Every cyclist has experienced that maddening moment – when your chain comes off as you’re late for work or your gears jam as you’re slogging uphill. From stain removal to avoiding flat tires – this article will take you through five of the most common cycling calamities, and some speedy ways to help you solve them.
1. Problem: Flat tyres
Solution: Carrying a mini hand pump and puncture repair kit will sort this one, at least for long enough to get you home. But by striking pre-emptively, you can avoid flat tyres altogether. One of the most effective methods is a sealant, which you use by squeezing into the tyre. If you get a puncture, it fills the opening and hardens to create a plug, stopping the tyre from deflating. It works fast, so you may not even notice getting a puncture in the first place.
2. Problem: Stuck gears
Solution: This can be incredibly aggravating, particularly when you have a hill to tackle or are trying to cycle to work. Firstly, check for bent or damaged cables – if you can’t smooth them out, you may need to invest in some new ones. Also try adjusting your rear limit screws with a screwdriver to get the right tension (marked with an ‘H’ and an ‘L’, they’re part of the mechanism over the chain on the back wheel). If you have twist gears that are part of the handlebars, they may just need a clean and a bit of lubrication.
3. Problem: Stains
Solution: After an epic mountain bike trail or even just a day cycling in the city, your favourite cycling gear is likely to look worse for wear. Whatever you do, don’t wipe the mud off: let it dry and scrape the worst of it off, then wash as usual. If you have a bigger stain removal problem, such as grease: try soaking overnight. For advice on specific fabrics, take a look at Persil’s stain removal calculator, which will instantly come up with the best method for you, helping your beloved merino wool jersey stay intact.
4. Problem: Chain falls off
Solution: You’ll probably just want to pretend it never happened, but hop off (at a safe place to stop) as soon as your chain falls off to avoid further damage. Push the part of the chain mechanism attached to the back wheel (the ‘rear derailleur cage’) forward and loop the chain back over the chain rings. Make sure everything’s working again by pedalling a few times with your hand. If it keeps happening, the chains may need lubricating, or a link of chain might be broken.
5. Problem: Leg pain
Solution: This is a problem for everyone, but can be particularly bad when you first get into cycling. Try to vary your position, pedalling in the saddle as well as standing up, which will work all your muscles and reduce the work your quads (thigh muscles) are doing. Don’t skimp on warm up and warm downs before and after your ride either, with lots of hamstring stretches to make sure they don’t get too tight. I also find if my seat is too low it can aggravate an old knee injury, so make sure your seat is nice and high.
There’s no need to let cycling mishaps put you off. With these five quick and easy solutions, you can soon get back on your bike again.