30 January 2009

Inside a saddle bag

After being married for more than 16 years I never stop to marvel at the complete chaos which can be maintained within a women's handbag. My wife owns a great variety of bags and all of them, even if not used for months or even years, are full with all kind of stuff. So I wondered, can the same be said about saddle bags?

In order to answer that question, I posted a thread at the TCC website and asked for comments what kind of stuff should be in a saddle bag when riding out. The answers were most interesting, you can read the details here.

Below is an intermediate summary of the results

Some hex keys and plus/minus drivers are a must.

Punctured tire

I believe this is regarded as the number one problem on rides so everyone has at least tire levers, spare tires and patches with them. The info about the easy patches was particular helpful, so I will use them only for temporary repair in the future. Also I have bought some tire patches from park Tool in case there is some serious damage to the tire. But I don't think this has as high a priority as a punctured tube.

Pumps or CO2 Cartridges

I have to agree with some of the comments, that working with CO2 cartridges can go wrong and that one only has one chance. I remember a particular incident where three of us thought be would have 5 cartridges to inflate a punctured tired and we failed nevertheless (in fact we had only four with us, two were empty on the valve, another one blow the first tube, and we forgot to close the valve when we screwed the last cartridge on).

The valve itself I use is very small, so from a volume point of view I guess the cartridge solution has a point nevertheless.

One more disadvantage is, that you cannot take the cartridges with you on a flight. Neither in your suitcase, nor in your hand baggage.

My personal feeling is: I had pumping, so I would prefer the cartridges but overall it is a very balanced issue.


This is a point I completely overlooked. But broken spokes happen from time to time on a ride and if you have a wheel with only a few of them, it is rather impossible to continue to ride. (like my G3 Campa Zonda wheels). Of course the reasonable choice is to buy a wheel with 28 or so spokes (with standard replacements at every bikeshop in Japan) , but they look so .... boring.
I think it is a good idea to pack a tool/wrench and a spoke on a ride, but for me that is impossible, as the bloody Campa spokes are different left and right AND rear and front, so this would mean four replacement spokes. No way.


Standard types can be bought at most of the combinis, so I don't think that they are really necessary. (also some of them tend to leak and to clean the acid in your saddle bag is comparable to the Exxon Valdez disaster.
Latex Glove

This was the most surprising idea. The only time I got in contact with them was for rectal cancer prevention. But I guess that is something you perform rather seldom on each other during a ride out in the country side.

Good Luck Charm

Of course. How could something like this been have possibly overlooked? Small types, made out of carbon or titanium are preferred. Otherwise an arrow or an 絵馬 with the pleas written on them for every ride are also decreasing the risk of accidents, punctures and general poor performances. Should always have a small bell attached to.

Electrical Tape

I think this is also a very good idea. A German craftsman if called for to a house, would invariably carry a set of tools with him, such as screwdrivers, hammer etc. with which he would work on a problem.
However, when I was living in (countryside) China, a plumber would normally come without any tools but always with a roll of duct tape. Believe me, there is no problem in China which cannot be solved with the appropriate dossis of duct tape. Leaking water pipe? - 100 meter of duct tape will do the job. Broken light on your car due to crash? - duct tape first. High unemployment rate in the cities? - duct tape over the mouth if protesting.

Even the Beijing Olympic stadium design, as one can clearly see, was inspired by random wrapping of huge duct tape over a standard stadium.
So electrical tape is a very good idea. In can help if the handlebar tape unravels because one is too stupid to do that properly. And probably it can be used to repair tubes, tires, tie spokes together, provide first aid and silence your wife and kids.

In Japan there is a wide variety available and I bought some in nice colors (yellow, grey, red) for 37 Yen a piece at the local home depot equivalent. I used it as a finishing tape on the handle bar - the stripes provided with the handle bar tape are ridiculous short. Looks great now. Actually very Chinese.

Finally I found Edogawakikomans idea very good to have a wad of freshly printed 10.000 Yen notes in a brown envelope printed "LDP" on it in the saddle bag; in case something goes seriously wrong. Better to buy a new bike with them instead of wasting time with repair.


TOM said...

You're a genius Michael!

Manfred von Holstein said...

Very interesting. I'm surprised nobody seems to carry any kind of tissue paper or wet towels. I like to keep my respective parts clean when disaster strikes...