Sunday, 9 October 2011

Houston, we've got a mechanical....

When you ride in larger groups, mechanicals and punctures have a propensity to appear with more frequency than normal.  Additionally, if you ride longer distances on your own, you need to be able to have the confidence to deal with a mechanical on the move.

Having a well equipped saddle bag, should allow you to cover most issues on the bike, however it is surprising how ill equipped some riders are when dealing with an issue on the move.  I run two saddlebags, using the same clip mounting mechanism on my rear saddle, allowing me to swap them over.

Bag one is my standard saddlebag.  It contains the following: -

  1. A spare inner tube
  2. A CO2 inflator and x2 gas cannisters
  3. A link removal tool in the event of a chain snap.
  4. An SRAM chain link, which allows you to connect your chain.  Only a few quid.
  5. A multi-tool with allen keys etc.
  6. A travel pack of baby wipes to get your hands clean.
  7. Tyre levers.
  8. A small piece of inner tube to patch up a tyre tear.
Bag Two is my larger saddlebag which I use for longer sportives.  It contains all of the above plus: -
  1. An additional spare tube.
  2. Plenty of room to store emergency food.
  3. A waterproof.
  4. A space blanket in case of accident.
Before embarking on any long ride you should have the basic ability to fix a puncture, mend a broken chain and tighten/adjust any of the major elements that you have on the bike.

One great tip that I can pass on was passed on to me by guest blogger Mike Jackson, a former pro-team mechanic. If you've had your wheels off to mend a puncture, partly tighten your quick-release levers so that you can get the bike sitting on the wheels again (assuming it was previously upside down).

Then, loosen off the QR skewers again and put some weight on the saddle with your chest (rear tyre) or some weight on the handlebars (front tyre).  This will mean the wheel will find it's perfect spot in the frame lugs meaning that the rolling resistance will be in line, then tighten up the skewer with your weight on it.  This ensures a perfect fit each time.  If having done that, your brakes are rubbing, then adjust them with your allen key.

It's inevitable that your going to get punctures, tyre-splits, snapped chains from time to time.  Prevention is better than cure by having your bike serviced regularly and inspecting tyres, brake pads and chains for wear.  These things don't last forever, so keep an eye on them.

I always have a quick look when I get back home and give the bike a wash, but also ensure that my saddle bag has an item replaced if I ever have to use it as soon as possible, it's easy to forget.

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