Senior guide Chris Gibbs shares his wisdom on mountain bike trail side fixes he has encountered over the years.
Rescuing your ride from the jaws of disaster
No matter how much you TLC you give your beloved bike, mechanical failures can and will happen – it’s just part of the game. Whilst you might not necessarily be able to prevent it happening, it’s a good idea to be better prepared for trailside trouble, especially if you are in the middle of nowhere!
We asked Chris to dig through his guide pack to find out what spares he carries when out in the wilds of Scotland, and give some examples of mountain bike trail side fixes:
“You can’t carry everything all the time, but having some well thought out tools and spares can mean the difference between a great ride and a long walk home!”
1. Carrying Assorted Bolts
When I first started out guiding, I swapped some beers at my local bike shop for a bag of assorted bolts, theses days I salvage as many bolts as I can from used and broken parts. They’ve saved me and many others over and over again.
Having a selection of bolts to replace the ones that I’ve seen break or rattle off from experience, or even just knowing what bolts can serve multiple purposes is a good bike hack. I’ve used rotor bolts to fix cleats, small shifter bolts as B tension screws and even removed a bolt from a grip lock ring to replace one in a dropper remote.
Cable ties and duct tape go together like an ice axe and crampons or peanut butter and jam and can get you out of all kinds of trouble. I use them all the time.
I’ve created a fixie after the freehub has failed, zip-tied soles back onto shoes and even used duct tape to help with first aid. Wrapping a good length around a bottle of lube or the shaft of your pump saves space in your rucksack.
3. Tyre Plugs
With tubeless tyres more common these days, snake bite punctures are far less regular, but they will still catch you out! There are also plenty of thorns and sharp rocks out on the trails… The most bizarre puncture I’ve fixed was after finding a fish hook and line, with the float still attached, in someone’s tyre.
Having a selection of different sized tyre plugs makes fixing holes much easier and gets the group rolling again a lot quicker.
I also see a fair few tyre slashes, for this reason I carry cut up toothpaste tubes to boot the tyre, it’s cheap, strong, and easy to carry. Paired with some duct tape it make a perfect tyre boot, I also love the looks I get when I take out a piece of toothpaste tube and start the fix…
4. Quick Links
When the weather is closing in and dinner time is looming chain breaks can be an unwanted faff.
Chain fixing on trail is a whole lot easier when carrying power links, and as a guide I carry a few for different speeds of chain, but having one that’s compatible with your own chain is a must!
5. Seat Post Collar
Whilst dropper posts are becoming more and more reliable, when a hydraulic post fails it’s normally tricky to remedy on the trail. For that reason I carry a RockShox collar which will clamp a few different posts and stop them from dropping.
I also carry a seat clamp – that has earned me many a beer!
6. Gear Cable
Stripping out and replacing a cable on the trail is a sizeable job, when adding some tension to the barrel roll might be enough. In the event that a cable really needs replaced, be it gear or dropper, having one and being efficient with it can make the ride a lot more enjoyable. No one likes dodgy gears or a faulty dropper post!
Most importantly if you’re going to carry cables, keep them dry. Discovering that your replacement cable is corroded won’t win you any friends!
Snapping your mech or hanger is one of the most catastrophic things that can happen out on the trails and can leave you doing the long walk of shame.
By removing the mangled mech and hanger, strapping the cable to the frame, and shortening the chain you can make yourself a ghetto singlespeed which will help you get home.