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Avoiding the Call of Shame; Toolkit Essentials to get you Home

Words by Team Cycles

on 04/10/2021 16:19:29

Rich Rothwell Cycling English Countryside

Image Credit: @albion.cycling

Toolkit essentials to get you home


I like to think that my trail and roadside skills are pretty well developed, and I can thank my mum for this.

From a young age, she made it quite clear that any holes I dug, were my own. Whether it was skateboarding, or riding bikes, it was my responsibility to get myself home. (She ruthlessly enforced the rules, even when I was stranded in France on a hitch-hiking escapade.) Of course, when I began riding further than walking distance from the door, we didn’t have mobile phones and the chance of being close to working phone box when you needed it was slim. So I learned the hard way and I’ve made ALL the mistakes so you don’t have to!

Now that I ride ultra-distance events, the margin of error has become tighter, and I need to cover all potential mechanical failures. I’d like to share my tricks and tips for making sure you can keep rolling, and the Call of Shame need never be made! It doesn’t even require you to be an expert mechanic to fix many common problems. First things first; make sure your bike is in perfect working order before you head out the door in the first place! A bike that is working perfectly is less likely to suffer mechanical failure. Why not book your bike into Team Cycles for a full service and check, ahead of your next big ride or race, carried out by the skilled and qualified mechanic team?

Keeping the wheels rolling

Yes, punctures are the bane of the cyclist! Once again, prevention is the cure; treat yourself to some quality tyres from Team Cycles; Bontrager, Maxxis, and Continental amongst others. Choose the right tyre for your riding, inflate them to the correct pressure, and replace when worn

Whether you run inner tubes or tubeless, my number one tip to avoid the Call of Shame, is to ALWAYS carry TWO spare inner tubes. I repeat TWO spare inner tubes; you have two wheels! Inner tubes can suffer large holes, or valves can get damaged, and if this happens, you need spares. Even if this doesn’t happen, it’s a lot quicker and easier to simply stick a new tube in, rather than repair a tube on the roadside.

Bontrager have a range of robust butyl tubes and I personally favour these over the lightweight versions that have appeared, as they can easily be repaired and reused multiple times. Make sure you are carrying a set of strong tyre levers, such as the super tough and bright Muc-Off ones below; tubeless tyres can be stubborn; even more so with cold hands! Also carry a puncture repair kit, just in case you get seriously unlucky and suffer multiple punctures.

As a fan of tubeless, both on and off road, I always want to repair a tubeless tyre hole, rather than insert an inner tube mid ride. I have tried tubeless tyre plugs before, but the brands I used had too flexy a metal prodding spike and were very hard to use effectively.

So I’d like to tell you about the Dyna-Plug Racer. This is hands down the best tubeless tyre plug tool I’ve used, and it goes everywhere with me, on or off-road. You start by loading brass tipped rubber slugs in the ends of the quality anodised rod, (different sizes for different size holes). Simply force the tip into the tyre hole and pull the tool back out; this leaves the rubber slug in the hole, which forms a seal. No need to cut the protruding rubber slug down; it will wear down quickly enough once you are riding and the repair usually becomes permanent as the slug moulds into your tyre. It’s incredibly easy to use, and the stiff aluminium construction allows you to exert real force to plug the hole quickly; something the spindlier brands don’t do. This tool has got me out of trouble in the isolated Yorkshire Dales, as well as the high rocky passes of the Lake District!


If you run tubeless tyres, I strongly recommend picking a Dyna-Plug Racer up from Team Cycles.

Essential kit.

What happens if you REALLY split a tyre and a plug won’t sort it? Park Tool make tyre boots to press against the inside of the tyre, and you can also make one out of a gel wrapper or plastic drinks bottle, but I would also recommend ALWAYS having lots of Guerrila Tape wrapped around your mini-pump; you will notice it wrapped around my excellent Topeak road specific mini pump. (Also consider the Topeak mini shock pump if you are running suspension; it weighs nothing and is a great emergency tool if you experience significant mid ride pressure loss in your forks or rear shock).

Carrying tape like this is a Must Do! Splits in clothes, broken laces or buckles, damaged cable guides on your bike, the list goes on. You can fix a lot with Guerrilla tape (and a few zip ties!) and I always carry it! Now, delving deep into the weird world of bikepacking fixes; on big rides I also carry an upholstery needle, pre threaded with dental floss and thimble! A substantial split can be sown up with this kit and it literally weighs nothing in your pack. Smother the repair with Super Glue to form a completely airtight fix!

If you lose your Stans fluid due to a split, carrying a small spare bottle of Stans, and a valve core remover; this means you can easily top your tyres back up. The nozzle of the small Stans bottle fits conveniently inside the valve, once the core is removed, so it’s easy enough to do on the trail or road.

Keeping the drivetrain turning

Once again, preparation is your best friend. Keep that drivetrain clean and replace worn parts early. Pick yourself up a chain wear checking tool from Team Cycles; it’s one of the best money saving spends you can make. Crucial in your road or trail kit is a chain tool. You can’t fix a broken chain without one! This is my trusty Park Tools chain splitter, which, as you can see, has seen many years of use but still works perfectly.

If you don’t know how to use one, there are many online tutorials but I advise you to practice on an old chain in the comfort of your living room till you get the knack. It’s actually pretty easy to do! Also make sure you carry some spare chain connector links to speed up a repair. A few spare links in your tool kit is also a good idea if you are running a 1x drivetrain, as you will loose links and chain length with a snapped chain. Use the spare links to get your chain back to its full length!

So as a recap, here is a list of the basic tools I’d recommend everyone to carry:

  • Two inner tubes
  • Pump
  • Tyre levers
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Dyna-Plug Racer (for tubeless tyres)
  • Tyre boots, patches, or tape
  • Chain tool
  • Split links for chain
  • Allen keys (or a multi tool with the right Allen key / screwdriver fittings for your bike)

I could easily add to this, depending on your bike, your mechanical skill, and what you are doing. However, this is all pretty essential kit, and if you are missing any of it, why not pick it up the next time you are in Team Cycles? Ask the Team Cycles staff for advice on using these tools if you are unsure. With the right tools, and a bit of basic mechanical skill, you will never need to make the Call of Shame!

Credit: Rich Rothwell