4 Desperation Bike Repairs to Get You Home

Tube with hole

I've got a flat and no extra tube or patch kit. Can I make it home?

Ok, so you’ve got a flat but no extra tube or patch kit, although you do have a pump. Here's one advanced trick to get home in a real emergency with no extra tube: First, remove your tube. Then, using a knife or the edge of your chainring, carefully cut your tube right at the site of the puncture.

Now take the two cut ends of the tube and tie them together, ideally using a square knot. Dress the knot nicely and pull the ends as tight as you can. Now, pump the tire to see if it will hold air. If it doesn't, untie the knot and try again. If it holds air ok, it should be enough to get you to where you need to go. Reinstall the tire, ride on your way, and replace that tube as soon as you can.

Pretty cool.

How can I ride home if my cassette stops working?

It can happen with even the highest-quality gear: you are riding along and suddenly everything just stops working. Most parts can be field-repaired, but some -- like the cassette -- definitely can’t.

So, what's a rider to do if a cassette stops working mid-ride? Well, one option is to become a DIY mechanic and convert your bike into a fixed-gear. All your need is some rope or wire, or even a couple of zip ties could do the trick. Simply take said materials and tie them snugly around the holes in the cassette and woven through the spokes of the wheel. This will essentially convert your bike into a fixie, and will allow you to get home. Just ride slowly and carefully to avoid damaging your wheels.

I got a flat and my pump broke! What to do?

Presta valve adapter

This one is a bummer. Well, here is one good method: take your bike to the nearest gas station and fill it from the automobile air compressor. Nifty, huh. You won't be able to get much pressure, but it might get you home.

If you are a road biker and ride Presta tubes, this requires a bit of foresight. Most bike shops sell small adapters that adapt Presta to Schraeder valves, and they only cost about 50 cents. Make sure to always keep one on your bike for emergencies.

If you are really in dire straights, you can get creative. We've heard of one cross-country tourist who got a series of flats in the midst of farming country. Out of tubes, he improvised and stuffed his tires full of hay. It wasn't pretty, but it kept the rims protected for the 15 miles or so to the next town. Needless to say, we don't recommend this method.

I'm in the middle of a ride and my tire has a hole in it!

A flat tube can be fixed, but what about a hole in the tire itself? Well, if the hole in your tire isn't too big, all your need is a dollar bill. Just fold it up into a small square and place it inside the tire over the whole. This will keep your tube from bulging out and getting damaged for long enough for you to get home and do a full replacement of the tire (this is just a short-term fix).

Have you ever had to get creative (or desperate) when repairing your bike on a ride? Tell us about it below!