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What Do You Mean You Don’t Have A Spare Tube?

August 2012

I’m not about to stick my butt where it doesn’t belong so I’m going to be talking about a rhetorical situation here…

You’re out on a club ride, say a decent one, but a slower noob ride – we’ll use my Tuesday night mileage:  33 miles.  Half way out a noob in the group who just happens to come up with a flat, something simple – she picked up a staple (it’s happened to me).  You stop with her to make sure she’s ok and come to find out that she doesn’t have a spare tube with her.  Not only that, but because she’s short, she’s got a bike with 650’s instead of 700’s, so nobody else has a tube to loan her either.

I know what you’re thinking – while you’re reading this, and that’s a feat in and of itself because you’re on a computer –

“What do you mean you don’t have a spare tube?”

Now, if my ESP is messed up, which happens from time to time, and you were actually thinking, “what’s wrong with that?”

This post is for you.

Oh noobish noob, there are a few things that we folks who ride bicycles, we’ll call us cyclists just for fun, carry with us at all times.  There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about this list.  There is no argument that will hold water against carrying them – you must carry the following items with you at all times if you ride a road bike – a mountain bike is a little different, but a hybrid is not, and I’ll explain that soon enough.  The list:

2 pc tire lever set.  They cost about $3 at your local bike shop.

1 spare inner tube, the proper size and stem length for your bike:  $5-$10

1 tire pump (frame mounted or buy a small CO2 pump – I carry the latter):  $25-$35

1 presta stem adapter:  $1.50 (trust me on this, buy it)

1 spoke tool $6-$7

1 cycling specific Multi-Tool (I carry the Specialized multi-tool, there are several good brands – you want one with a chain tool on it) $25-$30

Patch Kit:  $2.99

Some spare change – paper and metal both – or better yet, your debit/credit card and ID

This will all fit in a small to medium-sized saddle bag – $20-$30.  The Specialized Wedgie Bag is the perfect size to fit everything you need.

If you live in an area that has bad roads, or roads strewn with litter, or in a bad part of town, OR if you ride a bike with odd sized tires, it is wise to carry a second tube.  This second tube will more than likely not fit in the saddle bag.  If that’s the case, put the boxed tube in a ziplock bag and put that tube in your jersey pocket (the ziplock bag will keep your shirt from getting dirty and the box from getting wet and the stem from corroding from the salt from your sweat).

This list is non-negotiable, irrefutable and important.

If you do not have these things in your saddle bag (or in your jersey pockets) and you flat, enjoy your walk…  You might want to sling your bike over your shoulder and carry it – you don’t want to damage the rim too.

If you are wise enough to carry these items and do not know how to change a tire, one of the club members will walk you through it – it takes all of 5-10 minutes to be back up and riding again.

Now, mountain bikes are a little different.  They’re a lot less prone to puncturing because of the knobby tires.  Even so, do you really want to walk that bike back to the car?  Consider carrying a set on your mountain bike.  Hybrids have road tires.  The price for using light weight tires is that they flat – even the kevlar lined one’s.  When you’re old enough to buy your own bike, ride it long distances at your whim and join a cycling club, you are old enough to take responsibility for yourself.  Be prepared or be walkin’.  It’s no skin off my back.

This post is rather harsh, in a funny way – I had to make it interesting for those of us who know better already, but still get all of the pertinent info in there.  Please accept my humblest apologies if you are offended.  You won’t be so offended when you flat and you’re prepared.  If you happen to be a cyclist and know a noob, please pass the link to this post on to them – there are actually people out there who don’t know any better!


  1. Hypothetical situation, eh? Haha. Reminds me of last week when I got a flat tire on my car, only to discover that my spare was also flat. Turns out my husband had to come bail me out, even though I’m perfectly capable of changing a tire on my own. Lessons learned the hard way sometimes stick the best.

    I don’t cycle, but thought your post was informative and funny. I’ll have to keep it in mind if I ever pull my bike out of the storage unit…

    • bgddyjim says:

      Flat on the spare tire in the trunk doesn’t count. I’ve had that happen before too – only I had to have the WIFE bail me out.

      Great site name by the way. Runs with blisters… That’s hilarious.

  2. beechcreekproject says:

    I carry all the above and I could add to the list – water. I used to ride with some guys that would start a 3 hour ride with only a couple of 8 oz. bottles of water. Of course they’d run out about an hour into the ride and asking me for water because they knew I always carried extra. Now everyone rides with a hydration pack so water isn’t that much of an issue anymore. I keep 2 tubes and patches as well and if a friend flats out on a ride and doesn’t have a spare tube I hand over a pack of scabs and lever set. Few times of this and they start carrying their own stuff. 🙂

    • bgddyjim says:

      Incan’t believe anyone would be silly enough to get on a bike without the H2O, that’s all kinds of crazy! That being a no brainer, I didn’t even think to add it. I laughed out loud at your pointing out the omission. Great point.

      Point was to be prepared for the mechanicals though. Water or Gatorade are a must for anything more than 4 miles.

      • beechcreekproject says:

        You’d think it would be a no brainer. Like they say – Common sense isn’t so common. 🙂

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