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Commuter Carry: Essential Gear You Need to Commute By Bike


As you know, we, along with Urban Cycles, are Boston’s Downtown Bike Shop, and we love riding our bikes around the city on tours, to work, to bars and restaurants… we like to ride pretty much anywhere and everywhere! We figured that since we’ve already talked about some of the things that make a great commuter bike, what kinds of tires to run in the city, how to carry your gear, and how to dress for the weather, we should also make a post about the essential gear you need to make sure you can not only get where you need to go safely, but also solve any problems you might have on the way.

Essential Knowledge and Tools

Even if you’ve go the best multi-tool in the world, it’s not going to help very much if you don’t know how to use it! And while we certainly wouldn’t want to suggest that you need to learn exactly how to adjust, fix, and emergency-jury-rig every part of your bicycle, we do recommend a few basic skills for commuters to make sure you can always make your way home. The biggest one, of course, is learning how to fix a flat tire. Beyond that, it’s good to know how to adjust things like your fenders and brakes — just in case your wheel gets out of true, or you encounter some serious mud — so you can still pedal home without too much extra resistance.

To that end, we recommend carrying a set of basic tools with you at all times to solve these problems:

  • Bike-specific multi-tool
  • Tire levers
  • Patch kit
  • Spare tube
  • CO2 cartridge and inflator OR mini-pump

(And if you ever need to get all of these in one place, don’t forget to check out our survival kits, which contain all of these tools plus a handy container in which to store them!)

If you’re going extra far, or if you want to have everything handy at all times, some extras might include:

  • Second spare inner-tube
  • Tire boot  to repair cut tires
  • Spare bolts
  • Spare “quick links” for your chain
  • Small first-aid kit

Carry that Makes Your Ride Better

The second category, after the stuff to make sure you can always get home, is creature comforts: whatever makes you feel good while riding your bike. This will vary from person to person, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Water! Hydration is key to feeling good on a bike, or any other activity, really.
  • Rain/snow gear: we love our weather apps, but sometimes they don’t quite get it right. It’s always good to have something to keep the wet off, just in case.
  • Extra layers: the weather changes a lot in this part of the country, and so it’s always a good idea to have layers so you can adjust your clothing to best match the temperature.
  • A bag solution that works for you: whether it’s a comfy backpack, a rack and pannier setup, or a simple saddle-bag, you don’t want your tools to be a hassle to carry.
  • Snacks! It’s always good to keep a candy or Cliff bar handy for those days when you need a little pick-me-up to get going.

Think of something we missed? Let us know! And as always, if you have any questions about commuting, what to bring along, or cycling in Boston, we’re always happy to help!