Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Carry Tools I Can't Use?

Fizik Saddle Wedge
In a recent post I wrote that, when roadcycling, I've come to prefer carrying just the bare minimum that fits in my jersey pockets instead of a full-fledged saddlebag or handlebar bag - as the latter I inevitably tend to overpack, ending up with a 30lb+ bike before I know it. However, I neglected to mention an object that is so small and unobtrusive that I basically think of it as part of the bike and forget it is even there: my saddle wedge tool pack. 

Mine is the small waterproof "Pak" by Fizik. It was put together by the Ride Studio Cafe and included with the Seven I had on loan last summer. When I returned the bike, I bought the bag from them and now use it on my own roadbike. A mere 5"x2.5"x2.5" it fits snugly underneath a narrow road saddle. It contains a set amount of objects and won't fit anything else, so there is no danger of overpacking it and weighing the bike down.

Saddle Wedge Contents
Inside the tiny bag is a folding allen tool, a spare inner tube, 2 tire irons and an air cartridge - just enough to take care of one flat tire and any mechanical problem that can be fixed with a 1.5mm-6mm hex wrench.

Of course, it helps to be able to use those tools. If you've been reading this blog for some time, you know that I am unable to do most of my own repairs. I know how to do them, but have nerve damage in my hands and lack the hand strength and fine motor control to physically do them. I can't open the quick releases on most wheelsets, it takes me a good half hour to get a tire seated on a rim even in the best case scenario, and turning an allen key with sufficient force is out of the question. Keeping in mind these limitations, I always check my bike thoroughly before leaving the house, use tires with puncture protection, know where the nearest bike shops are, and have cash and a phone in my jersey in case I get stranded in the middle of nowhere and need to call a taxi (for the record, the number of times that has happened so far has been zero).

Fizik Saddle Wedge
So why carry tools if I can't use them? Because that way, others can help. When cycling alone, it would not be the end of the world to take a taxi home if my bike breaks down. But when cycling with another person, my mechanical malfunction can ruin their day as well. Last week I met up with another cyclist for a ride, and en route I noticed with horror that my front brake caliper had gotten misaligned, so that the left brake pad was rubbing the rim. I was unable to fix it myself, but I had the allen tool in my saddle wedge and my riding partner (who was not carrying her own tools that day) fixed it in 2 minutes. Having that tool pack made all the difference between doing the ride vs both of us having to go home.

I am of the school of thought that cyclists should not be shamed for being unable to do their own repairs. Not everyone can. But having a tiny tool pack permanently attached to my roadbike can at least make it possible for a more mechanically inclined cyclist to help me out, should the situation call for it.

Have you had mechanical malfunctions while out on your roadbike, and were you carrying any tools? If yes, were they helpful?

63 comments:

  1. I keep all my necessary bike tools in a similar saddle wedge and never take them out of it except when I need to do a roadside repair. If I'm using the bike for shopping in the city and will need my pannier, because I don't want to leave anything on the bike in the city, I pull the wedge out from under the seat and drop it into the pannier.

    keeping all the tools in the wedge helps keeps the tools nicely organized for when I do need them. When I'm working on the bike by the side of the road it is easy to loose stuff. So I have most of the tools rolled up in a white cloth inside the wedge, with a few small items (such as a shraeder/presta adapter) in a plastic bag in a pocket of the wedge, Then when I need the tools I can unroll the cloth and have a place to keep everything and to work from. Using a light colored cloth helps me see on the objects I have out and keeps me from loosing small parts in teh weeds by the side of the road.

    Totally agree with your philopsophy. I tell people I ride with to carry at least a spare tube and basic tools with them even if they can't do anything ont heir bike so I can help fix their flat if they get one. Even though I always carry a full set of tools and parts for my bike I may not have the right tube or spoke wrench for someone elses bike (or I may need my tube for myself!)

