Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Travels With Tools

I'm one of those guys who travels with tools. I basically have tools with me all the time, on my person and on my bike and since I actually do get asked about the stuff I lug around, I figured I'd detail it here. This is by no means an optimal kit, it's got quite a bit of belt plus suspenders redundancy. I also can't say it's complete. Tomorrow I may find some gadget that triggers my "ooh that would be handy!" reflex and I'll add it. Or I might go the other way and say "man, I'm lugging too much!" and purge something out. But as of right now, here's the kit.

First up, the stuff that I carry on my person pretty much all the time.

The little carabiner clips to my belt loop and holds my Swiss Army Knife and the two little Topeak wrenches. The wrenches came from a Topeak Survival Gear Box. Many of my tools have been picked from various kits over the years and my big tool box at home has many of the bits that I'm not currently using. Also, I tend to give away bits of kit I'm not using, which makes me feel OK with getting even more tools. And the cycle continues to this day. The knife is a Victorinox Deluxe Tinker and I probably use it at least twenty time a day. The thing on the right is a Topeak Hexus Bicycle Tool and even though I have a shop full of tools at work, a big toolbox at home and a bunch of tools in a bag on my bike, this is the thing that gets used at least as much as the Swiss Army Knife. When it's not in my hand, it's in my pocket. For me, the Hexus hits the sweet spot in terms of weight, function and ease of use.

Moving on to what I have on the bike, as I've mentioned previously, I use and like Topeak Morph pumps. The pump that I keep strapped on my Monocog Flight is the exact same pump I carried with my on my 2005 Great Divide Ride and it's still going strong.

The rest of my tool kit is contained in this bag which fits in the main triangle of the bike along with one water bottle.

Inside this bag, is this stuff.

That's two spare inner tubes, two plastic tire levers, a small bottle of chain lube, a patch kit and a little nylon bag with more tools and stuff inside. Yes, my kit has kind of a Russian nested doll quality. And yes, the Hexus contains tire levers so the levers in the on-bike kit are redundant. One might say that having spare tubes plus a patch kit plus True Goo tubes in my tires is redundant, but you have to remember that I GET FLAT TIRES ALL THE TIME. Remember that you read it here. When I do flat, WHICH HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, I typically swap in a new tube on the road side and patch the holey tube later under more favorable conditions with a handy, tasty beverage close at hand.

My patch kit contains lots of patches as well as sandpaper, glue and a spare battery for my cycle computer.

Inside the black nylon bag is this stuff.

A bunch of the little bits go inside a plastic film canister that has a layer of duct tape wrapped around it. In this picture you can see spare batteries for my lights, the film canister, a bit of chain and a SRAM PowerLink, some weird my multi-wrench that I freed from some random tool kit years ago. The neat thing about it is that the opening on the end is 15 millimeters, so it works for removing or tightening pedals or bolt-on wheels. The Park MT-1 Wrench, perhaps the most elegant multi-tool every made, can fit into one of the hex-shaped holes in the other wrench to form a handle for more leverage. Next to the Park wrench are 4, 5, and 6 mm Allen keys on a keyring (these can fit in some places the Park tool can't and can work in opposition to another tool in cases where that is needed). Below the Allen keys are some handy nylon zip-ties, a Topeak Chain Tool Head (yeah, it's redundant since the Hexus but I like being covered in case I lose the Hexus somewhere), a FiberFix Spoke, miscellaneous bolts, a spare Torx adapter, two sets of brake pads with brake springs and a brake cable.

Wow, that seems like a lot of stuff. And it is. But the whole kit is pretty compact and it's gotten me home every time I've needed it. If I know I'm going to be riding support on some event, I may add some Good Samaritan items like a derailleur cable and some different size tubes to the kit. Kits on my other bikes but often smaller, since they don't have quite the level of paranoia that I reserve for my Great Divide Kit. It's one thing when you break down a few miles from home in the city, it's a different matter when you may be hundreds of miles from the nearest bike shop.

By the time I go on the Tour Divide next year, I'll have posted a complete list of my stuff. I detailed the camp gear here and details of food, clothes, maps and electronics will be described in future posts.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Gunnar Berg said...

