Top 10 toolkit essentials

Try to squeeze this lot under your seat
Top 10 toolkit essentials

THE DAYS of bodged roadside repairs might be on the wane thanks to ever more reliable bikes and the prevalence of impossible-to-fix electronics but there’s still plenty of reason to carry a basic toolkit.

Being left stranded is a pain at the best of times, but knowing that you could get yourself going again if only you had the right tool makes it a dozen times worse.

The problem is that there’s so little space under the seat of the average bike that you’re going to have to be picky when it comes to selecting the tools to take with you. These are the essentials that we’d recommend.

If you’ve got other ideas for must-have tools worthy of that precious under-seat real estate, please let us know in the comments.

10. Pliers

A pair of pliers can be an invaluable resource and if you’ve got space it’s definitely worth including some. The choice of needle-nose or standard is down to you – each has potential advantages. One interesting alternative is a set of mole grips, which you can use as normal pliers in a pinch (pun intended) or as a clamp, perhaps to hold broken components together for some MacGyver-level bodging.

9. Puncture repair kit

Whether you go for a full-on puncture repair kit – as favoured by the more advanced roadside bodger – or for the quick-and-messy alternative of a can of puncture sealant is a subject of endless discussion. Whichever you choose remember you’ll need a means to get some gas back into the tyre afterwards, whether it’s via a small pump or the more compact alternative of a disposable CO2 canister.

8. Knife

A penknife is endlessly useful so it makes sense to have one under the seat. Better still, opt for a Leatherman or similar multi-tool that might well include some of the other things on this list among its features, saving a bit more space.

7. Screwdrivers

Again, the multi-tool or a Swiss Army Knife might be the best solution here, but you definitely want to have a couple of screwdrivers to deal with the most common fasteners on your bike. Many will already have them in the laughable ‘tool kit’ supplied with the bike, but do check them as they’re often made of ridiculously poor quality materials.

6. Allen keys

Most modern bikes use Allen screws of several sizes, and you’ll often need an Allen key to strip even the most accessible bits of bodywork. A full set of keys won’t take up much space, but you can save a little by reducing it to only the sizes used on parts of the bike you’re likely to need to remove at the roadside should anything go wrong.

5. Adjustable wrench

Normally we’d agree that adjustable wrenches are the devil’s work – only good for rounding-off nuts – but given the fact that few bikes have space for a full set of spanners or sockets under the seat it’s one of the few places where an adjustable does make sense.

4. Wire

A length of electrical wire is always worth having in the toolkit. It doesn’t take up much space and can be used for all sorts of roadside bodges. As well as its obvious use if there’s a break in a wiring loom, it can be used to bypass blown fuses (provided you’re confident the fuse hadn’t blown to prevent damage to something more expensive). It’s also useful in a pinch to bind things together. Just make sure you’ve got the means to cut it and some tape to make your new connections. If you’ve got space, some fuses and spare bulbs are also a good idea.

3. Duct tape

Speaking of tape, it’s hard to beat a bit of duct tape when you need to perform a proper bodge. You’re probably not going to fit a whole roll under the seat but if you tear off a few feet and fold it over itself you can make a compact square of the stuff that can be unreeled to provide enough for most roadside jobs.

2. Zip ties

They’re cheap, cheerful and small enough that you should be able to squeeze a handful into the storage area of pretty much any bike, but cable ties are one of those things that you’ll always find a use for.

1. Torch

It’s all very well having every tool under the sun, but if it’s dark you’re not going to be able to do much with them. Even in broad daylight there are plenty of dark nooks and crannies on every bike that need a bit of extra illumination when you’re tracing a problem. A little LED torch will cost next to nothing and won’t take much space. If you haven’t got one, remember that most phones can use their camera flashes as torches these days as well, and if not, even the glow from the screen might provide enough light to let you see (and hopefully fix) whatever has gone wrong.

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