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Injured working on a bike?

Old 08-31-23, 09:41 PM
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Injured working on a bike?

We all talk about injuries that come about from riding -- bike fit problems, overuse injuries or worst case, even accidents. But have you ever injured yourself working on a bike?


I was trying to remove a pedal from my bike and I could not get it to budge. The pedal needed an 8mm allen wrench rather than a pedal wrench. I didn't have an allen wrench in that size, but I did have an 8mm male allen socket that I attached to a socket wrench. Making sure I was turning the wrench in the right direction I gave it a mighty tug. Nothing. Tried again, even harder. Nothing. Now imagine, I'm leaning over the bike, holding the socket wrench in one hand and holding the other pedal in the other hand. Third attempt, I gave it everything I had, only to hear a pop and then immediate pain. I thought worst-case, I'd torn a muscle. But actually I think the noise I heard was a rib breaking. I've had broken ribs before (coincidentally from a bike accident) and remember the pain -- hurts to breathe deeply, painful to cough, excruciating pain to sneeze. After 24 hours of rest and some Advil, the pain has lessened. I guess it could have been a muscle or ligament tear, but my bet is a rib. If the pain doesn't let up or gets worse I'll go get an x-ray.


Between this latest injury and a riding injury to a pelvis muscle (obturator internus, diagnosed by a PT, if you're curious) it's been a tough summer. I'm off the bike for a month to recover and not happy at all. This rib injury makes my rehab from the pelvis issue all the more challenging because the core of my pelvis rehab is isometric exercises, which are incompatible with rib injuries.
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Old 08-31-23, 10:44 PM
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That's a new one, to me. I've broken ribs crashing bikes, motorcycles, boxing, but -- so far -- never while repairing a bike. But with age and experience, anything's possible.

I didn't even realize how many times I'd broken ribs until my VA doctor ordered full body scans to check the damage from borderline osteoporosis several years ago, and injuries from being hit by cars. Turns out some of the rib injuries I thought were just bruises were healed fractures. She put me on large doses of Vitamin D, calcium, etc., and my bone density improved.

So far my bike repair injuries have been limited to barked knuckles, especially on chainrings, and stubbed toes or bruised knees.
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Old 09-01-23, 12:51 AM
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I’ve hurt myself numerous times working on bikes, cars, etc, and have the scars to prove it. I’ve cut and/or bruised myself often enough, but haven’t broken any bones since the world’s largest horse stepped on my foot on my 26th birthday.

On those crank arms, I put in the wrench in a way to get good leverage on the bolt, but not against my opposing hand. This usually means putting in the wrench with the end more or less pointing inside toward the bottom bracket instead of pointing outwards.

There are a lot of things I know about tools now that I wish I could teach my younger self.
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Old 09-01-23, 03:49 AM
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After replacing a spoke in Cut Bank, MT I cut my palm while trying to cut a piece of electrical tape to fasten the remaining spare spokes to a chainstay. A doctor wearing cowboy boots and a hand tooled belt put three stitches in my hand. A woman on the tour took them out about a week later.
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Old 09-01-23, 03:54 AM
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5 stitches left index finger yesterday opening a blister packed disc rotor with a razor knife.
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Old 09-01-23, 04:45 AM
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Many times, with the worst being tweaking my chronically problematic back. Early this year, it was bad enough to limit me for about 6 weeks, and physical therapy was part of the recovery. Once I did what the OP is describing while trying to remove a square taper, drive side crank arm. The difference being that when I lost my balance, I raked my left, front forearm across the big chain ring. It was one of the nastiest looking, jagged scratches I have ever had, from just behind the wrist and into the elbow. Man, that hurt, and bled really bad.
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Old 09-01-23, 07:18 AM
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Ouch! I've been lucky I guess. Busted knuckles removing pedals, cranks, and bottom brackets, stab wounds from cables, etc., but I haven't broken a rib (yet).

FWIW, playing around the crank, I'll normally try to lean on a crank and the tool from the same side of the bike. In the OP's case, I'd be on the other side of the bike from the pedal to be loosened, and push down on the crank on my side and the tool in the opposite pedal if I could arrange it.
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Old 09-01-23, 07:35 AM
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While still a young pup (12yrs), I was wrenching on the bike and removing a pedal. Jammed my knuckles against the crank arm, when the pedal's bolt let go. Lesson learned: have the wrench on the other side when tugging on a 'stuck' pedal bolt. Knuckles hurt for days, and the scabs reminded me for a week of the somewhat bloody mess. Mental note: don't do that.
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Old 09-01-23, 09:03 AM
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Makes sense. I'm all bruised up from indorr spin class - we don't even go anywhere!
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Old 09-01-23, 10:25 AM
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I seem to bruise my ego during every work session...
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Old 09-02-23, 06:11 AM
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Definitely the usual cuts from chainrings and pinched fingers, but the most memorable was the time I was trying to tighten an old school seat post clamp ( the kind that goes on a straight pin post). It had slipped a bit so I was really trying to crank it down. Except I was pulling the wrench up. It slipped off and I punched myself hard in the jaw. Now I know to crank down means to make sure the wrench is literally going in a downward direction.
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Old 09-02-23, 07:07 AM
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Being a professional auto tech for 40+ years prior to retirement, I have so many scars and old bruises on my hands I don't even count them. One good thing, though, especially when trying to remove a stubborn pedal with those 8mm allens. I still have my tools, including the 8mm socket - and my trusty impact gun and a compressor. You'd be surprised how quickly those suckers come out, no matter how tight they are! Just have to make certain the impact gun is spinning the proper direction, or you'll strip out a crankarm faster than you can blink.
I start with a long handle ratchet. If that doesn't work, the 3/8" drive impact. And if THAT doesn't work, I go for the 1/2" drive (see note above about stripping a crankarm )

