Manner again in highschool, I acquired a job at an area bike store. I used to be rapidly positioned beneath the supervision of the pinnacle mechanic, a man named Jeff who sported huge sideburns and yellow Converse All-Stars. As soon as I earned his respect, he grew to become a fully unimaginable mentor in wrenching and in life. What I realized from him over the course of 4 years, every little thing 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 may be finished to attenuate these issues – preventative upkeep, carrying the suitable spare components and instruments (and figuring out find out how to use them), and what primary restore duties are essential to have the ability to do. Extra substantial bike issues will not be repairable within the discipline, after which limping out and hitchhiking is the possible consequence. However more often than not, mechanical issues don’t have to imply the tip of the experience.
Maybe the best method to keep away from vital bike issues within the backcountry is to ensure that a motorbike is in good working order earlier than placing out on the path. Give the bike a fast once-over. Examine 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 pay attention for any rattles. Additionally verify for any play or rattle in suspension forks and rear suspension linkages. Spin the wheels, verify for roundness, and really feel all of the spokes to verify none are notably unfastened. Look over the tires for any indicators of harm. Examine brake traces and shift cables and housing for any harm, kinks, or cracks. Run by the shifting to ensure that the derailleur(s) are functioning correctly. Peer into the brakes to confirm that the pads have ample materials remaining. Examine all of the bolts on the bike for snugness, and if in case you have a series checker, see how a lot life is left within the chain. If something irregular reveals up in these checks, handle it earlier than the experience.
As soon as out on the path, a cheerful bike will proceed being so with some basic common upkeep, and this turns into crucial on multi-day journeys.
I verify tire and shock strain each morning, simply by really feel, to ensure that nothing misplaced air in a single day. I carry a rag and stiff brush to maintain the drivetrain as clear as attainable and use each each time I lubricate the chain. I additionally look over the bike rapidly not less than as soon as a day, checking nearly every little thing talked about above. And if something on the bike begins sounding or feeling notably totally different from regular, I cease instantly to diagnose the issue. Often, it’s simply one thing like a webbing strap bouncing alongside on the tire or one thing hitting the body. However sometimes, 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 equipment is bigger than what I keep on regular day rides, but it surely’s nonetheless comparatively small. Right here’s what I’d advocate carrying:
• A motorbike multi-tool (with chain breaker) that each matches and reaches each bolt on my bike – I significantly just like the very purposeful Blackburn Huge Swap and the Crank Brothers M19 and F15 instruments
• One other small multi-tool with a knife, file, and pliers – that is helpful for every little thing 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 gasoline 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 working 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 take into account including within the following:
• Spare brake caliper bolts (these rattle out sometimes)
• 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 (at all times keep in mind to verify the within of the tire for thorns earlier than tubing it up!). However bigger holes or slices in a tire could require a bit extra labor. On an outdated tire, follow 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 harm when using a loaded bike on rocky trails, however stitching up a slice with a thick needle and fabric thread could make the tire fully useable once more. Typically, stitching a boot to the again of the slice may even permit the tire to be returned to tubeless.
Follow changing a derailleur hanger and adjusting the shifting on a rear derailleur. Make sure that to grasp 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, ensure that your arms are robust sufficient to interrupt it open along 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 follow.
Be capable to substitute 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 follow.
Like so many different issues in life, the extra follow and expertise one has sustaining and repairing bikes, the simpler and fewer nerve-racking the duty will develop into.
Plus, it may be kinda enjoyable repairing your bike trailside.