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.
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This article is part of our series about Essential Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking
This section is about tools and spare parts. For the other sections check below.
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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 and one from All4Cycling.com.
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. It’s so very important to have the wrenches for your almost all your bolts, especially the rack ones. A great shop to buy all kind of tools is UK Tool Centre or a more mainstream LeroyMerlin.
Tyre Levers and Patch Kits
Same as for the spanners, you need to have the ones you need. Usually, a classic multitool like this has it, together with a bunch of other useful stuff. Another great multitool we are considering to buy is the Topeak Alien II.
Small tongs 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 this or this, yes bulky and heavy, but useful.
Be able to open up your chain, to replace it or to take a broken chain link is very important. Many multitools, like the Topeak Alien II, have it among their skills. Or just a “stand-alone” one like this.
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.
To keep your chain and all the moving parts always slimy. You can use bicycle specific lubricants like this or any other cheaper lubricant. We use WD40, mostly because you can find it literally everywhere in the world.
A small sewing kit can fix your clothes, tent, sleeping bag and even handle an emergency repair on a ripped tyre.
Hard Toothbrush and Piece of Cloth
Your best friends when struggling to keep your bicycle clean.
Non-essential Tools for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking
These are tools that you mostly could survive without, however, especially for long expedition, some of these may came pretty handy.
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.
Cone spanners (Two flat wrenches to open the hubs)
Hose clamps may turn out pretty useful to fix stuff, we used these to repair a rear rack, the repair lasted 20,000km.
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.
It can be very useful when replacing a cable or to perform other unexpected tasks.
Having a few spare spokes is very important, especially when you’re traveling with odd wheels (gear hubs, dynamo hubs), nut even if you have the most standard 28″ don’t you think 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.
Absolutely fundamental. If a link of your chain brakes you can replace it and keep riding. It weighs nothing and takes no space.
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 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.
Non-Essential but useful bike spares:
Bolts and nuts
A few spare bolts fro 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.
We never had a spare tyre and never needed it, but it may be helpful in case of rare-but-not-so-rare tyre explosions or rippings.
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