Cycling to work can alleviate stress, but this doesn’t mean things always go to plan. Here are a few must-have essentials for every commute so you can always be prepared for the most common of problems to stop you in your tracks.
Puncture repair kit and tyre levers
We all get punctures eventually. Keeping a repair kit and a set of tyre levers with you will get you back on the road in no time.
A standard kit should contain several patches, some glue, sandpaper, and chalk. If this all sounds a bit much to you, or you're short on space, you can buy pre-glued patches instead.
Not all kits come with tyre levers, so grab a set of these as well. You'll need these to remove your tyres, and they usually come in packs of two or three.
If you just don't have the energy to patch your inner tube, you could carry a spare tube instead. Remember to check the inside of your tyre and remove any sharp objects poking through before replacing it.
If you're unsure about fixing punctures and changing tubes, find a maintenance class near you!
Inflated tyres are less prone to punctures, and will keep your ride smooth, and your power output efficiency. While track pumps are the preferred option, they're not practical when you're on the move. This is where a mini-pump will come in handy.
If you're buying one for the first time, check which valve type you've got - Presta or Schrader - and make sure the pump you buy is compatible. Or, why not get a multi-way pump? Then you can be that lovely person who is able to help out a fellow cyclist, no matter which valves they're running.
Multi-tool (and optional extras)
A good multi-tool can do a lot of useful things, and what you'll need on yours will vary depending on your bike and your mechanical skill level.
At the very least you’ll need both screwdriver heads and a variety of Allen keys. This is all you'll need to fix brackets to your handlebars for lights, reflectors and bells, adjust your saddle height, and re-align your mudguards and brake pads if you feel some rubbing.
If you ride hard and have the necessary skill set, you might want a chain tool included, so that if you happen to snap your chain while out riding, you've got what you need for a temporary fix until you reach the nearest bike shop. As an optional extra, you may want to carry a quick-link for this same purpose.
If your bike doesn't have quick-release skewers, you'll also need a 15mm spanner to remove your wheels.
Spare lights or batteries
Don’t get caught in the dark without lights. We’ve all seen that dreaded warning light when we’re only halfway home.
Always have a backup plan. If your lights are battery-operated, carry some spare batteries with you at all times. If you use USB re-chargeable lights, keep a spare set of lights in your bag for emergencies.
At least one D-Lock
Even if your workplace has a secure bike storage area, a lock can ironically be the key to freedom. Carry at least one D-lock with you, to secure your bike when you make an unexpected stop. Now you can go for a drink with your colleagues or stop at the shops on your way home!
If you have quick-release skewers, you might carry two D-locks, to secure both wheels to the frame.
D-locks aren't the most portable items, but they are important. Many will come with a bracket to attach it to your frame. If that's not an option, consider packing them in your backpack, pannier, or a rack-top bag.
Bonus Extra: Snacks!
Because when we're pedalling hard, we deserve a treat. Keep yourself happy and fuelled by carrying a well-deserved flapjack or chocolate bar with you. You never know when you'll need a quick pick-me-up!
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