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The Best Tools You Hope to Never Use

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Tire Change Kits

Flats happen. It is a fact of bike riding. It is always best to prepare for a flat prior to experiencing your first. We have pulled a few items we like off the shelve and wanted to share them with you.

The Basics

A tire change kit at a minimum will need the following gear.

Tire Lever – These are what you use to remove one side of the tire. We really like our Pedro Tire Levers as they are strong and last. Watch out for brands with thin plastic levers. After time they begin to weaken and are more likely to break.

CO2 Cartridge – These generally come in 12 or 16gram sizes. A 16gram cartridge will inflate your tube to about 130psi. Which at first seems to be more than you need, but remember that not all the CO2 gets into the tube. Also, the CO2 gas leaks through your tube a little faster than normal bike pumped air. This means your tire will deflate slowly over the 24 hours after inflating. So while you may start with 110psi after changing a tire, you may be at 90psi when you finish your ride.

CO2 Inflator Nozzle – You will need to have a method to get the CO2 into your new tube. Consider what wheel you will be using first. If you have a disc wheel you will need a nozzle that screws onto the valve stem. Like the XLAB Nanoflator. You will not be using a disc wheel then you can use about any inflator nozzle, like the XLAB Speed Chuck. We like the speed chuck since it is small and works…which is about all you really need out of a nozzle.

Extra tube – Any tube will work right? Most of the time yes. But make sure you keep in mind your rim depth if you have deep walled wheels. You may need to keep a tube with an 80mm stem, or a 48mm stem with an extension on it. We recommend the Continental tubes.

Mini pump – Sometimes a CO2 cartridge does not cut it and you need still need to get air in your tire. Luckily there are Inflator nozzles that also double as a mini air pump. The air pump is small and takes some muscle to get the right pressure. But when faced with the option of walking or muscling through a tire pump I think you know I’d rather save the wear and tear on my feet.

A really cool option is the Lezyne (Pronounced like Design, but with an L sound to start) Pressure Drive CFH. It can hold your CO2, inflate with your CO2, and quickly switch into an air pump.

Multi tool – Anything can happen on the road. We’ve seen seat posts drop all the sudden, brakes that need a quick adjustment, or handlebars that have rotated way out of position. Bringing along a multitool like the XLAB Tri Tool Kit makes sure you have access to the right sized tool to get back riding.

Patch Kit – One of the most dreaded tools to have to use on a ride…the patch kit is essential when a tear occurs on your tire. The patch is usually just a piece of rubber with one side that is sticky. When the tire surface is compromised with a tear the tube will start to press out of the tear since there is so much built up pressure in the tube. The result is a bulge in your tire that leads to the tube coming through the tire and popping.

To temporarily stop the tube from coming out you can place a patch, or an empty gel wrapper, or a hundred-dollar bill (OK you can use a single) between the tube and the tire. The patch will hold the tube inside the tire until you get back and can change the tire.

Carrying your Tire Change Kit

Traditionally tire change kits have been stored under the saddle in a bag. XLAB has come out with a couple of great options to place all your tools in a canister and store it in a bottle cage.

xlab gear box kit

The XLAB Gear Box Kit comes with all your needed tools and accessories except the extra tube. If you already have your tools, they also came out with an empty version. The great part about this is that you can stick the gear box kit behind the saddle or in one of the frame mounted bottle cages out of the way and not have to worry about it flying out after a big bump. It can be a little tough pulling it out of the bottle cage, but once out you have easy access to your tools.

XLAB recently came out with a larger XLAB Duo Pod which has plenty of storage for your tire change kit along with a separate compartment for cash, house keys, salt etc. The secondary storage is fairly tiny and can fit a well folded bill. The notched side also allows the Duo Pod to securely stay in your bottle cage.

One other option is the Profile Design Storage Unit. This one has a foam pad lining on the inside and is just about the same size as the gear box from XLAB. There is just enough room to fit a tube, tire levers, a CO2, and inflator nozzle. You may even be able to fit in a smaller multi-tool. 

Conclusion

A well packed Tire Change Kit can avoid big headaches on the road. After gathering your kit together, organize a big tire change clinic with friends and teammates. Grab a wheel, extra tube, some CO2, a few adult beverages and make a night of practicing tire changes. And when you do, make sure you snap picture and tag us into it. We’d love to see your skills!

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