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  1. #1
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    Preparing for Emergency Bicycle Repairs on Tour

    I'm planning my first long tour next spring and I want to be prepared to handle emergency repairs on the road. Unfortunately, being a grease monkey isn't in my bones but I want to be prepared to handle at least some of the more common types of situations. And yes, I can and have changed a flat tire a number of times so got that one down.

    What would you suggest I be prepared to handle on the road? And, what resources do you know of that would help educate me on how to perform these repairs--articles, websites, classes?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Life is a fun ride safariofthemind's Avatar
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    First, go to your local library and borrow 2 books:

    Todd Down's Bycicle Maintenance and Repair manual
    Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance by L. Zinn

    then find out which of your local bike shops offer the Park bicycle repair courses and go to one. This combination will get you everything you need in no time.
    http://www.parktool.com/trade-resour...rk-tool-school

    Some cities also have a bicycle coop that will let you wrench and teach you in exchange for your volunteer labor. That's also a great way to learn. Google bicycle coop and your city's name and see what pops out.

  3. #3
    nashcommguy
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    Quote Originally Posted by safariofthemind View Post
    First, go to your local library and borrow 2 books:

    Todd Down's Bycicle Maintenance and Repair manual
    Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance by L. Zinn

    then find out which of your local bike shops offer the Park bicycle repair courses and go to one. This combination will get you everything you need in no time.
    http://www.parktool.com/trade-resour...rk-tool-school

    Some cities also have a bicycle coop that will let you wrench and teach you in exchange for your volunteer labor. That's also a great way to learn. Google bicycle coop and your city's name and see what pops out.
    Amen to all of this. Especially the co-op. The main thing is to prepare as well as you can and then just go. A few years ago I did a seven week unsupported, self-guided tour of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Never toured before and after about a month I'd changed out spokes, flats, deraileur and brakes adjustments. It was a cycling-life changing experience. Some websites I could recommend are www.crazyguyonabike.com and www.adventurecycling.com.

    Have a great time!

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    Local bike co-op is best. Sheldon Brown is second.

  5. #5
    Bicycle Lifestyle AsanaCycles's Avatar
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    research bike shops: locations, phone numbers

    chain tool, and power links.

    what bike?
    what is the route?

  6. #6
    djb
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    and last but not least by any stretch of the imagination, make sure that everything is in excellent shape on your bike, ESPECIALLY the wheels-meaning that a good wheel person goes over it and makes sure that the spokes are in good shape, properly tensioned. This will go a looooooong way to ensuring that you will have as little as possible things go wrong while on tour. This of course doesnt mean not to get some basic repair and adjustment knowledge down before a trip, in fact, knowing more and therefore knowing that your bike is in great shape beforehand is a great exercise.
    Before I started touring, I gradually learned about taking a bike down the bearings. I really never learned how to work on wheels, but if your bike is sturdy enough to handle teh weight of luggage (ie a minimum of 32 spoke wheels, 36 better) and your racks etc are set up properly, being in excellent shape beforehand mechanically will make a huge diff in NOT having mech. issues while out there.
    I was lucky, at teh time I had a roommate who had worked as a bike mech. a bit, so he helped me as I followed "do it" books as I worked on my bike.
    I would mention too that I over did the amount of tools in my early trips.

    excellent idea on looking up a mech. course, this would be time really well spent, skills that will last a lifetime. Important part is that it would be hands on, not just you reading stuff in a book.

  7. #7
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    On my last 8-week tour I had a few mechanicals:
    1 puncture
    3 broken spokes due to chain damaging spokes
    Grease washed out of wheel bearings during sea-crossing
    General accumulation of dirt on drivetrain.

    You should be able to fix a chain, clean and adjust wheel bearings, adjust derailleurs, change a driveside rear spoke, tighten a crank.
    The only tool I left out of my kit was a headset wrench and fortunately my headset was the only part of the bike that behaved itself for the whole journey.

  8. #8
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    Anything you can learn about bike maintenance in advance can't hurt. But there are practical limits to what you may want to carry on the road. Bikes aren't complicated. If you are mechanically inclined, which is to say can imagine what is probably going on in there based on what the part does (so it's logical the hubs can be tightened from both sides, that there are two nuts to allow tension to be set, etc... There really isn't anything all that complicated on a bike. You have four main bearings. You have a chain, you have brakes, wheels, and the derailers. There are youtube videos on how to handle all the main bearing areas. There are videos on the brakes, and the deraileurs. If you are carrying something on the tour that will allow you to surf, you could pretty much learn as the situation presents itself. But spend a few hours running some youtube vids.

    Once you get familiar with the basics, You want to pull out your own bike and decide what you can fix. Like there are so many tools to get down to the BB on my bike, I just ensure i have it all fine before I leave, and I have a really excellent BB. But at any rate go over the whole bike and ask yourself what you can and can't fix, how likely it is to go bad, and whether you have the tools and the skills to deal with it on the road. If you can't or don't need to touch it you don't need to carry the tools. Stay away from generic repair info, and generic packaged tools, and other people's lists, and actually go over your bike and find out where all the stuff is and carry the wrenches or keys that fit your actual bike, and skill.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I rode coast to coast in 1977, think about the equipment we used! My two biggest problems were tire related and spokes. Learn how to boot a tire, patch tubes and carry some spokes and know how to install them. IIRC I did replace the chain near the end of the trip. If you start with a well maintained modern bike you shouldn't have too much go wrong.

