Tools for field repairs

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
If you go on a long bike tour, you will inevitably have mechanical problems. Bikes break, and bikes ridden hard break more often. Having said that, for most of us spending our vacations fixing our bikes rather than riding them isn't exactly what I'd consider fun, and there is nothing fun at all about fixing some mysterious bike part with numb fingers during a downpour on a highway shoulder.

So probably the first and most important principle is:

Fix everything that is broken or even might break before you go on tour. Broken things won't fix themselves on a long ride.

I make my bike perfect before going on a long tour. New tires, new chain, new brake pads, and possibly new brake rotors as well. Especially if you are starting out you want to stack the odds of a successful trip in your favor as much as possible, and an easy way to do that is to fix everything on your bike before you start your tour.

Even with all that, stuff is going to break. You are going to get flat tires, bolts work loose, mysterious little parts you never noticed fall off during bumpy descents. Stuff happens. So you want to have the resources to fix your bike and keep your trip going, or at least McGyver your bike enough to get to the next town.

The absolute bare minimum stuff I bring on any trip, no matter how short, is:
All of that (except the pump, which rides on the rear rack) fits in a tiny frame bag. That is enough in almost all cases to get me going again.

There is quite an assortment of other stuff that, while not strictly necessary from a survival standpoint, makes things much easier and can save you quite a bit of time and grief on the road:
  • Tire pressure gauge (I tend to find the on-pump gauges insufficiently accurate)
  • Spare tubes
  • Tire boot (Canadian $5 bill works best for me)
  • Spare valve cores (less necessary if you have more than one spare tube)
  • Spare rack and fender bolts
  • Chain lube (it is reasonable to reapply every 75-100 miles)
  • Fiberfix spoke or spare spokes
  • Spare brake pads (only really useful if you know how to work on brakes)
  • Spare chain links or quick links (make sure they match the size of your chain!)
  • Presta to Schrader valve converter (see notes below)
  • A tube of grease
  • Old toothbrush or pipe cleaners
  • Marker (Silver Sharpies are best) to mark holes in inner tubes
  • Cable ties
  • More duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Loctite
  • Crazy glue
  • Shop towels and handy wipes (you can replace shop towels on journey by grabbing the blue paper towels at gas stations)
  • Nitrile or latex gloves
Note that I rarely bring all of the above, on longer and more challenging trips I tend to bring more of it and on shorter less challenging trips where bike shops are more common I might bring a lot less.

Now for the commentary:

The Blackburn Wayside is a great multi-tool, especially in the sense that it is very large. It has some things you don't often see on other multi-tools, like an 8mm hex key, a chain tool, spoke wrenches, and valve core removers. If your multi-tool doesn't have those things I'd seriously consider bringing them. They do sell these cute little caps that convert a 6mm hex key to an 8mm.

The tire levers I carry also double as quick-link removal pliers. If you aren't using a chain you can safely just use regular tire levers.

The Lezyne pump is an awesome pump (and awesomely expensive as well). One downside is that it has a propensity to unscrew Presta valve cores if they aren't tight. If you use a pump like that make sure to bring a valve core tool and possibly some Loctite. One reason I carry a Presta to Schrader converter is that combination is less unlikely to unscrew Presta valve cores.

I don't carry CO2 cartridges and a crack pipe. Largely because while they can get your tires inflated more quickly, replacing CO2 on journey is problematic at best so you still need that pump. Also, if you are like me and drop the tire pressure when riding on soft surfaces you will quickly run out of CO2.

Yes, you can go tubeless. You end up carrying approximately the same stuff -- pump, patch kit, spare tube, and tire boot.

A lot of this stuff won't do you a bit of good unless you know how to fix your bike. While I've seen people bleed hydraulic disk brakes in a trailhead parking lot, and a friend of mine managed to repack rear wheel bearings in a campground, a lot of repairs on modern bikes, electric or not, are much more easily done in a shop or at least your garage than on journey. So again, prevention is a wise choice.
 
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Ebiker01

Well-Known Member
from what i noticed in 20.000miles of ebike riding of a very good quality ebike:

Mechanical part:

- using Specialized Electrak tire, there are zero flats;

- kickstand can get loose, Loctite it+titanium bolts
- fenders , esp., the rear ones and if you carry a 25-40lb backpack on the read can get loose.

Best is to change the factory bolt for titanium and tighten with Loctite thread locker.
- same for rear rack: Ti bolts+Loctite.


ELECTRIC PART:

- battery key port should be adjusted or checked that is closing the battery securely;

- dielectric grease on all connectors for wet conditions



And when parts are new or maintained in great conditions , the ride goes well.

Note- if you ride some inferior ebike brand expect many issues !
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
If you have new, high-quality tires and good tubes (or go tubeless) you will have very few flats. I aggressively replace tires (around every 1500 miles or so) and haven't had a flat tire in two years.

Yes, you should religiously apply Loctite to rack, fender, and kickstand bolts. I don't know enough about Ti bolts to know if they are a good idea or just an expensive affectation. Even with Loctite I have a few bolts rattle loose every year.

I can't overemphasize that even if your bike is perfect stuff breaks and things go wrong. No bike tire is tough enough to survive riding for long through a cactus garden, a lumberyard, or (my favorite) a pathway graded with crushed seashells. So you inevitably will get a flat. The key is to have the skills and tools to fix that flat quickly and easily when the inevitable does happen. And when on journey you won't always have a choice of perfect (or even very good) riding conditions. I remember one time riding a section of highway where a truck had recently spilled a big box of flat-head screws. The Department Of Highways had done a good job of clearing the travel lane of the screws but the shoulders were a minefield for about two hundred yards. At the end of that section I joined three other cyclists who were fixing flats (along with myself).
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
I was going to add some comments on multi-tools.

My preferred multi-tool for most trips is the Blackburn Wayside. This is a high-quality tool that has most everything you need (and probably some stuff you don't need). One nice thing about this tool is it includes separate hex keys that are great at accessing hard-to-get-at bolts like on seat rails. It also includes a decent chain tool, valve core remover, and spoke wrenches. The two big downsides are that it is large and heavy (you could go lighter if you just had the tools you need) and the steel has a tendency to rust. I recommend keeping it in a ziplock bag on the ride and remember to dry it off with a towel if you use it in the rain.

I experimented for a while in 2018 with the OneUP EDC System. This system is extremely cool because the multi-tool (and a tire lever and chain tool and a place to carry a patch kit) lives in the pump. So it is very compact and lightweight and a neat all-in-one system. I finally gave up on it for two reasons: while the pump is very nice it isn't really made to inflate much past 40psi and I preferred riding on pavement at 45-48psi; and I found myself needing to bring other stuff which negated most of the advantages. But it is a nice system and if it can work for you (I think its sweet spot would be if you run tubeless) it is a great choice.

While not technically a "multi-tool", the Silca T-Ratchet is pretty awesome. The tool is of the absolute highest quality, feels great, and is easy to work with. While I'd be nervous about losing all of those little bits when working on a bike on a roadside this tool is awesome and probably essential for your sanity if you need to box or unbox your bike (e.g. if you are loading it on a train or bus) during the course of a tour.

I know people who love the Crank Brothers F15 and the Topeak Ninja 16+, but I have no personal experience with them.