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  2. I've added this to the post now, but curious about any experiences with mechanical malfunctions while roadcycling: Were you carrying any tools? were they helpful? Did you do the repair yourself or did someone help you out? Have you helped others out, and if so did you find it annoying? Somewhat to my surprise, I've found roadcyclists to be friendly and not annoyed when they see someone in need of help; I've seen entire training rides stop to help a cyclist on the side of the road.

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  3. "Out of curiosity: Have you ever had mechanical malfunctions while out on your roadbike, and were you carrying any tools? If yes, were they helpful?"

    Of course, a kajillion times. Helped plenty of others too. Used to be par for the course.

    "I was unable to fix it myself, but I had the allen tool in my saddle wedge and my riding partner (who was not carrying her own tools that day) fixed it in 2 minutes. Having that tool pack made all the difference between doing the ride and both of us having to go home."

    Too ironic.

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  4. Where's the paper towel/rag and/or medical gloves for when you're fixing a slipped chain or other greasy task?

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  5. With a fallen chain I just use a leaf (from a tree) and nothing gets dirty. The Co-Habitant can put a chain back on without using his hands at all and keeps trying to teach me how. Some day I might get it...

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  6. Photos of how to put the chain on, please? So few leaves in the spring and summer!

    Have helped myself and others, and been offered assistance (even when not needed) many many times. The most impressive to me was a friendly recumbent rider who offered to help, balancing and riding impressively verrrry sloooowly while asking what was up and if I needed any tools.

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  7. Great bag. For roadies with a Fizik (I'm not doing the strangely-placed colon) saddle, it comes in a version that clicks into place in the back of the rails.

    I don't trust C02s for air. You have to get it right or get stranded. Also, not down with the disposable element. My Lezyne road pump is tiny and allegedly good up to 160 psi.

    Also, I've noticed that a lot of roadies just go with one iron.

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  8. "Photos of how to put the chain on, please? "

    Will try! That's one thing I can actually do more or less : )

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  9. Like you, I always carry tools and a spare tube, really even when I ride alone (I even have a rag for clean up). While I likely couldn't handle a flat fix on my own, I have been very fortunate to have others stop and help me the few times I've needed it. Surprisingly, around here I've actually had more people in cars stop to help me fix flats than people on bikes (I think it's due to the fact that they are generally road cyclists that just happen to be driving. I find casual or city cyclists to be far less helpful... though that could have to do with lack of skill/knowledge about repairs? I don't want to make assumptions, but that is my best guess). I do know how to fix a flat, but the reality of hand limitations along with my easily flustered/frustrated demeanor when disaster has struck doesn't make for the best combination to get the job done correctly or efficiently. If the bolts haven't been tightened too much, I can sometimes make other adjustments, but generally I have to wait until the house mechanic is available to do so because I just can't get things loosened to adjust.

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  10. For the most part I've only had to repair flats, on a couple occasions even more than one flat on a ride. That's why in addition to a spare tube I also pack a small tube repair kit. There have been a number of rides when I've helped out other riders, happy to do so. Most riders I encounter would do the same.

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  11. Chain back on: bike w/front derailleur use it and pedal or pick it up to pedal.

    Stick/branch: stick at bottom btwn chain and chain ring. Back pedal.

    Voila.

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  12. Yeah like it's that easy! "Voila" is not what happens when I try it; more like a tangled mess.

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  13. Vid required, for entertainment's sake.

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  14. Then always ride with a personal bike mechanic ;)

    I had one ironic failure. The very first ride after buying a new bike and riding only a few km, I ended up with a flat on the Minuteman Trail. I didn't have any tools with me, not even a pump. I had to visit a local bike store in Arlington to have it fixed.

    It was just after my Dark Age ended ( http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com/2011/12/dark-age-of-cycling.html ) so I didn't even have the most basic tools and spares at home.

    When it comes to skills, it is not that bad though. I can pretty much fix anything about my bikes except building wheels from scratch.

