Even as a casual cyclist, I consider some equipment as essential, which I won’t go for a ride without. Here’s the list of what I’m currently taking with me:
On the Bike:
Repairing a puncture is useless if you can’t re-inflate the tyre. Mine is a small frame mounted pump which incorporates a pressure dial, to ensure the tyre pressures are correct. I also use this same pump for occasional checks and top-ups which are needed from time to time.
- Water Bottle
Not necessary for short rides, but definitely required for anything longer than, say, an hour.
- Saddle Bag
Where I keep bike maintenance essentials for mid-ride repairs
- Top Tube Bag with Clear Phone Holder
For small, easy to access essentials.
- Cycle Computer
Recording my rides is essential for me because it means I can see how I’m improving over time, be that by distance, average speed or the grades of hills. I use a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt which also gives me basic route navigation, can link to cadence, speed and heart rate sensors (which I don’t yet have) and when connected to a smartphone, can supply live ride updates to those who I decide to share it with.
At night or low light conditions, these are essential and I tend to run them all the time regardless. Currently using CatEye Volt 100XC at the front and a CatEye Rapid Micro at the back (the two as part of a set).
- Action Camera
I have one forward facing cheap action camera from Muson. Used to record entire rides for fun, but also as evidence in case of an incident. At some point I’ll add a rear facing camera, possibly a Cycliq Fly6CE to also replace the current rear light.
In the Saddle Bag:
Making repairs at the roadside would be impossible without a multi-tool. Mine incorporates tyre levers, three sizes of allen keys and a Philips head driver. Just one allen key and the tyre levers are needed for me to remove a wheel and tyre for puncture repair.
- Tyre Levers
These form part of my multi-tool, but other tools may not incorporate them.
- Replacement inner tube
Perhaps not essential if taking a puncture repair kit of some form, but replacing a punctured tube is quicker and easier than fixing a puncture mid-ride. As I’d rather not struggle or be delayed more than necessary, it’s part of my standard kit.
- Self-adhesive patches
In case the replacement inner tube has been used or if I have punctures in both wheels, these allow me to fix punctures without the need to worry about glue.
In the Top Tube Bag:
Used for mid-ride photos and route checking – and by linking with my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, it provides a live feed of my ride to those I share it with. Also essential in case of emergencies, be it an accident requiring medical help, or simply a taxi in case of unrepairable mechanical failure (of course, a regular mobile phone would do for this too).
- External Battery
For rides over about 45 minutes, I use this to provide power to my cheap ‘action camera’, the battery for which doesn’t last too much longer than that. Most power packs will keep a camera going for many hours, great for the longer rides. This is also useful as emergency power if the smartphone should run out of juice for any reason.
- Credit/Debit/Pre-pay Card
Unless my ride is a quick trip to town, I don’t take my wallet. However, some method of payment is essential, not just for paying for the odd mid-ride coffee and cake, but in case an emergency pick-up by taxi is required. A pre-pay card is perhaps the safest option, as long as it allows cash withdrawals in case the taxi firm doesn’t take card.
- Emergency Cash
As well as the above, I take a small amount in notes in case I need to pay for something where cards aren’t an option and there’s no local cash-point.