All riders should be ready for minor emergencies and mishaps and here’s what I carry on my road bike at all times. Even if you’re not super confident about changing your own flat tyre you should carry an inner tube and the equipment to change and inflate your tyre, because road riders are a friendly group and someone will always offer to help you.
So here’s the list of items that I always carry on my road bike:
Spare inner tube
There are many different tube sizes, several different value types and lengths so make sure you buy the right size spare and carry one with you at all times. The sidewall of your tyre has the size printed on it so there’s no excuse for getting it wrong.
Some tyres can actually be fitted and removed without tyre levers if you get the technique right, but it’s still prudent to carry two and three tyre levers with you. The best ones are plastic and are very inexpensive.
CO2 and a mini pump
To inflate your inner tube once you’ve changed it you’ll need a pump or a CO2 inflator and cartridge. Call me paranoid but I actually carry both in the small bag under my seat. I usually use gas to inflate my tubes, but if it should ever fail I have a backup.
Bicycle multi-tools are compact and have the most relevant hex keys and other screwdriver bits which will allow you to tighten up anything that could come loose on your bike like your stem bolts, headset bolt or seat bolts.
I carry a small amount of cash on me which is really for my cafe at the end of the ride, but it is also handy in emergencies.
Emergency credit card
I also carry a credit card that is a backup if I need to buy something that costs more than the cash I’m carrying or even for a taxi fare if I ever need it.
I don’t wish to sound alarmist but you could one day find yourself in an emergency where you are knocked unconscious. So I choose to wear an ID bracelet when I ride which has emergency contact details and my blood tyre printed on it. I also have additional ID in my saddle bag.
I don’t choose to use my phone while I’m riding along but it is handy if you need to call for help, even if it’s just a wrong turn you took with a group. Smart phones are also great navigation devices, particularly when you’re overseas.
So which of these emergency items have I ever used? Spare inner tubes, tyre levers, CO2, mini-pump, multi-tool, money, emergency credit card and mobile phone. Thankfully I’ve never been knocked out so the ID is the only unused item so far.