Equipment list: bike spare parts

What spare parts do you take to keep a bicycle running for 7500 miles – both replacing worn parts and anticipating things that might break?  I don’t want to bring too much, but it would also be a shame to not be riding because of mechanical failure.

The packing list TDA gives us is:

  • Derailleur hanger
  • 2-3 chains
  • 1 rear cassette
  • 5 patch kits
  • 5-10 spare tubes
  • Bottom bracket (not needed if you start with new one)
  • Chain rings
  • Spokes
  • Brake and shifter cables
  • Brake pads
  • Bar tape/handlebar grips
  • Seat post with clamp and collar
  • Saddle
  • Tires (3 sets including the one on bike)
  • Extra nuts and bolts

They also give us the following tool list:

  • Multi-tool
  • Mini-pump
  • Tire levers
  • Chain break tool
  • Gear brush
  • Chain lube, degreaser, rags

Along with an admonishment to not excess spare parts since they are heavy and bulky.

There are a few things on this list I will probably not bring (e.g. saddle, bar tape) and a few areas based on my past experiences of what has broken, I think of bringing spares.  If common things break, I might be able to borrow.  Here is roughly how I look at it based on sub-system:

  • Wheel sub-system: Tubes and tires are the most common things to wear and makes sense to bring spares.  A total of six tires is likely overkill based on reliability I’ve seen with Schwalbe XR (used three tires total crossing Russia) so might end up with five.  I always seem to bring more tubes and patch kits than I really need, but they aren’t too big or bulky so probably bring close to recommended amounts there.More significant is the wheels/rims themselves.  On past long trips, with my size, this is the sub-system I seem to have most stressed.  I broke three rims crossing Canada in 1997 and after that I switched to stronger 48-spoke wheels (as opposed to standard 32 or 36 spoke rims).  Even with strong rims, I broke one rim circling Australia in 2001 and one rim crossing Russia in 2007.  I’ve also broken those nice rear hubs once in New Zealand in 2002 and once in Thailand in 2007.  Hence, this time I’ve tried to account for this in a few ways: (1) I had new strong 26″ wheels built with solid cliffhanger rims and 40 spoke wheels (2) I’m using disc brakes rather than ones that rub and wear on the rims (my Russian failure in 2007) (3) I took a wheel-building class to help my skills in building a replacement wheel. This results in the following spare parts list:
    • Spare rim, hub, spokes and rim tape to rebuild rear wheel if necessary. Also a few spare spokes for the front wheel.
    • Three spare tires plus two on the bike
    • 5 patch kits
    • 5-10 spare tubes
  • Drive train: Chain rings, chains and cassettes are wear items.  I’ve broken pedals three times in the past (Natchez Trace, Atlantic Coast and Russia).  It has been a long time since I broke a bottom bracket and newer sealed cartridges seem pretty durable.  So I’m more inclined towards spare pedals than bottom bracket. This results in the following spare parts list:
    • 2-3 chains
    • 1 cassette
    • Spare pedals
    • Chain rings (candidate to leave behind if I have too much)
  • Derailleur sub-system: I’ve never bent/broken a derailleur hanger, but they aren’t very heavy so I’ll probably take a spare just in case.  Replacing cables and housing is a nice to have mid-way through the trip, particularly if go through a lot of grime.  However, a lot of separate ferrules and housing here as well.  This results in the following spare parts list:
    • Derailleur hanger
    • Spare derailleur cable kit (candidate to leave behind)
  • Brake sub-system: My bike has a hydraulic brake system. This is a plus from standpoint of not wearing on my rims and providing excellent stopping. Brake pads are a wear item and I’ll bring spares. However, I don’t have much experience with long-term reliability and maintenance items like bleeding hydraulic brake lines and carrying mineral oil.  Rather than repair broken hydraulic lines, I’m bringing replacement in form of a mechanical disc brake that works for both front/rear along with cables/housing.  I hope either front or rear hyraullic brake doesn’t fail but if it does, I’ll put in a mechanical brake instead.  This results in the following spare parts list:
    • Spare mechanical disc brake, rotor and both front/rear brake levers
    • Spare brake pads
  • Miscellaneous: I’ve broken both seat post clamp and even a seat post in the past.  I’ve got a good brooks saddle and these seem to last well. I’ve definitely had screws vibrate loose and will need to watch for these.  I also prepare for miscellaneous repairs with duct tape.  This results in the following spare parts list:
    • Seat post clamp
    • Spare screws/bolts for major areas such as those holding racks or shifters in place
  • Tools: The TDA list is pretty close to what I’ll bring.  I need to do basic tune ups and adjustments along the way.  I also assume that a chain whip, crank arm puller and more complete tools will be among things TDA has along.  This results in the following tool list:
    • Multi-tool
    • Spoke wrench (4-sided)
    • Topeak road morph pump
    • Tire levers
    • Gear cleaning brush
    • Chain lube, degreaser, rags

Overall, I still have some time to finalize the list (comments welcome), but feel like I’ve got a reasonable list in place based on both the TDA list and my past experiences of what has broken on me in my tours – and where I’m likely to stress the different sub-systems.

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