    If you understand the basics of how a bike works you can usually limp along to the next town and find a bike mechanic there.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    You should be able to fix a chain, clean and adjust wheel bearings, adjust derailleurs, change a driveside rear spoke, tighten a crank.
    .
    and tighten/remove/install pedals. That pretty much covers it.

    aprosemu, find a beater/throwaway rear wheel somewhere , from the bike shop maybe, and practice cutting and replacing spokes. I wouldn't get to focused on reading books or stories as a means of education but as a beginning step to playing with the parts. Just work on the bike, make the adjustments, ride.

  11. #11
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    What you need to take and be prepared for varies depending on whether you're touring in Wisconsin or Mongolia. It also depends on where you fit in the risk vs. weight tradeoff scale. And, it depends on the quality and repair state of your bike.

    If you are risk-tolerant, weight-averse, touring in the United States or Europe, and have a new touring bike with new $70 tires, new chain, new cassette and new cables, then you can probably get by carrying a couple of spare tubes, a patch kit, tire levers and a spoke wrench.

    If you are risk-averse, weight-tolerant, touring in Asia or Africa, and have an old ten-speed, then you probably want to carry a spare bike.

    Somewhere in between, in roughly this order, you might add spare spokes and tools to change them, spare cables, spare bolts for racks, spare tire, spare seatpost clamp and bolt and a spare chain.

  12. #12
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    I would suggest that you know how to complete the following simple mechanical tasks:

    1) Patch or replace a flat inner tube
    2) "Boot" a torn tire
    3) Fix a broken chain
    4) Fix a broken spoke
    5) True an out of round wheel
    6) Lube the chain
    7) Replace a broken brake or shift cable
    8) Replace worn brake pads
    9) Tighten any loose bolt
    10) Adjust the shifting of front and rear derailleurs
    11) Adjust the position of brake and shift levers
    12) Adjust the position of the stem and handlebars

    This isn't to say that you have to carry the tools or parts to do all of these things on the side of the road, however. I know how to replace my brake pads, for instance, but that doesn't mean I travel with a spare set of pads: if I see that the pads are getting bad, I'll buy some when I pass a bike shop then replace them at my leisure. I know how to do the work, so I'm not stuck waiting for help from a shop mechanic.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I suggest you learn as much as possible about fixing flats - how to find the puncture, how to avoid repeated flats from the same cause (e. g. a tiny piece of something in the tire), how to pump a tire with a frame pump without damaging the stem, how to patch a tube, how to check the rim strip, etc. The most common breakdown is a flat tire. It's usually an easy fix if you know what you're doing, but I've seen people destroy multiple spare tubes in the repair process. I've also learned the hard way that if you don't find what caused the flat and remove it, you may get another one within minutes of resuming your ride.

    Broken spokes are a major hassle, and you're much more likely to break one with a big load. My first recommendation would be to get a rear wheel built up by a pro, specifically for loaded touring. Don't skimp on parts - get high-quality stuff. I would also recommend having a pro check my wheels before every tour - especially the rear, which is where most broken spokes occur. Bring a spoke wrench with you, at least some FiberFix spokes, if not some actual spokes (I carry both), and a Stein Hypercracker tool for removing your cassette. I had a bunch of broken spokes on the Pacific Coast route many years ago. I didnt know diddly about wrenching, but I met plenty of other tourers who did, and they were willing to help.

    Even better would be to buy a truing stand, a tensionmeter, and build some wheels yourself. I did it using Sheldon Brown's website. The wheels I built have made it through three heavily-loaded tours without a broken spoke, and I learned so much in the process that I feel confident that I can repair a broken spoke, should one occur, and make it to the next bike shop.

    Another common roadside issue is when the bolts holding your racks vibrate loose. I put Loctite on mine, I carry a couple of extra bolts, and I carry Loctite in case I have to replace one on tour. Loctite is very light, and a couple of bolts don't weigh much - the security I feel is worth a couple of ounces.

    I carry a multitool with hex wrenches big enough to tighten the bolts on my crankset. I had one come loose on a mountain bike ride (okay, I had installed it myself - without enough torque, obviously) and I didn't have a wrench. I had to find the bolt, tighten it as best I could with my fingers, then ride gingerly back to my truck, stopping to check the bolt every 10 minutes or so to make sure it wasn't about to come loose again.

    My multitool has a chain tool on it. I've never broken a chain, but a friend did. A guy with a chain tool removed a link, put the chain together, and my friend was able to ride back to his van, albeit with few gears, but still..... Since it's easy to find a multitool with a chain tool, and it doesn't add much weight, I figure why not? Mine is a Lezyne.

    I carry zip ties, a Swiss Army knife, and a small bottle of chain lube.

    I don't worry about booting a tire. I've never had a torn tire. I make sure and start a tour with tires in excellent shape. If I ever tear a tire I'll try a dollar bill or something, or else stick my thumb out and hitch to a bike shop. (That's my backup plan for any breakdowns I can't fix.)

    You should know how to adjust brakes and derailleurs. I've never had a cable come loose, but I have had cable stretch on the rear derailleur that necessitated adjusting the tension so it would shift smoothly again. I carry a spare brake and derailleur cable, just in case. They're light - why not? If a cable broke and I was able to replace it and ride off, I'd feel pretty proud of myself!

  14. #14
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    BicycleTuter.com

  15. #15
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    bicycletutor.com is pretty good.
    sorry for the double post.

  16. #16
    mosquito rancher adamrice's Avatar
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    This is one of those questions where you need to evaluate what level of risk you're comfortable with. Do you want to be prepare for 90% of problems? 95%? 98%? The higher you go up the scale, the more exotic your spare parts and tools will need to be.

    A set of allen keys, spare tubes, a patch kit, tire levers, a spoke wrench, and some spare spokes/fiberfix emergency spoke will probably get you past the 90% mark. Throw in some spare rack-mounting bolts and brake/der cables. A tire boot. Some gorilla tape and zip ties.

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