So, on the way home from the DC triathlon on sunday, I got my first flat. whew! dodged a bullet! I took it to the bike store and they fixed it for 20 bucks, but now I think I should have a repair kit in case it ever happens when I'm out on a long ride far from my house. can anyone recommend a good one or a good price? I've been looking online and they seem to range anywhere from 20 bucks to over 60 bucks and have mixed reviews. What's a good basic kit to have so I don't get stranded?
I suggest you go into a bike shop in person and ask for a rec for a kit. I don't know the exact brand of mine, but it's a CO2 charger with two canisters, a patch kit, and a pouch to hold them. It's small and fits in my saddle bag. There should be several products like that, and I'm pretty sure it was $20-ish.
Watch this a few times to get the idea of how to change a tube:
Then practice! Just take your tube out and reinstall a few times, and you'll get the hang of it.
BTW I got my first flat yesterday too, only I was doing the race....and kept meaning to practice changing a tube beforehand but never got around to it...and taught myself on the course over an agonizing 23 minutes. How I didn't crash on that improperly changed, underinflated tube I have no idea.
For me, CO2's are expensive and usually unreliable when on a training ride - which is why I usually go with a small bike pump, like the Topeak Mountain Morph instead. The pump plus a tube and a couple tire levers combined with the knowledge of how to change a flat are all I really need (and fit conveniently in a back jersey pocket).
you can either buy a kit or put one together yourself.
if you choose to buy a premade one there are many on the market you have found.
if you want to put one together youself do the following.
1. get this tire lever its only 1 piece and easy to use if you ever used a knife in your kitchen to pry open a jar this is the same priniciple. its called quick stick most bike shops have it.
$4-6 dollar price. there are many other tire levers out there that people use but i find this the easiest to use and you only need 1.
2. get a spare inner tube, again from a bike shop. $3-5 dollars
3. get a co2 filler, this one is called superflate 2, its $15 dollars and uses both threaded and unthreaded canisters(very important read further down)
4. get extra co2 cansisters,
if you did step 3 above and got the type that uses both threaded and non threaded canisters, you can either buy bike shop threaded canisters and pay 3-4 times what you should be pyaing for the product and if you want to spend that much by all means spend $5.00 for two 12gram cansiters with a thread on them.
buy a box of twelve-sixteen 12 gram co2 canisters that are the same as above but not threaded (and don't have a fancy "bike shop" aura to them), and spend $10.00 at any dicks or sports authority store and be set for years. You will find this in the BB gun section of the store. Making co2 now very very very inexpensive.
NOTE: in general you need 1.5 12 gram canisters to fill up one bicycle tire on average you commonly take 3-5 of these things on a bike ride meaning you can repair two tubes per ride.
I vote for co2, i have found them very convenient and quick compared to a mini pump and if used properly the chances of a malfunction with a co2 is very very minimal. each to their own. each has its pros and cons.
5. get an emergency patch repair kit that is small for really bad situations when you already used up your spare tube that you are carrying. $5-6 dollars at a bike shop
6. get a patch kit for use only at home with and if you want to repair any old tubes, this takes longer and is not as compact as option 5. $5-7 dollars at a bike shop.
7. get a saddlebag to put items 1-5 in and you are all set to go.
8. practice changing a tube yourself before you need to actually change one.
In addition to the items Andy mentioned, you may also want to pick up a patch kit. They are small (about 1.5" x 1" x 0.5") and cheap. You never know if you'll get two flats on the same long ride. Get an underseat bag and put all the items (tube, levers, patch kit) in there and leave them in there, until you need to use them. A small bike multitool is also recommended for bolt and Allen screw adjustments.
CO2 cartridges are good for one use only, plus you still need to pump up the tube with a pump later on.
Some of the local bike stores (LBS) offer free bike maintenance classes where they teach you about repairing flats and doing basic bike safety checks and maintenance. Check their websites. I'd highly recommend that you sign up for one of these classes. They are usually 45-60 min.
Many flats are caused by underinflated tubes, resulting in pinch flats. Try to check your tire pressure before every ride and pump up the tubes as needed.
A couple good articles of flat kit and how to change a flat:
I typically carry two spares on my rides. For races, 1 for shorter races and 2 for halfs and full Ironmans. I've never had a problem with CO2s. They are so much easier than pumps (but not very environmentally friendly).
For what it's worth, the CO2 in the cylinders is supposed to be the byproduct of industrial processes (or "naturally occurring"). We have so many ways of making CO2 for free that I doubt that anyone's producing extra CO2 just for sale.
I've never had a problem getting a full tube out of one CO2 canister. that said, definitely carry an extra one...
In addition to the other great suggestions for your patch kit, I suggest carrying a dollar bill. If you get a hole in the tire itself, you can use the dollar to boot the tire (aka cover the hole) so that you can put in the new tube without bursting that tube as well. Other things that I've used to boot a tire include Clif bar wrappers and gum wrappers that I've found on the side of a road.
Park makes (and Performance carries) a ready-made adhesive boot, Park Tool TB-2 Emergency Tire Boot, that isn't expensive.