TA Countdown 5: Keep Your Bike Purring

3 min read

By Ollie Whalley, Anja McDonald, Tristan Rawlence & Scott Emmens

Cycling the length of Aotearoa is tough on your body, and your bike. Expect to rip through a couple of sets of tyres, several sets of brake pads (depending on conditions), untold chain lube and by Bluff your brand new drive train will be close to the end of its life. Over and above that, your trip is bound to be peppered with minor mechanicals. It’s important ant that you have the tools, spare parts and skills to ensure you are self-sufficient enough to keep going, or limp to the nearest bike shop.

“Here’s One I Prepared Earlier”

A few weeks before the TA, treat your bike to a full service, including a new drive train and gear cables. Allow time for a few last-minute sorties to let the cables stretch, ensure everything's meshing nicely and behaving as expected. Then just before the start tick off a final WOF:

  • Check hubs, bottom bracket, headset and jockey wheels for any play.
  • Adjust/replace brake pads if necessary.
  • Fine tune front suspension (if you’re not fully rigid).
  • Whip on a fresh set of tyres.
Back to School

Apart from the packing the right parts and tools, you also need to know how to use them. If you’re new to all this then enrol in a basic bike maintenance once course and/or binge on the appropriate YouTube tutorials. At the minimum, you should be able to:

  • Plug or change a tyre.
  • Adjust or replace brake pads.
  • Replace a spoke.
  • True a wheel.
  • Tune your gears.
  • Fix a broken chain.
  • Replace a bent derailleur hanger.
  • And possibly single speed your bike if it suffers a fatal derailleur incident.
Tool Time

There are many ways to skin the cat but as a minimum pack:

  • Bicycle multitool.
  • Chain breaker (if not part of your multitool).
  • Pocket knife and/or Leatherman-style multitool.
  • Pump.
  • Tyre levers.
  • Schrader adaptor (useful at gas stations) or just modify your valve cap for the same functionality.
  • The full armoury is available from Ground Effect's tool collection.
    Love Will Tear Us A-Part

    Carry only enough parts to effect emergency repairs. Rely on bike shops enroute to cover scheduled maintenance and anything major. A healthy dose of no. 8 wire resourcefulness combined with the liberal application of duct tape and zip ties can get you out of all sorts of trouble.

    • 2 x spare tubes, patches and glue (or glueless patches).
    • Spare tubeless tyre sealant.
    • Tyre plugs and tool.
    • Tyre boot.
    • Curved needle and dental floss thread for stitching slashed sidewalls or baggage.
    • 1 x set front and 1 x set rear brake pads.
    • Chain lube and rag.
    • Quick link (double check it is the right one for your chain width/number of gears).
    • Derailleur hanger - specific to your frame.
    • Spare gear cable.
    • Zip ties (they can fix pretty much everything).
    • Duct tape and insulation tape (Anja wraps it around her pump for quick dispensing).
    • Small tube of superglue.
    • Spare bolts for saddle, cleats, stem, drink bottle cage etc.
    • Spare shoe buckle if you have that type of footwear.
    • A few spare front and rear spokes.
    Just Riding Along

    Know the personality of your bike - the way it sounds and feels. Stop and investigate any changes in its behaviour before it possibly gets worse or fails.

    Pretty much whenever you pitstop for a feed, take the time to clean and lightly lube your bike’s running gear. A stitch in time and all that. If it’s dry or squeaky then apply lube immediately. In muddy conditions a high pressure squirt from your water bottle or a sort of sideways wash in a stream will help clear the bulk of the crap. Better still, carry a chain brush or toothbrush to scrub the chain, cassette and jockey wheels.

    Alternatives to chain lube (if you’ve run out - or if it has leaked all over your spare brake pads):

    • Sunscreen.
    • 3-In-One oil (available at Four Square).
    • Baby oil.
    • Light machine oil.
    Homework

    A group of highly experienced bikepackers have complied an excellent online resource ‘Self Support - The Ultimate Roadside Repair Guide for Bikepackers’.

    Pedal on


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