Bike Tools and Gear

Andrew's birthday viewSo many tools, so many accessories. How to choose between them?

On this page, we talk about the tools and bike-specific equipment and accessories you’ll want to get you over smooth and rough roads.

You can also Ask A Bicycle Mechanic about any technical bike questions on your mind.

The Essential Tool Kit is something every cyclist should take with them. Once you’ve got that together, then consider a few additional things.

Review & Contest: Vaude Road I Handlebar Bag

For nearly a year now, Friedel’s been searching for a handlebar bag. There are many to choose from but for a long time, none of them seemed ‘just right’. They were all too big, too expensive or too hard to open and close. It wasn’t until she saw the Vaude Road I Handlebar Bag that […] Read More »

10 Reasons To Bike Tour With Duct Tape

There are few products in this world more versatile than duct tape. No bike tourist should be caught without at least a few feet of it to use in emergencies. Here are our top duct tape tips. Can you add any? Read More »

Thermarest Mats: Comparing the Prolite and the Z-Lite

A good bike tour means getting a good night’s sleep so if you’re going to be camping, it’s important to choose a good mat. We’re big fans of Thermarest mats. They’re comfortable, the company backs its product with a lifetime guarantee and, having tested that guarantee on the road, we can vouch for the great […] Read More »

Our Steel Touring Bicycles: Technical Specs

We bought our Robin Mather steel-framed touring bicycles in 2006 and took them on a 3-year tour around the world. After such an adventure (50,000km of pedalling), the bikes needed some work. In 2011, we rebuilt them to the specs listed below. You can also read more about the rebuilding process. Read More »

6 Tips For Picking A Sleeping Bag

Crawling into a cozy sleeping bag after a long day on the bike, knowing that you’re settling down for a well-earned rest, is one of the wonderful pleasures of touring. Equally memorable, for all the wrong reasons, is a sleepless, freezing night because your sleeping bag just wasn’t up to the job. Here are 6 […] Read More »

One Tough Bag: The Laptop Sleeve From WaterField Designs

A round-the-world bike tour is a good way to test any piece of gear, and the laptop case we bought from Waterfield Designs ( was one of the things that stood up best to our 3-year trip. We definitely recommend these bags to protect your gadgets from dust and bumps on the road. Read More »

How To Make A Tarp For Bike Touring

Here’s how to make your own tarp for only $5 U.S. and with just 30 minutes of work. It’s super easy, great for tourers on a budget and you’ll love having the extra protection when the rain decides to pour down on your bike tour. Read More »

MSR Miniworks EX Water Filter

We researched water filters more than any other piece of gear before we finally settled on the MSR Miniworks EX – an easy-to-use option that’s field serviceable. It’s also fairly affordable but it does tire us out when we have to pump a lot of water in one go. Read More »

Merino Wool Cycling Socks

Nothing makes me go ‘ahhhhhhhhh’ quite so much during a bike ride as the perfect pair of socks. Yes, that’s right. Socks. And not just any socks: merino wool socks, to be specific. Find out why we love them and which brand is best, in our experience. Read More »

Dry Bags For Bike Touring: Do You Need One?

We’ve always used a dry bag for bike touring – a large one that holds everything to do with our tent. Is this the best way to carry a tent? We explain why it’s our choice and examine the other options. Read More »

Water Treatment For Remote Bike Tours

For bike tours that take you away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation (as all the best ones seem to do), it’s crucial to consider how you will find clean drinking water. Here’s a guide to the different options, from simple boiling to complex purifiers. Read More »

Primus Omnifuel Stove Review

This is a review of the Primus Omnifuel stove we used during a recent bike tour. It’s great for bicycle tourists who love to cook, or for anyone planning on doing a lot of bike touring. We appreciate its sturdy construction and ability to accept many fuels, but it is expensive. Check out the full […] Read More »

Pedals For Bike Touring

If you’re just getting into bike touring, you may be amazed to discover how much choice there is when it comes to pedals. Like most things, ask 100 people which pedals they prefer and you’ll get 100 different answers. Here we outline the main options to consider. Read More »

A Look At Wheel Locks For Bike Touring

The latest question in our inbox asked about a ‘mystery lock’ that one UK cyclist saw a lot of European bikers using during their summer tours. It’s known as a wheel lock, o-lock or ring lock and we find it incredibly useful. Read More »

Bicycle Wheel Building For Dummies

There’s a certain mystique about the art of building a bicycle wheel. It’s a skill all bike tourists should probably should learn, but few of us do. Maybe we’re a little scared? We’ve now built 2 wheels and it’s not as hard as you think. Here’s our quick overview to the process. Read More »

Topeak Mountain Morph Pump

A bicycle pump is a key piece of equipment for your tour. Buy a good one and flat tires will be a breeze to fix. A bad pump will turn what should be a five minute job into a half hour trial full of sweat and stress. When we bought our first pump, we were […] Read More »

Ortlieb Panniers

Cyclists rave about Ortlieb panniers and in our opinion the praise is justified. These are truly bicycle bags for life. Even after our 3-year world trip, our bags are still in great shape. The only signs of wear are a little sun fading and a few broken plastic clips (easily replaced). There is also one […] Read More »

