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What to do when your bicycle is disabled in the middle of nowhere

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What to do when your bicycle is disabled in the middle of nowhere

Old 09-23-13, 01:58 AM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
No, not particularly.Though for some it might appear that way.One can complicate the tying of shoes, but it isn't inherently particlularly complicated. KISS can cover both theory and practice, as well as other aspects.
The least complicated touring bike is a fixed gear.

The complications come with the increasing variety of unique components designed by manufacturers that aren't interchangeable with parts from competing manufacturers. Even frames can be vastly different in certain important areas.

If a touring cyclist has a failure, s/he had better be fully aware of what components are on their bike, and what specs they are to avoid delays in repairs that can be costly in money and time.

-------------------------

It is all well and good for people to download apps for their phones describing how to make bicycle repairs. But first of all, the person needs to know what parts are actually on their bike, and then have the tools to do the job. No tools, no repairs. And if you haven't practised the repair already... well, it's surprising just how much trouble some can get themselves into doing something for the first time.
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Old 09-23-13, 02:16 AM
  #52  
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As an example, the freehub which failed on me was a Formula hub. It was all very well and good that we had a place to stay while we sorted out the problem, and that we had some time up our sleeves to sort out the problem, but the next step was to find a replacement hub as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

We visited a couple bicycle shops who told us they could order a Formula hub, but it would have to come from Melbourne and would probably take several weeks ... and we didn't have that much time. The next bicycle shop told us the same thing, but then the person paused a moment and said, "Oh wait, I think we might have one in stock", and fortunately they did.

Other options might have been going with a different hub which presented certain complexities, or buying a new wheel and then dealing with the shifting issues that option presents.
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Old 09-23-13, 02:25 AM
  #53  
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Regarding bicycle mechanics courses ... one of the best parts of those courses is the opportunity to ask questions.

Reading books or watching videos is a good starting point, but it can be very beneficial to work on your bicycle in a classroom setting, and to be able to ask someone when you run into a difficulty. The classroom setting can also provide you with additional tips and tricks from the experience of the instructor and fellow classmates which may not be found in a book or video.
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Old 09-23-13, 02:30 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
Hi Walter,

There are some excellent resources available in some of the apps, Bike Doctor and Bike Repair among them, as well as elewhere online. You can carry them with you easily, and access them as needed. Unlike the books, they are ultraportable. I haven't found Zinn or most of the others to be particularly valuable.

Sheldon Brown is a good online resource. Park Tool is another.
Thanks. I've made good use of Sheldon Brown over the years. I agree. I looked at Bike Doctor and it has zero reviews. Not sure I want to spring for the $5 given that. But I suspect what I'm seeing in the app store since the version history shows it going back into last year. Maybe the reviews just aren't showing or something? Do you use that app?

Bike Repair on the other hand is very well reviewed. I'm giving that one a try - thanks for the tip.
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Old 09-23-13, 06:09 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
...Rowan changes flats quicker and easier than I do so he will often change both of our flats, but I make a point of changing my own flats now and then for practice. The more I practice, the quicker and easier it is for me too.
Ditto this. My wife noticed she was getting way too far out of practice for the simple, frequent stuff I do when we ride together, which is nearly always. But she started planning a solo tour and decided to learn how to do that stuff all over again. I've been doing it for over thirty years, we realized! How did that happen?
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Old 09-23-13, 07:15 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Ditto this. My wife noticed she was getting way too far out of practice for the simple, frequent stuff I do when we ride together, which is nearly always. But she started planning a solo tour and decided to learn how to do that stuff all over again. I've been doing it for over thirty years, we realized! How did that happen?
It's really quite funny. I have a reasonable set of workshop tools, plus the tools that normally would get me through on a tour, but Machka hardly touches any of them. I have stood back occasionally and let her do the tube change, however, just so she can keep her hand in.

But... and this is one of the points that has already been made... the need for in-field repairs really has been quite minimal for us other than punctures. And that comes back to maintaining our bike in good to excellent condition, and changing stuff out before it has started staggering on its last legs. It comes from the need for reliability in randonnees.
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Old 09-23-13, 08:29 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
First of all ... take a few bicycle mechanics classes. I took an introductory bicycle mechanics class focusing on doing on-the-road emergency repairs, and then a different intermediate class on a variety of topics. I had the chance to take a 12 week course, but couldn't get there in time for the classes because of my work schedule and because the classes were on the other side of the city, and I regret that a bit. If the opportunity comes up again, I think I might take the classes.

You say you have limited technical abilities/skill/knowledge ... well, you'll increase your problem solving options by increasing your technical abilities/skill/knowledge.


Secondly, make sure your bicycle is in good repair before you begin your tour ... or any long ride out into the middle of nowhere for that matter. You'll reduce the chances of something bad happening to your bicycle if you've taken steps to make sure it is robust.


