Most cyclists carry a spare tube, a pump or a CO2 cartridge, and a tire lever when they go out for a ride. For many, it's the only emergency repair items they carry. But there may be one more item that's essential to getting you home safely when you're in a bind—duct tape.
Duct tape is easy to carry and can help you make simple repairs on the road that you may not otherwise think to do. The best part is that it doesn't take up any additional space—all you need to do is wind a 10- to 12-inch strip around your frame pump handle.
To avoid getting stranded when you least expect it, check out these four essential ways duct tape can save your ride when you're in a big-time bind.
More: 6 Gross Cycling Injuries
Chainring Slice to the Calf
A mountain bike ride can take as long as four hours or more to complete, and sometimes this means heading out into the wilderness where cell phone reception can be spotty.
Some cyclists are more dare devilish than others, and heading downhill at high speeds over rocks and dirt can be a recipe for disaster—especially when you're out in the middle of nowhere.
If you happen to crash, the sharp edges of a chainring can act like the blade of a knife if it comes into contact with your skin. And if the cut is bad, and if you're far enough away from your car, this can be a dangerous scenario since most cyclists don't carry wound treatment kits in their jersey pockets.
In this situation, use water and an antibacterial wipe (if you have it) to clean the wound. Use the wipe to cover the wound and keep it moist. The duct tape can be used as a suture to pull the wound together to minimize bleeding and help close the wound so you can ride back to safety.
Boa technology (wires that act as shoe strings) and other buckle systems on mountain bike shoes are generally pretty good—but what happens when one of them breaks at a bad time? Because the Boa system in particular tightens the shoe with a single cable, it's impossible for a cyclist to walk in the shoe once it's broken. If your shoe can't tighten around your foot properly, cycling will be difficult and can turn a short ride into a long one.
Use the tape to secure your shoes to your foot. It should provide enough of a closure to ride at a decent speed until you get home or to a place where you can use your cell phone.
On an 80-mile ride, a broken saddle can be a nightmare. Duct tape can hold together a new tear or even help to hold together a rail or other piece that's starting to break. Standing up for an entire ride home isn't an option, so if you're at the point in a ride where cell phone reception is spotty, this may be your best option. Cover the tear completely with duct tape if you can. For any other broken piece of a saddle, try to wrap the tape around several times to help hold it together.
A sidewall slice to the tire can happen on the road or on the trail at any time. On the road, use the duct tape to close the slice or to hold a sports bar wrapper in place while remounting the tire. This will keep the tube from bulging out of the slice, which can cause another flat.
You can also use duct tape to hold a homemade boot made from the innards of a sew-up tire in place. If the boot is big enough to cover the slice of the tire, use two layers of duct tape to hold the boot in a secure position. The repair should hold up for two or more hours of mountain biking on rough terrain.
For just a little extra weight, you can carry a piece of duct tape to do a variety of repairs. You may think that you'll never use it, but if you ride long enough, it just might save you from disaster.
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