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  15. Great post!
    I don't carry tools when I ride, I'm a mechanic & most problems I have are usually fixed with a stick, a pull-tab, or wire that I find on the roadside. But times I've had trouble and someone else, a person who couldn't "do" the mechanics, would have the tool I needed. "Being prepared" is also being prepared to help someone else. Vive' la difference!

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  16. Peter, what a great idea! I have been unpacking the tools from my large saddle bag and putting them in a little wedge on weekends when I want to ride light, and then taking every thing out of the wedge and placing it back in the saddlebag pockets. I never thought to just pack the wedge in the saddle bag. Duh!

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  17. Did you not have any flats or mechanicals the entire time you rode the Seven?

    Matt

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  18. Things I've fixed on my bike(s) on the road: flats, loosened cones, broken spokes, loosening chain ring, chain off. Once, decades ago, I had a cotterless crank come loose, and I had to bang it back on with a rock.

    On other people's bikes: loose pedal, wheel out of true, broken chain (twice!), chain off, supplied a pump, supplied a tube.

    I also carry gloves to keep my hands clean, and sometimes remember to use them.

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  19. I often help people with their bike on group rides and don't mind at all. Mostly flats but all sorts of mechanical problems and adjustments. I have been helped a few times myself. Once I was mountain biking and the jockey of my deraileur fell off. We were about 5 miles from the start, and the jockey could not be found and I didn't have any tools that could fix the problem. It would have been a long walk. But luckily another rider had a chain tool, so he shortened the chain and turned my bike into a single speed to get me home. (I now have a multi-tool with a chain tool on it)!

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  20. Matt - No flats. On GR Jim's and others' recommendation I bought the Michelin Krylion carbon tires (23mm). Over 1K miles with them so far (800+ on the Seven and 200+ on the Moser).

    I experienced 3 malfunctions over the 800 miles I rode the Seven. First was the dropped chain. Second, I rode over a huge ditch downhill at speed and the steerer got moved inside the headtube so that the handlebars became ever so slightly sideways. The bike was still ridable, so I finished the ride, then took it to RSC the next day and they straightened out the steerer. Third, the rear wheel picked up a branch and the branch undid the quick release. I stopped as soon as something felt off, noticed the problem and reset the wheel in the dropouts myself and closed the release. The Seven's wheels I could do myself for some reason, but most QR skewers I can't.

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  21. Krylion note: great tire, still have a drawer full of them. Noticed when it starts flattening out punctures become more frequent.

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  22. That's a nice lil wedge,you got there,V :) I learned a LONG time ago when riding an air cooled VW (before I started learning the most basics of repairs myself) to be sure to carry the right tools for your own ride so the white knight in the muscle car had the metrics he needed to help out,LOL,same applies to bikes (though I do most of my own now-a-days). Good read :)

    Disabled Cyclist

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  23. so there is no danger of overpacking it and weighing the bike down.

    Given the historical content of this blog, this line really gave me a chuckle. :)

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  24. somervillain - Well at no point did I think that weight was unimportant for a road/racing bike. I just never imagined I'd be riding one!

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  25. Once I flatted well away from home, temps near freezing and getting colder, roads wet and flurries beginning. Then I destroyed two tubes. An old racer came by and gave me his spare tubular, explaining that for a short time air pressure would keep it in the well of my clincher rim. He rode me home, 25 miles, both to help in further misadventures and to get his tire back. On reaching my door we saw the tire was frayed and ragged. Then it blew. It was a Continental Sonderklasse. The gentleman racer calmly observed that the pieces would make good tire boots and asked me to go inside for a pair of shears so we could each have a souvenir of our ride. I try to return the favor when I can.

    Best roadside repair was on a trail ride. Again cold and wet and also quite muddy. Riding partner suddenly started freewheeling in both directions. Using nothing but a tiny flat screwdriver, a rock, and a thread pulled from a toolrag, he succeeded in dismantling his SunTour AG freewheel, rewinding the broken pawl spring, and getting the works back together. Bob's day job was camera and instrument repair and right then I understood why.