The Best Tires For Bicycle Touring

We regularly get questions about the ‘best’ tire for bicycle touring. In this article, we look at a few options but first it helps to define what we mean by the ‘best’ tire. It’s impossible to find one tire that does everything well. Rather, you need to search for the ‘best suited’ tire for the […] Read More »

Exped DownMat & SynMat Review

We’re happy to leave a lot of things behind when we go bike touring but a good night’s sleep isn’t one of them. Recently, we had the chance to test out Exped’s SynMat 7 and DownMat 7 sleeping mats, to see if they were as comfortable and warm as people have been telling us. Read More »

Straps, Nets and Cords: Attaching Stuff To Your Bike

We try to pack lightly, but nearly every bike tour involves attaching something to the back of our bikes. Here are 3 options for strapping extra luggage to the back of your bike. Read More »

Choosing Luggage Racks for Bicycle Touring

You only need to know one thing about buying a luggage rack for an extended bicycle tour: don’t get a cheap one. Racks take a beating on a bike tour. The rack has to carry a heavy load and it is constantly exposed to the bumps and jostles of riding. This strain means that cheap […] Read More »

Making A Cargo Trailer From A Kid Carrier

Here’s how we took an old trailer designed for carrying kids and turned it into a cargo trailer, that could be used around town or for touring. It cost us just 12 euros and was extremely easy to make. Once you’ve found someone who’s throwing out a trailer, all you need is about 2 hours […] Read More »

Lightweight Bike Touring Packing List

Wondering how to go bike touring with just 10kg of gear? This is the lightweight packing list that helped us travel with just back bags for a 3-week tour of Spain. See what we took along and then let us know what you’d take if you only had back panniers to work with. Read More »

Which Hubs To Use For Bike Touring

Which hubs should you use for a bike tour of Africa? That question popped into our email box recently. Here’s our reply, and we’d love to hear about your experience with hubs as well. Read the post, and then leave a comment! Read More »

Hilleberg Nallo 3GT: Our Trusty Tent For Bike Touring

When we’re on a bike tour, there’s no place that feels more like home than our trusty tent, the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT. After spending some 500 nights inside, here’s our review. Read More »

Why I Love Trangia Campstoves

Steve Tober has been travelling with his bike for over 20 years and in all that time, he’s only used one stove: the Swedish made Trangia. “All these years later, the same Trangia is still going strong,” Steve says as he tells us just what’s so great about his favourite stove. Read More »

3 Ways To Keep In Touch On A Bike Tour (Plus One)

It’s not always easy to keep in touch on a bike tour. Cyclists tend to seek out quieter roads and that means you’re not always close to a strong mobile phone signal or a nice cafe with free wireless internet. Here are 3 options to keep you connected. Read More »

Topeak Mini 20 Pro Multitool Review

A few months ago, we went shopping for a new multitool. After 4 years of constant use (daily commuting plus a 50,000km world bike trip), our old Topeak model was wearing out. Time for a new model. The one we picked out was another Topeak, with 20 tools and weighing just 150 grams! Read More »

Planet Superflash Bike Light

We try to avoid cycling in the dark but sometimes it can’t be helped. Unexpectedly long days, bad weather and tunnels all create situations where you’ll need a light on your bike. Which one to get? Our first lights were from the well-known manufacturer Cateye and we were initially pleased with them, but then we […] Read More »

Santos Travelmaster Review

We recently splurged on 2 brand new Santos Travelmaster touring bicycles. Now, after a 1,000km bike tour of Spain, we’re ready to share some initial thoughts on this bike. In a word? Solid. Read More »

Trailers For Bike Touring

Trailers are an alternative choice to panniers for carrying luggage on a bike tour. Learn about their advantages and the most popular models, including the BOB Yak, the Burley Nomad, the Carry Freedom and, for cycle trips with kids, the Cougar Chariot. Read More »

Essential Tools for Bike Touring

Every cyclist should carry a few tools but you don’t need the whole workshop. A tool kit ready to fix absolutely everything is also one that will weigh down your bags and in our experience you’re unlikely to need most of it. Unless you’re going on a lengthy expedition to the earth’s truly remote places, […] Read More »

The Mini Cassette Remover: A Tiny & Very Useful Bike Touring Tool

After you’ve been bike touring for a while, sometimes you forget that the tools you take for granted as ‘standard’ aren’t known to everyone else. One tool that falls into this category is the mini cassette remover, which is much smaller than carrying a chain whip and could come in handy if you break a […] Read More »

Power To Go: The SON Dynamo Hub

If you want a constant source of power on the road and bike lights that never run out of charge, the SON Dynamo hub is probably near the top of your bicycle wish list. We’ve been testing our SON hubs for a year now. With 5,000km of riding under our wheels, it’s fair to say […] Read More »

Testing The Tiny Optimus Crux Stove

The Optimus Crux is the smallest, lightest stove we’ve ever seen. When folded, it easily fits in the palm of your hand. It’s pretty obvious why this stove might appeal to anyone trying to make their bags lighter but we found that it also had a few quirks. Read More »

