Ask Dave: What tools should you take on tour?


ABR’s expert of all things two-wheeled answers your questions
Photo: Pierre Maelzer


Hi Dave,

I’m planning a long-distance bike trip next year and thought it’d be a good shout to take a basic tool kit with me.

I’m not particularly mechanical but I thought it would be wise to learn how to do some basic roadside repairs and maintenance. Can you let me know what sort of tools I should take in my kit?




Hi Paul,

First of all, you say you have limited mechanical skills, so think about what can go wrong with your bike that you could conceivably repair on the roadside. For example, things like engine or gearbox troubles are beyond most people’s capability to repair, even in a workshop. Instead, it’s the more common problems that tools are needed for.

The obvious issues you’ll face are punctures. Be sure to check if your bike has tubeless or tubed tyres fitted. Even bikes with tubed wheels may still have tyres marked ‘tubeless’, so if you’re not sure, check with a professional at a bike garage.

Tubeless tyre punctures are much easier to cope with as they can usually be simply plugged without removing the wheel. There are a few different plug kits available, so do a bit of research and purchase your choice, then find a worn tyre to practice on before you leave on your trip.

If your bike runs tubed tyres, your wheel will need removing to repair it. This is easier if the bike has a centre stand, but if it doesn’t, it’s a good idea to carry a telescopic rod of some kind to help prop your bike up. I’ve carried a stainless fisherman’s bank stick in the past for this job. You will also need tyre levers (at least three), a spare inner tube, and a pump to inflate your tyre.

In terms of tools, I’d advise taking a selection of spanners and Allen keys to remove the wheel, but you don’t need to take a full set. Instead, go around your bike and check the sizes that fit it.

I also carry a few different sizes of solderless nipples so, if a nipple pulls off a cable, these can be fairly easily replaced to carry on your journey. Duct tape, zip ties and a few self-tapping screws have many uses, including sorting out loose or damaged bodywork.

A good multi-tool, combined with that spanner and Allen key set, should be all that’s needed to cope with most things that either come loose or fall off your bike.

And finally, if a roadside repair needs to be made that is beyond your knowledge, having a smartphone on hand to Google the problem is very helpful, as long as you can find some signal. Once you know what’s wrong with your bike, there is likely to be a YouTube tutorial that shows how to fix it, so don’t forget your phone charger.