27 October 2021
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.
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:
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:
There are many ways to skin the cat but as a minimum pack:
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.
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):
A group of highly experienced bikepackers have complied an excellent online resource ‘Self Support - The Ultimate Roadside Repair Guide for Bikepackers’.
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