Putting Together a Compact Tool Kit

Having a good compact tool kit is the key to getting you out of most mechanical problems and fixing flats to get you up and rolling again. This kit may not be needed most rides but the peace of mind that it gives when you are 30 miles away from home or your vehicle is priceless.  Even if you may not know how to use some of these items, simply having them along for the ride can still help you out.  Cyclists are friendly people and there is a good chance that one will stop if you are experiencing a problem and having the right tools for the job will help them help you. 

My kit contains a spare tube, a tool/parts bag, chain lube, CO2 cartridges and a digital pressure gauge.  The photo above shows the contents of my tool/parts bag.  This small bag keeps my items neatly together and is easily transferred from bike to bike depending on which I choose to ride.  These tools and parts will help me continue my ride whether I get a flat, break a chain, bend/break a derailleur hanger or need to do some wrenching on my bike.

The most common problem cyclist experience is a flat tire.  To repair a flat I carry a set of tire levers, spare tube and CO2 cartridge/inflator combo.  I use the Air Chuck Elite from Genuine Innovations because of its super compact size and ease of use.  For most rides I bring along only one tube (for century rides I will carry two) and keep it in the box or a ziploc bag to keep from it from rubbing or causing abrasions caused by jostling around in my seat or frame bag.  When only carrying one tube, having a Park Tool Super Patch Kit is my backup in the event of another flat.  On my fatbike I also have a frame pump which comes in handy for quick pressure adjustment or if a 20 gram CO2 cartridge isn't enough to fill those big tires to the desired pressure.  To read air pressure I like the small size, backlit digital readout and swivel head of the SKS Digital Airchecker.  I use it before every ride to make sure my tires are inflated to the proper pressure for the conditions I will be riding.

Something that happens to mountain bikers and gravel enthusiasts more than road cyclists is a sidewall tear in a tire.  A dollar bill, empty GU packet or Powerbar wrapper can be used to boot a tire so you can get to your destination or finish your ride.  To learn how to boot a tire, watch the video "How to Fix a Torn Sidewall on Your Mountain Bike".

For quick chain repair I carry a Park Tool Mini Chain Brute Chain Tool and a master link for each of my bikes.  This way I can transfer my tool bag from bike to bike and have the necessary link I may need.  These items don't take up much space in the bag and will save me in the event of a chain break.  This chain tool is also useful for sizing a new chain.

A very necessary part of my tool kit includes a set of Fix It Sticks Replaceables.  This compact multi-tool has saved me on numerous occasions and has the torque and leverage to get the job done.  I've used them for everything from tightening a loose cleat and changing my saddle height to working on my bikes in the stand.  For more information on this wonder tool, read my post Product Review: Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition & T-Way Wrench.

I carry a spare zip tie for securing brake and shifter cables to the frame.  During cold weather these zip ties become brittle and break leaving your cables dangling.  A compact bottle of lube for those really dusty rides (gravel/singletrack) will help keep your drivetrain running smoothly.

And finally, in the event of a crash that can bend or even break a derailleur hanger, having a spare in the tool bag can be a lifesaver.  Replacing a bent hanger will bring back that smooth shifting by aligning the cassette with the upper and lower jockey wheels.  Watch the video below to learn how to change a derailleur hanger.

A toolkit containing these items will save you from the long walk of shame back to the car or having to call someone to come pick you up.  Put together your own compact tool kit, learn to change a flat and how fix the most common mechanical issues you may face and you will never be stranded again.


  1. where do you find those tubes for the bits?

    1. They came with the first edition of the Fix It Sticks and are no longer available.


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