multitool from Chain Reaction Cycles

Spoke Wrench

Spoke can break or get loose, your wheel will lose is balance and riding will become very uncomfortable or even impossible. To tune a wheel is not an easy game, but with the experience, you’ll get a clue on how to make it at least less worst. Check Sheldon Brown’s bible to learn how to do it.

You can buy a Spoke Wrench in almost every bike shop, here there’s one from Amazon, one from Tredz (for those based in the UK and Europe), and one from Jenson USA for you Americans.


Wrenches (Spanners)

If you don’t want your bike to fall apart, you better check it regularly. Tightening the bolts is an important part of this check-up. 

It’s so very important to have the wrenches for your almost all your bolts, especially the rack ones. A pedal spanner can be very useful if pedals get loose (rare) and fundamental if you’re flying with your bike, since all airlines will force you to remove the pedals.

A great shop to buy all kind of tools is the UK Tool Centre, but really you could buy those at your town’s hardware store.


Tyre Levers and Patch Kits

Absolutely essential on every bike ride, let alone when touring. Take a look at this Hi-Quality one from Jenson USA or these cheap ones on Amazon.com.

essential tools bicycle touring bikepacking

Universal Spoke Wrench from All4Cycling

Allen keys

Same as for the spanners, you need to have the ones you need. Usually, classic multitool like these all have it, together with a bunch of other useful stuff. Another great multitool we are considering to buy is the Topeak Alien II, here available for UK and Europe and here on Competitive Cyclist for the US.


Pliers (Tongs)

Small tongs (or pliers) are extremely useful to pull cables and in so many other occasions I can’t even count. We set off without one but we bought it pretty soon. Something like these, yes bulky and heavy, but useful – try to get the smallest you can find.


Chain Tool

Be able to open up your chain, to replace it or to take a broken chain link is very important. This is one of the tools we used the most during our bicycle tours. Many multitools, like the Topeak Alien II, have it among their skills. Or just a “stand-alone” one like these many ones. Don’t stay too cheap on this if you are on an extended bike trip, you’re probably going to need it often and if it fails…

tools spares bicycle travel bikepacking

Crank Brothers Mini Multi Tool on Chain Reaction Cycles

Screwdriver

A small screwdriver is needed to adjust the derailers. Most multitools have what it takes.


Zip Ties, Duct Tape

These are the most important pieces of your repair gear, don’t set off without that and never run out. With a combination of those two items you can basically repair, or temporarily fix, almost everything.


Lubricant

To keep your chain and all the moving parts always slimy. You can use bicycle-specific lubricants like these ones or any other cheaper lubricant. We use a cycling-specific one (what we find on the road) and a back-up WD40 for degreasing, you can find it literally everywhere in the world.


Sewing Kit

A small sewing kit can fix your clothes, tent, sleeping bag and even handle an emergency repair on a ripped tire.


Hard Toothbrush and Piece of Cloth

Your best friends when struggling to keep your bicycle clean.

best multitool bicycle touring bikepacking

Topeak Mini 20 Pro Multi-Tool on Evans Cycles

Non-essential Tools for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking

These are tools that you mostly could survive without, however, especially for long expeditions, some of these may came pretty handy.

Cassette Remover

When replacing a cassette most likely you’ll be nearby a bike shop, so that’s not really an issue, they should have the most common ones. But it may happen that your cassette gets a bit loose and starts wiggling, this is the moment when a cassette remover may be useful.

It’s small and lightweight, so not really a problem to carry one. It looks like this… sometimes, different bikes might need different cassette remover, that’s another reason to take it with you, the local bike shop might not have your type, it happened to me in Kyrgyzstan.

To really remove the cassette you’ll also need this tool, which is very bulky and you might not want to carry it around. An old piece of chain and pliers might do the job, if you sweat enough.


Cone spanners (Two flat wrenches to open the hubs)

Servicing the hub is something you must do once in a while. To open it you need two wrenches (or spanners) of the right size, usually 13″. Find it at Amazon or many other online shops.

tools to bring bicycle trip

Cone Spanners

Hose Clamps

Hose clamps may turn out pretty useful to fix stuff, we used these to repair a rear rack, the repair lasted 20,000km.


Headset Wrench

The headset, especially the classic ones, may sometimes get loose, the weight on the front may cause that. This tool can be a lifesaver in these cases.


Cable Cutter

It can be very useful when replacing a cable or to perform other unexpected tasks. I mean something like this thing.

tools spares bicycle touring

Headset Spanner from Ebay

Essential Spare Parts to Bring on a Long Bicycle Trip

Spokes

Having a few spare spokes is very important, especially when you’re traveling with odd wheels (gear hubs, dynamo hubs), but even if you have the most standard 28″ don’t think that is going to be easy to find spokes everywhere. We met a traveler in Kyrgyzstan who got stuck almost one month for just one spoke.


Chain Link

Absolutely fundamental. If a link of your chain brakes you can replace it and keep riding. It weighs nothing and takes no space.


Tube

Sure you can patch a tube dozen times, but there are chances that you’ll not be able to patch it anymore. Bring at least one spare tube. When changing a tube, keeping a short section of it may be useful for repairs.


Brake Pads

Brake pads wear out fast, bring some quality spares or you’ll end up relying on cheap garbage. Disks pads are more durable but can bent, and they are harder to find in developing countries.

essential spare parts bicycle touring bikepaking

Vittoria Randonneur Pro Foldable Tyre from Evan Cycles

Non-Essential but useful bike spares:

Bolts and nuts

A few spare bolts, nuts, and screws for the most important parts of your bike are worth bringing along. Rack bolts especially.


Brake and Gear Cables

It never happened to us, but brake cables can snap. Gear cables are even less likely to do so. Consider bringing at least a brake cable replacement.


Folding Tyre

We never had a spare tire and never needed it, but it may be helpful in case of rare-but-not-so-rare tyre explosions or rippings. Schwalbe makes compact folding tires that perform just as normal ones.

Check Also the Other Articles of this Series

The Basic Bicycle Accessories for Bicycle Touring

Bike Camping Essential Equipment

Electronics to Bring on a Bicycle Expedition

Bicycle Touring Clothing Essentials

Have a look at

The Best Online Stores for Cycle Touring

If you’re looking for a bicycle have a look at

18 Amazing Touring Bicycles Under 2,000$ – 21 Best Touring Bikes Under 1,000$ – 10 Woman Specific Bikes for Touring

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Tools and Spare Parts Bicycle Touring

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