While there’s lots of gear that’ll keep your bike in good shape even when you’re on the road, sometimes –whether through chance, bad planning, or even the bad luck of getting your bag of bike maintenance gear swiped – you might be out on the road without much except your bike and yourself. What do you do, then, when something goes wrong and your bike needs some TLC?
Fortunately, there’s ways to keep your bike (and yourself) in good shape even when you’ve got almost nothing.
The Best Offence is a Good Defence
First off, making sure there’s no problems is better than dealing with problems. Bad weather is a bugbear for any biker – rain and road spray can wash away vital lubrication, snow can damage your chrome, and the salt from snowplows will encourage rust to form if it’s not removed after your ride. Cut down on the amount of maintenance you’ll have to do on the road by scheduling your ride for a stretch of good weather: check the forecasts, and wait for a sunny day, or a week if you’re looking for a longer adventure. Of course, every now and then you’ll get an unpredictable storm coming your way, but if you check beforehand you’re more likely to enjoy a sunny ride – and to keep your bike looking its best.
The World is your Oyster
Of course, you can’t rely on a spell of sunny weather to keep you completely out of trouble. But unless you plan to ride through a barren wasteland – and in that case, you should really make sure you bring some supplies along! – there’ll be loads of places along the way where you can grab some last-minute supplies. These days, almost everyone has a smartphone in their back pocket: plug ‘local bike shops’ into a search engine, check the reviews, and pick your favorite, with a map at your fingertips. If you’re planning to unplug and leave the smartphone at home, you can look up a list before you head out; knowing which shops have good reputations is priceless, and having the address at hand will save you a headache.
Even if there isn’t a bike shop for miles around, though, there’s other places you can find the necessities. Petrol stations will have oil, air for your tires, and water (plus automotive cleansers – no need for motorbike-specific cleansers, especially if you’re in a pinch) for a wipe down if you’ve just come through some unexpected mud puddles. Don’t use the high pressure sprays at coin-operated car washes, though – the pressure can damage parts of your bike. A bucket and a hose will do just fine, and those are available almost everywhere.
Grocery Store Hacks
Not even a petrol station to be seen? Go into a local grocery store and grab a shopping bag or three–first of all to carry your shopping in, but if you keep some plastic bags or trash bags you can use them to cover your bike when that unexpected storm hits–or tuck them in your boots to keep your feet dry when you ride, should you have gone out in boots that aren’t quite waterproof. If the weather has turned bitter cold, grab a couple of newspapers, and tuck them in your leathers for extra insulation, an old trick that might mean the difference between shivering and being comfortable. Then get yourself a pack of baby wipes, which will help you clean your bike’s surfaces (after all, if they’re gentle enough for babies, they’ll probably be gentle enough for your bike). A bottle of Simple Green cleaner will also help cut through any grime on your bike, and is biodegradable to boot.