    Suggestion to Velouria:
    Figure out why the Seven QRs worked and get similar parts for all your bikes. Or just get the same model. It's a safety feature.

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  26. For my "weight-conscious" road rides, I like having a slightly larger seat wedge than you have pictured, that is at least capable of carrying a wind jacket or rain jacket (even if on the outside, by way of an elastic band). I designed the seat wedge that I use on my road bikes to hold the bare minimum of tools, plus some food, as well as the ability to hold (either internally or externally) jackets, layers, gloves, etc. by means of a large expanding external strap.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/6190583086/

    For shorter rides where I won't need to remove layers, I use a "Bike Burrito", which can only hold a couple of tools and a spare tube.

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  27. I've had a few mechanical problems where I've been happy to have my tools: a couple of flats and, while touring in western Ireland last year, two bum tires (I think it was a production problem). For the flats, I was happy to have a patch kit, and I would have been even happier to have a spare tube in the right size (20"). For the bum tires, where small rocks tore holes in the casing, I was delighted to be carrying some extremely lightweight and durable Park Tools tire boots, which are made out of Kevlar with adhesive backing and are extremely durable. In that case, had I not been able to fix the tire I would have faced hitchhiking or a six-hour walk back to my B&B. As it is it took me 20 minutes, including the time required to move the now weakened rear tire to the front, where I could run it with lower pressure.

    The one time I had a chain link break was due to poor maintenance, and I was close enough to home to limp back without a repair, but I then learned how to use my chain tool. Ditto for the only broken spokes I've had; I now carry a Fiberfix replacement spoke. You could say that I'm always prepared for the last mechanical I had, but now I try to anticipate them too (which is why I had the tire boots when my tire crapped out in County Clare).

    A great all-around tool/spare part to carry is a bag full of different sizes of zip ties. If your freehub breaks, you can zip tie the big cog to the spokes to make a fixed-gear bike (multiple gears, though no coasting). If a bolt breaks or works loose you can often use zip ties to fill in, in a pinch. There are other uses too, and they weigh next to nothing.

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  28. somervillain - It is really about personal preferences. I can easily fold my jacket and put it in my jersey pocket if need be and still have room to put a snack in one of the other pockets. Having tried both methods, I prefer this to attaching substantial bags to my bike. If nothing else, it helps me get out of the house faster. Again, this is training rides and not exploring or bicycle tours I am talking about here. YMMV of course.

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  29. I've done a lot of roadside repairs for myself and others and have found the only breakdowns that I can't fix with my basic tool kit seem to be ones that happen exclusively to me (for example, a couple months ago my right crankarm just snapped in half when I was still about 8 miles from home, the fix was "walk to the nearest train station").

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  30. May I offer an off-point safety tip that occurred to me today on my commute from Quincy to Boston? When completely stopped in traffic at a light one puts one or both feet down and straddles the bike. This puts the horn of the saddle level with one's coccyx or even higher. IF YOU GET REAR ENDED BY A CAR YOU WILL LIKELY BE GORED BY YOUR SADDLE. Getting gored there could easily result in paralysis. Better to stand astride the bike off-center. Then if you are rear-ended, you'll be gored in a buttock which involves much less bodily risk. I'm going to make it a habit always to stand off-center if I'm stopped and standing in traffic.

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  31. My seat bag includes;
    Tube
    Tire Tools
    Patch kit (don't have to remove the rear wheel)
    Universal folding tools
    Very small flashlight
    10 mm open end wrench
    Red shop rag
    Pill bottle for small parts IE master link
    schrader/presta adaptors...
    Lezyne Floor Drive HPG Pump (clamped on handle bar)

    I have used it all too often sometimes more than one time per outing.

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  32. I like the zip tie repair for the broken freehub or freewheel. That one's happened, and it's no fun at all.

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  33. Anon - What horrifying imagery. I stay in the saddle and put a toe town. Have you gotten rear ended while stopped in traffic for a light? Also, do you go through Milton or take the 3A bridge?

