It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. In the bikehacks.com world, perhaps we could say that breakdowns are the father of freakish hacks. Reader Evan suffered a broken cable at a bad time, but came up with a genius field repair, provided by mother nature, to get him home. Take it away Evan . . .
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I was descending a big hill in the first mile of ~10 mile commute home from work (dark, ~30 degrees): try to shift into big chainring & it does not go as planned. Coast to a stop under a streetlight at bottom of hill & determine that front derailleur cable is severed (out of the blue, although I guess I might have seen that it was damaged if I had looked). No way to tension derailleur. Decide that I do not want to ride remaining 9 miles in small chainring (24T). Remembering that derailleur is a parallelogram, grab likely-looking stick, shove it into derailleur, and voila! Back to the middle ring. Ride home smugly. Replace cable.
Next up in the BikeHacksTivus airing of products is the RoadAir portable bike pump. Right up front I'll say the makers of this product have not airored (or is it errored?) in any way. It's a fantastic pump that addresses some common frustrations associated with pumping up tires on the road. "On your left!" (sorry, could not resist) is the pump in it's original packaging, and on the right is the pump with it's first secret weapon of greatness in full view - an extendable rubber hose.
The extendable and flexible hose helps address one major problem with hand pumps I have had in the past - the tearing of an inner tube and/or breaking the air input valve. All hand pumps I have owned in the past, like the pump I have owned for the past several years seen pictured below, lock the body of pump onto the valve directly and any motion on the pump is transferred directly to the valve. Since portable pumps are so small and you have to exert a lot of force to get air into the tire, it can be easy to damage either the valve or the tube during the inflation process (old pump locking the body directly to the valve pictured here).
Locking the pump body directly to the valve will often lead to riders getting creative with how they fill up their tires, as in this example provided by reader "The Guth" in a previous entry.
When field-repairing a flat without a floor pump it's very easy to put too much strain on the valve, I've destroyed more than one tube this way. But I had a dynamite idea, I stacked up my tire levers and put them underneath the head of the pump so that when pushing down on the pump it was aimed directly at the straight valve. I could effectively use the pump as a floor pump and put no strain on the valve stem. I cannot be the first to come up with this but I don't recall seeing it anywhere.
The flexible hose on the RoadAir pump means no "anti-strain" hacks/contortions are necessary. Any excess motion is negated by the flexible hose. The fitting on the pump head is threaded so it screws on tight rather than relying on a twist activated pressure seal like most pumps I have used in the past.
The second genius part of the pump is an integrated storage compartment that comes filled with three items so commonly needed, and often misplaced, when adding air to a tire, ball, or inflatable object. Inflating Presta tubes is no problem with the included adapter, and the ball needle and tapered nozzle are great to have around.
As long as you replace each item each time you use the pump, there will never be a need to go looking for the necessary item when you need it most. The instructions are simple, nothing crazy to figure out. I did get a kick out of "desiered". I misspell words frequently, but it seems like one might want to triple check prior to printing packages for a product - and to their credit they got it correct once =)
So how does the pump perform when inflating a tire? I let the air out of one tire and pumped it up to a very reasonable pressure. I did not measure it with a gauge, I "measured" it with the tried and true method of the finger pinch. The tire was more than firm enough to get me on my way. I did not count the total number of pumps or anything as I don't think the number of pumps it takes matters. What matters more when you use a pump is that you don't have to do yoga or contort your body or bike to get the tire to a reasonable pressure without tearing your valve or tube.
The pump also comes with a bracket to mount directly on your bike and the dimensions of the pump are listed as:
9.4 x 0.9 x 1 inches ; 4.6 ounces
The link off of their site to Amazon prices the pump at $29.95 which is very competitive with similar pumps. In sum, the pump works well, is priced reasonably, and I would highly recommend it.
Reader Jacobus, in his own words and symbols, submitted the following:
Place the pump like so tight'n the screw at the other side of the back wheel, grip the pump push it to the front end of the bike, now tight'n the chain and check it ( kick his ass!) with one hand on the pump one hand free you know what to do, peaceout and eyes on the road bro!
Greasy hands are no fun and as documented in previous posts, I tie an old sock to my frame or rack in case I have on road repairs. I just put the sock over my hand and do what I need to do, and then toss the sock and replace it with another.
Reader Spannerrash was having problems with chain slips and came up with a hack to keep his hands from getting greasy. The solution is effective, but those with chain slip issues might also benefit from visits to two great web sites that address this issue, as well as just about any bike related repair issue you can think of: Sheldon Brown and The Bicycle Tutor.
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I had a series of chain slips that jammed the chain in the rear forks.
I became fed up with greasy hands (that I couldn't clean on the side of the road) so I made a small hook to grab the chain and allows me to put the the chain back in place grease free. Purists will scream and groan that I allowed this to happen but, hey, that's life. The hook out of a piece of 3mm - 1/8th approx wire I found (I think its brass).
