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  1. #1
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    Common mechanical problems to be prepared for?

    I just bought a nice flat tire repair kit, a rear seat pouch to carry it along with a micro pump and two spare tubes. In other words, I am well prepared for flat tires when I am out riding.

    My question is what other common bike mechanical problems occur, and what tools should I carry to be prepared for them?


    Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    On top of what you mentioned, I carry a chain popper (really, a bike specific multi tool which also happens to have a popper on it), 2 quick links and a spoke wrench. I have yet to need the chain popper, but the spoke wrench has come in handy on the trails. Aside from that, I don't really see the need to carry much else in the way of tools unless you're doing a tour or something.

  3. #3
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    Flat repair, wheel truing, cable adjustment, seat or bars tightening and if you ride hard and shift poorly, chain repair.

    So tube, levers, pump, (and axle nut wrench if not QR). Spoke wrench (that fits your spokes). Misc Allen wrenches and or 4" adjustable wrench for cable and pad hardware. Probably the same for seat or bars. Chain tool and connecting link (that fits the chain size).

    I'll add a Swiss Army Knife (Victorinox Explorer) and a $5 bill. Wrap the tools in a small rag to keep the rattles to a minimum and wipe off your hands after the repair.

    Since many won't know what to do with most of the tools... a cell phone is a smart idea too. Andy.

  4. #4
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    A well maintained road bike should be able to go thousands of miles without any kind of mechanical breakdown except flats, or possibly but or blown out tires due to road hazards like large pieces of glass. The only needed maintenance for those miles should chain lubrication. OTOH with bad luck, and/or not so great maintenance, you might see broken gear cables, broken spokes, possibly a damaged chain, pedals coming loose, hardware loosening and maybe falling off, and worse.

    For day and weekend rides of up to 200 miles or so, I only carry tire related stuff (pump/tubes patchkit) plus a few hex keys just in case, though they rarely get used. For longer tours spanning weeks, I deepen the reserves to include spare gear and brake cable, spoke wrench, 2-4 spare spokes (never used one in 45 years, but you never know) and a few extra tools such as chain tools (also never needed) for field and emergency repairs to keep a bike going. In then event that something more complicated, then I depend on local resources for tools or spares.

    Mtn bikes are another story entirely. Besides tires, broken chains may be the most common failure, then all sorts of stuff that happens because of the abusive nature of mtn biking.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    It would be nice to have real data to draw from, but here's what I think are the most likely problems on a road bike:

    1. Tube punctures. Carry spare tube(s), patch kit, pump. CO2 if you like, but a pump can inflate n+1 flats.

    That was the easy one; the rest are a distant second, and order is harder:

    2. Tire failure. A boot will take care of some failures, but I've never seen a bead failure fixed. Carry a folding tire.
    3. Broken spoke. If you have high spoke count rims, with a spoke wrench you can pull things into ride-able condition with a spoke wrench. Otherwise you're talking about spare spokes and a mini-cassette removal tool. I guess a fiber spoke is an alternative.
    4. Shifter failure (shifter, derailleur). With a screwdriver and allen wrench you can do a lot, include turn it into a single speed to finish the ride.
    5. Loose fasteners. A decent bike multitool should have the needed allen sizes.

    I've carried a segment of chain and a chain break tens of thousands of miles and never used it. But I suppose it could happen.

    Honestly, I think the second most common point of failure after a puncture is the rider. Heat stroke, hypothermia, dehydration, low blood sugar, sun burn, road rash. Lots of stuff can go wrong there.

    If you ride long and far enough, something will break that you can't fix. Plan for that. Cell phone, shoes you can walk in, willingness to knock on a stranger's door....
    What is bicycle touring?
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  6. #6
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    Chain breaker, Quick links. Cables cost nothing and store easily, I carry those. A few feet of duct tape wrapped around the seat post. The chain breaker is also a multi Tool which carries the Allen and Torx bits I'mlikely to need. Oh, and a small plier. I carry that since I got a flat from a piece of debris that got stuck bad in the carcass of the tire and was a beast to remove barehanded.

