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Archives for the day Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Some bike essentials

Now that bicycling season is upon us here in California, it is time for bicycle ideas.  It is the beginning of March so a lot of us are starting to go farther and faster on our bikes.  New riders take heed in what I say.  For you veterans, this is a reminder to do a pre-ride check.

Go say hi to your bike.  While you are there, take a good look at it.  The cob webs should be off by now.  If not, give the bike a bath.  Get some degreaser and clean the chain and sprockets real good.  Use a chain brush or a tooth brush will work.  It is important to keep your chain and sprockets clean because dirt and debris stick to the greasy buildup on your chain and act like sandpaper.  The abrasive action will wear out your chain and sprockets.  You will be amazed at how much it cost to replace your sprockets.  Most casual riders just buy a new bike.  It cost $200 to $300 for the parts and $100 to $200 to have a bike shop install them.  Be nice to your bike.  If you keep it clean and lubricated, it will last a long time and rarely need tuning.

Now that your bike is nice and clean give it a close look and make sure everything is tight.  Make sure your brakes still work and the tires are in good shape.  If you have any doubts about the tires, replace them.  If you look at your tires and think “they look worn but they will be okay” replace them.  Don’t go cheap on the tires.  Get good performance or Continental tires.  I am sure there are other good tires but I have had good luck with these brands.

Learn how to fix flats and replace the tires yourself.  There is nothing wrong with taking your bike to the shop to have the tires changed.  It is good to know how to do basic repairs yourself.  We do strange things on our bikes.  We will drive 100 miles out into the country then ride our bikes another 50 miles farther into the country.  If something happens in a remote place, you could be in for a long walk back to your car.  Be prepared.

I carry a bike pouch under my saddle.  I did an inventory today see what I really carry.  Here is my list of essentials:

  • Spare tube – Tubes are easy to replace and I don’t have to mess around with finding the hole and fixing it.  Every now and then, you will stumble across some poor soul with a flat and no spare tube or patch kit.  It is easy to give someone a tube and be on your way.  If you give away your patch kit, you are giving away some insurance.
  • Tire levers – Plastic tire levers make it easy to remove and install the tire in the event of a flat.  I like to carry plastic levers because they are flat and do not puncture my spare tube.
  • Patch kit – I am currently carrying a small glueless patch kit with 6 patches.  I usually carry a patch kit with glue but I am random when I buy a new kit.  I like to replace the kit every 1-2 years in the event the glue dries out.
  • Small tire pump – I have a push-pull style pump that pumps air in both directions.  The pump is good for both Schrader and Presta valves.  A lot of people like co2 pumps but I don’t like the idea of having one or two chances at repairing a flat.
  • ID in two pockets – In case I fall, it good for the paramedics to know where to send the bill.  I have about 5 road id tags but decided that it would be better to lose them then keep them in my bag.
  • Allen wrenches – 3mm and 5mm.  These are the main tools I need for my bike.  Most clamps and bolts are one of these sizes.
  • Roctane gels – 2 packages, in case I need some calories.
  • First aid kit – If you fall and get some skin flaps, it is so nice to be able to clean the wound and put a band aide on it.
  • $70.25 – It is good to carry some cash in case you want to buy some lunch or cool socks.  I usually carry $20.  I don’t know how I managed to get an odd number in my bag.
  • Spare car key
  • Safety pin
  • 2 twist ties
  • 2 zip ties


There are a lot of different opinions on what you need to carry.  You can to a web search for seat bag tire repair kits for more suggestions.  You can buy the stuff from an online retailer or your local bike shop.  I prefer the local bike shops.  A lot of times you can catch someone from the store to tell you about how to stock your pouch.  If the store is crowded, you might catch someone passing by to ask their opinion.  Either way, it is more fun to go look at the items in the store.