Having completed two long European bike tours (both 4000kms+) we have five essential items that everyone should carry on their self guided bike tours. So here they are:
1. A Tyre Pump
I am making this number one, as without it, number 2 and number 3 are worthless!! A bicycle tyre pump is basic, I don’t think anyone goes cycling without one! However, be sure to check that the pump fits your tube valve! We came to the rescue of a cyclist who had a pump but he had quickly realised it didn’t fit his tyre valve which led to him waving us down as we approached; always happy to help a fellow cyclist, once it’s not raining :-p
Our pump is basic, plastic, small and light weight but it was also very cheap! To be honest we are pleasantly surprised it has lasted this long but we ain’t complaining; best ten Euro we ever spent!
2. A Puncture Repair Kit
Puncture repair kits are inexpensive, weigh next to nothing but boy are they invaluable when you get a puncture in the middle of no where. Unfortunately, we have had numerous punctures, including three on a 1km stretch of road/bike path entering Budapest! Also, when you are forced to cycle on hard shoulders of main roads you will notice a lot of rubbish accumulates there from passing motorists and your bike tyres do not like it! City bike-lanes can be rough too, especially if poorly lit at night time.
Before we set off on our first bike trip I researched a few different brands and settled on the Lezyne brand which I purchased from the Bike24 website. They provided a video tutorial using the patches and this sealed the deal for me (no pun intended); it allowed me to see how straight forward it was. I must say, we were very happy with these patches and they worked a treat for us.
3. A Spare Tube
If you are doing a longer tour, I think it is very wise to carry a spare tube. You will find if you suffer multiple punctures over a long period, the tube starts to resemble a patchwork quilt of sorts and repairing it is more time consuming then simply swapping the tube for a fresh one. Tubes usually cost €6-€10 and do not take up much space. Again, make sure you purchase the right size tube and value combination.
On our first trip we didn’t use the new tube until the final stretch into Budapest left me with front and rear flat tyres and at that stage my rear tube had been repaired multiple times so we swapped it out for one of our spare tubes. On our second trip J suffered a similar fate with multiple repairs finally resulting him changing the tube and saving us a lot of hassle and stopped us wasting any more time on a day that was quickly becoming a cycling ordeal (that’s another story).
Don’t forget to replace your tube in your kit after you use it - you will find vending machines for tubes and other bike essentials all over France, soooo convenient!
4. A Multi-Tool
Saddle too high, too low or at a funny angle - no problem when you have a multi-tool! Also invaluable for other bike adjustments such as fitting a new bell when your original bell snaps off, flies through the air never to be seen again (yes this happened to me in France)! But seriously, they are great to have, we even used ours when replacing our brake discs after the hills of the French and Italian Riveria and the killer mountain passes in Italy and Austria.
Ours is like this one I found on amazon only this is much better value for money then ours was!
5. A Bike Lock
We have found that you become very attached to your bike, not only was it expensive to purchase but it is your only mode of transport while you bike tour AND has all your stuff attached to it, the last thing you want is for it to get stolen so buy a good lock! Your bike is like your baby and you become very aware of it’s value the more you cycle.
We both have ABUS Chain key locks. J’s is a heavier/thicker metal and longer than mine and is very convenient as he can chain both our bikes together to something and we can use mine as a secondary lock. Sometimes we would need to chain up individually, it depends on what is available to lock your bike to!
While the metal chain locks do add weight to your bike, I personally think they are worth it for the peace of mind they provide when you do use them.
This ABUS lock from Amazon is what I have.
So that’s it! If you found this article helpful, you might like to check out our article on non-essential but useful bike touring kit extras!
TIP: As you will no doubt get dirty and/or oily when fixing punctures, gears etc. it is great to have some wet wipes or baby wipes in your handlebar bag, even a few syphoned off into a zip-lock bag will do. At least your hands are somewhat clean and you won’t be getting oil or grease all over your handlebars and gloves etc.
More Bike Touring Blogs:
If you liked this blog you might like some of our other bike touring blogs too so we have attached some links below to make it easier for you to find them:
- Eight Useful Bike Touring Kit Items.
- What to Store in Your Handlebar Bag?.
- Why Ortlieb Bicycle Panniers are the Best!.
- Choosing a Bike Touring Route.
- Using Planes, Trains and Boats on your Bike Tour.
- Buying versus Renting Bike Touring Gear.
Even more noroadlongenough bike touring blogs available here.