What To Pack In A Saddle Bag

What should you carry in your saddle bag?

What should you carry in your saddle bag?

Self-sufficiency out on the road/trail is of the essence. And these days carrying the tools and other handyman/woman essentials to tackle a wide variety of repairs doesn’t take up much space at all. Here are our recommendations of what to include in a judiciously stocked saddle bag (such as the pictured Nashbar Large Expandable Seat Bag).

Suggestions of what to include in a well-equipped saddle bag.

Suggestions of what to include in a well-equipped saddle bag.

(1.) Tube
A must have whenever you leave home on a ride. Nothing can ruin a ride quite like being unprepared for a flat tire. One tube is a must, but if you have the space in your saddle bag then two tubes are even better – particularly if you’re out on a lengthier outing along the road less traveled. As a bonus, having two tubes also makes it easier to play the good Samaritan role when one comes across a fellow cyclist in a spot of bother. One of my favorite rides took place while on a trip to San Francisco when I was able to venture into Marin County and the Mt. Tam vicinity. Along my stint in the Marin County I happened to come across a guy who flatted and realized (too late!) that his spare tube was flat, too, from a previous ride and hadn’t been swapped out or repaired. Having two tubes made it that much easier to save this guy’s day.

(2.) Tire levers
Having a new tube won’t do any good if you have no means to remove unseat the tire’s bead to facilitate a change. They’re lightweight, compact, and a ride necessity.

(3.) Tools
This is an area where there’s some flexibility regarding what exactly to take along. At the bare minimum, take a look at what your bike has in the way of bolts/screws and make sure you’ve got those bases covered. My most regularly ridden road bike uses 3mm/4mm/5mm/6mm/8mm Allen bolts plus Phillips screws so I make sure I possess the means to tighten any that may loosen or need adjustment. Don’t forget about Torx bolts, which are making their way into various components as well. A chain tool, too, is worth its weight in gold when it comes time to MacGyver back together a broken chain in order to pedal one’s way back home.

There’s plenty of well-crafted mini-tools/multi-tools that can meet your needs for range of tool selection, compact size, minimal weight, as well as ergonomic demands. Sometimes the combination of tool size/design combined with accessing various bolts/screws on a bike may make for a frustrating tool use experience. It might be hard to actually make adequate contact between tool and bolt/screw or apply enough force so it’s a good idea to make a dry run at reaching those harder to reach locations to ensure you can make the repair when it counts the most – away from the comfort of your own home, perhaps many, many miles away.

A master link (left) or chain pins (right) make a world of difference in the event of a chain mishap.

A master link (left) or chain pins (right) make a world of difference in the event of a chain mishap.

Master link/Chain pins
May you never have to use these, but in the event your chain gives up the ghost, these handy items will make it possible to reconstruct a broken chain and make it possible to pedal your way home.

(4.) Patches
While my modus operandi is to replace punctured tubes with fresh ones, sometimes you find yourself on one of those rides with more punctures than tubes. In that case, having a couple of patches makes a world of difference to make a roadside/trailside repair of a tube to render it rideable once again. They weigh basically nothing and take up really no space at all, so why not have a few on hand?

(5.) Cash
I prefer having some cash on hand (as opposed to a credit/debit card) because sometimes in remote gas stations/convenience stores you’ll find yourself facing a minimum transaction amount (which is typically more than I need to spend on sustenance). Plus you don’t have to worry about expiration dates and paper money serves double duty as a tire boot.

(6.) CO2 Inflator/C02 Cartridge(s)
Some form of inflation is a must, but you have options regarding the delivery mechanism. Since I’m a Luddite about many things cycling, I opt for an actual pump (frame pump on road bike, mini-pump in pocket for off-road endeavors) for tire inflation purposes. But for quick inflation in a very compact package, using a CO2 system is certainly a very popular option. Just remember to refresh your CO2 supply post-ride once the cartridges get used!

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Fast Fixes: How To Lube Your Chain

Learning how to lube your chain is one of the most important maintenance tasks that you can do for your bike. Establishing a regular chain lubrication routine does wonders for not only ensuring a quiet, efficient drivetrain but also to achieve the maximum lifespan out of your equipment.

Less is more

The primary thing to remember about chain lubrication is “less is more”. In fact, each rivet/bushing of the chain just needs one drop of lube. Lathering the chain with a gratuitous amount of lube just makes it that much easier for dirt and grime to built up on the chain – which is exactly what you don’t want. That is also why we prefer a lube in liquid form, as opposed to a spray applicator, for the ultimate in precision application.

Apply one drop of lube to each link of the chain.

Apply one drop of lube to each link of the chain.

