One of the most significant hurdles a new cyclist has to overcome is gaining the confidence to ride out into the countryside on their own. You can only carry so much and if your significant other or parents work, there might not be a lift available should the worst happen. That’s why every cyclist who rides alone should know these five quick fixes.
They aren’t get out of jail free cards by any means but they can help keep you moving or at least get you home should a mechanical happen. So alongside that emergency £5 somewhere in your kit, carrying this knowledge with you can help save the day.
This will be a two part post as there is a lot to cover.
Repair a puncture
The most basic fix and the most essential one for you to know is fixing a puncture. They happen all the time, especially during spring and autumn when farmers trim hedges and don’t bother clearing up after themselves. So in your essential kit you will need a puncture repair kit, tyre levers and a spare tyre.
There are two schools of thought when dealing with punctures. One says use the spare and get back on the bike. The other says repair the puncture if you can and keep the spare in case you need it later. I am with the latter camp. You never know what’s round the corner so it pays to be prepared for it.
To repair a puncture, remove the inner tube from the tyre and pump a bit of air into it. Find the hole and patch it with your puncture repair kit. If the hole is too big or the tube is torn, you may have to use that spare. I tend to use Park Tools self-adhesive patches. The box is tiny, the glue is very effective and I haven’t had one let go yet.
Roughen the area around the hole with the included grater. Apply the patch and hold firmly in place for around 30 seconds. That’s it.
Once the hole is repaired, check the tyre for debris, thorns, nails or anything that will ruin your day. Pay careful attention to the area around where the hole in the tube came from. Something caused it so try to find it before putting the tube back in.
This is where is pays to line the writing on the tyre with the inner tube valve. If you always have the tyre aligned this way, you always know where to find the valve quickly and will have a much better idea of where the tube was in the tyre to check for debris.
Put the tube back onto the wheel, re-fit the tyre, inflate, wait a minute and then go.
Repair a torn tyre
While we’re on the subject of punctures, a common roadside repair involves fixing a torn tyre. Sometimes it isn’t just a thorn or a tack that you ride over but a sharp stone, piece of glass or pothole. These can cause larger splits or tears in the tyre that means more punctures unless you do something about it.
Fortunately, in the majority of cases, sliding something between the tyre and the inner tube is enough to prevent punctures and will get you home. I carry a business card in my tool case for just this purpose. Torn in half lengthways, I can put it between the tyre and the tube to hold everything in place until I get home.
You don’t have to carry one of those around with you though. You could use an empty gel wrapper, empty Haribo or ride food packet, thick leaf or even your emergency fiver if you need to. You can also buy specific tyre boots for the purpose but they aren’t really necessary.
Simply deflate the inner tube a little, slide your object of choice between the tube and the tyre and re-inflate the tyre. Check it’s still in place and ride carefully home.
Join us next time for the final three of our five quick fixes for common cycling problems!