Whether you keep your bike in top condition or prefer a more hands-off approach to bike maintenance, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience a mechanical problem whilst out cycling at some point.
With basic bike mechanic skills and the right tools and equipment, you can almost always fix any issues (or at least enough to see you home or to the nearest bike shop).
A saddle bag has long been the go-to easy, neat and secure option for carrying all the repair kit you could possibly need, saving valuable pocket space for food or wet weather clothing. Knowing what to pack and how to pack it can make or break any trail or roadside repair situation and turn a potential ride-ending technical problem into a minor inconvenience and prevent a costly taxi ride home.
Here are our top tips of which items you should carry in your saddle bag and how to pack them.
It goes without saying that punctures are the most common repair riders will have to deal with so this is a good place to start. If you ride with clincher or tubeless tyres, always carry at least one spare inner tube. Pre-glued patches are great for quick and cheap fixes but there are times they won’t cover the hole so it’s best to have a spare tube just in case. Dependent on the size of the bag, carrying two spare tubes will allow you to fix a puncture and continue your ride, safe in the knowledge that you have another spare tube should you need it. Inner tubes are the largest item you’ll need to carry so pack these first then you can fit smaller items around them. Ensure it’s folded neatly and secured with an elastic band to minimise the space it takes up.
A mini pump will fit in your pocket and allow you to inflate your tyre enough to continue your ride. A Co2 inflator may fit in your saddle bag or pocket and will rapidly get you back up to the required pressure and on the move again.
You might find you can remove your tyre from the rim with your hands but, with the increasing trend in wider rims and tubeless setups, it’s likely you’ll need the extra leverage that tyre levers offer. Slide these down the side of the packed inner tube, along the wall of the saddle bag to save space or use SCICON’s Roller 2.1 mounting bracket which has two tyre levers built in, complementary with every Roller 2.1 saddle bag.
It might sound like an odd one, but bear with. Should the worst happen, it’s a good idea to keep a set of latex gloves rolled up in your saddle bag. They take up next to no space and save your hands from being covered in oil or dirt.
It’s rare to break your chain but when it happens it can be devastatingly frustrating. A quick link takes up very little space and can save you a great deal of hassle. Keeping these wrapped up in the latex gloves will ensure they’re dry and tidily tucked away.
Invest in a good multi tool which at the very least has 4 and 5mm allen keys and a Phillips screwdriver. An attachable chain breaker can be a lifesaver and often comes with slots to be used as spoke keys should you buckle a wheel. Many multi tools come with a cover which will allow you to slide it down the side of the inner tube, opposite to the tyre levers, without causing any damage to the tube.
Keeping a bank note in your saddle bag has a variety of uses. You can enjoy the comfort of knowing that you’ll always be able to pay in case you run out of food or water; or you need to catch a train or taxi home. However, you can also use a bank note as an emergency tyre boot in the event that the sidewall splits on your tyre or you pick up a deep cut which leaves the inner tube exposed. Wrap this up in the latex gloves to keep it safe and protected.
SCICON offers a selection of strap or easy fitting roller mount saddle bags from the compact Elan 210 for shorter journeys or when you want to travel light and fast to the spacious PIN 695 for those all day adventures where you need to carry as much as possible. The SCICON MTB saddle bag is wider to fit bigger volume tubes and comes with a waterproof zipper to handle wet and muddy trails.
To see SCICON’s full range of saddle bags, click here.