Welcome to the first of a series of blog posts offering great tips on what to take with you on the trail and how it could save your ride.
First item Zip Ties
If you have just one and I mean this with absolute resolute just one item in your emergency trail kit make it zip ties. And I will tell you why there is nothing more versatile, if it needs putting back on zip tie, if it needs sealing up zip tie, if it needs securing zip ties, if it needs measuring zip tie the list is long but luckily I am going to give you some ideas below if you find yourself in need of a little trailside assistance.
Let’s start where most rides begin in the carpark:
Different trails sometimes require different air pressures, if you prefer to just get out there and ride and not bother with any fettling that’s fine too but for those who do the car park tune up a zip tie makes a great indicator in place of a missing O-ring.
Sometimes brackets get damaged either in a crash or in transit, if you have more than one bike you may have completely forgotten the bracket all together (guilty). But with zip ties you can secure those electronics and record that ride.
Making zips more accessible
You will be surprised how many bike jackets overlook something as simple as having a zip that is accessible while wearing gloves. Extended rear? Check, oversized hood to fit over a helmet? Check, adjustable cuffs? Yep, a zip that can be opened with gloves on? Oh. But with a zip tie you can extend that fiddly zip to use with even the coldest of hands.
Some people ride in winter and some even ride in snow without a fat bike! For those people I not only salute you but offer a trail tip to make it less bambi on ice and more ice road trucker when you get out there. Zip ties around the tyres offer fantastic amounts of grip a bit like snow chains on car tyres or snow spiked tyres without the cost.
Now we have covered the car park let’s get out on to the trail. Bear in mind these fixes are enough to get you back to the car or to a shop for a repair.
Not as much of a problem as it used to be thanks to lock on grips, but sometimes grips start slipping or the clamp goes missing somewhere on the trail leaving the grip free to twist under the palm. Zip ties are a great way to secure them.
Broken mech hanger
All it takes is a miscalculation or an errant rock to take off the rear derailleur and while it might not be able to sort your gears out a zip tie can secure the mech so it won’t pose a threat to your rear wheel or spokes.
Speaking of spokes if the unfortunate happens and you snap a spoke, first of all don’t worry you can get away with losing a few spokes on an average 32 spoke wheel and simply use a zip tie to attach the broken spoke to the spoke next to it. This keeps the tensile strength of the wheel until you can get back and stops the spoke from being lost or catching on anything.
Not the most efficient way of repairing a puncture but it works. Find the offending hole in the tube and zip tie the tube. One zip tie on each side of the tube may be needed and the tube will resemble a link of sausages when finished but it will get you back to the car.
Anything that falls off
Taking a spill is inevitable if you are riding hard and fast, when you go down brake levers are usually in the firing line, even though a majority can shrug off a hit if you land wrong it can usually be re-attached using a zip tie. It might not function but it is secure at least.
Not as likely a scenario as the above but it can still happen so it makes the list. If you snap some shoelaces zip ties can be used in place. Ratchet style systems like the boa system? Zip ties can be used in their place. Velcro strap broke? You get the idea.
Missing chainring bolt
Chainring bolts can work their way loose if they are not checked on regularly. A first indication of this happening is a dropped chain or skipping gears. Usually by the time you notice the bolt is long gone so a simple zip tie through the hole secures the front ring and should stop the wobble leading to a dropped chain.
Off the trail uses but still cycling related:
2 minutes alone lock
Nipping into the café for a post ride meal or to the pub for a post ride pint if you were planning on riding all day then chances are you have not packed your gold standard secure lock. But if you want to take the risk chances are if you are out of sight for less than five minutes a zip tie chain will deter any opportunistic thief.
Extra security on the rack
The car is packed the clothes have been changed and the bike is on the rack and ready to go. But the wind has picked up or the road is bumpy or that pedal looks a bit loose. No worries just zip tie that loose part up and for extra security why not zip tie that front wheel that always starts spinning on the motorway to the rack too.