Friday Group Ride #253

Friday Group Ride #253

Regular readers will know that I’m not the most together cyclist. I could blame my kids and our busy life, but I wasn’t that well-0rganized before they showed up. A lot of times I’m stumbling out the door, pulling my gloves on, buckling my helmet and just hoping I can hang with whoever it is I’m riding with.

I am fortunate in that I don’t really get flats. I attribute it to being not very large and a decent bike handler, not god’s gift behind the bars, but nimble enough. As a result, my saddle bag carries the minimum emergency ration. There is a tube. There is a CO2 cartridge and an inflation head. There is a patch and a tube of glue (likely hard as a rock). And there is half of a multi-tool.

If I’m honest, the CO2 is more of a gesture or a fetish meant to ward off evil than an actual way to fix a flat. The first time I ever used CO2, I blew the whole cartridge into the still night air and walked home. If the ride I’m on is long and/or serious, I will bring a small hand pump, and endure it shifting around in one of my pockets for a few hours. I hate that though, so normally I gamble on my single cartridge and my handling skills and a little luck.

My road bike has a pump peg, so that just underlines how lazy I am about my kit. I have never bothered to find a pump to fit the frame. I wouldn’t like the way it looked anyway. It would probably rattle, so I’d only end up leaving it at home, too.

I have, once or twice, been queried by my regular riding friends who say things like, “You’re not thinking I’m going to give you a tube, are you?” or “Are you that guy that depends on other people to save him when he flats out in the sticks?” And I can honestly say that I am not. My supplies don’t inspire confidence, but I am far more likely to give a tube than take one. In fact, if tubes were karma, my account would be full. And should I ever fall short in flat-fix department, I would never begrudge a group to ride away, leaving me to my iPhone and my funny, cleated hiking shoes.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what’s in your saddle bag? Are you carrying the kitchen sink with you whenever you leave home? Or are you a minimalist? Do you flat enough that you are always working on anti-flat strategies, or are you like me, blasé and unconcerned, able to survive on the 2 cubic inches that the smallest saddle bags afford?

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39 comments

  1. Michael Schlitzer

    One of my best friends carried everything in his saddle bag. He once broke a link in his chain at the start of a ride, took it out, put the chain back together, and was back on the road in maybe 5 minutes. I’m more of the praying type – just a tube, some irons, and a small pump.

  2. AG

    Pretty minimal, but effective. One tube, patches that are somewhat fresh, tire lever, one or two allen wrenches, some money and an expired driver’s license for ID. For air I carry a small black Lezyne pump that mounts under the bottle cage. No rattling, it looks pretty OK and works everytime. Plus, it weighs almost the same as a CO2 cartridge and inflator thingy but the weight is down low. When my buddy blows a tire and goes through his CO2, that pump comes in handy.

  3. m:m

    Mine is pretty straightforward. Two spare tubes, Innovations Proflate CO2 pump, two CO2 cartridges (one in the pump itself), two tire levers, and a small patch kit. That all goes in an Arundel Dual saddle bag. Multi-tool goes in jersey pocket. The philosophy behind it is to carry just enough to fix two flats and any minor adjustments necessary should something come loose. I’ve never had to use the multi-tool, but I have used both tubes on one particularly nasty spring ride. I could lose the patch kit as I’ve never used it.

    1. PVasiliou

      In the bag I carry one tube, glueless patch kit, tire boots (2), and a multi-tool. On ‘away’ rides (anything that I drive to the ride start) I carry a second tube in my jersey. I also carry cash, ATM card, health insurance card, and the driver’s license.
      Funny story: before a club ride, a member asked for an allen key to tighten his seatpost. I took my multi-tool out and handed it to him. He ended up complaining that he could not possibly put enough torque on the cinch bolt with “this thing”.
      Of course his tool worked a lot better. Oh, wait. HE DIDN’T HAVE ONE!!!!!

  4. harris

    I carry an old license, sticky patches, chapstick, money and square of tyvek envelope with electrical tape on it, bound with a rubber band to a set of levers; it goes in one pocket with a small tool. A tube in a sock in another pocket w/ 2 gels; pump in the middle pocket with phone. That setup has gotten me home from every ride I chose to finish, the phone got me home from a couple I didn’t choose to finish, and there is never too much in the pockets to matter.

