Since we recently discussed the advantages of having a survival bike, delving into maintaining it is also worthwhile. Bikes are a simple enough mechanism but they are not without failure points and do at times need work. The type and frequency of work will depend on your climate and the level of performance you demand of a bike as well as naturally occurring wear and tear, but you might as well prepare to do that work from the outset.
Some bicycle components will be more difficult to repair than others and there will be cases in which the only option is replacement. For parts that do not handle repairs well, such as broken bolts and rusted cables, it is beneficial to have extras on hand. Wheels themselves can wear out or become damaged, both the tire itself and the rim, and fashioning a makeshift repair in these cases can be tough. If inner tubes are compromised, it is possible to stuff the tire with dirt or foliage but the ride will be compromised. If a spoke breaks, it may be adequate to tighten the others to compensate for it, but if too many break, you are at risk of the wheel bending and becoming useless. In the event of a chain break, a wire fix may get you through, and on a bike with multiple gears, links can be removed. This may make using some of your gears no longer be possible but you will still be mobile, which is what matters. If your brakes go, you will definitely be mobile, but will have to stop and regulate your speed in other ways.
Not every issue you may face with a bicycle is going to be enough to stop you in your tracks. There are plenty of temporary fixes you can apply that will get you by with items such as zip ties, wire, duct tape, and some imagination. Aside from those things there are a few tried and true bike repair tools that you might want to keep on board to keep you going. These include:
- A small air pump.
- Inner tube repair kit.
- Appropriately sized wrenches that correspond with your bike (hex, socket, etc.) and screwdrivers (frequently Phillips) to fit your bike.
- Chain tool.
Even a general bike kit may prove better than nothing, but in a pinch you can frequently get through with a set of regular tools. These should include an adjustable wrench (Crescent) and pliers. Also useful is a multi-tool such as a Leatherman but in some cases the placement of components will make its use difficult.
The most important tool in keeping your bike functional, however, is knowledge. Not all of us are handy by nature which can complicate the repair process when something goes wrong. Reading your manual and getting acquainted with your bike and its working parts will be your ally and is something we should all practice. It is easy enough to skimp on knowledge any more complex than getting on and pedaling, but that will leave you standing there with a busted bike and a perplexed look on your face, which is no good to anyone. Bikes are a very reliable survival tool, but in order to utilize them, you also have to know how to give them the maintenance they need to keep both you and your bike rolling.