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  34. This last summer I was riding with someone who in less than 10 miles, had gotten 4 flats, and he had 4 new tubes with him too. Not sure if he ever made the 22 miles loop or not. Also I seem to trust a real air pump rather than the co2.

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  35. I can't reach ground from in saddle, hence the exposure. It hasn't happened, merely been imagined. I take Granite Ave. bridge at Milton almost always, then Neponset Path to Morrissey Blvd.. (Another peril is slick gridded metal bridge decking - get off & walk when wet!) I take 3A Bridge if I have an errand on Hancock Street. Southbound 3A bridge new wide sidewalk is now safe and opened. Northbound it is glacial due to construction, so it's so thick and slow it's utterly safe.

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  36. Anon@5:25: I haven't actually had a freehub or freewheel break myself, but a couple times on tour I feared it was about to happen (likely just a stuck link on the chain due to Irish and Dutch rain) and remembered the zip tie solution. It was a big mental relief!

    One reason I carry a big set of tools and spare parts is to be able to help out other cyclists, especially in the middle of nowhere. I've passed others with mechanical problems, and I always slow down and ask whether they have what they need. It's a way of asking if they need help that doesn't insult their mechanical competence, if they have any, or even if they don't but they feel embarrassed.

    And Velouria: Sheldon Brown noted the difference between closed-cam and the newer, inferior open-cam quick releases in terms of how secure they were, but a subtext was that the older ones required less force to work. Might that explain the differences in your experiences with the Seven's QRs? If not, then you should definitely find out which brand Seven uses.

    On that subject, I've noticed on the Vélib' bikes here in Paris, which use open-cam QRs for the saddles, that about 25% or so of the QRs have been damaged by people who have tried to force them closed instead of loosening the bolt and then closing them properly. Quick releases are not a smart part to use on bikeshare bikes. I'd rather have a heavier seatpost with a notched fastener like you find on stationary bikes; you lose a little bit in adjustability but you gain much more in sturdiness and utility.

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  37. I have a unrelated question that the first picture reminded me of. You've mentioned that you use the Selle An Atomica Titanico. Why not the Legacy? You've mentioned your weight once or twice and I was wondering why you chose the saddle for people over 140. I am actually right at the 140 cut-off, but found that I couldn't quite get the Titanico to work for me.

    Just wondering. :)

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  38. I've carried a small seat pouch with tools most of the time I've been riding on the road. Currently, on my Bleriot, I use an Arundel Tubi pouch. I didn't want a roady wedge for this retro-styled bike, so chose this one. It's an elliptical pouch similar to the ones used in the past to hold a spare tubular tire. I used to carry a CO2 inflator with a couple of cartridges. Since I now use low pressure tires, I got an SKS mini pump that RBW sells. It actually fits in the Tubi, just peeking out of the zipper. Other than the pump, I carry a spare tube, 2 plastic tire irons, a Park AWS-9 multi-tool, an RBW Einstein's Patch Kit (sans plastic bottle), and photocopies of driver's license, health insurance card and other contact info. This kit has not been field-tested yet, due to my pitifully low mileage on this bike. In the past I've changed/patched flats both for myself and others; fixed chain drops, and done misc. adjustments on the bike. Nothing too dramatic. But it's good to be prepared. I had the Tubi pouch under the seat as intended, but I found that I like it better in the seat tube water bottle cage, where it fits quite snuggly. I could also simply throw it in a larger bag if ever mount one. Cheers, Steve

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  39. In my experience the tools I carry to fix a potential problem seem to emit a magic field which prevents the problem from actually occurring.

    (tube, tyre lever, inflator, patch kit, multitool including hex keys, wrenches, screwdrivers, spoke wrench and chain tool - actually my only "roadside" repairs in years of riding have been fixing the occasional flat, except when mountain biking)

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  40. There is this cool device called a chainwatcher, which mounts on the seattube below the front mech and if adjusted correctly should eliminate the need to ever remount a derailed chain. They are invaluable on bikes with triple cranks, but also quite useful with a double.


