Quick Bike Repairs When You're On The Road

Tip #285 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

quick fixes, quick repairs, motorcycle repairs, on the road, road trip

Bodges. Band-Aid fixes. Field repairs. When your bike breaks and you’re out on the road (or trail) you might not have the tools, parts, or time to fix it correctly. You might just need something that will get you home—because walking (or worse, pushing) stinks.

FLAT TIRE No pump? No patch kit? No tube? No problem! Just pry off one tire bead and start stuffing anything you can find into the tire carcass: rags, newspapers, sage brush, hay. Jam in as much as you can—you want the tire really filled. Ride slow on a repair like this; you won't have much traction, but you won't destroy a rim and you might even preserve the tire. On dirt bikes, a handful of giant cable ties can secure a knobby to the rim, even without the stuffing.

LOOSE HANDLEBAR Most handlebars are 7⁄8-inch (20-mm) tubing held by a pair of clamps. But time, vibration, and worn clamps can cause the bar to slip. The fix? Remove the clamps, cut shims from an aluminum beer can, place them between the clamp and the bar, reinstall, and tighten. The aluminum is soft enough to grip both the bar and clamp tightly.

CRACKED CASE A common occurrence when dirt-bike riding in rocks. Lay the bike over on its side, clean the crack with gasoline or (better) contact cleaner. Knead up some two-part epoxy and patch it over the crack. Wait 20 minutes and ride off. No epoxy? Look for a pine or spruce tree and use some pitch mixed with charcoal.

RADIATOR HOLE Some pepper or a plug of potato can close the hole (epoxy works too). But what to do about the lost water? Your hydration pack is the first solution. Avoid using any soda-pop in the cooling system though. No water in your canteen? Then it's time for every male in the group to step up, unbutton, and let fly down the radiator. Not a pretty sight, but you'll make it home—if your bladder is big enough.