A tip to make sure you make a complete revolution through the chain is to start the lube application process at the chain’s master link (if your chain has one) and then back pedal the chain as you lube until the master link appears again. It’s easiest to perform this task if the bike’s in a workstand, but it can also be done with the bike leaning against a wall as well. If your chain doesn’t have a master link, it takes approximately 3 full revolutions of the crank arm to run the chain completely through its course.

Wipe off excess

Once lube has been applied, use a clean rag to wipe off any excess lube on the chain and then shift through your gears to make sure the lube makes its way thoroughly into the drivetrain.

Use a rag to wipe away any extra lube.

Use a rag to wipe away any extra lube.

Whether you use a wet or dry lube, the application process is the same. The wet lube, opimized for wet/sloppy/muddy/more extreme conditions, will remain wet on the chain while a dry lube, perfect for dry/dusty conditions, utilizes an alchol base that dries and leaves a film on the chain. Ideally, you’ll let a dry-lubed chain sit a few hours before riding after application to ensure the chain is dry and fully set.

How often should you lube your chain?

That depends on your mileage as well as the conditions. When riding lower mileage in dry conditions, you may be able to go multiple weeks while harsher conditions – wet and/or muddy – warrants more regular attention.

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Whoa! A free set of wheels!

That’s right folks, Profile Design has helped us offer you a smokin’ deal on some wheels. While supplies last, if you buy a set of Profile Design 38/TwentyFour Carbon Clincher Wheels or Profile Design 58/TwentyFour Carbon Clincher Wheels you’ll get a free set of Profile Design 30/TwentyFour Alloy Road Wheels. That’s a $379.99 value – FREE!


The Profile Design 30/TwentyFour alloy wheelset is a super-strong, super-reliable set of road wheels that are ideal for training or general all-around use. They feature 30mm deep aluminum rims that provide an aero advantage while still handling well in crosswinds. Their TwentyFour series aluminum hubs use sealed cartridge bearings to roll super-smooth while the 20 front/24 rear wheel spoke count is optimized for performance. And if you have a set of Profile Design’s TwentyFour Series carbon wheels, these work seamlessly as a set of training wheels since the wheels share identical 24.5mm width rims.

• 30mm deep aluminum rim profile is a versatile all-arounder
• TwentyFour series hubs forged from 6061-T6 aluminum for durability, strength, and stiffness
• Sealed cartridge bearings roll super-smooth
• 20 spoke front wheel with radial lacing pattern
• 24 spoke rear wheel with radial/2x lacing pattern
• Shimano/SRAM 8/9/10/11-speed compatible cassette body
• Weight: 2,060 grams/pair

Take 20% off orders with coupon code VRC51!

In order to help you better kick off National Bike Month, take 20% off orders of $49+ during the first week of May with Code VRC51. Simply enter the VRC51 coupon code at checkout on your order from Nashbar.

Offer valid through 5/8/16 and the following restrictions apply: Discount cannot be applied to previous purchases, select brands, gift certificates, shipping, handling, or taxes; cannot be combined with any other coupons or sitewide offers.


Take 20% off orders of $49+ with coupon code VRC51

Take 20% off orders of $49+ with coupon code VRC51

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Earth Day 2016

Happy Earth Day 2016!

Here’s hoping you found the time to head outdoors and partake in pedaling a bike amidst Mother Nature.

Celebrating Earth Day 2016 with a 'cross ride in the woods near the home office.

Honoring Earth Day 2016 with a ‘cross ride in the woods near the Nashbar home office.

Here at Nashbar, we have the good fortune to have an entry into a network of trails situated just 2.5 miles – back door to dirt – from our office.

As I try to do virtually every day during the work week, I spent today’s lunch hour in the saddle – and reveled in the glorious green that is a North Carolina spring while putting the ‘cross bike through its paces. It was all the more poignant and relevant as Earth Day 2016‘s global theme is “Trees For The Earth” and we certainly don’t take for granted the wooded space that surrounds us.

Of course we’re preaching to the choir, but cycling certainly plays a role in making a difference on planet Earth. There’s no denying the physical and mental benefits of riding a bike to one’s own person, but there’s also the capacity to use a bike for transportation that is an emissions-free means to get around. So many of our daily trips take place to destinations only a handful of miles from home, so why not opt for the bicycle instead of the car for that trip to the grocery store, pharmacy, library, coffee shop, etc.? And if you work close enough to home, why not ride to work – at least part of the time?

Nashbar can certainly help make those pedal-powered jaunts around town easier via beefier tires, racks and panniers, backpacks and messenger bags, locks, as well as lights. Just a little something to ensure safe, secure travels and carrying capacity.

You can make a difference!

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