Don’t have the right tool on the trails? Here are hacks that will sort you out.

Having a small toolkit with the essential tools you need to do basic bike repairs is a responsible way of conducting your rides, especially if the trail you’re riding on is off the beaten track (aren’t they all?).

Still, unexpected repairs are not a rarity in the world of mountain biking, and sometimes you just don’t have the right tool for a particular job, even if your toolkit is by your side.

Here are four quick and easy hacks to use the next time you are faced with a technical repair dilemma.

1. The dollar bill trick

A punctured tyre sidewall is a pretty common occurrence on MTB trails. Not many riders carry boots to cover up the gash and prevent the inner tube from being forced though the tyre wall and bursting, but a quick, temporary solution that might work for you is to put a cash bill on the inside of the tyre’s inner wall, and then inflating the tyre to full pressure. Some gashes are more serious than others and this trick is definitely not a fix for every situation, but in many cases, it will allow you to find your way back to civilisation, where the professionals can have a look at your tyre.

The Dollar Bill trick


2. Broken rear shift cable?

The sudden lack of tension that is the result of an unexpected rear shift cable break might force you into the hardest gear when the derailleur moves. If this happens to you, tighten the high limit screw – you’ll see it marked with an “H” – to force the derailleur into a gear that is more comfortable.

Broken rear shift cable on a biclycle


3. The trail lends a hand if you can’t repair a flat

This hack is a last resort if you don’t have an extra tube or patches to repair a flat tyre. Use pine needles, leaves or any other soft natural debris to stuff your tyre until you get to the end of the trail. This is not the ideal, of course, but can be very useful if you are in dire straits.

4. Reward yourself for a job well done – or drown your sorrows while you wait for the repair guy!

Did you know that your tyre doubles as a bottle opener? Sure, it’s a little unconventional, but if you have an extra cold one in your CamelBak, you can easily open the tap of a beer bottle by flipping your bike over, using the pedals to get the tyre up to speed, and then holding the bottle cap up to the knobby tyre while it spins. Cheers!

Reward yourself for a job well done – or drown your sorrows while you wait for the repair guy!


Remember that all of these hacks should be considered temporary solutions that can only be used to get you back to base, but won’t last in the long run. Take your bike to a reputable repairman or bicycle shop after your ride to avoid further damage to your bike.

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