  7. #7
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    What I carry on my local and club rides if only a small component of what i carry on self reliant tours. My first post was more for others then a list for me.

    Local/club- flat stuff, spoke wrench, SAK, a few hex wrenches and if the bike has 8 or 10mm nuts a 4" crescent.

    Tours- add chain tool, crank retaining bolt wrench, pedal wrench (if bike was boxed), FW tool and Pocket Vice and all the spares needed for the bike. If my wife's bike has different needs I cover that too. But she carries her own flat stuff. Andy.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the replies, learning a lot here.

    Sounds like a chain tool and some spare chain links is second on the list, behind flat tire gear. How common are chain problems, and what causes them?

  9. #9
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Will you be hundreds of miles from home/help, or tens, or less than ten?

    Your bike - I assume you're riding the Kona Splice - has a mtb drivetrain, disc brakes, and high spoke count wheels. If your rear derailleur cable fails and drops you into the smallest cog, you can simply shift the front derailleur into the appropriate chainring for the terrain, and get home. If your front derailleur cable fails and drops you into the smallest chainring, you can similarly get home. If a spoke breaks, there is plenty of clearance for the out-of-true rim so you can keep riding, and get home. If a brake fails, with (hydraulic?) discs you won't be fixing it by the roadside anyway, so use the other brake and get home.

    You get the idea. Other than a flat or damaged tire, there is not much that can happen to that bike that (1) would stop you from getting home AND (2) that you can fix on the roadside with a multi-tool or other compact bike tools. So unless you are more than a couple hours ride from home or a bike shop, carrying anything but tire/tube repair stuff is entirely optional.

    Maybe I should add another AND to that list . . . "AND (3) that will happen to a properly maintained bike." If random bolts start falling out so that your saddle or pedal falls off or your handlebars or stem get loose, etc, then you won't get home without the appropriate allen key. But those things just don't happen if your bike is properly maintained, which includes, a couple times a year, going through and checking all fasteners for tightness.

    I have debated where chain problems fit in that list. On the one hand, a broken chain is something that will strand you, and can be fixed with on-bike tools. On the other hand, I have never broken a chain. So maybe a chain tool gets added to the tire kit. Here is one that includes spoke wrenches, a flathead screwdriver, and a 5mm allen key
    http://www.amazon.com/Pedros-Six-Pac...n+tool+bicycle

    Still, as you can see, plenty of people on this thread do carry more than a tire kit and chain tool, and I'd bet their bikes are properly maintained. I do too. Why?

    Well, there is the slight inconvenience of riding home with a wobbly wheel or a limited gear selection. The opportunity to help a fellow cyclist. A touch of OCD, an affliction not unknown among cyclists. Maybe they are indeed many hours from home or help. And finally, there is the role of tool kit as talisman, protection against the breakdown gods.

    I personally carry:
    - Daily commute bike: tire patches, glue, scrap of sandpaper, spare tube, pump, combo tire lever/box wrench, chain tool, 3-in-1 spoke wrench, three allen keys, Philips screwdriver bit (for derailleur adjustment), spare brake and shift cables. The wrenches and keys fit all the fasteners on the bike, except the bigger ones like crank, pedals, etc.
    - Weekend fun bike: spare tubular, CO2 inflator, Park MT-1 minimalist mini-tool under the saddle, and a mini-pump in the jersey for topping off.
    Last edited by jyl; 02-20-14 at 09:13 AM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member billnuke1's Avatar
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    I've never had to fix any of my bikes with the usual compliment of tools, but I have fixed other peoples bikes. Usually a problem caused an ill adjusted gear changer:3, 5, 10speed,etc.. Actually I just needed a rag to wipe my hands after putting the chain back on!

