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Bicycle materials
What to bring on your bicycle journey?

Cyclists who travel for a long time will bring (partly) their own bicycle materials. There is no need to bring every imaginable part of your bicycle with you as a spare part but it is advisable to bring the following materials, especially if you are planning to planning to do some off road cycling in Africa, Asia or any area where you would not likely find shops with the material you would love to have.

See also my page about bringing your bicycle repair kit.

Freewheels or Cassette Freehubs

What does your bicycle have? A freewheel or a freewheel cassette? Cassettes wear out, the most I did with one cassette was about 7000 km and that was about 1000 too much. At that time I didn't have a spare with me.

Start your journey with a new one. If you already know you are going to do more then 3000 to 4000 km you will need a spare one. And this you will need a spare chain too. See below.


Freewheel Remover

A selection of bicycle materials can include a freewheel remover. It's a small but very useful little tool that should be included in your tools section.

I needed it only once when I was somewhere in Turkey, but it was at a time that I was far away from any point of help. A very handy tool, don't forget it!



A spare chain is essential. Change your cassette? Then you must change your chain too. Some claim you can do longer with the chain by turning it every 1000 km or so.

I do not have that experience. In fact, I prefer to change cassette and chain at the same time. Usually it is the chain that wears out first.

Not every chain fits on any cassette so make sure you bring the right combination. In case of doubt, ask your bicycle shop at home. I would say, of all your spare bicycle materials, chain and cassette are probably the most important.


Derailleur (Derailer)

There will be always discussion about what bicycle materials you have to bring and a spare derailleur is one of the.

There is of course a chance your derailler will break, it did happen once to me, and I had to go back to Istanbul (I was already at the Turkish - Iranian border) to get a new one.

The question is of course, do you want to take the chance?

I suggest if you go far from the modern world, bring one, just to be sure. But that said, if you have to leave some bicycle materials behind because of lack of space, this might be left out.


2 sets of brake pads

There is little discussion about  bringing spare brake pads, they weight nothing and you will most certainly need them, even if you choose the good ones. Get at least 2 packs in your bags. You will not regret it.



Lubricant is essential to keep your bicycle in good condition. I have always a small bottle of Finished line Cross Country lubricant which is for extreme weather and long distance cycling.

I have been using many other types but this one fits for me. It keep your chain and other rotating materials in good condition

Tip: Bring an old tooth brush to clean your chain


Spare tubes

In many Asian and African countries Presta valves (also known as French valves) are not everywhere available so be sure your rim's hole is wide enough for Schrader valves (also known as car valves). In some cases you will not even be able to get one or the other and the only tube you can get is the old fashioned Woods valve. Your set of spare bicycle materials on the road needs spare tubes, especially if you use 28 or 700 inch wheels.

Below: Schrader, Presta and Woods Valves

schrader valve presta valve woods valve

Spare tire

Do you have to bring your own spare tires? The question is not too difficult to answer. If you are cycling on a bicycle with 26 inch wheels (mountain bike), you will most likely find a replacement.

In Laos, some years I got a serious hole in my tire which not to be fixed. It was in an area with few villages, let alone a lot of people. However, in one of the villages I found one Chinese 26 inch tire which solved my problems until I reached Chiang Mai.


As I prefer to use Schwalbe tires, I should not have had a problem but during this, relatively short trip I had not checked my tires.

Had I have a 28 inch wheel, I would not have been able to continue. In many Asian 28 inch tires are extremely difficult to find. In that case, bring always an extra tire. The folding tires are good enough to help you through the most urgent problems.

Spare spokes

Your bicycle materials set can be easily extended with spare spokes and there is an easy way to keep them straight! It is always possible you can break a spoke. So yes, it is good to bring a few spare spokes, maybe even folding spokes. These can help you not to ruin your rim.

Bringing spokes can be quite tricky. You want to keep them straight. This will be a problem in your bags. However, there's a nice little trick you can use to keep your spokes in good condition.

Get a piece of cork, push a few spokes through it. Then hang the cork with the spokes in the frame under your saddle. Make sure your cork is thick enough but not too thick so you can easy get it out when you need one. I have cycled about 18.000 km with spokes under my saddle until I needed one. And of course that was precisely in an area I didn't want to have problems.

Shifters, levers and brake sets

Some travelers bring more spare bicycle materials, especially a set of spare shifters, levers and brake sets.

Do you need to bring them on your journey? If you leave home, make sure your shifters, levers and both brake sets are either in good condition or preferably new. You may want to bring some cables, just in case.


It might be a good idea to keep shifters, levers and brake sets with the family/friends you leave at home so they are able to send you some in case you can not find them on the way.

Shifters, levers and brake sets do not easy wear out and it is not very likely you will need them, even on a long journey. That is of course if you take care of your materials.

You can of course gamble in not bringing these bicycle materials but do you want to take the chance? Answering the question depends a lot on where you cycle. If the road will bring you to remote countries with little bicycle shops and no email facilities to let you be send some, it's good to bring what I recommend above.

Don't think it won't happen to you "because you have an excellent bike", I had many problems with my Koga Miyata Worldtraveler when I was in Europe and I was happy to bring the spare stuff (here is the story), you will praise the day you brought your spares.

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