The Unexpected

A disembodied body.
A disembodied body.

Gianni really took it in the shorts after trying to sneak his way along with a stealth EPMS. Like an alcoholic falling off the wagon, the poor fellow can’t quite come to grips with the comfort of his old friend, the saddle bag. The solution lies in finding a light toolkit to carry along with him on his rides, one that fits in one pocket in totality.

There is an elegance in minimalism; a small multi tool with just the right combination of appliances is a beautiful thing. Latex inner tubes are a nice way to keep the spare tube package small and light. As are some compact tire levers. Certainly luck favors the prepared, but if you follow that to its logical conclusion, you will need something more than a saddle bag to carry your workstand, grease gun, and headset press. The Velominatus maintains their bike, and takes every reasonable precaution to replace those parts that might fail during a ride. It is what we do; the bicycle is our lifeblood – care for it, and it will care for you.

An equipment failure is, however, always surprising – in particular to the rider. Take, for example, my pedal which unwound itself from the spindle this week. Normally, when you push, the pedal follows a nice arch and the bicycle goes forward. Not so, should the body no longer be affixed to the axel.Should this occur, the pedal will move outwardly rudly and inflect an unpredictable union of top tube and groin. It is remarkable how little forward momentum is associated with pushing on a pedal which is no longer attached to the bicycle. It is also, I surmise, not a particularly elegant thing to watch.

Speaking of inelegance and no momentum, I also once broke a chain link climbing a steep grade in the rain, while carrying with a heavy back pack. Should you encounter such an incident yourself, you will take note of the remarkably short amount of time it takes to stop moving forward and fall in a confused and cursing heap at the roadside.

The point is, accidents happen, and no matter how much care you take of your equipment. They will happen while out on the road, possibly while far from home. We learn from them, and we take the necessary measures to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. Take my pedal failure; I don’t plan to carry a pedal wrench in reaction to this incident; I instead have now added the pedal to my list of items to periodically check over. As for the chain, it had incurred some corrosion because I was experimenting with a lighter oil. I now take care to check for (and take seriously) signs of rust on a chain.

Be sensible, be careful. Take care of your machine. Kneel and flash the sign of the Merckx in your V-Kit before submitting to the road, and get a nice light toolkit with the right tools for the incidents that are most likely to happen. Maybe you’ll have a ride ruined through an unlucky event, but learn from it and improve your maintenance program rather than endeavoring to carry every tool known to the Velominatus.*

Vive La Vie Velominatus.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Failures/”/]

*This does not apply to cases where an incident can be life threatening such as in remote mountain regions or New York City.

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97 Replies to “The Unexpected”

  1. Someone was bemoaning the inclusion of a chain breaker on a mini tool the other day.  I have also broken a chain mid ride. The removal of a complete linkage and reattachment enabled me to continue my ride rather than turning for home (admittedly with a slightly less expansive range of gears), another reason to stick with 10 speed.

    take what you need to ride, just try not to look like a camel!

  2. My father (who rides a hybrid, but means well) is a big guy (6’2″ 230lbs). Due to Quebecs horrible road maintenance, blowing out spokes tends to happen every couple months. He now rides with spare spokes at all times. The solution to not having spokes jumping out of his jersey was simple. Duct tape, in the seatpost.

    Stealth way for those who worry about that sorta thing.

  3. In the 35 or so years that I’ve been riding road bikes the only time I’ve ever used a multi-tool our on the road was to use a guy’s chain tool as an impromptu spoke wrench to loosen some spokes on his Mavic Ksyriums (with their proprietary nipples) so we could get him home after a spoke broke.

  4. exactly the same thing happened to me with Speedplay pedals; I installed new titanium spindles, but, in the left pedal, the thread of the bolt was not inversed (is a standard right side bolt, standard tightening direction), and i applied no loctite paste for locking the bolt thread…

  5. Oh I’m back baby! I wish I could say it was my tool kit that was bulking out my pockets but all I ever carry is a 5mm wrench which used to be useful when I had campagnolo seat post and seat clamp. And that wrench barely fits anything on my bike now. I’ve only had one mechanical in the last 15 years and that was my fault. Rebuilt speedplay pedal body became unfucked from it’s axle and stayed in the cleat. This confused me badly as I was mid-160km ride and already brain damaged. Only a tiny torx wrench would have helped. Called for back up. But not before trying to hammer the pedal body onto the axle mit locally sourced rock. Christ, I’m dumb.

  6. @Cyclops

    In the 35 or so years that I’ve been riding road bikes the only time I’ve ever used a multi-tool our on the road was to use a guy’s chain tool as an impromptu spoke wrench to loosen some spokes on his Mavic Ksyriums (with their proprietary nipples) so we could get him home after a spoke broke.

