Even the most experienced mountain bike riders can’t predict every mishap. There’s going to come a time when you’re miles from home without a spare tube in your saddlebag, or that downhill section gets a little too rowdy and you end up with a taco’d wheel.
So we’ve compiled a guide to help you roll home when that day comes.
Need to bend a taco’d wheel back into action? Repair a snapped derailleur cable? BLISTER’s Mountain Bike Editor Noah Bodman weighs in with some ideas from his 10-year stint as a shop monkey. Read on to learn about seven trail fixes that will get you home even when the unexpected swoops down and catches you with a broken bike and a long stretch of dirt between you and the car.
Fix a Flat
The issue: You’re riding along a gnarly stretch of singletrack when you hear a hiss coming from the front tire. You see the tire is torn, and you’re down to your last tube.
The solution: Remove the tire from the wheel. Running your hand along the inside of the tire, check for any sharp objects that will cause another flat. Fold a dollar in half or in quarters and lay it on the inside of the tire so it covers the gash.
Mount the tire back onto the wheel, inflate the new tube and pedal home.
And if you’re strapped for cash, substitute the dollar for a Powerbar wrapper. You can also cut a slice of your old tube and slide it behind the gash.
If you didn’t bring any spare tubes (shame on you, dummy) there’s still hope. Inflate the tube slightly to find the puncture, then cut the tube in half directly over the hole. A pocketknife is the preferred tool for this fix, but you can use the teeth on your chain ring in a pinch.
Tie the two ends together in a (hopefully airtight) knot and listen for any leaks as you pump it up. Mount the now smaller tube onto the wheel and avoid any jumps on your return trip.
Even Worse: What if you’re miles from civilization and your tube has multiple holes in it, you don’t have an extra tube, and you’ve already tried tying the busted one in knots.
Go ahead and pull that tube out—you won’t need it. Start packing as many leaves and/or pine duff into your tire as will fit. Put your tire back on, and ride (carefully!) a few hundred feet. The leaves will get mulched fairly quickly, so you’ll need to re-up the leaf supply in your tire at this point. Keep doing this until there’s enough organic matter crammed into the tire so that you’re not riding on the rim. Ride out slowly and carefully.
“There’s a good chance that this method is going to leave your tire and possibly your rim a bit worse for the wear. I don’t recommend this unless you really don’t have any other option,” says Noah.