I know a frame builder of some repute who likes to travel light. His early frames, built 20 years ago, had an English sized seat post bolt, on the theory that if needed every hardware store had an allen wrench to fit. He got caught in the middle of the PBP with a slipping seatpost in a metric world. He had people trying to file a metric wrench down to fit.
His frames are now metric sized.

dexey said...

Thank you Kent excellent article.
I'm really looking forward to knowing what the rest of your kit is.

the Scarlet Manuka said...

You never know when you'll need a tool. I was in the shower at work last week and the handle came off in my hands, but my multi-tool was close to hand (no lockers)
with the requisite allen key. They always say that cycling gives you a happy start to the day...

velohobo said...

I recently purchased a Topeak Morph G...great pump! No more struggling to hold a wheel and pump together with one hand while pumping like an accordion player. A bit heavier than some pumps, but well worth it.

Nice post, Jack

Marrock said...

I usually have with me, no matter what, a 20-something year old Leatherman PST (http://tinyurl.com/yakq95p) that has, literally, saved my life more times than I can count.

The one thing I ever changed on it was getting rid of the six slot bit holder and replacing it with the seven slot one so I could add the ¼" socket driver bit.

I depend on this thing to the point where, a couple years ago, I thought I'd lost it and was very nearly in a blind panic trying to find it, tore my apartment apart looking till I eventually found.

Been wanting one of the Park MT-1 wrenches for a while now, but you know how those capitalists are, expecting folks to actually pay for stuff and all that...

kfg said...

". . .the opening on the end is 15 millimeters. . ."

ooh that would be handy.

I carry more cordage than most people seem to these days. Sometimes a piece of string is exactly what you need. More versatile than zip ties and bungees combined ( a cargo net, however, is a wondrous thing); IF you learn to tie three basic knots beyond that which you need to tie your shoes properly (which most people, it turns out, actually don't know how to do. Go figure) - clove hitch, slip and taught line hitch.

In a pinch you can even usually make a bit of emergency cordage on the spot from found materials.

". . .expecting folks to actually pay for stuff and all that..."

The BASTARDS! By the way, where does the line for free GDR Monocogs start at the moment? (although I think I'd actually play the iconoclast and ride a modified 925. With 35 mms it's a sweet little fire roader, handles single track ok if you know how to ride a rigid in the first place and is easy to portage.)

Anonymous said...

That is a lot of stuff! I never thought I would find any part of my life that was more minimalist than yours. Who knew you would be a consumer of repair kit?

Dan O said...

You carry quite the tool selection. I can see that for long off-road adventures. Plus, the more you carry, the less you need it - happens every time.

I commute almost daily with an assortment of tools. After 5 years or so, all I ever needed is to fix the occasional flat.

As soon as I stop carrying the full assortment - I'm sure I'll break something - in the dark, in the rain....

dilys said...

Do I see six spoke keys?

Flat Tire God said...

I saw that stuff claiming you get flats all the time. I'm not appeased. I'm watching you.


Keasty said...

Thanks Kent. Well done and appreciated by me!! Ta.

kfg said...


What if he burns a Clement silk upon the alter (a Medaille d'Or)?

jimmythefly said...

Kent, I don't have my own blog, so I hope you don't mind me opinionating here. The one thing -that I got from my dad- that I use more than anything else is and old skeleton key ground down into a flat-blade screwdriver. Kept on the keyring, it's good for light prying, cleaning fingernails, cutting packing tape, poking holes in stuff, marking sheetmetal and plastic, and also screwing.

FiberFix spoke -they are fantastic!

Also, I usually carry a presta-to-schraeder adapter, either on my valve stem or screwed into one of the empty small-ring bolt holes on my crankset.

While we're on nifty ways to carry stuff -many of the GXP style cranksets (Truvativ, Bontrager, SRAM) have the hollow spindle that you can stuff with kit, then use a bar-end plug to seal it up.

Also in my kit: Bus/cab money, spare cleat and bolts, 9-speed powerlink (works with 8sp chains, too), and a clif bar. Man, the times I've been happy I had that one forgotten granola bar!

One thing I don't have that I should is one of those tiny cr2032 powered led squeeze lights.

kfg said...

"Bus/cab money"

That's why God made handlebars hollow.

Macdougal said...

thanks for the post

I used to borrow my cousin's Mountain Bike back in college, and I always carry with me the patch kit...

BTW, check out these cool helmets at http://apresvelo.com/product/58 --- I own one =)