    I am not a fan of multi-tools. I carry a small set of l-shaped hex wrenches. There are lots of places where a multi-tool is too bulky or just can't access what you need to get to. The l-shaped wrenches also help with leverage and getting into tight places. I also have a separate 8/10mm spanner and a small reversible screwdriver. Additionally I carry a small chaintool and spoke key, as well as 9 and 10 speed quick links. I do have a little multi-tool that serves as a pliers which comes in very handy for tightening up removable core stems, when using a lezyne pump.


    And while I'm listing the contents of my tool bag, I carry two tubes, a quick patch kit, a real patch kit, a couple of tire boots and a spare folding tire (for the longer rides).


    I have used all of these tools and spares to help other people at various times in my life, and occasionally on my own bike.

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  41. I don't carry tools at all! I am always in town so can get help from a bike shop if I need to. I can easily put the chain back on when it comes off, adjust the seat if it has a quick release and take off and put back on a QR front wheel. But I can't repair a flat. I was very impressed recently when I saw a cyclist stop, release the back wheel, replace the tube, pump it up and get on his way in about 10 minutes!

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  42. I forgot to mention two items in my arsenal. Normally if I have a puncture, I just pry the tire off with my teeth and re-inflate by stuffing it with grass and mud :-)

    I do actually carry a speedlever (http://www.crankbrothers.com/tools_speedlever.php) and a pump (I have a lezyne road drive pump on one bike and Topeak Morph on my commuter).

    If using a magic combination of tire/, rim and rim strip, it is possible to get a tire off (and back on) without any tools at all. The trick is to first go around the tire and push the tire bead into the well of the rim - probably best demonstrated in person. Some combinations of rim and tire make tools necessary, so I carry the speed lever. And sometimes there's only poison ivy and no mud, so I also carry a pump!

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  43. On long road rides I do similar, with slightly smaller saddle pack + what I cram into jersey pockets. I enjoy the simplicity and light feeling, that to me is exhilerating.

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  44. I've stopped twice to offer help to a road cyclist. The first one needed air, but the pump on my DL-1 is schrader and they had Presta. The second one had a derailleur issue, which neither of us could fix. All the while, many other road cyclist whizzed past us as if they were training for the Olympics. We were on a bike trail, but none offered to stop. Odd bunch, those guys.

    As for myself, I don't carry anything except a cell phone, although my 40 year old Raleigh has a pump on the frame. Recently, I was on my Daily 3 and discovered a flat on the rear as I pulled up to where I was to have breakfast. I thought it was handling kinda squirelly, which is why I looked down. I called a good friend that lives nearby and she came and picked me up, albeit after we enjoyed a nice cuppa and a good omlet. After getting home, I pulled off the factory tires and tubes and replaced them with Schwalbe's. Hopefully this will not happen again.

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  45. I have fixed flats aplenty in the 45 years I've been riding, and always carry patch kit, tube, tire irons, and a Topeak Morph series pump, along with a U-lock, in a small Carradice. Ii also carry a smattering of other tools, though the only ones I've used in years were spoke wrenches, when I had cheap wheels that were always going out of true.

    I borrowed a Y-wrench once to tighten a nut that had come loose on the inside of a fender on my wife's bike, and I've fixed a variety of problems on other people's bikes. I also will occasionally change seat height during a ride, especially if I've gotten a new bike or new saddle and haven't dialed it in yet.

    Now that I ride a fixie, there aren't too many things that can go wrong and that need to be taken care of right away, except of course for the occasional flat. BTW ten minutes to fix a flat is pretty doable, even when patching.

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  46. I agree with you, not everyone is inlined or able to work on their bikes.

    For me, I love to tinker with my bike. I am always modifying things and fixing this or that. I guess I am what they call a "wrencher." :D

    As far as fixing things on the road; I have had very problem you could think of over the years. I have even had my back wheel side out the dropout. beyond the obvious, i am still not sure how that happened.

