Saddlebag Essentials

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Please give a warm Ella welcome to our new contributor and Tech Editor, Kristen Legan. Kristen is an athlete, writer and coach. She raced triathlon professionally from 2009-2013, but has since switched her focus to exclusively racing bikes.  In 2012, she was one of six women to complete the entire Tour de France route as part of the Reve Tour. Living, training and working in Boulder, Colorado, Kristen coaches for APEX coaching and has a degree in Molecular Biology & Neurology from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Kristen is excited to share her favourite products, the latest in bike technology and her top tech tips with you.

– Anne-Marije

Riding down the open road on a sunny day with little traffic, I couldn’t help but think just how relaxing cycling can be. Then a slow hiss catches my attention and my bike starts to feel a bit wobbly. Cringing as I pull off the road, the hissing noise slows to a sputter and my rear tyre goes completely flat.

Punctures are part of cycling and it’s something none of us can escape. It doesn’t matter how well maintained your bike is, how often you check your tyres or how well you avoid glass and debris on the road. At some point, you will get a flat.

Knowing there is no escape from the occasional puncture, having a well-stocked saddlebag makes the flat changing process an easy, stress-free process that will get you back on the road in no time.

To make sure I can change multiple flats and fix minor mechanicals mid-ride, I carry these essential tools and equipment in my saddlebag anytime I hit the road:

Saddle. Saddle bag

The Essentials

  • Saddle Bag – Find a bag that works with your bike and can fit all of your flat-repair tools. Some bags have Velcro straps while others use buckle systems for a secure fit.
  • Tubes – Carry two tubes for extra security. If you flat and use one tube for the repair, it’s nice to have a backup tube in case you’re unlucky enough to get a second flat.
  • Tyre Levers – Tyre levers make changing flats a snap. The added leverage these colourful tools provide will help you get your tyre on and off while changing a flat.
  • Pump – While you probably won’t carry a pump in your saddlebag, this is a very important piece of equipment for changing flats. Either choose a frame pump that fits securely on your bike or carry a hand pump in your pocket.
  • Multi-tool – Mechanicals and mishaps can happen anytime. Carry a multi-tool in your saddlebag so you can fix minor problems and get back to riding.

Handy To Have

  • CO2 Cartridges and Inflator – If you carry a pump, CO2 cartridges are not necessary. However, they will speed up the flat changing process and get you back on the bike faster.
  • Patch Kit – A patch kits is a great backup plan in case of multiple flats on a disastrous day. These compact little repair kits don’t take up much room but they can make a big difference when you find yourself in a pinch.
  • Valve Extender – Some wheels have deep rims that require tubes with especially long valve stems. In case your spare tubes have short valves, carry a valve extender so you can use any tube with your aero wheels.
  • Dollar Bill or Gel Wrapper – Use a dollar bill or gel wrapper as a boot for sliced tyres or large holes in the rubber. These makeshift boots will keep your tube from pressing through the hole and will help get you home so you can replace the tyre completely.

Pro Tips

  • Plastic Valve Caps – Don’t toss the plastic valve caps from your spare tubes! Cut off the tip of the plastic bit and keep it your saddlebag for emergencies. When screwed onto a tube valve, this combo is roughly the same size as a Schrader valve and will work with gas station air pumps.
  • Integrated Saddlebags – If you don’t want to mess with straps and Velcro around your seat post, try an integrated saddlebag that clips onto specially designed saddles. These integrated systems are sleek and easy to use but the saddle options are limited and certainly don’t work for everyone.
  • Wrap Your Tubes – Wrap each tube in a plastic sandwich bag to prevent other equipment from rubbing small holes in the rubber tube.
  • Silence is Golden – Tired of hearing your CO2 cartridges clank around with every crack and bump in the road? Use rubber bands to hold them in place and enjoy the quiet ride.
  • Prevention is Key – For fewer punctures, regularly check your tyres before heading out for a ride and remove any glass or debris stuck in the rubber. Tweezers work great for pulling stubborn bits out of your tyres.

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