  5. Jim P.

    I’ve got 2 tubes with 80mm valve stems, a patch kit, CO2 (mini pump in jersey pocket), a very small allen/phillips head multitool, a park tire boot, spare seat post binder bolt, $20, and in case my tires don’t go flat but I do, an emergency ration of Skittles or other sugar source that won’t melt. If it’s the warm season, there’ll also be a tiny Ziplock with some endurolytes. I used to keep an expired ID and a copy of my insurance card in there but then reasoned that if I really need either of those then there’s a good chance that whatever caused the need will have also seen fit to separate me from my bike.

  6. Andy L

    My saddle bag has a tire and tube, a CO2 with extra cartridge, tire irons, and a small multi-tool. I admit that I have a small pump that attaches under the water bottle cage – I guess I’m a belt and suspenders kind of guy. Food, phone, money and documentation goes in a pocket.

  7. Josué

    One 18-25mm tube, Park self adhesive patches, a Park tire boot, a Pedro’s lever, Fix-it sticks replaceable (with extra tube of all attachments they come with), and a Lezyne pressure drive mounted under the pump (doesn’t rattle). I ride 25mm tires, BTW.
    Every time I flirt with swapping to CO2 and ditching the pump, a friend will get a flat and burn through two canisters and need to use my pump so I haven’t swapped it out yet. after many saddlebags, I settled on the Lezyne micro-caddy (small) strap version. Loved it for a while, and then was given a Rapha tool roll and swapped to it. I don’t like it as much (heavier, and doesn’t sit as tight against the saddle rails), so I am looking at maybe swapping back to that set of items bound in a velcro strap (used in our IT department as cable harnesses) inside of a thick baggie in my jersey pocket. That option has gone off and on as my choice when I prefer having a clean seatpost instead of a saddlebag. I have flirted with the Cadence Collection saddlebag, as it is very compact and light, but still haven’t pulled the trigger. I have also bought (and returned) the Rapha essentials case before, but it seemed to be too tight a fit for my stuff if my phone were kept inside. I may get one again, though, and just keep my phone out of it.
    I used to buy only the 23-32mm tubes in the hopes that they would be more puncture resistant, but have since changed to the 18-25mm variety and am surprised at how much smaller they are. That change, and the swap to the Park self adhesive patches, have yielded the best space/weight savings that I have found.

  8. Michael

    Bag has a tube, a tiny Swiss Army knife, and a few dollar bills to either use to boot a tire or buy a drink or snack. I have a mini-pump attached to the bottle cage and carry a multi-tool, spoke wrench, another tube, and patch kit in my jersey pockets. I carry a phone if I’ll be somewhere I’d have any reception, but that is pretty uncommon so I tend to not carry the weight. A friend showed me the value of the spoke wrench when I hit a pothole at the beginning of a double century and my wheel was warped to hitting the brakes within a couple of km, so I bought another one to keep with me on rides and leave my favorite on my work bench. I have never used a CO2 cartridge – the waste offends me and I rarely don’t have time to pump a tire – but a couple of years ago I bought a CO2 inflator and a tube for the saddle bag of my townie. I have not needed it yet but am sort of resigned to messing it up when I finally have to use it. At least it is a townie – I can always walk wherever I am going.

  9. Sharkie

    Two tubes, spoke wrench, 5$ bill, two levers, multi tool and small pump on bottle cage mount.
    I don’t trust myself with cartridges only

  10. wheelman61

    2 tubes, 2 tire levers, Park patches and a piece of tread rubber peeled off a Clement Del Mundo sewup years ago for a boot. A Ritchey CPR9 multitool that has saved my bacon on multiple occasions. A Zefal HpX frame pump that everyone wants to make fun of, until they need to borrow it when their CO2 runs out or their toy pocket pump let them down. Add a couple of Hyperglide pins and I’m rolling. Never had to walk home or ask for a ride since 1977

  11. Marky

    I’m actually more interested in that beautiful saddle in the photo, is it yours? Are they as comfortable as I have heard? If so how long does it take to break in? Sorry to be off topic but it’s eye catching.


    1. Author
      Robot

      @Marky – It’s not mine. It’s off a show bike. I thought the Brooks saddle bag was funny/awesome. I don’t know how long it takes to break in that saddle. Maybe someone else has the answer?

  12. Scott G.

    Marky, saddle is a Brooks B-15 Swallow, perfect saddle for your 9 stone
    TT specialist from the 1940s. Saddle weighs 520g.

    Back OT, frame pump, 2 tubes, boot, snap link or shimano pin
    with multi/chain tool. Kit stays on the bike, each of my bikes has very
    different parts. Having am english dumbbell tool for a Campy
    bike doesn’t work.

