Approach again in highschool, I obtained a job at a neighborhood bike store. I used to be rapidly positioned beneath the supervision of the pinnacle mechanic, a man named Jeff who sported large sideburns and yellow Converse All-Stars. As soon as I earned his respect, he turned a fully unimaginable mentor in wrenching and in life. What I realized from him over the course of 4 years, all the pieces from wheel constructing to mechanical problem-solving to border restore, has confirmed completely invaluable in serving to each stop and repair all method of issues on backcountry rides and bikepacking expeditions.
Options to probably the most difficult situations that will have made Jeff proud offered themselves. Crank arm retains falling off? Shim it with a little bit of a soda can. Broken air seal in a rear shock? Shrink it ever-so-slightly with a lighter. Cracked chainstay? Splint it with rebar and baling wire.
However not everybody was as lucky to have had a mentor as stellar as Jeff. So many cyclists have minimal background in engaged on their very own bikes, and the prospect of encountering mechanical issues deep within the backcountry is intimidating. I need to share a bit about what might be achieved to reduce these issues – preventative upkeep, carrying the fitting spare elements and instruments (and understanding how one can use them), and what fundamental restore duties are vital to have the ability to do. Extra substantial bike issues is probably not repairable within the subject, after which limping out and hitchhiking is the doubtless end result. However more often than not, mechanical issues don’t have to imply the tip of the trip.
Maybe the simplest method to keep away from important bike issues within the backcountry is to be sure that a motorbike is in good working order earlier than putting out on the path. Give the bike a fast once-over. Test all of the bearings for play, slop, crunchiness, or extreme friction – the crankset/backside bracket, hubs, headset, and pedals. Typically occasions, looseness in any of these bearings will create a rattle, so bounce the bike on the bottom firmly and hear for any rattles. Additionally test for any play or rattle in suspension forks and rear suspension linkages. Spin the wheels, test for roundness, and really feel all of the spokes to verify none are notably free. Look over the tires for any indicators of harm. Examine brake traces and shift cables and housing for any injury, kinks, or cracks. Run by way of the shifting to be sure that the derailleur(s) are functioning correctly. Peer into the brakes to confirm that the pads have ample materials remaining. Test all of the bolts on the bike for snugness, and you probably have a series checker, see how a lot life is left within the chain. If something irregular exhibits up in these checks, handle it earlier than the trip.
As soon as out on the path, a cheerful bike will proceed being so with some basic common upkeep, and this turns into essential on multi-day journeys.
I test tire and shock stress each morning, simply by really feel, to be sure that nothing misplaced air in a single day. I carry a rag and stiff brush to maintain the drivetrain as clear as doable and use each each time I lubricate the chain. I additionally look over the bike rapidly no less than as soon as a day, checking virtually all the pieces talked about above. And if something on the bike begins sounding or feeling notably completely different from regular, I cease straight away to diagnose the issue. Normally, it’s simply one thing like a webbing strap bouncing alongside on the tire or one thing hitting the body. However often, a rattle has turned out to be one thing a bit extra problematic like a lacking brake caliper bolt or a damaged spoke.
For extra distant backcountry rides and bikepacking adventures, my device and restore package is bigger than what I keep it up regular day rides, but it surely’s nonetheless comparatively small. Right here’s what I might advocate carrying:
• A motorbike multi-tool (with chain breaker) that each suits and reaches each bolt on my bike – I significantly just like the very purposeful Blackburn Large Swap and the Crank Brothers M19 and F15 instruments
• One other small multi-tool with a knife, file, and pliers – that is helpful for all the pieces from making dinner to stitching tires to eradicating a valve core
• Tire pump – the Lezyne Stress Drive (the small mannequin) may be very packable and can be utilized to inflate suspension as much as 120 psi
• Small shock pump – the Birzman Zama is my present favourite, however there’s a delicate spot in my coronary heart for my minuscule however nonetheless efficient four” pump scavenged from an outdated Blackburn Toolmanator multi-tool
• 1-2 tubes relying on the size of the journey
• Tire lever
• Tire plugs
• Small roll of Gorilla tape
• Thick needles and fabric thread
• Spare valve core or stem
• Presta valve adapter – good for re-seating tubeless tires at fuel stations
• 10+ glueless patches; for colder journeys with temperatures <40 °F, glue-on patches are higher way more dependable
• 2 Park self-adhesive tire boots
• 1-2 pairs of spare brake pads
• 5+ thick zip ties
• 2-Three fast hyperlinks and an additional little bit of chain
• Spare derailleur hanger
• RockShox Enduro Collar or Wolf Tooth Valais Clamp if operating a dropper publish, simply in case the dropper refuses to remain up
• Spare cleat and mounting bolts
• Chain lube, cleansing brush and rag
For longer or extra distant journeys, I additionally will contemplate including within the following:
• Spare brake caliper bolts (these rattle out often)
• Just a few different miscellaneous bolts particular to my bike
• Spare derailleur pulley and shift cable (for actually lengthy journeys)
• 2 spare spokes with nipples (taped to seatstay)
• Small bottle of tire sealant (for lengthy journeys solely)
Flat tires are by far probably the most frequent bike drawback confronted by many mountain bikers. Most riders can pull off a tire, pop in a tube, and get it aired up in case of a flat (all the time bear in mind to test the within of the tire for thorns earlier than tubing it up!). However bigger holes or slices in a tire might require a bit extra labor. On an outdated tire, apply putting in tire plugs. These are completely magical for rapidly fixing tire punctures in each the tread and alongside the bead within the case of a pinch flat. Additionally strive booting and/or stitching up a sliced sidewall. That is an all-to-common tire damage when driving a loaded bike on rocky trails, however stitching up a slice with a thick needle and fabric thread could make the tire utterly useable once more. Typically, stitching a boot to the again of the slice may even enable the tire to be returned to tubeless.
Follow changing a derailleur hanger and adjusting the shifting on a rear derailleur. Be sure that to know the distinction between adjusting shift cable rigidity and the restrict screws – many poorly-adjusted derailleurs are the results of somebody mistakenly altering restrict screw place as a substitute of cable rigidity.
On an outdated chain, be sure that your palms are sturdy sufficient to interrupt it open together with your multi-tool. I typically have to make use of my mini pliers for extra leverage. Then put the chain again along with a fast hyperlink for apply.
Be capable to exchange brake pads, unfold the caliper pistons out, alter the caliper place relative to the rotor, and straighten a bent rotor. All are surprisingly simple duties after only a little bit of apply.
Like so many different issues in life, the extra apply and expertise one has sustaining and repairing bikes, the simpler and fewer nerve-racking the duty will turn out to be.
Plus, it may be kinda enjoyable repairing your bike trailside.