When you do a lot of riding especially in cold and wet weather, a flat tire when you are a few miles from home can be very unpleasant thing to deal with. Other than walking home there are two options you are left with in such a scenario, repairing the punctured tube or replacing it (assuming that you are not riding tubeless tires).
From my experience even in perfect conditions repairing punctures on the road is not something I honestly want to do, not even as a last resort. Finding the puncture can be a pretty hard on its own (if you ever manage to find it) and going through the whole process of repairing the puncture is no fun for me. Usually it takes me between 15-30 minutes to locate take off the bicycle wheel, pull out the tube, fix it and put it back.
When I first started mountain biking, for longer rides (10+ km) I was always wearing a bicycle tire repair kit and a small pump. Sometimes I would get two flats in just 30km, (I live in a goat thorn area) which took all the fun from my rides. Imagine 2 hours of riding and almost an hour of repairing punctures.
So, in order to spend less time fixing things, I started to carry two extra tubes in my backpack. When I would get a flat, I just replaced the tube which was much faster, less then 5 minutes of work. After that, when I got home, I would take the tubes to my local bike shop to get them fixed.
So, what are the essentials you will need for repairing / replacing tubes on the road:
- Tyre Levers – very helpful
- Spare tube
- Tire repair kit
Although I do not fix my punctured tubes on the road, I prepare for the worst. As an example of bad luck I can give you something that happened to me. I was up in the mountains at least 30km away from home, I had two spare tubes in my backpack. Unfortunately, I got a flat tire, changed it quickly. Few kilometers further I got another one. Changed that one too. Bad luck right, but wait, on my way back I managed to puncture my tube again. This one I had to repair on the road, so the repair kit was quite useful.
Update: The last 3 months I have been riding with Schwalbe Double Defense tires, although they add an extra 60-80g per tire they are defiantly worth the weight/money. I use the Schwalbe Extra Light tubes, which are about 60-70g lighter then the regular ones. For 3 months I have not had a single puncture but I still carry the essentials in my backpack. The only change is that instead of 2 spare tubes I now have only one.