Not all mechanical problems can be fixed on the side of the trail, but in many instances, mountain bikers can find a homespun solution to limp their bikes home without incident. Utah-based mountain bike guides Shaun Raskin and Weston Deutschlander of Inspired Summit Adventures are particularly invested in keeping their clients’ bikes rolling. “Reviews tend […]
Not all mechanical problems can be fixed on the side of the trail, but in many instances, mountain bikers can find a homespun solution to limp their bikes home without incident. Utah-based mountain bike guides Shaun Raskin and Weston Deutschlander of Inspired Summit Adventures are particularly invested in keeping their clients’ bikes rolling. “Reviews tend to be better when the ride doesn’t involve a long hike out with a broken bike,” Deutschlander says.
Wheel issues are especially debilitating. “If a bike doesn’t have working wheels, is it still a bike?” Raskin asks. “A positive attitude, a little ingenuity and a dash of blunt force can go a long way towards getting home,” she explains. Here are a few of the duo’s creative fixes—from the commonly used to the most arcane—to keep your mountain bike wheels round-ish and functioning. After performing any of these improvised solutions, both guides recommend getting the surviving bike checked out by a qualified mechanic before hitting the trail again.
Most tubes can be stretched to fit any size wheel, but a 29-inch tube can fit anything from a 29-plus tire to a 20-inch BMX tire if required. “My personal bike is a 29er,” explains Deutschlander. “I always carry a couple extra 29-inch tubes knowing I can make it work for just about any bike someone in our group will have.”
Raskin agrees, adding another tip. If a tire gets sliced, try patching it up with the wrapper from an energy bar. “Everyone should have an energy bar or gel with them on each ride. You get a little nutrition and you can put the garbage to good use in a pinch.”
Taco-ed wheels can happen whether you’ve had a crash or just picked a bad line through a rock garden, but you can usually get them straight enough to roll home. “As long as the rim isn’t totally detonated, you have a few options to make it functional,” Deutschlander says. “Sometimes drastic measures need to be taken if the wheel is really crooked, so don’t be shy.”
Broken rims in the backcountry often leave riders stuck walking, unless they’re willing to get intensely creative. Deutschlander and Raskin have a couple fixes in these scenarios, but they are a last resort. “Even if you get the wheel rolling again, remember it won’t be nearly as strong as normal. I don’t recommend riding cracked rims very hard at all,” Deutschlander warns. If the rim is cracked all the way through and no longer connected, it’s probably smoked. If it’s cracked but connected, Deutschlander and Raskin say there’s a chance to make a temporary fix.
Interested in learning more about trailside fixes as well as maintenance you can do at home to keep your bike running in top shape? Read up on tips from the folks at Expert Advice and sign up for a bike maintenance clinic at REI.