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Road Bike Repair Essentials

Flat tires and mechanical mishaps are inevitable in cycling. To be ready for anything, here are the tools, gear, and spares every rider should carry on their road bike.

Written by: Bruce Lin

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There’s nothing worse than going out for a ride and getting stranded, miles from home. Out on the open road, flat tires and mechanical mishaps are common and pretty much inevitable. Here are the repair essentials you should always carry on your road bike, you know, for those rides when you don’t have a team car following you with all the spares.

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Spare tubes

Road bike spare tubes

It’s not a matter of if you get a flat tire, but when. Don’t be that rider begging every passing cyclist for a spare tube. I always carry at least one basic butyl tube (I happen to use Continental tubes) on every bike. There are also options like Tubolito and Schwalbe’s Aerothan tubes that use thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU. They cost more but are smaller and lighter to satisfy weight weenies.

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Tubolito road tube - $36.99
Aerothan road tube - $33.23

Tire lever

Road bike tire leversTo replace a punctured tube, you’ll need at least one tire lever to free the tire bead. If you lack muscle or have extremely tight tire beads, it may take two levers, but in most cases one is enough. Our favorites are made by Pedros and Park Tool because they're cheap, light, and effective.

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Park Tool TL-1.2 tire levers (3) - $6.25

CO2 or hand pump

Road bike co2 inflator cartridges and hand pumpsCompact CO2s are the popular option for reinflating flat tires. I prefer beefy inflators like the MSW Jetstream, Leyzne Control Drive, or G.I. AirChuck because they’re easier to control. I’ve watched too many riders waste CO2 cartridges fumbling with cheap inflators. A 16-gram CO2 cartridge is enough to fully inflate a road tire.

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Lezyne Control Drive - $21.35
Genuine Innovations AirChuck - $20.54

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If you prefer the reliability of a hand pump, Lezyne also makes compact pumps that fit in your pocket or mount to your bike. I like Lezyne pumps because they achieve the high pressures needed to inflate road tires and they have flexible hoses, so you don’t accidentally break your valve.

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Road bike multitoolsIf you hit a pothole and your bars twist, or your cleats come loose, or your saddle is somehow the wrong height, a small lightweight tool will save your ride. Any bike-specific multitool will do. Bare minimum it should have 3, 4, and 5mm hex wrenches and a T25, or whatever size fasteners your bike requires.

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Silca Italian Army Knife Nove - $35.00
Park Tool I-Beam - $16.95

Saddle bag

Road bike saddle bagsSo you have your repair essentials. How do you carry them? Saddle bags like the Arundel Medio look classy, hold your stuff, and have a zipper to quickly access tools and spares. Leyzne has a couple of modern-looking, low-profile options as well. 

Seat roll style bags like the Silca Asymmetrico are another popular option because they don't use zippers, which can get clogged and stuck if you ride in a lot of rain and mud. Plus, they provide a hip old-school look. Some riders hate the look of saddle bags on their bikes. If that’s the case, you’ve always got pockets!

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Lezyne Road Caddy - $21.99
Lezyne M Caddy - $22.99

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What did I miss? What other riding essentials do you always carry on your road bike? Let us know in the comments!

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