Thirdly, bring appropriate tools. Your bicycle mechanics classes will help with this. With skills and knowledge and the right tools, you'll be able to deal with most issues you encounter.


[HR][/HR]

The worst mechanical I've had was a seized freehub. Fortunately, the final seize happened about 5 km from the place my cycling partner and I were staying that night (Rowan's place, as it happens), and fortunately the road to Rowan's place at the time was downhill enough that I was able to coast in.

If it had happened earlier that day, there is a way my cycling partner and I could have rigged something up so that I could pedal, or I would have simply walked up every hill and coasted down the other side. It would have been a very slow process!

However, I have learned to recognise the symptoms. When a second freehub was on its way to seizing, I knew that was the problem and was able to solve it before it became a significant issue.

This is very good advice. Sometimes, even in a populated area, there is no one to throw your money at and say please fix this. You are on your own.
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Old 09-23-13, 08:31 AM
  #58  
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In our area of NJ AAA has just started offering breakdown service for bicyclist.

Past that it's improvise, walk or thumb.

Fate, so far, has smiled on me in this regard. My worst breakdown led to a seven mile walk. In the scheme of life no biggie!

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Old 09-23-13, 08:37 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post

What ideas or experience is out there on this topic?
I'd say worrying about this excessively is a complete waste of time. You have no idea what will be available around you if you ever do breakdown or your proximity to help so it's impossible to make any useful headway on this in your imagination once you have covered the basics.

Bring some basic tools and supplies. Carry a cellphone if you have one. Inspect your bike prior to any significant ride and fix anything that's in doubt before you leave. Wear shoes you can walk in.

Stop worrying about it.
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Old 09-23-13, 10:11 AM
  #60  
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Some interesting replies here. Just wondering, for those recommending that he learn how to fix his bike, would you offer the same advice to someone concerned about their car breaking down? Not everyone has the know-how and mechanical aptitude to repair a mechanical problem on a bike.

Personally, I would simply stick my thumb out and try to hitch a ride from passing drivers in pickup trucks. Around here, plenty of people drive trucks and many are willing to help someone out with roadside problems. If that doesn't sound reasonable, just call for help on your cell phone. My strategy in such a case would be to hitch a ride to nearest city/town with a bike shop and take it from there. Although I can fix simple repairs such as flats or broken chain, I would not be able to handle a broken derailleur (or cable) or a wheel that was bent enough so that it couldn't turn freely.
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Old 09-23-13, 10:21 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Some interesting replies here. Just wondering, for those recommending that he learn how to fix his bike, would you offer the same advice to someone concerned about their car breaking down? Not everyone has the know-how and mechanical aptitude to repair a mechanical problem on a bike.

Personally, I would simply stick my thumb out and try to hitch a ride from passing drivers in pickup trucks. Around here, plenty of people drive trucks and many are willing to help someone out with roadside problems. If that doesn't sound reasonable, just call for help on your cell phone. My strategy in such a case would be to hitch a ride to nearest city/town with a bike shop and take it from there. Although I can fix simple repairs such as flats or broken chain, I would not be able to handle a broken derailleur (or cable) or a wheel that was bent enough so that it couldn't turn freely.
Well I have seen plenty of people sitting on the side of the road because they have no clue how to change a tire on their car...
I stopped to help one the other day, come to find out the friggin car doesn't come with a spare, just a can of fix a flat. Which was totally useless considering their tire was shredded due to a blowout.

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Old 09-23-13, 10:26 AM
  #62  
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While I don't really worry about a non-fixable bicycle failure, I have a bit less worry about it as my bike is S&S coupled so getting a ride in a car, no matter how small the vehicle, is something I can do by uncoupling the bike and fitting in the trunk or back seat. In fact, I have done this several times over the years.

I have even uncoupled the bike and wrapped it in trash bags to take on buses that don't allow full size bicycles.

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Old 09-23-13, 01:55 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
but secondly, what in tarnation are you doing to your poor bicycles!!!!! Two screwy hubs, two pedals snapping off? Do you ever find yourself after these episodes on the side of the road with tattered bike shorts on and vague Hulk-like recollections of pedalling with about 5000 watts of hub and pedals destroying power?
I'm heavy and got lots of miles on relatively cheap pedals in 17 years between the two episodes. Knock on wood, have been luckier since and have used slightly better pedals.

The hubs were both Phil Woods and had >10,000 miles on each. I've learned a little more and will likely bring some spare components to the hub next time (extra pawls and an extra spring). On my Africa trip this year I had another hub start to slip some, but there were mechanics on this trip and I'd brought a replacement hub. Problem this year was fixed by the mechanic who replaced the internals of my hub with that of the spare hub.

