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Bike roadside repairs: what tools to carry cycling and how to use them

Will Smith from Havebike takes us through what spares are essential to carry with you on the bike and how to use them to carry out common repair jobs

bike roadside repairs kit

What tools should I bring on a long cycle ride? 

Bikes are essentially very simple machines, you can practically strip one down and build it back up on the roadside with little more than a multi-tool. Most common mechanicals are quick and easy to fix, as long as you are carrying the right tools and spares. Make sure you are carrying these items with you on every ride and you’ll never suffer the embarrassment of trying to cram your training bike into an Uber.

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Here’s our list of must-have repair kit:

  • Tyre levers – Havebike recommends this FWE tyre lever set from Evans Cycles, for £3.00
  • 15mm wrench – Havebike recommends this FWE 15mm pedal spanner from Evans Cycles, for £8.00
  • Spare inner tubes – Havebike recommends this range of Specialized inner tubes, from £5.00
  • Inner tube patch kit – Havebike recommends this patch repair kit from Evans Cycles, for £5.00
  • Valve extender (if riding deep section rims) – try out this Birzman valve extender kit from Wiggle, for £8.99
  • Pump or CO2 inflator and canister – Havebike recommends this Topeak mini pump from Evans Cycles, for £27.99
  • Chain splitter – Havebike recommends this Topeak multitool from Evans Cycles, for £31.99
  • Quick link – Havebike recommends this Shimano quick link from Evans Cycles, for £10.00

How do you fix a puncture?

  1. Start by removing the wheel. Most bikes have quick release levers but if you are riding a single speed, fixie, or bike with an internal rear hub, you will need a 15mm wrench. Once the wheel is off, rest the wheel on the floor (if its clean) or on your feet, make sure all air is out the tube, then with both hands set at 12 o’clock, loosen the tyre off the rim.
  2. Tyre levers come in handy if you have a particularly stubborn set of tyres. Once the tyre is off remember to check round all of the inside of your tyre (watch your fingers) to ensure that the offending piece of glass/nail/thorn is not still stuck there. It will quickly cause another puncture, and waste a tube, if you don’t remove it.
  3. To save time fitting a repair patch, just pop in a new inner tube and repair the old tube when you get home. Take a patch kit just in case, as it could save the day if you run out of tubes. If you ever ride deep section rims, tuck a valve extender into your repair kit, this lengthens the valve so you can use any inner tube in your wheels. Useful if you run out of your long-valve inner tubes!
  4. Before you put the new inner-tube in, use your mini hand pump to fill it with enough air in to hold its shape as this will ensure that you are much less likely to pinch it against the tyre when you re-inflate it. Invest in a decent quality pump that can inflate your tyre quickly. Make sure you are familiar with your pump before you go out riding and check it still works if you haven’t used it for a while.
  5. If you run Presta/Schrader valves, make sure your pump has been set up to inflate the different types of valve. For high pressure tyres, you may find a Co2 inflator and canister much quicker and easier to use, though these could be less reliable if faulty.

How do you fix a snapped chain?

Provided you’re looking after your chain, regularly cleaning and lubricating it, and not using an overly worn one, your chain should not snap. In the unlikely event of a snapped chain, carrying the right tools with you will make it quick and easy to repair.

  1. Chain splitter tool – The chain splitting tool that is included on multi-tools is seldom that good and can also be quite tricky to use. Instead, carry a separate chain tool such as a Park Tool chain tool as they are far easier to use – the one time you need it you will be glad you have been carrying it around!  Grab yours from Amazon for £14.19.
  2. Quick link tool – Even the best chain tools are quite heavy, so when weight is an issue we’d recommend carrying a quick link. Rather than trying to re-join a chain, a quick link allows you to join the two ends together quickly and easily without tools. Just make sure you have the correct size for your chain i.e. 7/8 speed, 9 speed, 10 speed, 11 speed and 12 speed. Some riders choose to tape one of these to their stem (even on race day), to have quick access to one if needed.
  3. Take the two ends of your chain and align the pins and outer plates, then pull tight so they snap together. You can do this using your bike: rotate your chain on the bike until the quick link is at the top, with both wheels on the ground, compress your brakes so your bike doesn’t move. Then, step down hard on the top pedal so the links pull into place.

Do Try this at home

Neither of these repairs are particularly difficult – but you can guarantee such problems will arise when it’s rainy, your hands are cold, or you’re running late. Practising at home first will give you the skills and confidence to fix your bike fast when you need to, out on the road.

London based bike repair company, havebike offers riders across the South East collect and return repairs and servicing. With imminent plans to expand across the UK off the back of their investment campaign, Havebike aim to soon be able to help thousands more with bike repairs and services. To book your bike in for a repair or service, visit havebike.co.uk

Will Smith has been riding bikes for eight years and has placed in the top 10 in national enduro races on several occasions. He started fixing bikes as a Saturday job at his local bike shop. As a technician at Havebike, Will specialises in off road bikes and wheel truing.

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Image Credit: Unsplash/Egor Myznik