Brothers Aaron and John from Sacramento, CA went for a ride but had some problems with a flat tire. The solution came in the form of garbage. We featured another solution to the same problem that did not involve garbage, but rather a U.S. President. Also, it's always good when a ride ends with Tacos.
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My brother and I started out on a casual ride to explore the urban jungle of our old childhood stomping grounds. Fate as it would seem, tried to sway us from pursuing our day of adventure in the form of two flat tires within less than a mile from each other. My brother being the unlucky one.
The first was a simple skab fix, but the second was quite the doozy. Running over something and creating a small hole, a hole large enough for the tube to "birth out" if the appropriate amount of psi was to be used.
So thinking what we could do.....ALAS! A "patch" to go in between the tube and tire to prevent the tube from entering the outside world. But where would we find such an item? With no wizards or genies in sight, we put our minds together and realized our jersey pockets were full of them! Wrappers from our bars were exactly what we needed. With a few trims here and there, we were back on the road in no time.
The wrapper of choice was Nature Valley's Honey Breakfast Biscuits, quite tasty by the way. Paired up with a nice tea and you'd be set. Not sure how long our hack would've lasted, but it got us to closest Performance Bike where we got properly fixed up.
Tacos, courtesy of Chandos Taco, were a post ride treat.
Most bike companies talk about the stiffness and compliance of frames, but reader Nick's use of his frame for leverage must make bike company reps cringe. Nick blogs at bicycleobsession and the following text and picture are credited to his site.
How to remove a stubborn cassette lockring without special tools? Or anything stubborn like pedals, bottom bracket and crankset bolt? Just use your own frame! Put your spanner inside the bare headtube (leave it free from any parts) and use the entire frame as a powerful extender. It will work on anything, trust me.
In the olden days, one would have an idea and would get really excited about it, and yet there would be no easy way to share it so the idea would remain just that - an idea. Then the Internet came along and gave birth to Kickstarter. I'm not so sure if Kickstarter coming along was a good thing or a bad thing. It can be good to share ideas, but I swear not a day seems to pass when I don't get an email for a bike related Kickstarter campaign. It's almost become like spam.
Every now and then I do open the Kickstarter emails and think the idea is actually an interesting one. This happened recently when I received an email from the folks behind a product called the MyTask.
Smart phones are pretty much here to stay and the idea behind this is a case that attaches to your phone which can hold useful items - like bike tools. Below is some text, pictures, and a video. If these things get funded the producer has agreed to have a contest of some sort to give away to Bike Hacks readers. Enjoy . . .
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A Complete bike-tool and patch kit seamlessly integrated into your phone case
When starting out with the myTask:BIKE project, casual biker and designer Addison wanted to create a bike tool that was convenient, strong and was unobtrusive. So along came the myTask: BIKE
Built on the same platform as the myTask: URBAN, the The myTask: BIKE concept is simple, its a bike tool for those of us that just want something simple to carry with us on our commute to work or after work ride and not have to worry about remembering the tire irons, and the bike tool, and the patch kit. The myTask: BIKE is built on a removable sliding tray and adds only 6mm to the thickness of your phone, but packs 22 bike specific tools into the swappable tray. The tools are built from 440C Hardened stainless, and despite being only 1.5mm thick, are incredibly strong and will last a lifetime.
The 22 bike-specific tools included are:
- 2 tire irons
- Pedal/Axle wrench (15mm)
- 6 Allen wrenches (1/16, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm)
- 4 box wrenches (5.5mm, 7mm, 8mm, 10mm)
- 2 spoke wrenches (0.127, 0.130)
- Flathead screwdriver
- Phillips screwdriver
- 3 glueless tube patches
- tire roughener (for applying tube patches)
- bottle opener (for after the ride!)
The myTask: BIKE not only makes your bike tool more compact, but gives you the tire patch kit, tire levers and pedal wrench in an unbelievable slim package!
TaskLab is currently taking pre-orders and trying to generate the funds for the product manufacturing. Come join us in making your case more useful!
Reader Mark sent us an elegant and simple solution to using your mobile hitch mounted bike rack as a bike repair stand. Take it away Mark . . .
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Purchased a $25 trailer hitch from Northern Tool and mounted sideways on an end cabinet.
Used my auto bike rack that was taking up room in the garage. Hang my bike from the rack for easy maintenance.
Most car racks have straps to limit movement. This also utilizes something that most of us have laying around. When complete, simply remove the car rack and retun it to the spot where it was collecting dust.
There are some road repairs you are not prepared to handle, no matter how much you plan. You can stuff as many tools as you want into your bag or pocket, but that is just when circumstance will laugh at you and throw a wrinkle your way. Reader Cory sent along the following story and picture . . .
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When your bike breaks in the Kuwaiti desert, it's often difficult to find spare parts to help you continue on your ride. On a recent group ride, one of our riders had this very situation. Luckily for us, we have a creative engineer! After a minute of wandering around, he came back with a long metal scaffolding pole. At the end of it were some notches. To bend the the frame and derailleur hanger back to normal, we slid it into the notch of the scaffolding pole and used the leverage to bend it back. Good as new!