I got a chance to see internals and after the trip also talked with a wheel builder in Portland. Eventually the pawls can wear and the springs can also go at some point. Fortunately, both aren't too difficult to bring along. In both Thailand and New Zealand I got some warning the hub was starting to slip and even brought it to bike shop in New Zealand prior to the failure. However, I didn't have any spare hub parts and hence there wasn't too much done other than dis-assembling and greasing and re-assembling. Before my next mega-trip I'll practice some on an older hub I have and also bring some spare parts. Definitely requires tools and shop, but also hope I'll get some warning next time as well.
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Old 09-23-13, 02:55 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
Thanks. I've made good use of Sheldon Brown over the years. I agree. I looked at Bike Doctor and it has zero reviews. Not sure I want to spring for the $5 given that. But I suspect what I'm seeing in the app store since the version history shows it going back into last year. Maybe the reviews just aren't showing or something? Do you use that app?

Bike Repair on the other hand is very well reviewed. I'm giving that one a try - thanks for the tip.
Hi Walter,

You're welcome. Glad to be of service. It's a good app.

I got rid of my phone and use a Kindle instead. For most people, a phone is probably the preferred choice, though. I've tried these apps out, and like them both. There are some others as well. Bike Repair seems more mature and complete, and it has videos (as I recall). Bike Doctor seemed more in development; but I liked the design, there was quite a bit of information already there, and it was well done. They are adding more to it.

The phone should enable you to search the net, in many locations at least. You could download more into your phone if you want availability of information when you do not have access to the internet. There is a free Kindle app that might be of use for this. And there is Calibre. And you can download plenty of articles, including Sheldon's. You could have a whole library with you that weighs nothing in your phone.

You may even be able to download some additional videos, if you find some good ones by an instructor you like.

All this can be overdone, though. With Bike Repair, you already have a good resource.

You can also use your phone to ask questions on this forum, or on the mechanics forum. Or on other sites and forums.

If you get in a bind, you can also use the phone to call a mechanic. Some are busy and don't have much time for this sort of thing; but many are very helpful people -- you can usually tell when someone is oriented this way -- there is a natural energy of wanting to help out. Some people even feel it as a privilege, and it's one of their joys in life. Especially if they aren't particularly busy. (Weekends tend to be busy in many shops.) I would try other options first, but this option is also there in many cases. The forums can also be very good for this sort of thing.

I agree with Vik that worrying overly much is probably not in your own best interests. A certain degree of preparedness is entirely appropriate. At some point, though, it's probably best to draw the line and venture forth into the unknown (reasonably well prepared, but also with the faith that unforeseen events can be met, and will work out all right). Being willing to meet the unknowns, or the new, can serve you better than trying to cover every conceivable base beforehand.

One can find a balance, or middle way, between underpreparedness and overpreparedness.

Finding ways of meeting the unknown happily (even with relish) is itself a kind of appropriate preparedness or skill.

Last edited by Niles H.; 09-23-13 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 09-23-13, 04:41 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
It's really quite funny. I have a reasonable set of workshop tools, plus the tools that normally would get me through on a tour, but Machka hardly touches any of them. I have stood back occasionally and let her do the tube change, however, just so she can keep her hand in.

But... and this is one of the points that has already been made... the need for in-field repairs really has been quite minimal for us other than punctures. And that comes back to maintaining our bike in good to excellent condition, and changing stuff out before it has started staggering on its last legs. It comes from the need for reliability in randonnees.
Things can also happen without you really knowing it. On a 400 randonnee, the touring bike I used started to shift oddly, even overshifting the chain into the spokes. I couldn't figure out what the problem was, because the cassette and chain were new.

When I got home and removed the wheel, a piece of the the right rear dropout fell out. Apparently, it had broken after the bike blew over in a gust of wind and the acorn nut on the QR somehow took the impact...

The drop-out was sheared and was held together for the event by the skewer, rear axle and the rear rack.
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Old 09-23-13, 05:00 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
In Ireland I put my bike in the luggage hold, of a Bus , with the back packs ,

and then, when back in Killarney, got the frame crack welded up .

continued the trip for a few months, more..
Hey, Fletsbob! Where did you get your bike fixed in Killarney? O'Sullivan's by any chance? :-)

I broke my crank in Ireland, also put the bike on the bus and took it to the bike store at our destination (Killarney).
I usually try to look up bike stores around the areas that I plan on being in, have websites, emails and phone numbers. You can call ahead and see if they can help you, or maybe even get rescued from the side of the road.

Machka speaks the truth about learning how to do basic repairs. I am ashamed to admit that I can't do much more than changing a flat. :-(
As I tour on a 20" wheeled Bike Friday, I always have spare spokes, just in case I can't find one at the store. Never needed them so far.

