Monthly Archives: February 2016

On-trail issues: unexpected loose spokes

Issue: Half way round a ride a rattling sound draws attention to loose spokes.

Damage: Not much in some ways.  The wheels can easily buckle once spokes come loose, and there’s potential for more damage to the spokes themselves and the tyres if the issue isn’t remedied.

Remedial action: If you’re not carrying a useful multitool, not much, although you could try temporarily screwing the spokes back in by hand.  If you are carrying a tool, hopefully it has a spoke key on it, in which case you can screw them back in and tighten them up nicely.  Since spokes should not typically loosen themselves this much, it would definitely be worth investigating the rest of them as well, and making sure that you have an even tension round the whole of the wheel.

Ways to avoid: This is arguably one of the consequences of buying a bike from a bike outdoor chain, as opposed to a local bike shop.  Big chains will have a checklist to follow when building bikes for the their customers, but checking spoke tension is more than likely not on it.  It certainly isn’t for some.  Perhaps a particularly conscientious bike technician with a particularly low workload might think to check them, but this will be the exception rather than the rule.  So, if you buy a bike from a big chain and ask them to build it for you, check it thoroughly before you ride it.  At the very least, ride it first in relatively low-risk places so that any issues come to light before you’re relying on the bike.


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On-trail issues: herniated tyre

Issue: Sidewall of the tyre tears, and inner tube bulges out of the hole.

Damage: Given that the inner tube then clips the forks on every rotation of the tyre, this issue soon results in an explosive puncture.

Remedial action: At the time, not much.  Unless you’re carrying a full spare tyre with you there’s not a lot you can do with a genuinely damaged tyre.  I wondered about maybe wrapping duct tape around it (although sadly I wasn’t carrying any) or even perhaps changing the inner tube when it blew and tying the defunct tube around the damaged bit of tyre.  I have no idea if this would have worked.  It doesn’t seem overly likely.  Equally there’s only so long you can ride direct on an inner tube before it wears through.  Practically speaking all I could do was ride gently until the tube went as well, and then spend the next hour walking back pushing the bike.

Ways to avoid: Preventive maintenance would have been key here.  The sidewall of the tyre looks scored and definitely weakened – I’m not completely sure how that might have happened, but checking the bike over thoroughly before riding should have brought the issue to light.  I suspect that not riding my bike for a long time probably didn’t help the issue.  Obviously, the next step is simply to change the tyre.

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Filed under On-trail issues, Other stuff