  13. Girl

    Marky, I can speak to the Brooks saddle and bag. Saddle: no break-in. Was my go-to choice until I got a new bike with a Specialized Romin Evo saddle. My husband has the bag. Insanely expensive, but looks great on his Pashley Sovereign–a true gentleman’s bike. (Not intended for going fast.)

  14. Goner

    One tube, two CO2 carts, inflator head, tire boot, one plastic tire lever, park multi-tool, $30 in cash, a piece of sandpaper about half the size of a dollar, a spoke wrench, chain ‘missing link’, two extra small allen wrenches (pedal float adjust size and seatpost/bottle cage size), a small shrinky-dink dragon my daughter made me, two tylenol, an advil, sometimes the car key (if I drove to the ride)

  15. James

    In a Bontrager saddle bag I have 2 tubes, park glue-less patch kit, $5 bill, a piece of rip-stop nylon for emergency boot (the $5 works as well for a boot) and a 4mm and 5mm allen wrench, and a Wipperman master link along with a home made-cobbled together chain breaker. My pump will be either a Lezyne mini strapped under the saddle bag with an old toe strap, or a full length Topeak frame pump. How many times have I had a double flat in one ride? It’s been so long I can’t remember. Have I ever in 30+ years had to use a roadside repair chain link? Never on my own bike, only people I have been out with.

  16. Stephen Barner

    Since an incident last year in which I pinch flatted going down a steep, unpaved hill, getting half a dozen snake bites before I stopped, and then flatting again, later, with a tube whose valve separated, finding myself without a spare tube or enough patches that could fix all the holes in the first tube–whew, what a sentence–I have taken to packing two tubes and a small glueless patch kit on most rides. I also carry a multi-tool, not understanding why someone doesn’t make a lighter version that is still affordable. If I carry a CO2 cartridge, it will always be in addition to a pump. The trick is when riding sewups, which I like to do. That second flat will ruin your day and, here in Vermont, you’re darned lucky to find a cellular signal, once you’re out of sight of the interstate.

  17. Les.B.

    Along with the usual flat fixing stuff, I carry a few zip ties. Take up almost no space and are great for emergency repairs.

  18. DavidA

    2 tubes….2 CO2 w/Head…..1 lever….some kind of a boot….Power bar wrapper…etc. use good tires…..dont let them get super worn out…Maxxis re-fuse or Contis…..always carry a small pump in pocket and if you go with a group one of you carry a NEW tire in the back pocket like PROS.

  19. Walt S

    The usual stuff–2 tubes (yes I have been on a ride and flatted twice numerous times–goat heads are a PITA), patch kit, one tire iron, and… wait for it… a Silca frame fit pump with a steel Campy head. Yes I am Old School!

  20. Alan

    1-2 tubes, tiny patch kit, levers, pump, food. Some money and lots of food. Probably a lot of other supplies on longer rides in the mountains.

    Wyoming/Colorado will kill you. Almost got me in June in Snowy Range. #frozen

  21. Peter Kelley

    Move along please… Nothing to see here…

    I’m far too superstitious to engage in this conversation.

  22. Pat O'Brien

    When one lives in the land of goatheads, also also wisely named puncturevine, you have to be ready. Since I started using Schwalbe Marathon tires, I haven’t fixed many flats; I can’t remember when I had my last flat.

  23. Aar

    My repair kit can best be described as small, light and thorough. When I use a saddle bag, it’s an Arundel Uno and a mini pump in a bottle cage clip. These days the pump and kit hang out in my jersey pocket. It includes a chain breaker, spare link, spoke wrenches, Benadryl & Imodium in addition to the usual stuff like tube, patches, lever and mini tool. I get a silent chuckle when the person with a Bento Box and massive, 25 pound floppy saddle bag asks me for a tool they don’t have.

  24. Craig P

    I really hate flats, so both my wife and I use IRC 25mm tubeless tires. My repair kit consists of a small bottle of Stans Sealant, valve stem remover, a tube of Hutchinson tubeless tire patch glue ( Superglue ), CO2 cartridge / adjustable on / off head, a couple of small Allen wrenches, first aid kit. I’ve only had one flat in the last year – and was able to fix it without even removing the wheel from the bike. I’m totally sold on tubeless.

  25. Matt K

    I keep it minimal. A mini pump, patch kit, tire lever, one tube, multi tool, some cash for food or drink and a couple good luck trinkets to ward off any need to use said items.

  26. Miles Archer

    I don’t ride trails anymore but those puncture vines are the worst.