    -Garret

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  47. I try to always carry a spoke key as well, it served me well when I had to realign the wheel a bit after a car pressed into me from the side. It's very small as well.
    Otherwise it is pretty much the same tool kit as Veloria.
    On another note, the reason you could handle the Qrs of your seven was probably that they were new, clean and lubed. That should make the nut much easier to turn even with weak fingers. You might want to get new ones for the bikes where the nut is hard to turn. Shimano makes good ones, I think the Ultegras are shinier than the 105s.
    Is your hand damage biking related? I used to get really weak hands after biking long distances, but bike gloves and better hand positioning have helped.

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  48. I never have the right tool. It's always "in the other bag," or "I took that out to bring, but left it on the counter." I recently re-batteried every blinkie, and stuck them on every bike.

    That dizzying level of preparedness made me distribute patch kits and asthma inhalers on all the bikes, too. I still do need a pump, hex keys, tire levers and a packet of handy-wipes for each bike.

    You can make "the world's cheapest multi-tool" by taping (properly sized) hex keys together with a doubled strip of electrical tape.

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  49. V; for the quick releases, did you try looking for a stiff plastic tube to cut a piece off and use for the quick releases? That way you make the "arm" on the quick release longer and the effective force from you pushing or pulling it much higher. Here I would look for the tubes used for protecting electric cables innside walls of houses. Also a small piece of alu tubing is light enough. Same with the allen wrenches. A 8-10 cm tubing slightly bigger than the wrench is going to practically make the lenght of the wrench twice as long as normal so if you can manage to get it in place and hold it in the right position it should make you strong enough when lenghtening the arm of the tool this way.

    Had many roadside repairs. This summer when holydaying on 20" folders my rear wheel started popping spokes. Stupid "Aero type, low spokecount fat spoked" wheels, no way to find spares on DID find was a messed up cheapo 20" childrens mtb type bike by the dumpster. Cog had 6 chainwheels, mine had 8. Different system so I had to use the whole wheel (transfered my tube & tyre) as it was. Both bikes had cheapo Sram twistgrip shifters. Spring missing innside donorbikes shifter. I put the "new" wheel on, rebuilt the 6 speed shifter with the spring from my own shifter and got it going. Used some sewing cotton to wrap around the slightly frayed cable end to be able to thread it trough the housing (a drope of super glue to finish it of was great). All this innside a tent in pouring rain. Stock components (size and make) is the best if you ride far from good bikeshops.
    badmother

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  50. One more thing. I have the exact same tyre leavers, same colour as you. I find the m almost impossible to use, especially when the tyre is a tight fit on the rim. Bare hands can sometimes be better. I always regret when I pick them to use. May be a good idea to replace them with "proper" ones.
    badmother

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  51. I guess I marvel at your luck if you find yourself (or make yourself) able to ride with that limitation. Good for you. But I also marvel at those who say they never get flats. I've moved to bulletproof tires on my commuter and so far, so good, but if I only have 3 or 4 flats while riding my road bike I'll think it's been a pretty good season.

    I'm belts and suspenders on the precautions front, though, carrying both air cartridges and a frame pump. I've been out and used my cartridges, then had the valve blow out entirely and had no air left. That was perhaps my only bad ride. Otherwise the only things I couldn't recover from on the road with a toolset and some perseverance have been broken spokes (and a lot of them). I've even had derailleur cables snap, dropping my 30-speed down to a 3-speed, but at least I could ride home.

    I've had other folks say, "All you need is a cellphone." That presumes 1) there's someone to call -- there aren't taxis out in the hills, and 2) there's cell service.

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  52. badmother-- I have those tire levers, too (Pedros?), and I like them! So much better than the plastic Park Tool levers I have.

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  53. badmother & somervillain - Yes they're Pedros. I can't really use any tire iron well, so it doesn't matter to me. Lots of cyclists around here prefer these.

    Lauren - I have this saddle on loan from Selle Anatomica. They recommend the over 140lb version basically for everyone, because it stretches less. This is the new generation version of the saddle, with cromoly rails. I have a review of the previous one, where the weight cut-off was 180lb and I got the under-180 version.

