If you’re an avid biker you’ll eventually experience some sort of mechanical failure while you’re riding. If you’re close to home you can simply wheel or even carry your bike back to the garage for repairs. However, if you’re on a longer bike ride you’ll need to know how to repair your bike well enough to get you home. Here are some tips for bike maintenance on the road.
In order to fix a problem you have to have the right tools. When you’re on a bike ride you’ll want to pack some essential tools to get you through your roadside maintenance. Such tools include:
- spare inner tubes (2 minimum)
- self-adhesive patches
- tire levers
- multi-tool with allen key, screwdriver, chain tool, etc.
- zip ties
- money – preferably bills
This is just a list of the absolute essential – don’t leave home without for any reason tools. Additional tools are recommended.
Tricks of the Tires
Your tires will likely be the most problematic area on a long bike ride because they encounter the most debris. Punctures, gashes, or just a plain old flat tire can end a bike ride before it really gets going. If the inner tube of your tire is punctured it needs to be replaced before you go on.
Inspect the outside of the tire for long tears. If you have a large tear or big puncture you run the risk of puncturing the new inner tube as well. In order to avoid that you can patch up the hole by grabbing any bill (preferably a $1 bill or a small denomination) and sliding it into the inside of the wheel to cover the hole.
Also inspect the inside of the tire to ensure there is nothing sharp that will instantly cause another flat by running your fingers along the whole inside of the tire. Remove any sharp debris.
If your bike ride is being particularly rough on your tires and you run out of inner tubes (or just don’t want to replace an inner tube on the side of the road) then a self-adhesive patch should get you home. Just pump the tire back up and continue on your way.
The pump that you buy for roadside maintenance is important. You’ll find that there a wide variety of bike pumps that come in nice pocket sized versions and generally have good prices. However, be aware that the smaller bike pumps do not have as much power and are not always capable of reaching higher pressures. Prepare to be pumping for quite a long time with a smaller pump.
As for your tire levers, multi-tools, and zip ties, your own personal choice is all you have to take into account. You want tools that are sturdy but small enough to fit in a saddle bag. You can find high quality tool kits at most bike shops.
Never do your roadside maintenance directly at the roadside. Unless the road has a very wide shoulder, you don’t want to be there. If a car swerves even a little you run the risk of being hit. When you have to get off your bike, move the bike a good ten to twenty feet from the road. The busier the road is, the further you want to be. Also never do maintenance with your back to the road. You always want to be facing the road so that you can see oncoming traffic and therefore any danger.
These quick tips for bike maintenance on the road should help you finish your ride even with tire punctures. Zip ties are always great for fixing loose parts in a pinch and your multi-tool will help you adjust many of the parts on your bike should they come out of alignment or feel loose. Any other kind of maintenance usually requires tools not easily packed into your handy saddlebag. Are there any other essential tools that you’ve found useful on a bike ride?