Introduction to adventure cycling

[+] Choosing a bike

[+] Carrying your kit

Camping gear

Spares, repairs & tools

Where to go


Bikes on planes

Enjoying your tour

Safety and security




"If you hear a new sound from your bike, stop and solve it immediately."
Good advice from Bill Fridl, cyclist.


One of the great things about bikes is they are low tech and are not difficult to maintain or repair. Even if you have never used a spanner in your life you can easily acquire the skills you need to maintain and repair your bike while you are on tour.


The spares you need to take on a trip depends on where you are going, i.e. how close you are going to be to good bike shops, and how long you are going for.

Short Tour

For a tour of 2-3 weeks or so, in Europe or North America, where you are never going to be more than a day's pedal from a decent bike shop, I would restrict my spares to:
Inner tubes
Puncture outfit
A couple of brake blocks
Some steel wire
A few cable ties

Long Tour

For a tour of a several months going into remote areas, e.g. Istanbul to Lhasa, the spares list would be:
Inner tube x3 Puncture outfit with lots of spare patches and glue.
Brake Blocks 4 pairs Brake hanger (cantilever brakes)
Brake cable Gear cable
Spokes - a few of each size Pump washer
Front axle and cones Rear axle and cones
Bearings (front and rear) Freewheel
Derailleur jockey wheels Chain
Plenty of cable ties A good length or baler wire
Misc nuts, bolts and pipe clips A roll of Duck tape
Small bottle of oil Small amount of grease
Folding tyre

If you are wondering what the cable ties, wire, pipe clips and Duck tape are about, they are for running repairs. If something breaks on tour, the chances are you'll be able to make some sort of repair with these.
Adventure Cycling Guide Spares


Before you set out on a long trip, a good thing to do is take you bike almost completely to bits, clean and lubricate it, and put it back together again. This will ensure you have the know-how, confidence and tools to service it on tour.

For a long tour, where you may some days away from a bike shop, the jobs you should definitely be able to do include: All the above can be easily learned from a book (try The Complete Book of Cycling by Eugene A Sloane) or by attending a few bike maintenance classes.


To do the jobs listed above, you'll need the right tools. Exactly which tools you need will depend on you bike, but here's an initial list:
It is well worth investing in a lightweight toolset to cover the above.

Copyright © Tim Barnes 2007