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by John "Be Prepared" Allen
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The Need for On-Road Repairs

A bicycle must make a tradeoff among reliability, versatility, light weight -- pick any two, or some compromise among the three. Outside urban areas dense with bicycle repair services, any bicyclist will have to perform some common on-road repairs, or ride with a companion who can perform them, or call for a ride now and then. Even the simplest, most rugged beach cruiser bicycle can't offer the trouble-free service you would expect of a lawnmower, car or refrigerator. Still, the mechanical simplicity of the bicycle and the resulting ease of common repairs, performed with lightweight tools, allow bicycling to be a practical travel mode.

Other articles on this site give detailed instruction on repair tasks. This article includes links to those articles, and describes the tools needed to perform common on-road repairs. There is also good information in books and online.

Simple On-Road Repairs

There are certain basic procedures which any bicyclist ought to know:

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The On-Road Tool Kit

What tools should you carry with you, to get you home or to a bicycle shop.?

Stories abound of bicyclists who go on tour lugging 10 or 15 pounds of tools, ready to fix almost anything on their bicycles.

At the other extreme, a road racer carries no tools. The team mechanic follows in the team car, ready to supply a replacement wheel or entire bicycle as needed.

A reasonable toolkit for a more typical bicyclist weighs a pound or two and covers the most common on-road repair needs. The weight can be even less on a modern bicycle which uses exclusively Allen-wrench fittings. On-road tools fit into a small bag which straps to the underside of the saddle, or which can be carried in a pannier or touring bag.

A small tool kit allows a bicyclist to get rolling again almost every time something goes wrong. You might carry some tools which you don't need for your own bicycle, to lend a helping hand to other bicyclists who are stranded. That has been the start of many a beautful friendship!

Here's my preferred tool list:

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Especially if you are traveling in rural areas, you do well to carry a few additional supplies:

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More Complex, Even Astonishing On-Road Repairs

Necessity is the mother of invention. More articles in this series are in the works. Two are complete as of now:

On-Road Wheel Repairs -- to get you rolling again if your bicycle has suffered a proken spoke or bent wheel.

Emergency Frame Repairs -- If your bicycle has a steel frame and fork, an emergency repair is possible in a metalworking shop anywhere in the world, and sometimes even out on the road.

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