Mechanical Load Outs

So we were talking about being self-sufficient, and your bare minimum load out.

Basic Load Out

So this is the minimum I take? But why?

The smallest amount of mechanical kit I carry on any ride!

Spare Tube

You are not going to stand on the side of a road and do an old school patch. I don’t even patch the tube when I get home, I chuck it. I don’t want to pull out a patched tube and find it won’t inflate 50 miles from home in the cold and wet. Carry spare tubes. If you’re on a massive epic multi-day ride or something, yes, take a patch kit and patch in the evening so you don’t have to find somewhere to buy another. But for day riding, new spare in the load out is essential.

CO2 Canister or Pump

CO2 is a really good way to quickly inflate your tube when you change it. They’re simple and fast to use, see a nice GCN Video Here.  I have a couple of different CO2 dispensers, as I have toolkits pre-loaded on two bikes. This is my favourite type as it has a twist valve to control the flow. Generally my basic load out is just CO2. You could carry a pump instead. But you need at least one or the other.

Tyre Levers

Depending on your rim and tyre choice, as well as your hand strength and experience, you can change a flat without tyre levers. But always best to carry them. Mine are integrated into my Multi-Tool.


I carry a Topeak Hexus II that I’ve had for years. It’s got integrated tyre levers, chain tool and hex bits for all my hex heads on the bike. It’s also got spoke tools that work on my spokes and a few other bits. I’ve not had a situation where it doesn’t do what I need yet. I suspect it may have been discontinued and replaced with the Hexus X now, which has a few more tools and is 3g heavier. If I was upgrading I’d be tempted to look at Leyzene products as they usually seem pretty nice.

Quick Link for your Chain

Combined with a chain breaker. This is helpful in the event you break your chain, which is possible even if you aren’t some super sprinter putting out thousands of watts. I’ve done it. And I’m not that powerful! It’s also helpful in a total rear mech disaster. Break and shorten the chain, re-linking with the quick link to make yourself a single speed bike and still be able to ride home.

Know What to do With Them

It’s no good carrying this kit and relying on someone else to use it for you. There are some things that may be beyond people, but, you should be prepared to tackle a few basic problems yourself, and to have a go with advice and support at others with this kit.

Deal with a Flat

You must know how to change your inner. You can practice this at home. There’s a few basic things that trip up people who’ve not done it before:

  1. Release the brakes (unless it’s a disc brake)
  2. Put the rear in the bottom cog to remove the rear wheel easily
  3. Make sure you check the tyre for the source of the flat and remove anything that’s sticking in it to avoid a fresh new puncture!
  4. Put some air in the new inner before stuffing into the tyre

These are the little non-obvious things it’s easy to trip up on. But you should have the technique at least basically right. It’s easy to try at home. GCN to the rescue again here.

Adjust Your Brakes

Vital to understand how to adjust your brakes. If something happens, wheel goes out of true, brakes are too loose etc on a ride you need to know how to slacken them off or tighten them up to keep you safe. A good GCN Video Here.

Adjust Your Gears

If you’ve got a minor issue with your shifting, tinkering on the road if you’re not experienced is likely to make it worse. However, in the event of some kind of accident or issue that means you can’t ride the bike without a bit of a fiddle, then again, GCN have some tips here.

Buckled Wheels

Of course our road surfaces are rubbish. SO it’s quite likely you could buckle a wheel out on a ride and that cause you issues getting home. You should be aware how to deal with that.

Expanding Your Kit

So if you’re out on a solo ride for a shortish distance, you might get away with one tube and one canister of CO2. If you’re out on a group ride, if everyone has a tube and a canister, then that might be enough for many more rides, until the ratio of remaining spare tubes and canisters in the group goes down.

If you’re out for a longer ride solo, or a longer group ride, at least one person needs to be carrying a pump. Either negotiate the pump carrier. Or always take a pump, assuming you’re the one person stops you or your friends from being stranded.

There are loads of good compact pumps on the market. Small for going in jersey pockets. You don’t need a huge pump the size of your top tube!

If I’m going on a 100 mile ride, I just add a few bits, two more inner tubes, some zip ties and a cafe lock. Sometimes I also take some more industrial tyre levers, as my particular tyre/rim combo can be hard work!

Zip ties can be used to bodge things that are hanging loose when the shouldn’t be. The Cafe lock gives you a tiny amount of safety when parking your bike up at the cafe. It’s not exactly super-safe, but, it might be enough to give you time to stop a thief or have a casual idiot not bother.

Carrying the Kit

The Velominati would have us believe under Rules 29-31 we shouldn’t use a saddle bag or mount our pumps on our frames and should stuff it all in our Jersey Pockets.

Well that’s a load of rubbish. Generally, if I’m out for a club ride on a Sunday or a shortish solo I use a small saddle bag for everything except pump and cafe lock, I stick the single tube, chain links, multitool etc in the bag and the cafe lock and pump in my jersey.

If I’m going further at short notice, I might shove another tube in the jersey pockets. I’m more likely to shift everything to the bigger saddle bag which has room for my full load out, except the pump. On one of my bikes I have a pump mount on the bottle cage. I’ve been too lazy to buy and fit another for the other bike!

This keeps my jersey pockets free for the other essentials, that aren’t tools.

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