What to carry on a bike ride

Your bike is clean and prepared,  you have the right clothes for the weather,  lights,  helmet,  gloves,  and you’re ready to go on a ride. You’ve told someone where you are going and what time you’ll be back,  but what if you have a puncture or some other mishap? Here are some suggestions for the things you may want to take with you:

Basics

  • Water
    it’s important to stay hydrated so it’s good to get into the habit of taking on fluids regularly. You can carry a cycle specific water bottle in a ‘cage’ mounted on your bike,  bring a bottle of mineral water bought from a shop,  or use a hydration pack that allows you to sip while you ride.
    Keep your water container clean or you may pick up a tummy bug.
    Check out our cleaning tips: Quick Tip #3
  • Food
    For rides over an hour it’s a good idea to carry a snack to keep your energy levels topped up. A longer ride will require more food. Get some ideas from our blog on the subject:  http://cycleseahaven.org.uk/nutrition-for-cyclists-where-to-start/
  • Tools
    You can carry separate tools, like allen (hex) keys and spanners which you may already have in the house. Or you can opt for cycle specific ‘multi-tools’,  which are all-in-one devices like a Swiss army knife for bikes. If you’re thinking of getting one you’ll need to know if it includes the tools that are specific to your bike. As a minimum you’ll need to be able to remove your wheels and tyres to fix punctures. Take your bike to the local bike shop and they can advise what will fit your bike.
  • Puncture repair, spare tube & pump
    Even if you don’t know how to fix a puncture it’s a good idea to carry what you need in case you meet a helpful soul who can help you.

    • Find out what size inner tube fits your bike and carry one as a spare;
    • A puncture repair kit is a sound investment and you should always carry one. Traditional kits include rubber solution (special glue) and patches, while newer versions have self adhesive patches;
    • A pump. Make sure it fits your type of valve.
  • Safety
    Some form of ID,  a credit card and/or some bank notes, a mobile phone. All these can help you out of a fix. Pop them in a sealable plastic bag (freezer bag) or wrap them in cling film to keep them nice and dry.

Additional

If you are going a long way without a support vehicle, or you intend to do an epic ride where there are very few shops or people, then you may want to take things that will make you more self sufficient.

  • First Aid
    You can get first aid kits from many places. Include plastic gloves for first aid (and also greasy repairs on the bike) and sterile wipes for cleaning cuts and your hands.
    Consider also adding an antihistamine for bites and stings and a space blanket to keep warm if you get seriously stuck.
  • Whistle
    If you get really stuck somewhere remote and away from a road a whistle is the great way to get attention. Six good long blasts for an emergency. Also good if you have a puncture and you’re at the back – three long blasts should get some attention.
    http://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/mountain-advice
  • Suncream
    You’ll be glad of it when you’re stuck in the same riding position, exposing the same part of your body (neck, ears, one arm) to the sun for a long time
  • Anti histamine or sting cream
    For hay fever, nettles or insect bites. These come in various guises from tablets & ammonia pens to gels & creams.
  • Cable Ties
    A couple of these don’t weigh much and can fix an amazing number of problems, including (at a push) a snapped chain.
  • Duct Tape
    Easily carried when wrapped around your pump, and fixes an amazing array of problems. See Quick Tip #2
  • Toilet paper
    Doesn’t weight much and can be used for many cleaning duties,  including the obvious. Pack it in a waterproof sealable bag (sandwich or freezer bags work well).
  • Master link
    Also called a Quick-Link, it’s a special link that can be used to fix a broken chain. They come in different sizes depending on how many gears you have (chains get narrower the more gears you have). Bear in mind you may need a special “chain breaker” tool, shown below…
  • Chain Breaker
    Sometimes you get this special tool as part of a multi-tool, or you may need to buy one separately. It’s used to (partly) push out the pins of a chain so you can split it open and re-join it. Handy for removing damaged parts of a chain and joining it back up again (or replacing a broken section with a few spare links you just happen to be carrying). A chain can often be re-joined with a few links missing – at least until you get home. Carry a few Master Links (Quick Links) or even some short sections of spare chain (if you replace the chain you often have a spare bit left over, which is handy for running repairs).
  • Map
    Much more reliable than a smartphone if you get stuck. You may know exactly where you are going but a map may highlight some interesting options you’d never considered before,  or a quicker way home if you get in trouble.
  • Tyre Boot
    A ‘tyre boot’ is a shop bought patch to temporarily repair a torn/split tyre so you can at least get home. You take part of the tyre off and slip in the ‘boot’ to cover the hole. Without it your repaired inner tube will poke through the split/hole in the tyre, expand like bubble gum then pop.
    You can also cut the top and bottom off a toothpaste tube and cut it open along one side to make a square of strong and pliable plastic, or use a section cut from a plastic milk carton, or even a section cut from an old tyre. The new plastic £5 note is also quite sturdy, and so are the wrappers from gels or bars. All will block the slit/hole so you can ride home.
  • Mech Hanger
    A small piece of metal that connects your rear gear changer (mech) to your frame. It’s designed to be a weak point to protect expensive parts – it breaks so that your frame or mech doesn’t. They come in lots of different sizes so you’ll need to make sure you get the right one. Your local bike shop can advise.

Riding with kids

  • Disposable wipes
    Great for cleaning up after an ice cream or a fall. Also good for cleaning your hands after putting a chain back on.
  • More Drinks and Snacks
    As a reward or a bribe you can’t go wrong with treats. Try to mix simple and complex carbs to give them both short term and long term energy.

Do you have any other ideas?  Leave a comment below or use our CONTACT page. We’d love to hear from you.

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3 comments to What to carry on a bike ride

  • Plastic gloves for first aid and greasy jobs. And sterile wipes for cleaning cuts and cleaning hands.

  • Roger Lambert

    An Andy Lock idea – or I heard it there first, anyway – a flat section cut from an old plastic milk bottle can be inserted between a torn tyre and an inner tube to protect the latter and get you home…(I must remember to do this!)

  • Andy Lock

    I’ve updated the above text to include those excellent suggestions.