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First Aid for Your Bike

01 January 2014

The back of beyond is a long way from workshop tools and spare parts. So when big crap happens, you'll need to make like de Bono and dredge up some lateral thinking to limp home. Ernie quizzed his riding chums about times they've been in the cactus and blackmailed them into revealing the accepted, unorthodox and outright crazy solutions they've resorted to in the heat of the moment.

Shagged free-wheel

I once used 12 gauge fencing wire to by-pass a broken freewheel by tying the cluster to the rear spokes and have effected several other similar bodge jobs over the years. Apart from the standard tools - I also cart around some zip ties, a needle and thread, a length of stainless wire (no rust), a pair of pliers and a knife. It helps if there's a fence nearby too. Charlie Palmer

101 uses for duct tape

In my Padded Cell is a miniature bottle of chain lube. Wrapped around it is a metre of duct tape. Recently it was called upon to reattach Jillian's saddle after the single clamp bolt sheared off (wobbly, but able to be ridden on). In the past it has been pressed into action on carriers when touring, patching holes in clothes and even skin (ouch). Fraser McLachlan

Pretzeled wheel

During one of my many stops racing 'picnic-class' in the Motatapu Race, a young guy appeared around the corner dragging his bike, rear wheel bent nearly in half. I took the wheel out, raised it above my head pro-wrestling style. The owner watched with suitable angst. I then slammed the wheel to the ground half a dozen times (hitting the tyre at the bent part of the wheel). It got it reasonably straight and he was able to continue racing. Laurence Mote


When you are say ... riding the Heaphy mid-winter, and overnight your chain and free-wheel freeze, the acknowledged remedy is to pee on the offending parts to thaw them out. Then start pedalling fast until the sun comes up. And also if you're running low on repair patches, cut the last ones in half or quarters. As a last resort you can stuff your tyres with grass. It beats walking. Steve van Dorsser

Cut sidewall

A few years back I suffered a short slash in my sidewall. We have this plastic 'funny money' in Oz and a $20 note was all I had with me. I lined the wound, replaced the tube, completed the ride and promptly forgot about it - only remembering occasionally and always on some gnarly descent, thinking "I must change that tyre". I finally removed the cash six months later when I was flat broke and desperate for sustenance. It had started to lose its colour due to the constant rubbing, but still qualified as legal tender to score me a feed. Brendan Walsh

Snapped handlebars

Dave, Pete and I were plummeting down this steep gnarly track into Sorata - a little village in Bolivia. I pranged early on, my handlebar snapped and I collected some frequent flyer points. Pete whipped out his Leatherman, wrestled an unsuspecting sapling to the ground and fashioned a new handle bar extension. It sleeved inside the remaining handlebar and was held in place with several metres of duct tape. It worked a treat and survived several more rides before I was able to score a replacement bar. Guy Wynn-Williams


I was once shopping by bike on High Street and realised I'd forgotten my bike lock. I whipped out the underwires from my bra and fashioned them into a suitable bike lock. This kept my bike safe and supported, while I shopped my heart out. Julia Malcolm