In our cycling group, we have one rule. It’s to always carry a saddle bag on long rides. If you don’t have the same rule – this post will help you understand how to prepare for a long bike ride.
Of course, so many saddle bags full of equipment will be more than enough, but why take the risk, right? This way, we stay equipped for many more rides to come without ever having to think about being stranded or putting our ride on hold due to an inevitable problem.
But the most important thing is what you carry inside your saddle bag. And that’s exactly you will find in this post.
You’ll find 8 things you should never forget to take with you when you’re going on a long ride. Also, we’ll add a bonus tip that has saved our asses many times so far, so stay tuned!
One of the first things we instinctively grab when packing our saddle bag is definitely spare tubes. It’s a no brainer and don’t you dare to leave for a long ride without spare tubes.
But I’ve seen many cyclists just grab the spare tubes, pack things up and are happy to get on with a ride.
But what happens is that most of them get the wrong type of tube, wrong valve length, or any other factor that will make the job hard in case of the replacement.
Pump or CO2 Inflator with Canister
If you’re old-school, a quality pump will do the job, but if you’re looking to stay light and save space for other important things – taking a CO2 inflator with the canister is the best thing you can do.
Of course, CO2 canister isn’t a must-have, but nobody likes to spend a lot of time on the road, right? However, if you’re bringing CO2 canister with you, make sure you don’t forget to take an inflator with you.
Tire levers might seem like a small thing, but they make the job of replacing your punctured tire a lot easier.
They usually come in a set and they’re quite inexpensive, and guess what’s the best thing? They’re very light as they’re made from plastic, yet they’re still quite strong.
The great thing about a multi-tool is that it comes with the standard & universal tools that are very compact and are worth their weight.
You won’t only be able to replace a punctured tire yet fix or even replace your brakes on the road, tune up your derailleur and more.
Most cyclists leave this one out but we highly advise you to take it with you – since you never know when your bike might break down instead of a tire.
Of course, a patch kit – who would go on a ride without one? Well, I did once, and it was the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned.
If you don’t have a spare tube and no patch kit either, you’ll be stranded by the road. Now, I always bring both spare tubes and a patch kit – because you never know.
You can choose between vulcanizing and pre-glued patch kit packets. The only difference is the glue. With vulcanizing patch kits, you have to bring your own glue while with pre-glued patch kits – you don’t since they’re self-adhesive.
Most of the time, your current tube and spare tube won’t always have the same valve and that’s where the valve adapter is handy.
We recommend getting a Presta to Schrader valve adapter that will allow you to pump up your easily in case your pump doesn’t have the ability to be used with multiple valves.
High profile wheelsets usually hide the valve if you ride anything deeper than 40 mm. You are left with two choices to pump up the tires – which is either bring a spare tube with a longer valve or bring a valve extender.
Valve extender is very useful to have and you never know when someone from your group might need one. Therefore, we recommend everyone to get one and always have it in your saddle bag, just in case.
Believe it or not, what else you will find inside my saddle bag is a nail clipper and zip ties. I know, don’t judge.
While most people get over zip ties quickly, most of them question the nail clipper. Well, nail clipper is really useful to cut small debris pieces in your tire that you can’t get out – or isn’t safe to get out. Get a small nail clipper and you’ll thank me later.
On the other hand, zip ties are very helpful to secure broken things from your bike, and I like to refer to zip ties as a solution when everything else fails.
Bonus: One Dollar Bill Trick
If you have never heard of one dollar bill trick – it’s your lucky day. It’s a trick that helps cyclists repair a punctured tire on the go, in specific situations when the tire’s sidewall is torn.
If you try to pump up the tire, the tube will always bulge out and if you don’t notice it – you might bust your tube as well.
On the other hand, if you use one dollar bill and simply place it at the place where your tire’s sidewall is torn (from the inside), and then pump up the tire – you’ll solve the problem and successfully get home.
What also works instead of a dollar bill is a patch of an old tire, but you can choose whatever works the best for you.
Long rides are very fun, especially if you ride with a group of friends – but even single sharp debris can put a hold to the ride or even end it.
Many cyclists are aware of the spare tubes and a mini pump, but for extra long rides – you want to be as much prepared as one can be.
In this case, almost all 8 items we’ve listed in this post can fit in a saddle bag so there’s no excuse for not taking care of your safety. And that’s the correct way how to prepare for a long bike ride.
Have you ever heard of a one dollar bill trick before? How do you feel about it now you’ve found out about it?
Cover photo from Flickr by Vik Approved