Sports FAQ
Home / Ride Touring

What wrenching skills/tools do I need for independent touring?

mariposa2010-12-12 10:38:01 +0000 #1

I'm just starting to go on short, independent tours, either to campgrounds or to visit relatives. Great fun!

The only thing that scares me at this point is that my bike wrenching skills are only mediocre.

I'd like to learn the skills (and buy any associated bike tools) one by one, in order of importance.

For instance, I would guess that tube changing and bike cleaning/lubing skills/tools are at the very top of the list. And checking/tightening bolts. All that, fortunately, I have covered!

I just re-learned the various ways to adjust my brakes. Also just learned how to true my wheels (although I suspect the latter is not the *most* important skill for touring).

If you were to list the skills/needed for independent touring in descending order of importance, what would they be?

Awaiting anxiously...thanks
Veronica2010-12-12 10:51:53 +0000 #2
I did a 21 day tour of Nova Scotia with no more than that knowledge really. Bikes really aren't that complicated. If you have patience you can figure out how to fix most things.

When I was doing double centuries I went out for a training ride and my front derailleur snapped about 15 miles from home at the top of a big hill I had just climbed. Fortunately, I had cell coverage and Thom was around to come get me. I started working on removing the derailleur since it was hanging in the way and prevented me from being able to pedal. My reasoning was, I could stick the bike in the middle gear of the triple and be able to ride most anything back home.

I had never taken a derailleur off before. But it's just screws and such. What else I was going to do, hanging out by the side of the road?

I almost had it all off when Thom got to me.

So my advice, just sit and look at your bike. Notice what's connected to what and how.

This is the tool kit : I had with me.

Eden2010-12-12 11:01:58 +0000 #3
hmmmmm from the experiences of things that can go wrong on a tour.

Change a flat - of course #1

Adjust brakes - no one has fun riding with a rubbing brake

Adjust derailleurs - know how to use both the barrel adjusters and the limit screws

basic wheel truing - doesn't have to be perfect - just know enough about a spoke wrench to get yourself to a populated area/bike shop. Think about carrying a temporary kevlar spoke and know how to use it, if you'll be in very remote areas or gone for a significant amount of time.

spare cleats - cleat bolts. Really ruins the fun when you can't connect to your pedals...

chain maintenance - I've never snapped a chain, but I know some who have.... again for remote areas or long tours, I'd carry a chain breaker (the Park Tool Pro one rocks!!) and a spare link. For really, really long/remote tours perhaps a spare chain.

derailleur hanger? Again - probably only necessary for long tours or very remote areas, but I have know people who've bent a derailleur hanger just by having the bike fall over (and with panniers there's more weight if the bike falls on the wrong side)

know how to tighten your headset. This only requires allen wrenches, which any multi-tool should have, but there is technique involved. I've learned this one pretty well as mine seems to loosen a bit more often than I like... though I don't want to over tighten, as I have a carbon steerer...

Those are the things that I can think of. Some of them I'd only worry about for tours of longer than a few days or in areas where you'd really couldn't get any help in the case of major problems. Haines (yeah the automobile manual folks) actually makes a quite good bicycle maintenance manual. I've used to quite a bit. Park tool has good online tutorials.
OakLeaf2010-12-12 11:22:01 +0000 #4
To Eden's list I'd add one brake cable and one derailleur cable and the knowledge to replace them. If a cable should break at the lever (which is where they're most likely to break), it may not be immediately obvious where the new one attaches, so it's best to know this in advance.

The advice Eden gave about headset adjustment really goes for any fasteners - it's just more critical when you're talking about carbon parts. No one's going to advise you to carry a torque wrench on a tour , so you'll need to get a feel for when a fastener is tight enough to hold, and don't tighten past that point.
Melalvai2010-12-12 12:08:33 +0000 #5
Know how to adjust your seat height & tilt. The best way to get that perfect fit is to make about a million tiny adjustments. You might not know until mile 40 that it's not quite there yet. SO much easier to just do it than to have to take it to the bike shop and say "another 2 millimeters please".

What type of tool(s) depends on your bike seat and the seat clamp.
DebW2010-12-12 13:00:22 +0000 #6
I did a tour a couple years ago with some people that were rather novice at bikes. Seemed like I was adjusting someone's brakes almost every day. And did one major wheel true when a guy put his bike in a bike rack by one wheel with loaded panniers and it fell over. Here would be my recommendations, most of which have already been mentioned:

at least 2 tubes

patches, glue

2 power links for chain

kevlar spoke

1 gear cable (single ended)

1 brake cable (single ended)

spare bolts for attaching the rack

chain lube

zip ties

tire levers

allen wrenches 3, 4, 5 mm and any others to fit your bike

8, 9, 10 mm open-end wrenches if needed

spoke wrench

compact chain tool

Be sure you have the right wrenches for everything on your bike, including the fender and rack connections, and the tiny screws or bolts that center your brakes, and your cleats. Check that not only are the wrenches the right size, but they fit in the right places (multitools sometimes don't) and give you proper leverage. Even though my bike doesn't need any open-end wrenches, I carried one tool with 8, 9, and 10mm wrenches on it and used it many times for other people's bikes.



Other posts in this category