    Maybe I’m asking for it, but I only carry one tube and a patch kit. I’ve only needed to use the patch kit once and even then, I accepted a tube from a passing stranger rather than have to find the puncture. Like an idiot, i broke off the valve stem while pumping up the new tube.

  27. David B

    Lots of steep windy bumpy minefield roads around here (excellent for riding). Cell reception is rare, so two tubes and glueless patch kit. Chain tool and the three allens to fit anything on the bike. Spoke wrench, two spokes stored in the seat post, and the tiny cassette remover that uses the dropout for leverage. And of course, a frame pump strong enough to beat the style nazi’s senseless.

  28. Peter Leach

    My ‘km per flat record’ – if you can call it a ‘record’ is 21.5 [4 flats on an 85km ride].
    Thankfully, it’s only happened once.
    I carry a spare tube, a Park glueless patch kit, tyre levers, some plastic for a boot and a multitool in my saddle bag. A Lyzene pump mounts under my seat tube bottle cage.
    My phone, id and some cash goes in a ziploc bag in my right jersey pocket.
    Scrunched up gillet in my centre pocket.
    A banana / gels in my left.
    That gets me through most rides.
    If I know that I’m going to be out for less than two hours, I’ll take one bidon. Usually I take two.
    So, I’m more of a ‘kitchen sink’ guy than a ‘minimalist’.
    ps. and I now know better than to ride with a worn rear tyre.

  29. Paul

    I carry two tubes, tire levers, multitool, baggie with money, licence, credit card, insurance card & band-aids for luck. Wished I had an glasses screwdriver today, thankfully the right lens popped out at lunch and not on the road.

  30. Todd

    If it doesn’t fit in my jersey, it doesn’t come. Today in my jersey, I came to find out, was a used CO2 cartridge. Screwed it in the inflation head and nothing happened. Hence the jog to pick up my daughter from soccer – knew I was going to be late. Half way there, I hear a voice from behind, “I thought that was you Todd! Saw you from the cross street.” As I explained the situation he dug into his bag and pulled out a CO2, but fumbled and said he didn’t have the inflation head. Alas, between the two of us we had the full deal – his cartridge and my head. Two lessons, the tube karma does repay and you don’t always have with you what you think you have with you.

  31. Bill Webster

    Banjo Bros bag: tube, 2 irons, $20, glueless patches and Park aliens wrenches. After reading this thread I’m going to add a spoke wrench….

  32. Tom in Albany

    You and I are cut from a cloth…

    Tube. Patch kit. Tire lever – weak hands. $5 – bonk protection/recovery fund.

    I put that silly hand pump in my jersey pocket. I’ve got a CO2 head. I used the cartridge and never replaced it. I go 130 and handle reasonably – though I probably change about 5 flats a year thanks to being too lazy to pump up my tires regularly. I’ve only been stranded a couple of times on my morning commute. Got a ride from a good Samaritan one and had to use my funky hiking shoes for about 3 miles(!) once. Actually rode on the rim for a bit of that one because I was so f’n sick of walking and I was pretty late for work by then.

    Cheers, Robot. I’d love to ride with you someday and see if we can tweak kharma’s nose.

  33. Rich

    winter – Arundel seatpack with two tubes, a pair of Pedros levers and the 12 year old Crank Bros tool I keep in my pocket as it’s too large. I run a old Carbon Blackburn Frame pump in the winter. Nobody likes changing tubes when it’s cold and the pump inflates quickly and isn’t a one hit wonder.

    Summer – it all goes into a small Speedslv pack. levers, mini tool and a couple of tubes. I normally carry a mini pump, but when I don’t I pop on a Park Frame pump. Not sexy, but as most of my rides are on flint strewn roads I see my fair share of punctures, whether mine or my buddies.

  34. Ron

    No saddle bag, I use an older Lezyne Caddy Sack (with a zipper, not fold-over Velcro) and put it in my center jersey pocket. 1 tube, folded tightly with a Pedros lever rubber-banded to it. One C02 cartridge, one chuck head. One small set of glueless patches (Park?), one small plastic bag with a sunglass lens cleaner cloth, one small plastic bag with a few folded tissues for *emergency* stops, 1 Lezyne M-5 multi-tool.

    Lezyne Road Drive medium strapped to the ST. That’s it. I ride out in the country and have yet to get really stuck. Keep my tires in good shape and swap when dying, watch my lines, roads are pretty good once out of the city center.

  35. Hans M. Ruppenthal

    One tube, one multi-tool, one patch kit, two (2) CO2 cartridges, $5 bill, two (2) tire levers, one chuck head.

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