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On-Road Repairs
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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 areas with heavy bicycle use and closely-spaced 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.

. This article identifies the tools needed to perform common on-road repairs, and links to other articles on this site that give detailed repair instructions. There is also good information in books and online.

Simple On-Road Repairs

Any bicyclist ought to know certain basic procedures:

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The On-Road Tool Kit

What tools should you carry, 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. The 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 beautiful friendship!

Quick List

Here's a quick list; longer descriptions follow. You may not need all of these for your bicycle:

OK, Longer Descriptions

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For Longer Trips

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

On-road free-wheel remover tool

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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 broken 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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Articles by Sheldon Brown and Others


Reports of the demise of this Web site are greatly exaggerated! We at sheldonbrown.com thank Harris Cyclery for its support over the years. Harris Cyclery has closed, but we keep going. Keep visiting the site for new and updated articles, and news about possible new affilations.

Copyright © 2013 John Allen

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Last Updated: by John Allen