There are all kinds of little repair jobs you might need to do on a bike tour, and most people carry a tool kit for those moments when things don’t quite go to plan.
Spare inner tubes, zip ties, brake cables and a multi-tool are some of the more common things you might carry. All are useful, but here are 4 of our favourite repair items that many people don’t think to pack:
STRING – We always have 10-20 meters of strong string with us. It weighs almost nothing, but you just never know when it will come in handy. Use it to secure extra luggage to your bicycle, hang food away from animals in a campground or draw water from a well by tying the string around your water bottle (often wells in developing countries don’t have buckets and string supplied).
We’ve even heard of people who have used parachute cord to fix broken luggage racks by tightly winding string around the broken area and holding it in place with super glue. If you really want to go dual-purpose on this, dental floss makes a great string substitute in many situations.
SEWING KIT – From your panniers to your bike shorts, there’s potential for a hole in just about everything you’re carrying. That means you need a good needle, strong thread and a compact seam ripper. Next time your socks wear out or your sleeping bag splits at the seams, you’ll be able to fix the problem quickly and easily.
If you’re going on a long trip, add extra zipper sliders to fit your tent and jackets because prolonged exposure to dirt and repeated use will wear them out after a year or so (depending on the conditions and the quality of your gear). There’s nothing worse than climbing into your tent in the woods, only to have the zipper split and let all the mosquitos in!
HOSE CLAMPS – The simple hose clamp is normally used by auto mechanics and plumbers, but it’s also pretty useful on a bike tour. It’s cheap to buy, yet strong enough that you can use it to reinforce a cracked bicycle frame, secure luggage racks (if you lose a bolt, for example) or hold a slipping seatpost in place (great if you’re going over a lot of cobblestones and your saddle keeps going down!).
A really clever idea is to use a few hose clamps to hold your bottle cages in place. That way, you always have a spare hose clamp to hand and you eliminate the bolts that normally hold the bottle cage in place, meaning one less set of bolts that can come loose and disappear on bumpy roads.
EXTRA BOLTS – Bike touring jostles a lot of things loose, including the bolts and screws that hold things like racks, mudguards, bottle cages and lights to the frame. Before you leave, get a good selection of spares. Don’t forget about the screws in the cleats on your SPD shoes! Once you’re underway, try to check the various screws and bolts on your bike every few weeks and tighten them up.
You can help keep bolts and screws in place by dipping them in a bit of linseed oil (uncooked is best) or Loctite compound, before you put them in place. And if you are enjoying bike touring so much that you forget to check those screws every so often, don’t worry. You now have plenty of spares in your panniers.