How to carry a spare tube on a road bike

A puncture is the quickest way to ruin a ride, so every cyclist should pack at least one spare road bike inner tube. In this advice guide, we provide some insider tips on how to carry a spare tube on a road bike, including some ingenious weight saving ideas from the pros.

Why carry a spare tube?

Punctures are, unfortunately, a reality when you're riding on the roads. There's often nothing you can do to avoid a puncture, but keeping your tyres inflated to the correct pressure and in good condition can give you the best chance.

If you're riding on the road, carrying a spare bike tube means you can rapidly remove the old one and replace it. Most competent riders should be confident at changing a road bike tyre and tube in around five minutes.

In comparison, it can take ten minutes or longer to repair a damaged tube – and there's no guarantee you'll get that right on the roadside.

We're not against recycling, but we recommend you save your tube repairs for the warm and dry of your own home.

Our advice is to carry at least one spare tube on your road bike. If you're going out for a long ride such as a tour, then consider packing more than one!

Ideas for carrying a spare road bike tube

Here are some traditional and innovative ways to pack a spare road tube.

In a rear pocket

Cycle jerseys contain several pockets that are perfect for stuffing in an inner tube or two.

Remove the tubes from their cardboard packets, but keep the elastic bands in place and off you go. Don't carry keys, credit cards or anything sharp such as tools that could damage the long thin Presta road bike valves.

Saddle bag

A saddle bag is perfect for carrying the essentials, including a new road bike tube and a set of tyre levers.

Most seat bags are big enough for a 700c road bike tube, some additional tools and even your phone, keys and credit cards.

We recommend that you only use a seat bag with metal seat posts. Saddle bags that are secured against seatpost shouldn't be used on bikes fitted with carbon seatposts because they can wear away the material.

In a spare water bottle

This is an old-school tip, but your bottle holder can be easily repurposed as a tube and tool carrier. Remove the top off your water bottle and pack your tube and tools inside, and off you go.

You can use an old bottle and cut the top off it if you need to.

The pay off with this is that you're cutting down your water carrying capacity – which may be a bad idea if you're doing a long ride on a hot day.

Frame bag

You won't see many frame bags in the pro peloton, but they're perfect for transporting road bike tubes and other ride essentials.

Like seat post bags, they shouldn't be used on carbon frames.

Road bike inner tube carrying tips

Here are some tried and tested tips for transporting road bike tubes:

  • Remove the cardboard box, but keep the tube wrapped up by leaving the elastic band in place.
  • Some riders will place spare tubes in a sock or fabric pouch to protect them.
  • Be careful carrying a road bike tube alongside any tools, keys or credit cards that could damage it.
  • Ensure the road bike valve and valve screw are in place, as these are important at protecting your tube when it's fitted.
  • Always check you've got at least one road bike tube packed before you leave the house for a ride.
  • If you use your spare, replace it as soon as you get home.
  • If you have space, pack a puncture repair kit too – for those rides when just about everything seems to go wrong!

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