My brother and his family have taken up cycling recently and in an exchange of emails over the weekend I was advising him on the sorts of tools and gear it was wise to carry on outings – or at least the sort of stuff I usually carry when I go out for a ride. The funny thing about it was that I had to rack my brain to recall just what it was I had in the saddlebag. I seldom – knock on wood – have breakdowns and so I seldom find myself pawing through the junk on my saddlebag and over time I have largely forgotten.
I keep a multi-tool handy – not one of those super-elaborate ultimate Swiss Army style ones with 42 different tools, plus corkscrew and toothpick, but just a dignified folding set of common sized Allen keys and two main screwdriver heads. In addition I carry a good old Rema Tip-Top inner tube patch kit in its little blue plastic box, a couple of snap-on spare links for my chain, a small but powerful hand pump, a spare inner tube, a few plastic zip-ties (great for just-in-case – useful in the past when a mudguard came loose!) and all wrapped in an old tea-towel so I have something on which to wipe my hands after any roadside repairs, or if I unship my chain and get my hands oily putting it back on. Then chuck it in my saddlebag – a Carradice Barley – and forget until (or unless) needed.
Oh yes, and in winter I add a little aluminium torch to see by, since I am generally riding then in the cold and dark.
On a tour I would carry a bit more, but for around town or day rides where I am not likely to be near a train line if things really go pear-shaped, it is plenty, Not really much to carry but it does give a bit of peace of mind. It’ll get me home.