    As I’m very new to all this pedalling business, my multi tool seems to be in constant use making tweeks here and there trying to make myself as comfortable as possible upon my steed. Maybe I just need to harden up though…

  7. The closest thing to a malfunction on the trail it having a cleat come loose making it really hard to unclip. and let me say that its hard to get the multi tool into the hex screws when they are full of sand/

  8. Last night I didn’t have much time for my evening ride, so I was going to quickly pound through my local 30km loop before it got dark.

    “I don’t need to bring any supplies. I’ll be back home before I know it”, Is what I thought.

    Later, as I walked my bike the final 10km home after getting a flat rear tire, I had plenty of time to rethink my thought process.

    Always ride prepared, kids!

  9. Given that I ride the same pedals as Frank, a thorough check just ensued. All good!

    Tool improvisation can be crucial to avoiding the call home. I coached a guy a few years ago who had his bike assembled by the limpest wristed mechanic of all time. First it was the ‘easy spin’ brake levers on his aerobars, then the ‘instatilt’ seat clamp, and finally the  ‘auto-unlockring’ on his cassette. I had to improv a lockring tool from 2 multitool’s 3 mm hex keys. Jam and twist.

  10. I still don’t know what exactly happened, but a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly hear a dreadful noise and my bike stops rolling.  I look at where my rear mechanics should have been and all I see is a huge clusterfuck of broken chain, rear derailleur, derailleur hanger and what used to be my spokes. Chain and rear derailleur had been replaced three days before by my LBS. In full compliance with Murphy’s law, this wasn’t on some commute, but in the Dolomites, about 20 km before the Stelvio. (This story does not have a moral or anything, just wanted to share my pain.)

  11. Mate, that detachment is a common and well known flaw with the Time impact pedal – I used a great tool to fix the issue, called a Credit Card – threaded the pedal back on, pedalled home and brought some new pedals (Shimano Dura Ace 9000 – but everyone has different needs) using one!

    Nothing like pedalling one legged to show just how square your pedal stroke is, eh?

  12. I’ve been putting off getting a multi-tool but I just made it a top priority as I sit here and read the fail stories thinking how my only mechanical in my year or so of being a cyclist has been a flat on the indoor trainer.

    Now, with that said, what Lezyne tool is best for my Tarmac (since I’ve fucked myself saying I haven’t broke yet.)

  13. I’ve had to call in the sag wagon twice for mechanicals over the years. Once, long ago, when my Campa Record “self extracting” cranks, self extracted. 60K from home. And the hex was something like 7.5mm so you couldn’t just walk into a gas station and borrow one.

    Then recently, I broke a pin on the chain. That was all me though. I had shortened a SRAM chain and re-used the pin (like you used to be able to do in olden times). Hit a steep ramp and “pop”; top tube to the wedding tackle, me laying on the ground wondering what the fuck just happened. Lesson learned.

  14. @scaler911

    I did the same thing to the VMH’s Campa chain a five or six years ago. Just broke the chain to clean it, and reinstalled it using the pin. “Oh, it will be fine.” Then she snapped it accelerating out of a stop sign. We were outside our LBS as it happened, so we just walked in and got a new chain.

    Campa has the chain business sorted out. No special pins, just a section of chain you can buy that costs almost as much as a new chain.

    @Deakus

    I quicklink will fit in the baggie that you use to store the inner tube, tire levers, and patch kit.

  15. @Xyverz

    Bonts are indestructible. The carbon was scratched and the uppers were a little mangled, but I just glued it all back down and buffed it with some extra fine sandpaper, and they have been perfectly good ever since and in constant use since December when that crash happened.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2013.08.31.10.29.04/1//”/]

    @Gianni

    @Xyverz

    Oh man. Those shoes! *sobs* I cry for you, Frank.

    Don’t cry for him. He has new Bonts on the way. Very exciting.

    Yes. Orange Vaypor+s. Absolutely can’t wait.

  16. @frank whats the trick with latex tubes? I had a string of bad luck with the few a bought a while back. I was pumping to 100 PSI and then kept busting. then I went down to 90 and the last pair I have(on the bike) are fine and dont even deform as much as normal tubes would at the pressure.

  17. @infinity87

    I’ve been putting off getting a multi-tool but I just made it a top priority as I sit here and read the fail stories thinking how my only mechanical in my year or so of being a cyclist has been a flat on the indoor trainer.

    Now, with that said, what Lezyne tool is best for my Tarmac (since I’ve fucked myself saying I haven’t broke yet.)