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Old 09-02-23, 07:43 AM
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Around 15 years ago, I was removing a stubborn bottom bracket when it suddenly let go and I hit myself in the mouth with the wrench handle, breaking a tooth. It was Sunday morning, and it was a painful day waiting for an emergency appointment with my dentist the next morning.
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Old 09-02-23, 08:52 AM
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I read on another forum where a young man died while working on a bike a few days ago. very sad.
https://www.gofundme.com/f/matthew-greenlee-medical
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Old 09-02-23, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
Being a professional auto tech for 40+ years prior to retirement, I have so many scars and old bruises on my hands I don't even count them. One good thing, though, especially when trying to remove a stubborn pedal with those 8mm allens. I still have my tools, including the 8mm socket - and my trusty impact gun and a compressor. You'd be surprised how quickly those suckers come out, no matter how tight they are! Just have to make certain the impact gun is spinning the proper direction, or you'll strip out a crankarm faster than you can blink.
I start with a long handle ratchet. If that doesn't work, the 3/8" drive impact. And if THAT doesn't work, I go for the 1/2" drive (see note above about stripping a crankarm )
my 1/2" dewalt will do some amazing stuff. I imagine it would wreck havoic on a crank arm in about a second spinning the wrong way.
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Old 09-02-23, 11:23 AM
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If the OP was leaning over the bike and putting weight on their ribs on the top tube, the pop was likely separating a rib. Leaning over a fence or similar is a classic way to do this. And "Pop" is exactly the sensation. When I did this, leaning over a wall, I separated a rib from my sternum. Didn't hurt that much in the moment, but became comically painful over the next day getting out of bed or a chair.

As for the actual topic, sure, I've scraped my knuckles a few times and I'm sure pinched myself. Nothing noteworthy though.

As for as removing pedals, rather than reach over the bike, step on the pedal you're trying to remove with it more or less in the forward, power stroke, position. You push down with your foot while pulling up with the wrench. It can be a bit awkward to keep your balance, but you get a lot of leverage that way.
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Old 09-02-23, 06:28 PM
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Ask me about the lock rings on square-taper BB cups. I am so done with that ****!
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Old 09-02-23, 06:37 PM
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"Making sure I was turning the wrench in the right direction I gave it a mighty tug. Nothing. Tried again, even harder. Nothing."

Which pedal it was, right or left and which way you tried to turn?

The right side pedal has a right-hand thread (removes counterclockwise, installs clockwise).
The left side pedal has a left-hand thread (removes clockwise, installs counterclockwise).
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Old 09-03-23, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rowerek
"Making sure I was turning the wrench in the right direction I gave it a mighty tug. Nothing. Tried again, even harder. Nothing."

Which pedal it was, right or left and which way you tried to turn?

The right side pedal has a right-hand thread (removes counterclockwise, installs clockwise).
The left side pedal has a left-hand thread (removes clockwise, installs counterclockwise).
This was the left pedal, so I was turning clockwise to loosen. Problem was I had my left hand on the wrench, right hand on the right pedal pushing really hard, and my torso twisted while doing this. I guess you can torque hard enough to break a rib.

I wound up taking it to my LBS and the first person couldn't loosen it, next was The Hulk and after a lot of exertion and some bad language, he got it loose. He said "didn't you use grease?" Yes, and the right pedal came right off. Could it have been cross-threaded?
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Old 09-03-23, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jadmt
I read on another forum where a young man died while working on a bike a few days ago. very sad.
https://www.gofundme.com/f/matthew-greenlee-medical
Can’t even imagine what went wrong. Eye into Brain - had to be high velocity. Terribly sad.

My contribution, pinching finger between chain and chain ring.
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Old 09-04-23, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
Being a professional auto tech for 40+ years prior to retirement, I have so many scars and old bruises on my hands I don't even count them. )
Me too. I retired in 2019 from a Chevy dealer. A few weeks ago I got stung by a couple bees on the back of my hand. It got swollen and I could see a lot of scars. Ah, memories.
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Old 09-04-23, 08:52 AM
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I guess there is more than one way to bust a nut.
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Old 09-05-23, 06:13 AM
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5 stiches in my thumb trying to cut some old gorilla tape off a chain stay.
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