Going Soft: Adding A Pillow To Our Bike Touring Gear

We’ve taken another step towards the ‘pampered’ end of bike touring. After 3 years of sleeping on a “pillow” of scrunched up clothes, we’ve finally splurged on the real thing: a Thermarest Compressible Pillow. Read More »

Sea To Summit X-Bowl Review

The Sea To Summit X Bowl is a collapsible bowl made of food-grade silicon.It’s compact, lightweight (just 80g) and big enough to hold a healthy serving of pasta. We needed some new camping plates and we’d met other cyclists who were happy with their X Bowls, so we bought a couple X Bowls to try […] Read More »

Take-A-Look Mirror

The Take-A-Look mirror is often called the best rear view mirror for cyclists and after using it for 3 years, we’d have to agree. We call this mirror our lifesaver because it provided a constant view of what was happening behind us. When a car was approaching too quickly or about to pass too closely, […] Read More »

Saving The Tax: More Bike Touring Gear For Your Money

Planning a bike tour in Europe? Hold off on buying a bike and all the gear until you get here. You could save hundreds of dollars by claiming back the sales tax, for a savings of up to 25% on all your bicycle touring equipment. Read More »

Equipment For Bike Touring In The Rain

When we first started bike touring, a friend gave us 3 words of advice for rainy days: “Gore-tex. Gore-tex. Gore-tex.” Wise words indeed. Good waterproof equipment is essential for cycling in the rain. Of course, no one really plans on bike touring in wet weather but unless you’re going to the Sahara, chances are you’ll […] Read More »

Choosing A Tent for Bicycle Touring

A tent is perhaps the most crucial piece of equipment that the independent bicycle tourist will carry. It will be your home away from home, a haven from wind, rain and cold temperatures, a key to travelling on a budget and one of the few constants that appears every night as you go from place […] Read More »

Bicycle Touring Equipment List

What you pack for a bike tour will depend on many factors. Before you fill your panniers, ask yourself how long you will be gone (longer trips can require more equipment, for reasons for comfort, budgeting and self-reliance), whether or not there will be bike shops nearby and what kind of weather you’re likely to […] Read More »

9 Things We Wouldn’t Bike Tour Without

Every cycle tourist has their prized possessions, things they wouldn’t dream of leaving home without. Among the many products vying for your attention, we proudly present our all-star list. Each one has withstood repeated daily use and been worth every penny. 1. Hilleberg Nallo 3GT Tent – Your tent is going to be your home […] Read More »

MSR Whisperlite Internationale Review

Every long bicycle trip needs a good campstove and for our journey we bought the MSR Whisperlite International. It was an excellent choice – proving itself to be very efficient and reliable. We still use it, and wouldn’t hesitate to take ours on another journey around the globe. Read More »

Bike Security & Locks For Bicycle Touring

A lot of people are concerned about having their bike stolen while on tour but it’s really not much to worry about. “Not much to worry about???” we hear you cry, while imagining every cycle tourist’s worst nightmare – a holiday spent in a police station filing reports, rather than enjoying the open road. Yes, […] Read More »

Schwalbe Marathon XR Tires

Schwalbe’s Marathon XR tire has become the tire of choice for expedition tourers in recent years. Unfortunately, Schwalbe have now discontinued the Marathon XR. Unless you can find some remaining stock in a bike shop, you’ll have to choose another tire. Learn more about the Best Tires for Bike Touring currently on the market, as […] Read More »

Cycling Shoes For Bike Touring

It’s important to choose the right shoes for your bicycle trip. Sure, you can hit the road in any old pair of sneakers, but their soles are flexible and won’t provide the right support for your feet and ankles. To see this, pick up a normal sneaker and try to bend it. Now pick up […] Read More »

Sunglasses and Why You Need Them

Sunglasses are one of those things we can’t imagine bike touring without. Before we started cycling, we hardly ever wore sunglasses and didn’t realise how much we would come to love them. Now, our prescription sunglasses from UK-based Optilabs are one of our most treasured possessions, right up there along with the bikes themselves. Here’s […] Read More »

Ortlieb folding bowl

It’s hard to separate the important accessories from the frivolous ones when choosing what to take on a tour. For a long time we put Ortlieb’s 10 litre folding bowl () in the second category. We couldn’t imagine why we needed one. It wasn’t until we met a couple with not one but two folding […] Read More »

Camelbak Unbottle 70

Water bottles mounted to your bike frame are fine for shorter journeys but you need to carry far more water than your bottles will hold when wild camping or crossing isolated landscapes. That’s where the Camelbak Unbottle 70 () comes in handy. It holds 2 litres of water and weighs about 340 grams. We actually didn’t […] Read More »


  1. Paul Woschanko
    26th December 2010 at 3:45 pm #


    What was the model Petxl headlamp you recommended in a earlier newsletter
    this year?

    Have a safe & happy new year.


  2. Andrew
    26th December 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Hi Paul, we have the Petzl Tikka headlamps.

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