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Trail Disasters: How to Avoid Them Page 1

We've had almost all the trail disasters you can think of, including broken frames and forks... Some disasters happen pretty regularly though, so here, with the common ones first, are the solutions you need to avoid or fix all the major calamities.

Sunset, not the best time to get a puncture
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Whose idea was it to ride along on two big balloons anyway? Check your pressure. Never go on a ride without checking your tyre pressure first. As a guide use 45psi or above to avoid pinch punctures.

Use at least 2.1 inch tyres with a decent tread. Become an obsessive tyre pincher, most slow punctures will go un-noticed until the falling pressure results in a pinch flat. So check tyres at every rest stop. Using a No-Tubes style tubeless kit will reduce punctures but you still need to top up sometimes in the same way.

Don't run old tyres with worn tread, these are more puncture prone and worse, will tear around the bead in spectacular fashion.

Follow this advice and you won't see this lot fly by whilst you're fixing a hole.
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Carry two spare inner tubes regardless of your tube/tyre system. Carry a puncture repair outfit regardless of your spare tubes.
Carry a tyre sewing kit unless you carry a spare tyre (not including the one that stops you seeing your toes...)
Carry tyre boots to stop that replacement tube from blowing out of the hole, which scuppered the other tube.

Broken Replaceable Mech Hanger
See D.I.R.T. Gear Buddy Review. you need one of these. You mean you don't carry a replacement for the one part of your bike that's absolutely designed to fail?

If you change tyres or fit a new one, fit a new tube or a patched and tested old one. A small thorn is often embedded in the tyre, plugging the hole in the old tube. When you change the tyre the thorn is no longer there to plug the hole and you have a new leak. Similarly inflating a replacement tube in a thorny tyre can make a bigger hole which the little thorn does not plug. The end result is a slow puncture as you ride. The best puncture mending technique has been on MTBB since the beginning.

Learn to use a spoke key, unless you want your wheel to end up like this.

Rim and spokes
If you have rim brakes the braking surface of the rim slowly wears away. The outer edge of the rim eventually splits off causing a blow-out and often making re-inflation impossible. The best solution to this is to get disk brakes. Disk brake rotors are made of steel and wear much more slowly than the aluminum of modern rims. If this is out of the question observe rim wear closely by feeling with your finger tips. Once the rim wall feels concave (curves inwards) you are courting disaster. Feel how thin this part of the rim is, then remember that rim brakes work by powerfully squeezing these edges together...

Good wheels can be broken if they are under specified for their use. It's much more common to find a wheel has failed because it has loose spokes though. With rim brakes the rim must be kept completely straight to avoid brake rub. This has the good effect of encouraging the rider to use a spoke key. It all goes wrong once the rim has been 'dinged' though. The rim is bent off to one side and the rider uses a spoke key to increase spoke tension on the other side to pull it back in to line. This leaves the opposite spokes loose and the wheel ready to fail more spectacularly. The solution is to choose rims from Mavic which are up to the job. Keep even tension on your spokes, this is easier with disk brakes, as the wheel doesn't have to be so straight.

Slipping grips
Wet weather riding will eventually un-stick most grips. This can result in a serious lack of control, the problem being, once un-stuck it's impossible to re-gain a safe hold on the bar. The real answer to slipping grips is ODI Lockon grips. If these are just too expensive, spray paint is a very effective way of gluing your grips to the bar. Use clear lacquer to avoid making a mess if you can find it lying around.

Broken chain
Carry a chain splitter and learn how to use it. It's worth carrying a couple of Shimano black joining pins, taped to the inside lid of your puncture repair outfit in case anyone in your group has a Shimano chain. Remember that Shimano chains must never be split again at a black pin. This means a new joining site should be chosen each time the chain is split.
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