The bicycle seat bag. It’s that small package of assurance that we keep tucked under our saddle. It sits under our rears, ignored and neglected until we need it. When we do need it we wonder if we restocked it the last time we used it. You’ll find quite a few articles around the Internet about the bike seat bag and what bicycle accessories need to be in it. These articles are always popular and get a lot of feedback because everyone has their own preference of what should be stowed in their seat bag. Just like everyone else, I have my preferences too. I think this article will be a benefit to anyone just starting in bicycling, or returning to the sport after a long layoff (just like me), or the enthusiast who has been riding everyday. Regardless of your experience, I think you’ll find the info below useful.
So, what needs to be in that seat bag? There’s quite a few things you can carry in your saddle bag but I think there’s a core list of essential items every cyclist needs. They are:
- Patch Kit. You’ll find both glue and glueless patch kits. Which one to use is a topic all by itself but I believe most people use the glue patch kits because of their durability. I’m not sure it really matters which kind you have as long as you have one. They take up very little room in your seat bag and you will need it at some point.
- Spare Tube. Some of you may ask, “Why carry a spare tube when I have a patch kit?” After hearing advice from other riders, and my experience back on Ride 21 and 1/3 I carry a spare tube now. I carry the spare tube because, if I do get a flat, it’s much easier to just put the new tube in rather than try and patch the old one. Especially if it’s dark outside. I carry the patch kit in the event my spare tube flats. I also carry the spare tube so I can give it to another cyclist if they need it. I did this back on Ride 28. If you give your spare tube away you’ll need the patch kit if you get a flat.
- Tire Irons. You could probably change a flat without them but why take the chance? You only need two to do the job right and they take up a small amount of space in your seat bag. A lot of times, you can buy a patch kit that comes with a set of nylon tire irons like the Park set to the left.
- CO2 Inflator. I carry one of these so it’s in my seat bag. If you want to carry a frame pump then you don’t need one. You’ll easily find bicycle riders who do either one and some that do both. I like CO2 because of it’s ease of use and because I’ve never liked frame pumps. Your experience and desires may vary. Just make sure you have at least one method to fill up that tube when you flat 10 miles from nowhere. The Innovations Air Chuck Elite Inflator is about as minimal as you can get and it works great too.
- Presta-Schrader Adapter.. I don’t actually carry this in my seat bag but leave it installed on one of my valve stems. If you’re using your own pump, or inflator, then you probably won’t need one of these. But, if you find yourself having to borrow someone elses gear/tools, or needing to use a service station air compressor, you’ll probably need one. Better to be safe than sorry.
Have you noticed a trend up to this point? All five items above are directly related to fixing a flat while out on the road. The flat is probably the most common problem you can/will experience while bicycling so you need to be prepared for it. The list continues:
- Multi-Tool. The multi-tool is a compact set of allen wrenches and screw drivers that are usually hinged together to save room. You’ll need one of these for any minor work you need to perform while out riding like adjusting your brake pads, derailleur, or pedals. There are many different kinds available with all kinds of options ranging from four function compacts to more robust sets with integrated chain tools. Finding one you like is usually a matter of personal preference.
- Money. You should always carry a little bit of money in your seat bag for emergencies. Make sure you have at least a dollars worth of quarters for the air compressor machines at the corner gas station. I learned this the hard way back on Ride 21 and 1/3. A dollar bill can also function as a boot in the event of a cut tire. Just fold it up, place it on the inside of the tire, and it’ll keep the tube from bulging out when you pressurize it.
- Identification. Should you be involved in an accident it will help if you have some kind of identification on you. The easiest thing to do is to put your license in your seat bag before departing for a ride. Some riders make up an information sheet that they keep in their seat bag permanently. Another very good option is to invest in a Road ID from www.RoadID.com. The RoadID is available in either a wrist or ankle option and can be engraved to display the information you want first responders to see in the event you are in an accident.
- Cell Phone. I’m not a huge fan of cell phones. They are convenient but I hate the intrusiveness they can have. While out on a ride, though, they can be very valuable. I’ve had to use mine to call for a ride as I’m sure others have as well. They also provide another way for emergency personnel to identify who you are. Nothing says you can’t set it on silent or vibrate while your riding so it doesn’t bother you or others who may be in your group.
If putting together or going out to buy this long list of stuff has you worried don’t be. You can save some time and money by looking into some of the seat bag tire repair kits that are available. They contain everything you need to fix a flat in a seat bag, wallet, or cannister. All you need to do is add other items like money, identification, and a tool (maybe).
There you have it. The items above are what I feel are essential items you need to have in your seat bag. If you have them you’ll be prepared for your next ride and be able to make it home. I’m sure many of you will have your own opinions on what should be in your seat bag so I welcome your comments.