Basic Bike Tools for Triathletes

author : alicefoeller
comments : 0

Even if you can't change a flat, carry these items:

New triathletes are often able to find a bike they can ride, but they don't always have a lot of background knowledge in bike mechanics. That's OK, as long as you at least carry the minimum gear that will allow someone else to help you. As you are able, try to pick up some knowledge in this area. It will help your cycling performance if you understand how the gear cogs and chainrings work, and it will help your finish time if you know how to put the chain back on if it pops off during a race.

What to Carry in Your Toolbag

That tiny bag under your seat (saddle) can hold an amazing amount of items. You may think there's no use purchasing tools and carrying them if you don't know how to use them, but you would be incorrect. Many cyclists are happy to help others who are struggling with a flat tire, but they aren't going to give you their spare tube or air canister in case they are stranded alone with a flat later on. In other cases, a cyclist or triathlete might be in a car driving past, and stops to offer help. In that case, they will rarely have a set of tire levers or a pump in their car trunk. So it pays to be prepared, even if you don't know what you're doing. Besides, if you are really stuck but you have tools and a smartphone, you can probably find a YouTube video to show you how to accomplish your task.

Here are recommended items for your toolbag:

  1. Spare tube. If you have nonstandard wheels, such as 650c, be even more certain to have a spare tube, since most other cyclists won't have one you can use. Put the tube in a sandwich bag before stuffing it into the toolbag so the tube's tender surface won't be punctured by one of your tools

  2. Mini bike pump. An air cartridge is great for a quick inflation, except when it doesn't work right on the first try, leaving you with an empty cartridge and a still-flat tire. A mini-pump that mounts to your frame is helpful. Even better is a mini pump combined with a CO2 cartridge tool.

  3. Set of tire levers. These are plastic tools that help you remove the tire so you can change the tube. If you are a bike mechanic, you can commence giving dirty looks and pontificating on how only amateurs use tire levers. The rest of us without Godzilla hands need the plastic thingies to help us get the tire bead over the edge of the rim and keep it there.

  4. Allen wrenches/Hex keys. No matter what you call them, hexagonal wrenches are the most common tool needed to tighten or remove parts on a bicycle. Figure out which ones fit most of the nuts on your bike and only carry those. There's no need to carry a full set of allen wrenches. Most bikes have two or three sizes of hex nuts, so you only need one or two wrenches, if each wrench has ends that are two different sizes. If your toolbag has an interior pocket, slide the hex wrenches in there so they are easy to find and don't puncture your tube.

  5. Patch kit. Patch kits don't take up much space. Sure, you are already carrying a spare tube, but if you are having that kind of bad day where you have more than one flat, you'll be glad you spent the $6 and carried the extra one ounce of weight. Patch kits come with instructions and the modern ones are much easier to use than in the old rubber-cement days. New cyclists often change a flat tube but fail to extract the tiny bit of glass or metal that caused the problem from the tire itself. This leads to the new tube going flat after five minutes. And that's another great argument for carrying a patch kit.

The toolbag is also a great place for stashing an emergency $10 or $20 bill and cell phone.

Mounting the Toolbag

When you attach your toolbag to the bike, take the time to actually read the directions. It seems simple enough, but in every race there are a handful of athletes whose toolbags are dangling beneath their seat, getting looser and looser as the straps pull themselves open during the ride. Usually the straps on a toolbag are threaded through the rails of the seat first, then pulled around the bottom of the bag and secured to themselves using velcro or a plastic buckle. This prevents them from loosening during the ride.

 Here is an image of a toolbag mounted correctly. Note that the straps go around the thin metal rails under the seat before clipping under the bag itself.  Here is an image of a toolbag that has been suspended by the straps. This is incorrect. The bag will continue to loosen as you ride, swinging back and forth and hitting you as you pedal. Not only will this slow you down, but it will make you look like a "Fred" (a bike poser).

Click on star to vote
14806 Total Views  |  46 Views last 30 days  |  10 Views last 7 days
date: May 30, 2016


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.


Owner at Beginner Triathlete, web marketing consultant at SiteInSight, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for unstructured nature play for kids.

View all 96 articles