    I use

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/lezyne-v-5-multi-tool/

    or the carbon version if you are that concerned with weight

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/lezyne-carbon-evo-5-multi-tool/

    on sale atm too.

    Other suppliers are available, I have no association with wiggle.

  18. @meursault

    That’s the one I use.

    @RedRanger

    @frank whats the trick with latex tubes? I had a string of bad luck with the few a bought a while back. I was pumping to 100 PSI and then kept busting. then I went down to 90 and the last pair I have(on the bike) are fine and dont even deform as much as normal tubes would at the pressure.

    Well, a few things, but these ideas apply to any tube, not latex. First, you want a good quality one – some of the latex tubes are basically like condoms and have nothing to them.

    Second, the valve hole sometimes cuts into the tube, so I stick a piece of electrical tape over it before inserting the tube. I pop the valve stem right through the tape.

    Third, always douse your tubes in talcum powder (baby powder) so it can move around inside the tire.

    Finally, make sure you don’t have it pinched. Inflate the tube enough so it has some structure and mount it like that. If you need to, you can keep letting out little bits of air to get the tire over the rim, but then pump it up just a bit again before the final seating and check that the tube didn’t get stuck between the tire and rim.

    I like the Vittoria tubes – I used Michellin and Vredestein ones as well, but those tend to be too thin, although they have the best ride quality that way.

  19. @meursault

    @infinity87

    I’ve been putting off getting a multi-tool but I just made it a top priority as I sit here and read the fail stories thinking how my only mechanical in my year or so of being a cyclist has been a flat on the indoor trainer.

    Now, with that said, what Lezyne tool is best for my Tarmac (since I’ve fucked myself saying I haven’t broke yet.)

    I use

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/lezyne-v-5-multi-tool/

    or the carbon version if you are that concerned with weight

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/lezyne-carbon-evo-5-multi-tool/

    on sale atm too.

    Other suppliers are available, I have no association with wiggle.

    That’s the one I use, too. Only thing missing is a Torx, but I only have a few of those on the bike and check them regularly. I’ve also swapped many of them out for regular hex replacements where possible.

  20. @Weldertron

    My father (who rides a hybrid, but means well) is a big guy (6’2″³ 230lbs). Due to Quebecs horrible road maintenance, blowing out spokes tends to happen every couple months. He now rides with spare spokes at all times. The solution to not having spokes jumping out of his jersey was simple. Duct tape, in the seatpost.

    Stealth way for those who worry about that sorta thing.

    Higher quality wheels at 36H would be another solution. Also, you should be able to uncam the brakes and still get home with a broken spoke.

  21. @Spider

    Mate, that detachment is a common and well known flaw with the Time impact pedal – I used a great tool to fix the issue, called a Credit Card – threaded the pedal back on, pedalled home and brought some new pedals (Shimano Dura Ace 9000 – but everyone has different needs) using one!

    Nothing like pedalling one legged to show just how square your pedal stroke is, eh?

    I wasn’t far from home, I just rode home with it loose. If I’d taken even 10 seconds to look at it, I’d have seen that you can just hand-screw it back on and had gotten home more easily, but it doesn’t matter. The point is, shit happens and you’ll never be ready for everything. Sometimes you’ll just have a ride ruined. Embrace the possibility.

  22. @Gianni

    Only a tiny torx wrench would have helped. Called for back up. But not before trying to hammer the pedal body onto the axle mit locally sourced rock. Christ, I’m dumb.

    Locally sourced rock, brilliant. How, exactly, did you expect a rock to thread the little devil back on?

  23. @frank

    @Xyverz

    Bonts are indestructible. The carbon was scratched and the uppers were a little mangled, but I just glued it all back down and buffed it with some extra fine sandpaper, and they have been perfectly good ever since and in constant use since December when that crash happened.

    2 / 2
    The uppers are a little scuffed, but no issues structurally, whatsoever.

    Slideshow:
    Fullscreen:
    Download:

    @Gianni

    @Xyverz

    Oh man. Those shoes! *sobs* I cry for you, Frank.

    Don’t cry for him. He has new Bonts on the way. Very exciting.

    Yes. Orange Vaypor+s. Absolutely can’t wait.

    I have heard whispers of “semi-custom”  with colors and speedplay mounting, is that what you did?

  24. @frank

    @Gianni

    Only a tiny torx wrench would have helped. Called for back up. But not before trying to hammer the pedal body onto the axle mit locally sourced rock. Christ, I’m dumb.

    Locally sourced rock, brilliant. How, exactly, did you expect a rock to thread the little devil back on?

