By Tom Jow — While on a riding trip last month a friend had a derailleur cable break near the end of that day’s ride. It was no big deal because we were at the top of the downhill back to the car, and I had a new one back at camp. Even if we didn’t have a spare, we were near a town with several capable bike shops. But what if we weren’t?
When traveling it may be difficult to find a bike shop that is easy to reach during their business hours. In addition, arriving at said bike shop does not guarantee they will have the parts we need, or the time to install them right away. Not being able to find a part we need can really ruin a trip. For these reasons, it is a good idea to carry at least a small inventory of tools and parts.
There are several things to think about when selecting spare parts for the trip. One factor to consider when packing our travel spares is our repair skill level. It makes no sense to bring a hydraulic brake bleed kit if no one in the group knows how to use it. Another consideration, as mentioned before, is how convenient is the nearest bike shop that will have what we need. It is impossible for a bike shop to have everything for every type of bike. Finally, what is the likelihood of breaking something? For example, I like jumping. On a different trip not long ago, I came up short on a jump with my rear wheel making a direct hit on a log. It sounded to me like my wheel would have at least one crack in it.
Lucky for me, the wheel suffered no apparent damage and lasted through four more days of increasingly rugged riding. Also keep in mind that whatever breaks might ruin the trip. Any proprietary component, or component that is not compatible with mass market parts (my friend still has 10-speed shifting) needs to be considered. However, don’t get carried away. For the rare case when something big, like the frame, breaks we probably have bigger problems than just the broken frame.
As someone whose job was maintaining a fleet of racing bicycles across far flung corners of the world, it’s easy to think I travel with everything including the kitchen sink. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What do I travel with? Toolbox, tire pump, shock pump, chain lube, spare tubes, cables, cable housing. Since my last few trips (and this article), I will be stocking up on more items for the future. Keeping in mind road riding offers less opportunity than dirt riding to break things, here are some suggestions:
Items for everyday:
- Basic tools
- Chain Lube
- Miscellaneous bolts (cleat, water bottle, etc.)
- Tire and Shock Pump
- Tire Sealant
- Tubeless Valve Cores
For a long weekend add:
- Brake pads
- Cables and housing
- Shoe Cleats
- Spare Battery and Charger
- Spokes (especially straight pull)
For longer than that:
- Brake Bleed Kit
- Brake Rotors