Fixing a flat tire is the one basic action that every bicycle rider should try at least once, and hopefully master. And owning and learning to use some basic bike tools to make basic repairs as part of the bike riding experience doesn't hurt either. Sure, having a cell phone nearby is a great fallback plan, but having proper bike tools and learning the basics of repairing a flat can go a long way toward having the confidence to travel far and wide by bicycle.
No matter how carefully any of us adheres to avoiding road hazards, everyone should have tools and knowledge to fix a flat tire.
CARRY THE BASICS:
A spare tube, a tire repair kit, tire levers, a pump, a clean rag.
SPARE TUBE: Make sure it is the proper size to fit the wheel on your bicycle. It is also important to make sure the tube has the correct valve (Schrader or Presta) and that the valve stem is the correct length. the stem should also have it's black cap and the knurled knob.
TIRE REPAIR KIT: This is usually a small plastic box, or metal tin inside of which you will find a small piece of sandpaper, three or four rubber patches, and a tube of sealant. Some people like to put a few 25 cent coins in this container as well, just in case a phone call becomes critical.
TIRE LEVERS: Usually made from metal or plastic, these tools enable you to pry the tire away from the wheel to get access to the tube. The reverse process makes it easy to pry the tire back onto the wheel once the tube has been repaired.
AIR PUMP: From the basic ones powered by arm power, to ones powered by a foot or a CO2 cartridge, these are necessary items that will get enough air into that skinny little tube to get you back on the road.
A RAG. Two things it helps with; protecting your fingers while searching and finding that sharp little object that punctured the tire and tube giving you a flat. And after repairing the flat, your fingers and hands will be dirty and need a rag to wipe them off.
A note here about locating and buying these items. Whenever you have a chance it is a good idea to support your local, neighborhood bicycle store. There is no substitute for being able to talk directly to a human who really understands bicycling and bicycle riders.
Many times when needing a quick overnight repair to insure the next day's commute, or, traveling on a long road trip, a local bicycle shop and the people that work there have saved the day. Getting the right part, and making the right repair so that continuing on can, in fact, continue.
Local bike shops need your support, don't let them disappear like independent books stores and record stores have done in the past few decades. Please support you local bike shops.
Beyond The Basics: Tools you need to own and use.