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    One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is folding needle-nose pliers. I once spent about 15 minutes trying to use my teeth to get a little metal wire out of my tire after a flat. I thought I might never get it out but did eventually manage. But not after deciding I'd buy some needle nose pliers to carry with me from then on.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member woodcraft's Avatar
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    +1 small swiss army knife w/scissors.

    And how about some first aid tape?

    If you ride with a group, it's often about keeping the group moving i.e. helping the least prepared or worst maintained.

    If you ride solo, it's nice to be prepared to help out if needed.

    Personally, I've taken to carrying a road rash oriented first aid kit, and alway bring a super-light jacket, even if it's warm, for shock.

  13. #13
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    jyl- Thanks for the great response, very helpful and informative. This forum rocks. Gatorfreak- Great idea, pliers may be a life saver as well.


  14. #14
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    I've been riding a very long time, and the only tools I've ever needed on the road have been the tire/tube kit, a multi tool with a 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex, and a few open end wrenches, and these are needed a lot less than they used to be. In fact, now that I think about it, I've just replaced the last places these were needed on my commuter bike. I see a lot of people say they carry a chain tool, but I just don't see the need. I carry a spoke wrench but only because I don't trust my personal wheelbuilder (that would be me.) I think I've used the tools more to help others out than I ever needed them for myself.

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I carry a multi tool with a chain tool, tube, patch it, frame pump and a co2 inflator. the multi tool has allen wrenches. I have only used the chain tool once, on someone else's bike. I think that since you have a new bike that you will need the allen wrenches to tweak the fit adjustments.
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  16. #16
    Member scububa's Avatar
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    The advice to know how to use what ever you have is great advice. No sense in packing it if you can't use it.

    A buddies brother joined us for an easy day training ride. Coming back he hit a grate and flated. We weren't 4 miles from his house. He wanted to call his wife. I said don't be silly. Change it and let's go. (His brother, my buddy had continued down the road.)
    No, I'll just call. I thought, he doesn't have a tube, so I reached in my jersey and handed him one. No response. Here's an inflation cartridge. No response. Finally he admitted he had no idea how to change it. Four minutes later we were on our way.

    I was riding alone once and blew up my rear derailleur climbing a hill. I had a cell phone but was in an area of ridges and had no coverage at the time. Had to knock on a door and call my wife to collect me. Don't think I want to try and pack enough tools for that.

    As others said, I mostly am working on other's bikes. Normally adjustments that sometimes requires re-clamping cables. But, I have fixed a couple of chains by removing a link or replacing a push pin which I always had a couple of for the Shimano chains.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Besides tire repair stuff------------bike multi tool, a Leatherman, and a 6 in Crescent wrench, and one or two quick links for your chain.

  18. #18
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    I bet the original poster got a lot more response than he/she imagined.

    I carry: spare tube, tire levers and depending on my tubes presta/schrader valve adapter. Carrying a chain link is smart and doesn't take up much room. Although I'd say if I go for a bike ride anything happens besides a flat tire, I chalk that up to real bad luck. One hot July I was riding around and came to a stop sign and my rear time blew(Tire literally shredded). I could carry around a spare tire, but I'm not likely to need it.
    First God made the fixie, then he made the freewheel because he was tired of pedaling.

  19. #19
    Bicycle Tinker'er
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    Quote Originally Posted by scububa View Post
    The advice to know how to use what ever you have is great advice. No sense in packing it if you can't use it.

    A buddies brother joined us for an easy day training ride. Coming back he hit a grate and flated. We weren't 4 miles from his house. He wanted to call his wife. I said don't be silly. Change it and let's go. (His brother, my buddy had continued down the road.)
    No, I'll just call. I thought, he doesn't have a tube, so I reached in my jersey and handed him one. No response. Here's an inflation cartridge. No response. Finally he admitted he had no idea how to change it. Four minutes later we were on our way.

