Everything is just perfect - until you hear this hiss: The tire is flat. It's a minor defect, but it can ruin an entire trip if you don't have a suitable replacement tube and the necessary tools. We show you what you need in your luggage bag so that you are well prepared for flat tires and other technical problems on the road.

This situation is probably familiar to everyone who likes to ride a bike: A supposedly minor problem turns into a serious buzzkill - all because you've forgotten a tiny spare part or you're missing the right tools. What is not necessarily a big drama on the after-work round at home, can spoil your whole vacation on the road when bikepacking. Hours of pushing, permanent rattling or annoying jumping gears but really no one needs!

Cyclists on GHOST bikes in Scotland

In this article we show you what belongs in every "emergency repair kit" so that you are prepared for most common defects. We're not talking about lugging around a complete bike repair shop. None of what we show you here is particularly heavy or particularly bulky, so you can easily fit it all into a small "emergency" compartment of your backpack or bikepacking bags. And even if you may have taken most of it (or even all of it) for nothing: If you then but a defect overtakes, you're glad if you have prepared.

The following is not about how you specifically fix the individual defects. If you don't know how to change a hose or adjust a gearshift, for example, you'll find plenty of good tutorials on the web. Instead, we'll provide you with tips and ideas for packing your luggage based on our experiences (especially from our trip to Scotland along the NC500 route). By the way, you can find a complete packing list here.


Repairing a bike

One of the most common defects on the road is without a doubt a flat tire. If you ride with conventional tubes, the cause is usually a "puncture". This means that the tube is squeezed between the rim and this obstacle by a rough blow, for example by a sharp rock, and is damaged in the process. Pointed objects such as thorns or - rather rarely - screws / nails / tacks can also cause air loss. 

The good thing is: a flat tire is not so bad, provided you are prepared. To quickly get a flat tire back on the road, you absolutely need a spare tube. Depending on the length of your trip and the nature of the surface, you can even add a few more spare tubes to your luggage. If you want to save weight, you can invest in expensive, but super compact and extremely lightweight polyurethane tubes, such as the "Aerothan" tubes from Schwalbe or the Tubolitos. If you don't have any space in your pockets at all, good old bike patches will do in a pinch. They weigh next to nothing and belong in every bikepacking emergency kit.

Different bicycle tubes
Tubeless-ready tyres

A box of glueless patches by Schwalbe lying on a bicycle saddle

The repair of a tubeless tire is somewhat more specialized. The good news here is that a flat tire is relatively rare with tubeless setup. Smaller holes are usually closed and sealed by the sealing fluid of the tubeless system. Only if the tubeless tire is severely damaged do you have to take action. With special tubeless flicksets, this is basically quite simple. You close the hole with a kind of rubber plug, which together with the sealant ensures that the tire is tight again. If that doesn't help, you can always insert a tube. Of course, it is important that you have at least one spare tube despite the tubeless setup.

A screwdriver as part of the tubeless-repair kit


To repair a flat tire, two tools are essential: tire levers (depending on the tire better at least two of them) and a pump. Because what good is a spare tube if you can't get the tire off the rim? For tubeless tires, we recommend that you take a CO2 cartridge, which releases the air pressure suddenly into the tire, so that the tire jumps back into the rim. With the small shocks of a mini pump will succeed only with difficulty.

Holding a CO2 cartridge in a hand


Different sized minitool kits

Nowadays there are countless minitools, which are all totally thought out and, depending on the size, at least the most important tools ready to make your bike on the road again. The most important Allen and Torx wrenches holds just about every minitool ready. If it may be a little larger, there are also various ring wrenches, a chain rivet press, spoke wrench and more functions available. Depending on where you are traveling and how good your mechanic skills are, it makes sense to pack a minitool with relatively many functions.


Such a multi-functional tool is extremely helpful from time to time, especially when camping. Because in addition to the most important bike tools, small extras like a mini saw or pliers are often enough the simple solution to a major problem. Tobi swears by it, anyway!

A leatherman multifunction tool with bike-specific bit kit


A spare shift cable weighs next to nothing and also takes up little space. In case of doubt, but he can save your entire bikepacking trip! It does not happen very often, but sometimes the shift cable is damaged on the road. Whether during transport or because you are on the road on a sharp object (for example, a rock edge) - without a new shift cable you would have to continue "Singlespeed", which could mean the end of your trip, depending on the topography. Therefore, our clear recommendation: A spare shift cable belongs absolutely in your luggage.

A replacement shift cable


A derailleur hanger

The same applies to this small part. Shift eyes are the connecting pieces between frame and rear derailleur. If they are bent, the gears jump and it is no longer possible to shift precisely. This happens relatively quickly, because derailleur hangers are deliberately small "predetermined breaking points" on the rear triangle. Because in the case you only have to replace this small part, which is always better than if the entire frame bends. Especially when bikepacking it happens quickly that your bike tips over and lands exactly on the rear derailleur - and it's already happened! 

Since almost every bike uses its own derailleur hanger, it's a gamble when you're out and about trying to get a replacement at a bike store. It's much easier if you get a replacement derailleur hanger in advance and always have it with you in your emergency repair kit.


Also from the category "small but mighty" comes the chain lock. If the chain should really break, you can repair it in seconds and absolutely durable again. The biggest challenge is probably not to misplace the small part ... And finally, here's a special tip: Pack best a few cable ties. They take up almost no space, weigh almost nothing, and you'll always be amazed at what you can fix with them!

Text: Martin Donat

Pictures: Martin Donat, Tim Winterburn

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