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  54. I carry tools to fix things when I have to, but I'd much rather fix a flat at home if I can. At home, I'm not in a hurry, under no pressure, have better tool than a mini-tool set, & a floor pump not to mention a bathroom, carpet instead of the ground & a/c & heating. I take my time & make sure there is nothing else in the tire which might cause another flat. Out on the road I'm always frustrated & in a hurry to get going again.

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  55. oh, mechanicals. I have stories, but it's unfair because ... you know ... randonneur. And with those many miles, there's always a chance of folly.

    My first 200k ever, I wound up touching wheels with someone in a paceline, bent two spokes and had to cobble together a fix with a kevlar shoestring. Not enough to get the wheel back to true, but I could ride, so long as I disconnected my front brake. Needed to go another 30 miles, climb over another mountain and descend it (at 50 mph) before getting to a bike shop to get the wheel fixed properly. That was memorable.

    Chain snapped while on my 25 commute ... cute teasing ensues

    Being lost in the middle of Brittany at 2 in the morning is not the best place or time for a flat tire.

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  56. Damsel in distress here!
    Not only don't I know how to fix my own bike (and I don't care), but I don't always carry my tools and I never have a phone! Talk about negligence...
    Actually, there is always a bike shop within walking distance and cyclists in this city are very generous. Just by waving at one and you'll get some assitance.
    Otherwaise, when cycling outside of the civilised zone, hubby is always on hand.

    The worst that ever happened was when I mis-attached a bungee to the wheel instead of the rack and the whole thing got caught in the hub, creating a big disgusting mess... I was able to fix that on my own: it cost me a dress.

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  57. Fixiepixie is right about magic combinations. They exist. It's been ages since I met a new road tire that would go on first time with no tools. Once well-worn many wide tires on wide rims are very easy to change. Right now I have a Grifo XS that goes on and off a Velocity Synergy rim flopflop, no tools and no handstrength required. The Jack Brown on the front wheel is no tools, some handstrength required. Both those tires were bears when new. In years gone by pretty much any tire that then existed went on and off nice wide Schwinn rims no tools. Seems tire mfrs could work on this one. It's an important issue to lots of riders.

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  58. I do not have any tools, but should. As a girl with nerve damage in her hand I can relate to not being able to do things and feeling like a gimp.
    I will do alot, I will push myself, but sometimes the fiddliness of fixing a flat just frustrates me, but I can do it! If I carried a pump, flat kid and spare tube, I would be able to do it unless I cannot get the tire off. There are very few cyclists on my roads so it's not like I'd get rescued. Even if I am on the side of the road jumping up and down in frustration, no car ever stops to ask if I need help. So I usually end up walking the bike home unless by some miracle the bus is coming and I have change.
    I do not have a cell phone so I am on my own on dark rural roads.

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  59. A pair of vinyl or latex gloves will make clean-up after drive train repairs easier.

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  60. Peppy (the can I has your wheel cat)December 16, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    I just have neutral support hand me a new bike. That's what being a cat champion is all about. That, and free food.

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  61. Velouria, have you looked at all into tools that will give you more leverage? For example, a set of 5" handled Allen keys is still small enough to fit into a tiny seat bag but will give almost twice as much leverage/ will require just over half the effort of your multitool. Even longer keys are available... 6", 7", whatever. At some point you will find something that works with your hand strength, though it might not fit in your Fizik bag.

    You might also look into something like a cheater pipe or cheater bar that you can slip over your QRs to increase your leverage.

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  62. p.s. you might also look into the Kool Stop Bead Jack, more or less the mother of all tire levers.

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  63. For me, less is more and tend to use a small under saddle bag which just holds 2 spare tubes, the tool pack which fits in my pocket holds a small multi tool, compact tyre levers and a pack of instant tube repair patches and most important of all, cash and a mobile phone. Paul, UK.

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