    I was riding alone once and blew up my rear derailleur climbing a hill. I had a cell phone but was in an area of ridges and had no coverage at the time. Had to knock on a door and call my wife to collect me. Don't think I want to try and pack enough tools for that.

    As others said, I mostly am working on other's bikes. Normally adjustments that sometimes requires re-clamping cables. But, I have fixed a couple of chains by removing a link or replacing a push pin which I always had a couple of for the Shimano chains.
    I'm intrigued. Let me guess, derailleur spring snapped?
    First God made the fixie, then he made the freewheel because he was tired of pedaling.

  20. #20
    Senior Member billnuke1's Avatar
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    I have also had enough water to rehydrate kids and dogs! If you do it once you always bring an extra bottle!

  21. #21
    Member scububa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scububa View Post
    The advice to know how to use what ever you have is great advice. ...

    I was riding alone once and blew up my rear derailleur climbing a hill. I had a cell phone but was in an area of ridges and had no coverage at the time. Had to knock on a door and call my wife to collect me. Don't think I want to try and pack enough tools for that.

    ....
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Wrench View Post
    I'm intrigued. Let me guess, derailleur spring snapped?
    I am not 100% sure what the root cause was but one of the pulleys came apart and the chain appeared to have yanked and bent the pulley cage. Of course this distorted the whole alignment. It pretty much brought me to a full stop with the chain being jammed by all the damage.

    There were a few 'bits' laying within a step or two down the road, but iirc I couldn't find the pulley bolt. And, now, I don't remember if it was the upper or lower. So, I don't know if the bolt came out and that started the cascade, or if the pulley 'came off' the axle and the bolt was lost due to the pressure and shot off the road where I couldn't find it.

    I do all the maintenance on my bikes and am pretty good about it. The derailleur and pulleys are kept clean. I normally bike my bike down after each ride to include a chain wipe, so it stays pretty clean. Every once in a while when I am 'rebuilding' I will take the cage and pulleys off for a deep clean and relube, but not always. I am sure I'd recall if this happened after a recent cleaning. (I use the term rebuild lightly on the new bikes opposed to the touch every bearing and race in the bike in the vintage years that I use to do.)
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  22. #22
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    Along with a mini-pump I carry two spare tubes, tire levers, a CO2 inflator and a couple of cartridges, a Park MT-1 "dogbone" multitool and a tiny Ritchey CPR chaintool.

    The Park tool has 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 mm Allen keys, 8, 9 and 10 mm box wrenches and a flat blade screwdriver all in a 50 gm single tool with enough leverage that the Allen keys are really useful.

    The Ritchey weighs only 25 gms. The screw press is operated by the 4 mm Allen key on the Park tool and it has a slot to be used as a spoke wrench. Unfortunately the Ritchey is no longer made and hard to find but worth the search. The Park MT-1 is still current.

  23. #23
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    If you have a medical issue that requires you to have your meds, put some in the bag too.
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  24. #24
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    I'm usually OK but, as the default mechanic for a large summer trip, I also try to be prepared for other's problems. I try to think of little things I can carry for which loss or failure will render the bike unridable. Besides multi-tool and pliers, this might include extra SPD shoe bolts, chainring bolts, quick links, half links, brake bolts, nylon spoke kit, etc --all stuff that weighs very little but can be very useful. It also helps to be creative on fixes --shifter failure: tie off the cable to the best single position, rear derailer failure: remove, shorten chain, ride as single speed,--etc. Whatever it takes to get to the next stop for better repair.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Ray Dockrey's Avatar
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    in my seat bag I carry a tube, patch kit, CO2 inflator with two spare cartridges, and a multi-tool. I have a small bag that mounts on my stem that has a place for my phone to go so I can see it as I ride as I use it for my bike computer. Inside that bag I have some money, my ID, my keys, and glucose tabs as I am diabetic and there have been several occasions where I have had to take them due to a glucose drop.

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