Last edited by lucille; 09-23-13 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 09-23-13, 05:11 PM
  #67  
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it was a shop that made A/C and heating ducts , they had a welder and Stainless rod.
because that was what the ductwork was made out of , Stainless steel.

paid 20 Punt (pre Euro Currency, '97)
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Old 09-23-13, 05:17 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
it was a shop that made A/C and heating ducts , they had a welder and Stainless rod.
because that was what the ductwork was made out of , Stainless steel.

paid 20 Punt (pre Euro Currency, '97)
Cool!
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Old 09-23-13, 05:32 PM
  #69  
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Hi Walter,

One other thing comes to mind. You mentioned at some point that you see yourself as not being very good at improvising, or meeting a new situation without a prior protocol in place, a plan, or a ready strategy. And that you are concerned about making a blunder....

I think you are probably selling yourself short here. Everyone makes mistakes. You probably have better abilities than you think. You are probably able to meet many of the situations that arise on tour by improvising on the spot.

I agree with preparedness; but some kind of faith in one's ability to meet new situations seems very valuable as well. It seems best not to underestimate your potential here too much.

There is also the strategy of preparing for the most likely issues -- flat tires (Jobst Brandt has some good information on patching tubes properly, as do others. Durianrider is often entertaining and informative. He isn't the engineer that Brandt is, but has some useful tips at times. http://bicycletutor.com/ is good. I don't know how much he is charging now, but it used to be reasonable. There is plenty of other free information out there as well), and a short list of others -- monitoring chain 'stretch' or wear, removing and replacing the chain, adjusting brakes, etc. And leaving the unlikely ones alone until the time -- when or if -- they arise, and then using one of the approaches mentioned in various posts above....

Heinz Stcke has been on the road a long, long time. His flag has this credo on it:

"Be Carefree - Be Mad - Be a little bit bad."

And he feels that "It's the unknown around the corner that turns my wheel"



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Old 09-23-13, 05:37 PM
  #70  
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It might be added that Dervla Murphy did a lot of touring, including into remote areas on various continents, with very little mechanical knowledge. For a long time, she didn't even know how to fix a flat.

I'm not advocating this approach; it just shows what can be done, and might help in loosening up somewhat one's conception of how much knowledge is needed before heading out.
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Old 09-23-13, 06:23 PM
  #71  
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The only time I ever worry about this stuff is when you're going somewhere super remote - deep into rarely visited sections of national parks, third world countries etc. In the first case, a broken bike could become a survival issue (I rent a SPOT tracker for these events). In the latter, you're bound to be surrounded by well-meaning people, but they probably can't help actually fix anything complicated.
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Old 09-23-13, 07:19 PM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Some interesting replies here. Just wondering, for those recommending that he learn how to fix his bike, would you offer the same advice to someone concerned about their car breaking down? Not everyone has the know-how and mechanical aptitude to repair a mechanical problem on a bike.
Yes. As a matter of fact, when I learned to drive, my father showed me how to change a car tire (and got me to do it ... hands on experience) so that I would be self sufficient. He also taught me several other maintenance-type things which would help prevent me from ending up on the side of the road.


You're right ... not everyone has the know-how to repair a mechanical problem on the bike. That's why I keep suggesting that people take a bicycle mechanics course. A course will give you some know-how. Depending on the depth of the course you may just learn how to do some basic, minor repairs ... or you might learn how to build a bicycle. I'd suggest taking at least the introductory level of course so that you can do minor repairs.

As for mechanical aptitude, a lot of people claim that they don't have any mechanical aptitude, but as with most things, doing mechanical stuff is just following a set of steps ... just like baking a cake is following a set of steps.

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Old 09-23-13, 07:43 PM
  #73  
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Have a good trip, Walter.

And maybe experiment with the carefreeness some time -- it can be a good attitude to adopt, once you've covered the basics.
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Old 09-23-13, 07:58 PM
  #74  
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I remember reading the journal of a kid who hiked the AT, then cycled across the US. The only tools he took were flat tire repair. He also took a pair of good hiking shoes and the knowledge that he could walk as far as he needed to walk. That really did change my perspective on what I "need" on tour.

Be prepared for the stuff that's likely to happen - certainly flat tire seems reasonable. Take classes, practice, etc. Where you draw the line from there is really up to you.

At the end of the day, something might break that you just can't fix. Cell coverage might not be available. Be prepared to deal with those realities, using your wits and perhaps a good pair of shoes.
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Old 09-24-13, 06:11 AM
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andrewclaus
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I have a friend whose method of cycling in town is to take nothing but a bike lock and bus fare.

I have another friend whose tool kit always contains a freewheel tool, cassette cracker, extra spokes, spoke wrench, multitool, etc.

I suppose you see the same range among touring cyclists. And motorists. That's OK--it would be pretty boring if we were all the same.
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