FIRST AID FOR BIKES
It seems that I have developed a bit of a reputation for mechanicals either stand alone or brought on through the rapid and unexpected impact of bike and rider with the ground. So much so that for last Christmas’party, I received the following nomination “for his inability to complete more than 10km of a club inter country ride without some form of mechanical or incident”. Now this all started on the trip to Mersing where within 10km of getting off the bum boat, my Di2 started misbehaving causing me to have to disconnect the rear and ride the 180km on 2 gears, a feat I’m actually quite proud of! However the crash on the way back from Mersing which bent the rear derailleur hangar was not such a proud moment. Once I’d cleared up the blood, or rather once auntie Neridah had cleared up the blood, I was all up for finishing the ride and since I have for some time packed a spare hangar as part of my away kit, thought this would be relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, one of the 2 small screws was seized and the hangar would not budge.
A couple of weeks later whilst No1 bike was still incapacitated, I took the ever trusty cable operated No2 bike to Bintan for a day trip. Unfortunately half way into this ride the read gear cable snapped again leaving me with a 2 gear ride until the hills got the better of me and I hopped into the van to be official photographer.
This had me thinking about what we should all be carrying around with us when we ride and what I would want to take along on a longer trip whether car supported or not.
Let’t get started then with what you all should be carrying on every ride in a back pocket, attached to the bike, or in a small saddle bag, and by small
I don’t mean one of these…
I mean one of these…
So for the basic bare necessities of cycling life you should all be carrying one tube, 2 levers, although some may prefer 3 particularly if you have tightly fitting brand new tyres (that’s tires for the Australians and Americans out there) a pump which can live in your back pocket if you don’t want to disfigure your steed with unnecessary pieces of plastic and a multi-tool which at a minimum should have a 4mm hex for the saddle and handle bar bolts and a cross-head screwdriver to adjust your derailleur screws. For the time conscious among you, a CO2 cartridge and applicator are handy but given the 50% failure rate of the liveware application of CO2 that’s a purely personal choice. I won’t put a cost on these as you should all have them, so its a sunk cost already.
That lot should have you sorted for any local rides and of course failing that there is the universal tool kit here in Singapore of $50, a phone with the local taxi company number and a credit card, well, just in case!
So, why just one tube, what if there is a piece of glass in the tyre (that’s tire for the Australians and Americans out there)? Well normally we ride in groups and I like to think of tubes as common property so a group of 8 riders = 8 tubes and there is no way the group is getting 8 punctures in one ride. Remember folks pay it forward, you give a tube today, you get a tube tomorrow.
Right so now we’re starting to stray into the realm of away trip. There you are cycling in the middle of Japan 50km from Tokyo and civilisation and you rip the sidewall of your tyre (that’s… oh you know where I’m going) you’re royally screwed! Well not if you have one of these little beauties, a Park Tyre Emergency Boot ($7 for 3). I know you’re all saying that a $2 note does the same, but believe me it doesn’t, it just doesn’t. And while you’re ordering these, you might as well get that extra piece of protection and buy the pre-glued patches ($3 for 6) just in case you’re a tri-athlete or you happen to be riding alone and get 2 punctures.
Now, there we were on out theoretical away trip to Japan 50km from Tokyo with a side wall ripped and we’re looking around for who is carrying the spare tyre (that’s… oh never mind I’m never going to win this one in a club called ANZA am I) A quick counting session and we worked out we had somewhere in the region of 18 tubes between us but not one tyre so what should one person in the group be carrying, yes you guessed it, a spare tyre. Where are you going to put it? Well with a couple of cable ties they fit very easily under the saddle neatly out of the way, but oh so easily accessible when the inevitable happens. While you are at it, you might as well carry this little miracle as well ($18), it’s a mini chain tool and will get you out of a sticky situation if you snap your chain.
That has all the cycling certainties out of the way, so let’s move onto the slightly less frequent (you hope) and again, we’re not looking for a complete workshop of tools here, just enough to get you home in most circumstances. So what do I have here. Well first there is the brake($1.30) and gear cables($3.30). If you have them, they take about 2 minutes to fit with your trusty multi-tool. Don’t worry about the end of the cable, you can coil that up and keep it out of the way. Next, what if you have 18 tubes all 60mm stems and you have an 80mm wheel, well top left you’ll see a couple of valve extenders ($11 for 2) which will sort you out nicely. These ones from Fast Forward come with a little tool for tightening the extenders properly. Middle bottom are a couple of chain links just in case you have to split your chain or can’t trust the tool to put it back together again. In fact Shimano chains insist on a special link pin, so if you break the chain, you’re going to want one of these babies to sort you out ($4 for a universal chain link or $12 if you want a shiny KMC one) You’ll see the ubiquitous CR2032 in the middle bottom there. Not such an essential, but I know some of you out there just cannot ride without your power data and my PowerTap runs on CR2032s. Top middle you’ll see a pair of brake shoes, just in case one falls out, breaks, you fit it the wrong way around or you’re a timid descender and you simply wear out your blocks. I also bought a pair of carbon rim blocks. Again not so essential but you don’t want to get home with a large bill for damaged rims all for the want of a pair of ($6 for 4) carbon pads. The final item top right is a real gem! An emergency universal derailleur hangar. It fits through your quick release skewer at one end and then the derailleur screws into the other end. It’s not a replacement but it gets you a handful of gear and so will get you home on your bike. What I like best about this one however is the fact that it doubles as a bottle opener to crack open a couple of cold ones at the end of the adventure! ($32, and worth every cent)
We’re nearly there troops. The chain is a little heavy but if you have support, why not ($20, remember its an emergency kit, I don’t need the lightest or shiniest). Cleats just in case, there is nothing more annoying than spending a day not being able to clip in because you forgot to change your worn out cleats, and of course the ever useful roll of electrical tape. Remember I said just coil up the end of the gear or brake cable, well the tape will make sure it doesn’t come undone again mid ride, get stuck in the wheel and catapult you into an altogether worse situation again.
Finally, and yest I really do mean finally, for those of a delicate disposition who really don’t like to get yourselves greasy, The Gentleman Cyclist recommends a pair of these.
Now I’m keen to know if anybody thinks I’ve forgotten anything, so please leave comments if you think I need to add to the kit, but let’s be honest I’m hoping I never have to use any of it again.
Happy trouble free riding!