Being able to fix things on the road gives one peace of mind. So before we hit the road we made sure we had the right tools and sufficient spare parts with us. But how much do you actually need and use?
The obvious choice
Tyres are a given, and just like many tourers we chose Schwalbes. We both started out on road-oriented versions as we wouldn’t go much off road within Europe. Vera rolled on Big Apples and Cyril on the Marathon Supreme. We both really liked the comfort and sturdiness of our road tyres, but in Istanbul we switched to the standard in bike touring: the Marathon Mondial. We haven’t looked back since and in our first 7,5 months we both only had one puncture. We both carry four spare inner tubes and one spare outer, allthough we haven’t had to use these until now.
Of course size does matter. Vera’s 26″ wheels perform well on gravel and off road, but they also slow her down on tarmac and downhill bits. Cyril’s bike is fitted with 28″ wheels and narrower tyres. This makes for a smoother (read: faster) rolling setup. If you do plan on riding a lot on roads, this might be the size to choose.
Tools and parts are the heaviest pieces of equipment we carry, so choosing the right ones is even more important. Here you can save not only grams, but maybe even kilos. We brought a simple Topeak mini 20 multitool with all the necessary tools on board. The only gripe would be that sometimes the fit is a bit awkward and we might consider bringing one or two small screwdrivers on the next trip. Our other tool is a Gerber/Bear Grylls multi-tool which is very sturdy but also way too heavy. It was cheap and second hand but we wouldn’t bring it on our next trip. Tools we would definitly put in our bags during a longer trip would be Duct tape, tie wraps and DryFluid chain lubricant.
Bike specific tools we brought:
- pedal removal tool
- S&S couplers tool
- KMC missing link removal pliers
- three tyre levers
- the Next Best Thing cassette removal tool
- Presta to Schräder valve converter
All are still in our bags and will go on the next trip with us… just in case.
In Europe or the US you probably don’t need to bring that many spare parts with you. They will be available in a local bike shop or in a worst case scenario you can have stuff shipped to where you are. But as soon as you get to more exotic countries or remote areas it’s a good thing to carry some parts that will keep you and your bike going. Essentials are:
- spare spokes. Make sure these are the right size for you specific wheel and hub setup
- missing chain links. Perfect to fix a broken chain until you get the next opportunity to put on a new one
- as mentioned before: spare inner tubes, at least four
- brake and shifter cables that belong to your specific groupset/set up
- Allen bolts in several sizes
We also brought two spare chains with us (one per bike). Downside is that these are really heavy and with a few missing links you are probably able to fix a chain well enough if it breaks. So these will likely stay at home during a next trip. We were also surprised to find the right brake pads for both our bikes in almost every country we visited, so probably one spare set per bike is enough to bring with you from home. Last but not least: stupid things we carry with us: two CO2 cartridges and and a CO2 inflator. Haven’t used it so far and will probably stay in the tool bag until we’re home again.