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Bike Repair

Trailside Bike Repair Guidelines

A rider has "a mechanical" just a couple miles from the nearest trailhead. If warmth and daylight aren't waning, the mechanical is only an inconvenience. But add falling temperature, darkness, and less than intimate knowledge of the surrounding area and suddenly a minor inconvenience becomes a very unpleasant experience - or even a life-threatening situation.

It is important to educate the mountain biking public on the importance of being prepared for mechanical problems on the trail. Patrollers must be able to perform basic trailside bike repairs, for their own sake and for that of other riders who may need mechanical assistance.

National Mountain Bike Patrol Bike Repair Guidelines: Patrollers should be comfortable with basic bike repair tools and able to perform the following standard field repairs:

  1. Flat repair
  2. Chain repair
  3. Derailleur adjustment
  4. Saddle adjustment
  5. Brake adjustment
  6. Head set adjustment
  7. Basic spoke and wheel repair

Training: One way patrols can learn or brush up on their bike repair skills is through a local bike shop. The local shop might be willing to donate a mechanic's expertise for a training clinic. Explaining your patrol's involvement in the cycling community will increase the likelihood of them offering training assistance. This is a great way to build a relationship with a local bicycle dealer.

An alternative is to have a knowledgeable patrol member or friend teach the group. There are a number of excellent books about bike repair available.

Legal Issues: Performing mechanical repair on another person's bike could lead to legal action if that person were to injure themselves as a result of a patrol member's actions. It is preferable to supply the rider with tools and advice to fix his/her own bike. This way the patrol member is not liable for injury as a result of the repair. In addition, the rider will learn how to do the repair himself/herself. Use common sense. If you're deep in the backcountry, or if it's getting cold/dark, or if the other rider has no mechanical ability, it's better to fix the problem yourself so that the rider can safely return to civilization. Land managers will often have a policy regarding mechanical aid.

Tool/Spare Parts Kit Contents: It is suggested that patrollers carry and be familiar with the following tools:

  • multi tool
  • chain tool (chain breaker)
  • hex key set (Allen wrenches)
  • Phillip's head & flat head screwdriver
  • adjustable wrench (small)
  • spoke wrench
  • tire levers (2-3)
  • pump (presta/schrader)
  • patch kites
  • tubes (presta/schrader)
  • duct tape (small roll)
  • zip ties
  • cables (shifter/brake)
  • tire boot for ripped tires

Bike Repair Publications: There are many good books on bike repair. It is suggested that the patrol have a few titles available to patrol members and trainees. Consult your local bike shop for recommendations.