There’s nothing better than spending a day out on the bike. With how reliable modern bikes are, it’s easy to overlook the need to bring spares when things seldom go wrong but you’re better off safe than sorry. Besides, the bike isn’t the only thing to consider – over sustained efforts we need to make sure we stay hydrated and fed to maintain energy levels. With such a wide range of spares, nutrition products, and other accessories available we thought we’d put together a basic guide on what to carry and how to carry it.
Spares & Tools
Spares are arguably the most important. An extra inner tube can save you a long walk or an embarrassing phone call. Tubes aren’t all you should carry, though. We’ve put together a list below of all the spares and tools we recommend you carry on a ride.
- Extra Tube – This one should be obvious. Punctures are by far the most common thing to go wrong whilst out riding and a spare tube is essential. If you want to be extra safe, we suggest carrying a repair kit too, but these are much better saved as last-resort option as they can fail. View our range of inner tubes here.
- Pump – Your replacement tube won’t inflate itself, so you’ll need a pump or CO2 inflater to reinflate your tyre. I always use CO2 over a pump out on the trail, but I carry a manual pump regardless as a failsafe. Some pumps will only work with a particular valve or will require the head’s internals to be flipped to swap between presta and Schrader valves, so make sure you’re familiar with how to do this. View our range of pumps here.
- Multi Tool – Bolts can rattle loose, seatposts can slip, and handlebars can rotate. We suggest carrying a multi tool so you can fix up any of these common problems out on a ride. Some bikes even require a hex key to remove the wheel, so don’t get caught out with your replacement tube ready to go only to find you can’t remove your wheel, get a multi tool. With ebikes and mountain bikes, we suggest carrying one that has a chain breaker in case you break a chain and bringing a spare chain link with you. View our range of multi tools here.
- Some Cash – I always keep a $20 with me on a ride. Cyclists are a good bunch and will more often than not give up their spares and time free of charge to help another rider in need, but it’s nice to be able to give them something as a thanks. Don’t end up needing to use it out on the trails? Rad! Treat yourself to something nice on the way home.
Nutrition and Hydration
This one is a little difficult as everyone’s different and what works for me might not work for you. Even weather conditions change how much water we need to take on. As a very rough rule of thumb you should be aiming to drink 500ml to 1000ml an hour, but this is very much a rule of thumb. I find if I pre-hydrate and have about 1200ml over an hour or two before my ride, I can often get three hours out of a 500ml bottle and still feel good at the end. What I’m trying to say is, drink if you’re thirsty and experiment. Our bodies are good at telling us what we need, listen to it and you’ll work out your best hydration plan.
What to drink is a little more important. Water keeps you hydrated, but if exercising for more than an hour it's important to make sure we replace electrolytes. Electrolytes essentially deliver fluid from water to our cells, and we lose them as we sweat so it's important to replace them as we lose them. Replacing electrolytes prevents cramping and ensures our body functions at its peak. We're fans of the GU Drink Tablets. Simply drop them into 500ml of water, and know you'll have all the electrolytes you need during over your ride. Find them here.
As far as eating goes, it’s really the same as hydration – what works for me might not work for you. I, for example, don’t like energy gels and usually stick to bananas and sports bars instead, whilst friends of mine can’t stomach food while riding so exclusively stick to gels. Experiment on some shorter rides and learn what your body best responds to. Bananas, energy gels, trail mix, museli bars, and jet planes are all common amongst my riding group.
How to Carry it all
You have a few options here: on-person, on-bike, or a combination. Carrying things on you means you’ll either be riding with a pack or with your pockets stuffed. You can find our guide to riding packs here. If you’re carrying things on your bike, you’ll either need to fit a carrier rack if you’re on an ebike or commuter bike, or opt for frame straps, combination cages, and maybe even tape if you’re on a mountain bike.
As for me, I like to run a combination. I usually keep a spare tube and a spare chain link taped to my bike and have a multi-tool that stores under my bottle cage (which you can find here). I dedicate my pockets to carry snacks and have pockets on the back of my bib-shorts that I use to carry a pump. This works best for me because I don’t usually remove layers once I’m riding, don’t eat or drink a lot while I ride, and I like the freedom of not carrying a pack. Like nutrition and hydration, experiment with what makes you feel the most comfortable when you’re riding, and makes you feel the most prepared for any situation that might arise. I’ve spent over fifteen years figuring this all out!
To wrap up, it’s easy enough for us to tell you what you need to carry as spares. 99% of the issues you might encounter whilst out riding can be remedied with our suggested tools and spares list. At the end of the day though, it’s up to what makes you the most comfortable. Some people will ride with no spares and take a chance, heck I’m guilty of it. If I’m riding somewhere and know it’s not a huge walk back to the car should things go wrong, I’ll often just carry a water bottle with me. Experiment with what you carry, what you eat, and what you drink and figure out what works best for you!