What you can fix with what you can carry (touring)

This seminar is designed for cyclists who want to learn the basics of on-the-road or on-the-trail maintenance. We presume no prior experience with repairing bicycles and we focus on fundamental concepts that apply to all bicycles, including road bikes, touring bikes, and mountain bikes.



What you should carry for the tour:

  • Lights
    • Will you be travelling at night?
    • Will you be camping?
  • Power
    • Rechargeable batteries for lights
    • Power source to charge phone
  • Food
    • Will you be near or passing through towns?
    • Do you want to cook your own?
  • Clothes
    • Spare shirt, socks, shorts
  • Hygiene
    • Towel
    • Toothbrush / toothpaste
    • Toilet roll
    • Deodorant (Do you want to make friends at pubs?)
  • Sleeping gear
    • Tent
    • Sleeping bag
    • Pad
  • Tools & parts
    • Multi-tool
    • Pump
    • Tubes
    • Patch kit
    • Tyre levers
    • Cables: gear / brake
    • Small adjustable wrench



What you can carry:

  • adjustable wrench
  • multi-tool with up to 8mm Allen key (depending on your cranks)
  • chain tool

  • Hubs
    • If a wheel isn’t spinning freely, the hub bearings might be over tightened or dirty. This is difficult to fix on the roadside, but you might be able to loosen them up with a small adjustable wrench.
      • To do this, use the dropouts in the fork as a vice.
      • Clamp the wheel into the fork – switch it around if you must – and use the adjustable wrench to loosen the non-clamped side.
  • Cranks / bottom bracket
    • Ensure that the cranks are torqued correctly. Bottom brackets will make noise prior to seizing, so you’ll have time to find a replacement or to service bearings, as applicable.
      • Listen for squeaks and grinds.
      • Note that poorly lubricated chains will be very squeaky. Before you panic about the bottom bracket, ensure your chain is in good condition.
  • Headset
    • If a threadless headset (likely what you have) is tight or loose, it can be tightened easily with a multi-tool. Loosen the stem, then adjust the nut on top of the steer tube appropriately, then retorque the stem.
      • The general guidance is to tighten the top nut until snug, then back off a quarter turn.
      • To check, hold the front brake and rock the bike. You should feel no play in the headset. Pick up the front end and nudge the handlebars; they should move freely and smoothly to one side without ‘notching’.
  • Chains
    • If a link breaks, you will need a chain tool to replace the link, or shorten the chain temporarily. Shortening the chain will affect shifting, but you might not even notice.
    • If a quick link breaks and you cannot find the parts, then remove links as necessary and rejoin the shortened chain with a chain tool.
    • If a quick link breaks and you have the pieces, then reattach the quick link.
      • If the link is a KMC-style, then simply reassemble and crank until it clicks into place.
      • If the link is a SRAM-style, then squeeze the retaining plate into place, or push it into place with the end of a flat screwdriver.



What you can carry:
• gear cable
• multi-tool (with Torx, as appropriate)
• adjustable wrench
• brake pads

  • Derailleur
    • If you have bent your derailleur hanger, bend it back by hand; use adjustable wrench as necessary.
    • If your gears are not switching correctly, adjust cable tension at the barrel adjuster. If you are having trouble switching into a lower gear, then add tension by loosening the barrel adjuster. If you are having trouble switching into a higher gear, then release tension by tightening the barrel adjuster.
  • Brakes
    • If you have hydraulic brakes, there’s nothing you can do.
    • If you have cable pull disc brakes, then check the connection at the brake housing. Is it dirty? Is something preventing the cable from moving the arm? Tidy things up as appropriate.
    • If you have rim brakes, then:
      • check for dirt or debris preventing the cable from moving freely
      • check the lever itself
      • check that the brake mechanism is not damaged; this will vary with the kind of brakes you have – cantilever, V-brake, or caliper brake.
  • Suspension
    • If you have hydraulic suspension, you cannot fix this roadside.
    • Try locking the fork out to prevent damage to components. Seek help!



What you can carry:
• a pump (or CO2 as appropriate)
• extra tube
• patch kit (as appropriate)
• spare spokes
• spoke wrench
• adjustable wrench
• multi-tool


  • Tubeless
    • If the sealant does not fill the puncture, then you will need a repair kit.
    • Press the repair plug into the puncture, etc following the instructions for your kit.
    • Reinflate.
      • Note: if the bead has come off the rim, use a CO2 cartridge to reseat the bead.
  • Tubed tyres
    • Remove the tyre from the rim. (Ideally, the valve stem will have been lined up with the label on the tyre; this will be your guide.)
    • Remove the tube from the tyre and feel inside the tyre for thorns or other hazards. If available, drag a cloth through the tyre as this will catch on hazards.
      • If you find a hazard, remove it. Note where the hazard is relative to the label; this will help you locate the puncture in the tube.
      • If the tyre is torn, use a boot to patch the tear. (In a pinch, cardboard or something like that will do.)
    • Inflate the tube slightly and find the puncture. If possible, use a patch kit. Otherwise, use a new tube.
    • Reinstall the tyre.

Broken spokes (note this procedure is for a tubed tyre)

  • If you break a spoke and have no spare spokes:
    • Wrap the broken spoke around an adjacent spoke so that it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the wheel or brakes or stays.
    • The wheel will have lost tension on that side, so tighten each adjacent spoke on either side of the broken spoke on the same side of the wheel.
  • If you have a spare spoke:
    • If the broken spoke is on the drive side of the rear wheel, you might struggle to get the new spoke into the hole. Be careful not to bend the new spoke.
    • Remove tyre and rim tape and remove the broken spoke.
    • Replace the broken spoke and lace following the pattern.
    • True the wheel by tightening the nipple appropriately.

Bent rotor / brakes rubbing / brakes squealing

  • If your brakes are squealing, then clean the rotor. In extreme cases, clean the pads.
  • If your brakes are rubbing, then check whether the rotor is bent by watching it spin in the brake caliper; use one side of the caliper as a guide.
    • If your rotor is bent, note where the bend is and use an adjustable wrench to bend it back. This might take more force than you expect.
  • To re-align the brake caliper:
    • loosen the mounting bolts so that the brake caliper floats freely
    • squeeze the corresponding brake lever
    • while continuing to squeeze, retorque the mounting bolts