So you’re out on a ride, and your buddies decide to hit some of the dirt section off the side of the bike path. You follow behind them, taking some care not to do anything stupid on your 23mm tires. Just as you reach the bottom of the hill and prepare to launch yourself up the next hill, your bars slip and you barely manage to maintain your balance and keep yourself from being thrown into your stem. Your buddies are having such a great time they leave you behind in a trail of dust.
Moral of the story? Take the time and check to see that your bolts are torqued down properly. Also, it’s pretty important to carry a multi-tool. I was never a huge fan of saddle bags for aesthetic reasons (also my inner weight-weenie cries), and stuck mostly to placing tubes and other items in my jersey pockets instead. However, a multi-tool wasn’t something that I ever carried, because I never thought I’d ever really have a use for it on the road. Funnily enough, on the same ride, one of the screws on my Garmin mount worked itself loose, and that needed tightening down as well. Needless to say, having just started riding more seriously, I didn’t think to have a multi-tool handy and had to ask to borrow one.
I figured that having the tools to change a flat would be sufficient, but you never know what can happen on a ride. More importantly, it’s nice to have a range of tools as well to help someone else who may be in need of assistance. Coming from someone who wasn’t used to utilizing a saddle bag, I figured I could give a couple of suggestions now that I understand the importance of carrying one. These suggestions are not only great functionally, but are also clean looking.
Personally, I prefer a slightly smaller and more compact saddle bag. There are many options currently available, and depending on the equipment you’re running, there are some choices that stand out. For example, if you happen to be riding a Fizik saddle, you can utilize their nifty clip and buy the Klik bag that attaches directly to the back of the saddle. It comes in both a small and a medium size, so depending on how many things you plan on bringing, you can choose between the two. The medium size would be a good idea for long solo rides when you would want to have two tubes in your saddle bag instead of one.
Alternatively, if you have a different saddle, I personally like the Arundel saddle bag. It comes in a convenient three sizes, and I am currently running the medium.
The small can only really hold a tube and a CO2 inflator, so if you’re planning on bringing a multi-tool, you’re going to want to go with the Arundel Dual. As a bonus, the bag comes in different colored edges. This slight bit of color really pops, and paired with the simplistic design, it’s hard to find another bag that is both stylish and functional.
After you’ve chosen a proper saddle bag, now it’s time to fill it with the essentials!
- Tube (s) – You’re going to want to carry at least one of these with you on your rides. Personally, I use Continental Race Lite tubes; weight weenies rejoice! They’re still butyl and not latex, so no need to deal with a constant loss of air.
- CO2 Inflator – I use a hand pump that doubles as a CO2 inflator. I like to have the option of both, but you man find that those mini hand pumps are difficult to pump your tires up to a decent pressure.
- Multi-tool – Although I don’t have it yet, I have my eye on Lezyne’s carbon multitool. Carbon fiber replaces your usual alloy side plates, and the bolts holding this tool together are titanium. Not only is the excess weight shaved off from the base of the tools, even the bolts are tapered off. What you have left is a super slick-looking, 80g multi tool.
- Tire Boot – This is one of the things that more people tend to forget to pack into their saddle bag. There are many clever ways to come up with a temporary tire boot from empty gel packs, cut up tires, or if you’re feeling particularly epic, a hundred dollar bill should work just fine. However, Park Tool makes a nice adhesive tire boot, and this helps prevent the boot from shifting around, thus making it my personal favorite.
Other items such as a credit card and a phone end up going into my back jersey pocket for easier access. You want to be able to snap those cycling selfies as fast as possible, so you’re not going to want to have to fiddle around with your saddle bag for that.
If you have any personal favorites that you won’t leave home without, be sure to leave it in the comments below! Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@arbcyclery) as we will be showcasing what the employees here at ARB Cyclery keep in their saddle bags! Be sure to use #undermysaddle to join in on the fun!