    I’m not that dumb, ffs. The speedplay body slides on the through axle and is held on with a retainer clip and torx bolt. I was convinced the body was not fully seated on the axle even though the other pedal was 20cm away for comparison. That’s how dumb I am.

  25. On the topic of pedals.  I have Look Keo Blades. About 2 months ago I noticed during cleaning that on the left pedal ( the one I unclip the most) the carbon blade had almost split through the middle. It’s a leaf spring design and appears to be laminates of carbon. It wasn’t split right through. Just about half way. Enough that one might start a ride and have it fail completely a good way from home.  I called my buddy who also has the same pedals, sure enough there was a crack in his left pedal carbon spring. We both got them replaced under warranty through our local LBS which was great but not very timely. Since then the owner of the shop has informed us that at least two other people have been in with the same problem. I did a little research and it seems like it’s a pretty common problem.  I see the design for 2014 is quite different so one can only hope that this solves the issue but just a heads up, if you have Keo Blades you need to check them often, especially the one you clip in and out of most.  Mine failed in less than a year.

  26. @Mirko

    Chain and rear derailleur had been replaced three days before by my LBS.

    Good lawd, son. That’s some fail right there.

    Said LBS is looking either for a new mechanic or a new customer, I presume?

  27. On our ride this morning. On the way up the climb I commented that I heard a creak coming from his bottom bracket. After the decent and about 1k from the coffee shop. He had the unexpected happen.

    The crank broke clean in half. He was running a BB30 with Specialized crank set. No he did not crash- lucky. but we did need to find him a ride home.

    Drives home the point of checking your bottom bracket once in a while. Not sure why he is smiling.

    We did not have the right tool to repair this. But on of our group had a chain breaker on the multi- tool.

    And as for me I had a rear blow out on the decent at 39 mph. That woke me up.

  28. Rear hub on DT Swiss failed, with sudden and spectacular buckle, near wore thru the tyre when it happened. Spoke key I always carry was used to counter the buckle enough to allow the wheel to turn with open brake, a few km before VMH arrived.

  29. Holy Merckx! That is a lot of broken stuff. You should all call Cafe Roubaix to fix your bikes!

    HAHAHA, @Frank  I know, I know!

  30. @Deakus

    Someone was bemoaning the inclusion of a chain breaker on a mini tool the other day. I have also broken a chain mid ride. The removal of a complete linkage and reattachment enabled me to continue my ride rather than turning for home (admittedly with a slightly less expansive range of gears), another reason to stick with 10 speed.

    Yes, that was I.

    Rather than type a lengthy reply as to why your argument is invalid, I will simply point you to the artical above and ask “how often has it happened and what is the likely hood of it happening again?”  Now that you have answered once, and not likely with good maintenance, I submit again that a chain breaker is simply not required.*

  31. @strathlubnaig

    Rear hub on DT Swiss failed, with sudden and spectacular buckle, near wore thru the tyre when it happened. Spoke key I always carry was used to counter the buckle enough to allow the wheel to turn with open brake, a few km before VMH arrived.

    When was the last time you cleaned that thing? There is less grease build-up on my fathers 50yr old tractor! Rule #65 speaks of cleanliness, sight, not just sound. Keeping it clean reduces the chances of failures (although maybe not in this particular case).

  32. @Nate

    @Rob C Friends don’t let friends ride BB30.

    This guy is a mountain goat. Not sure how many miles he had on this set.but th crank looked corroded, like he had never serviced it.

    He is re thinking his set up.

  33. @Nate

    @DerHoggz

    @Rob C
    It’s not BB30 that failed in this instance.  From recollection, those Spesh cranks are fixed in the middle of the spindle similar to Campag Ultratorque.  Suspect the bolt failed.

  34. @DerHoggz

    What’s so wrong with BB30? I’m happy with external BSA anyways.

    Creaky, smaller actual bearings than modern external BBs, wear out quickly in the wet, require a bunch of expensive (but cool looking) tools to service.

  35. @Puffy

    @Deakus

    Someone was bemoaning the inclusion of a chain breaker on a mini tool the other day. I have also broken a chain mid ride. The removal of a complete linkage and reattachment enabled me to continue my ride rather than turning for home (admittedly with a slightly less expansive range of gears), another reason to stick with 10 speed.

    Yes, that was I.

    Rather than type a lengthy reply as to why your argument is invalid, I will simply point you to the artical above and ask “how often has it happened and what is the likely hood of it happening again?” Now that you have answered once, and not likely with good maintenance, I submit again that a chain breaker is simply not required.*

    Considering the chain breaker is such a small and light addition to an already small mulititool its inclusion is hardly a disruption to the jersey pocket and the fact that i have used it at least twice….the other occasion was to break a chain jammed on anothers bike means we will have to agree to diasgree. However should we ever ride together and you break your chain rest assured i will happily lend you mine! (cue semi colon, close brackets!)

