What are the essentials you need to take on every bike ride? We run you through seven of the most important

Pump, inner tube and tyre levers are all equally important - forget any one of them and you won't be able to fix that puncture!

Image shows a rider carrying the essentials she needs for every ride in a saddle bag.
(Image credit: Future)

Part of the joy of cycling comes from liberating feeling of riding care-free and under your own steam to wherever you want to go. The world may appear to be your oyster, but it's worth not forgetting that bikes are fundamentally mechanical - and what's mechanical can break down. 

Thankfully, there still isn't really that much that can go wrong with a bike, they are much simpler machines than cars - or even mopeds. In most cases, anyone with the right tools and a little know-how will be able to put it right - but that assumes you've actually brought the right tools!

So we've rounded up here seven of the most important tool which everyone should take on every ride or, at the very least, on every ride which goes further than you'd be prepared to walk back!

1. Pump / CO₂ inflator and canister

Image shows mini pumps which are essential for bringing on every bike ride.

A mini pump or gas canister are definitely a necessity
(Image credit: Paul Grele)

If you puncture you'll need an implement with which to fill your replacement inner tube to fix a bike puncture. If you can't do this you face the indignity of getting a cab or train home. Or, worse still, calling your partner/parent/sibling to come and pick you up. There are two options here - a pump or CO₂ inflator for using a canister.

The best bike pumps are frame fit. The longer, larger barrel means you can push more air with each pump. The mini-pumps are much easier and lighter to carry. 

The best CO₂ inflators can get you up to full pressure in seconds. Beware, the canister will freeze when the CO2 rushes out, so if it's not covered, then make sure your hands are.

2. Inner tube

Bike inner tube

(Image credit: Future)

One bike inner tube is a bare necessity. Two is better still. Three might be overkill. Who knows how many times you may puncture on a ride. If it's a short ride (under one hour) one tube will probably suffice. If it's a long wet day out, you could need more. Basically it's up to you.

Just remember, there's nothing more annoying than to be asked 'you don't have a spare tube, do you? I forgot mine.' Be a good cub scout and go prepared - and remember you'll need long valves if you have deep section rims.

3. Tyre levers

puncture repair

Save your hands, get some levers

If you've got very strong hands and tough skin on your fingers, well done you. If not, you'll need tyre levers, at least two. 

Slide one under the bead of the tyre, then put the second one in a few inches along the rim. Hold one in position while sliding the other one around the wheel rim which will release the tyre. Whatever you do, don't put the tyre back on the rim with the levers, you're likely to pinch the tube between the lever and the rim. This should be done by hand.

It may be a simple tool, but not all are created equal - find details on what to look for and our verdict on the best tyre levers here. 

4. Multi tool

7 of the best cycle multi-tools

A tool for every occassion
(Image credit: Cycling Active)

There's a lot that can go wrong with a push bike, and the chances are they'll go wrong when you're at your farthest point from home. Nine out of ten things can be fixed with a four or five millimeter allen key. That one other time you're likely to need something else.

Your best chance of having the right tool is to carry a multi-tool with a selection of items. Amongst the best cycling multi-tools you have small, light ones which will have few tools, and bigger ones which will almost allow you to strip and rebuild a bike by the road side. Which one you carry depends on the amount of carrying capacity your jersey and saddle bag have and the technical knowledge you have to wield said tool. We'd recommend one with allen key options and a chain breaker.

5. Emergency patches

Image shows a rider using a patch to repair a puncture.

Patches can be a space-saving alternative to more inner tubes

If you've only got room for one inner tube, or you ride over tacks in the New Forest, you could find yourself stranded. A packet of emergency patches - which you can find sold in puncture repar kits - will of the job of a dozen inner tubes if you hit real problems. Better still, you can give one of them to the rider who has forgotten to bring a spare tube.

6. Old strip of tyre

Image shows a rider repairing a puncture.

An old strip of tyre can come in handy to temporarily block up tears and rips

There will be times when an inner tube won't suffice. If a tyre gets a big hole punched in to it, slit or cut, the inner tube will bulge out. An old strip of tyre - about six inches long - with the side beads cut off will fit between the tyre and inner tube is a better option than a sticky old gel wrapper from your back pocket, and will fit easily in your saddle bag. Cut up an old tyre though, not a new one.

7. Money

Image shows a rider packing a bank card for a bike ride.

Don't get stranded without your plastic
(Image credit: mike prior)

Perhaps the most versatile tool you can bring - if all else fails, there's no surer thing to fall back on!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1