But don’t start hyperventilating just yet.
Fortunately, because of a bicycle’s simplicity, you don’t need to be an expert mechanic to perform basic roadside repairs yourself. Follow this guide to prepare yourself for the possibility of a bike breakdown so that you can avoid an emotional breakdown.
What You’ll Need
To carry the tools needed for most roadside repairs, you’ll likely need a saddle bag and some spare space in your jersey pockets. In addition to critical items cyclists should never leave home without, such as money and a cell phone, you’ll also need to pack the following on every ride:
- 2 inner tubes
- Patch kit
- 2 tire levers
- Master link
- Mini pump or CO2 cartridges
- Multi tool
- Duct tape
- Zip ties
Repair #1: The Punctured Inner Tube1 of 6
Ideally, you should learn how to change a flat before you head out for your first ride. If not, this video is an excellent tutorial for those who need to learn.
For the rare instances when you've gotten to bring an extra tube, you can also seal your existing tube with a patch kit. Here's how it's done:
1. Find the puncture by filling the tube with a small amount of air from your pump.
2. Roughen the area around the puncture with sandpaper (included in patch kit).
3. Apply glue to the area and wait for about a minute.
4. Press the patch onto the glue over the hole, and hold it in place for another minute.
5. Place the tube back in the tire, put the tire back on the rim and fill with air from your pump.
Repair #2: The Gashed Tire2 of 6
If your luck abandons you on the roads, you may one day run over something that will not only put a hole in your inner tube, but in your tire, as well. And if it's large enough, the new inner tube could begin to poke through when inflated with air.
While not a permanent fix, you can create a patch for the gashed tire using duct tape to at least get you home. First, create a layer inside the tire with a piece of the old punctured tube or with an energy gel wrapper. Take the duct tape and secure the first layer inside the tire. The duct tape will be your second layer of protection. Leave enough tape so that it overlaps the bead of the tire on each side.
It won't be perfect, but it should get you home safely.
Tip: Cut a strip of duct tape before you leave and wrap it around one of your water bottles. This will help keep things from getting too sticky in your jersey pockets.
Repair #3: The Missing Screw3 of 6
A loose screw in the wrong place can create significant problems if it goes missing during the middle of a ride. Two of the common culprits are stem bolts and cleat screws.
Unfortunately, backtracking and attempting to find your screw once you notice it's missing is a lost cause, and it's unlikely you brought an extra screw. However, most stem bolts and cleat screws are the same size as the bolts used to keep your water bottle cages on your frame. Remove a bolt from your water bottle cage with your multi-tool and ride easy until you can get home and repair properly.
Repair #4: Broken Spoke4 of 6
Unless you're carrying around a spare spoke and a spoke key, this repair will be close to impossible. Removing the spoke after it breaks will be your best bet. Otherwise, use duct tape or zip ties and secure the broken spoke to an adjacent—and undamaged—spoke. This will keep it from banging around and damaging the rest of your wheel.
Keep in mind that a broken spoke also affects the trueness of the wheel. Expect it to wobble side to side more than normal. If it's not too bad, you should be able to open up your brake calipers to keep the wheel from rubbing on your brake pads as you ride.
Repair #5: A Broken Chain5 of 6
With no bike shop mechanic in sight, you'll have to have a chain tool to repair a broken chain on the side of the road. Some but not all multi-tools have them. If yours doesn't, you can also purchase a separate one. In addition, a master link will be needed.
With both of these handy items, you should be able to switch out your broken link with the new one pretty easily. If such a task seems daunting, this video will take you step-by-step through the process.