  36. @G’rilla

    @DerHoggz

    What’s so wrong with BB30? I’m happy with external BSA anyways.

    Creaky, smaller actual bearings than modern external BBs, wear out quickly in the wet, require a bunch of expensive (but cool looking) tools to service.

    Also a lower manufacturing tolerance for frames – they’re easier to manufacture and aren’t produced to the same requirements that Shimano and Campag cranks need to work. I don’t really like it, and now that Shimano has 11 speed cranks where you can swap between 50 tooth and 53 tooth chainrings, it’s only another reason not to get it.

  37. @Deakus I’m with you on the usefulness of a multi tool with a chain tool. I’ve snapped a rear dérailleur and used it to convert the bike to a single speed to get me home.

    I’m not sure this is something that I want to talk about in too much detail, though, as the dérailleur snap incident occurred in the middle of a discussion about the essential functions required in a multi tool. I may be tempting fate talking about it again although I suspect with the shit I endured on holiday last week I’m due for an incident free period.

    First I managed to strip the thread on both of the removable valve stems on my Vittoria tubulars (closer inspection shows the thread on the inside of my Lezyne flip chuck thingy looks a bit fucked – the flip chuck has always struck me as being the weak link in an otherwise excellent pump). None of the other pumps available would get the tyres up to pressure.

    Happily, I’d taken a spare set of wheels with me so that things could get worse rather than accepting that it wasn’t my week and kicking back on the beach with a cold beer or ten.

    The camp site that we were staying at organised a few group rides each week. On the first of these I punctured the front tyre on a section of road where there was a tractor cutting back the hedge rows, thorns everywhere. There was a gash on the edge of the tread and sidewall but it didn’t look like it had gone right through. By the time regrouped at the next junction (the Dutch and Belgians had gone mental at the first sign of hills a few km earlier and ripped the group apart) the tube was bulging out through a decent sized hole.

    Not wanting to slow everyone down and thinking it would be best to start heading back down hill slowly, I waved the group off thinking that I had a boot in my kit somewhere. Nope, that was in my puncture repair kit. I managed to fashion one out of a couple of energy bar wrappers and the foil backing from a disposable contact lens pack (it’s good thick foil that had the strength to stop the tube pushing through, I’m not sure the wrappers would have done that).

    I punctured again, the rear this time,  trying to find my way out of Perpignan, using up my last CO2 cannister but the booted repair held up until I got back. Five minutes after getting off the bike the front was flat. That night I joked about having to call for the sag wagon if it had gone earlier.

    The next day I only punctured once, a nice big thorn through my brand spanking new front tyre whilst out with the kids. A useful pedalwan lesson in puncture repair for them. I also found out that my daughter can do a shade under 30kph sprinting into a strong headwind.

    That front tyre waited until I was doing almost 50kph before letting go again, the first of four punctures that ended up with the joked about call for rescue.

    How many of those punctures I would have suffered if I’d been on the tubulars, I’m not sure but if the higher thread count would have prevented the gash in the first one, I’d have been relying on a spare tub and then pit stop to close any holes.  

    Stunning countryside though.

  38. @minion

    @G’rilla

    @DerHoggz

    What’s so wrong with BB30? I’m happy with external BSA anyways.

    Creaky, smaller actual bearings than modern external BBs, wear out quickly in the wet, require a bunch of expensive (but cool looking) tools to service.

    Also a lower manufacturing tolerance for frames – they’re easier to manufacture and aren’t produced to the same requirements that Shimano and Campag cranks need to work. I don’t really like it, and now that Shimano has 11 speed cranks where you can swap between 50 tooth and 53 tooth chainrings, it’s only another reason not to get it.

    BBs are doing my head in at the moment. I have a new Giant TCR arriving this week, but because my other race bike, and crucially my wheels and powertap, are set up with Campag I have to forsake the offer of at-cost Shimano and get my own gruppo.

    So, there’s a little adapter made by Campag to go between their cranks and the bottom bracket (BB86). And I think it would be easier to find weapons-grade plutonium and get it shipped to a Pyongyang address.

    I think I have one, and I think it is on the way – I’ve paid more for shipping than the cost of the actual piece – but I’ll believe it when I see it. Online sites are not great at small details. My greatest fear is that the mechanic is going to look at it and sorrowfully tell me it is Wrong, so I’ll have several thousands worth of components waiting to go on several thousands worth of bike, all for the sake of a $50 piece of aluminium.

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