Tool Kit for Paris-Brest-Paris

Before I started the 750-mile (1200 km) Paris-Brest-Paris on a brand-new bike, I thought about the tools I needed to bring. After months of training and the expense of traveling to France, it would be a shame not to finish the ride because of a mechanical.

I love the feel of a lightweight bike. My new Rene Herse weighs just 10.3 kg (22.7 lb.) fully equipped with fenders, lights, racks and even the pump. I didn’t want to carry unnecessary weight. But I also know that a few grams wouldn’t make a significant difference in my PBP time, and not being able to fix a problem could end my ride.

How to decide which tools to bring? I realized that bike-related mishaps fall into three categories:

1. Avoidable Problems

Most problems can be avoided through careful design and good workmanship. Rather than fix problems, I prefer to make sure that they won’t happen in the first place. This is especially important for issues that will stop my ride because they are impossible to fix on the road – things like broken frames and failures of major components.

The components of my new bike use quality materials, good design and careful workmanship. Most have been tested thoroughly, both in the lab and during 100,000s of miles on the road. Even the prototype rear derailleur has covered thousands of miles during 1.5 years of testing. I was confident that all the parts of my bike were unlikely to fail.

Bolts coming loose also fall into this category. The attachments for fenders, rack and other parts on my new bike are based on decades of experience. Bolts are dimensioned correctly and made out of appropriate materials: Steel where strength is paramount; titanium where bolts are large because they need to hold big parts (like brake pad posts and water bottle cages); aluminum in one rare instance where the bolts just hold the rear bake arms in place. All these bolts are unlikely to cause trouble.

Careful assembly is equally important. I used beeswax on most screws, which first lubricates the threads – important to get the tightening torque right – and then hardens to act as a thread-locking compound. (Crank bolts are lubricated with grease due to their high torque and large size.) There is no Loctite anywhere on the bike, because it’s not needed with good design.

2. Wear and Tear

Most parts will fail eventually. For a ride as important as Paris-Brest-Paris, it makes sense to replace those that are easy to replace: tires, tubes and cables. With a new bike, these were not going to be an issue. Otherwise, I’d have replaced them before heading to France. On a bike that has seen a lot of use, I’d also check rims (or brake rotors) for wear, as well as brake pads.

Spokes on well-built wheels last 10,000s of miles – longer with wide tires, since they cushion the loads that reach the wheels – but eventually, they will fatigue and break. It was nice to have a fresh set of wheels for the ride. Otherwise, I would have carried a spare spoke and nipple, plus a spoke wrench.

3. Inevitables

Some problems are difficult to eliminate, but easy to fix. These are the only problems that I was prepared to fix on the road.

Flat tires fall into this category. They are not likely on the clean backroads of France: In six PBP, I’ve had just two flat tires. Both occurred during the same rainy 2007 ride, when I used part-worn tires in an attempt to gain speed, before we developed the Extralight casings. Still, no matter how few flats we get – whether it’s a flat every 3,600 km on my Rene Herse Extralights or every 10,000 km on ultra-tough, puncture-resistant tires, we need to be prepared for a flat tire.

I carried two spare tubes, not because that is the most flats I ever got in a single PBP, but because there is always a possibility of double pinch flats: Most roads in PBP are smooth, but there can always be construction sites, small curbs… I also carried a piece of tire casing as a tire boot. At night, I might run over something big and sharp that could cut my tire. I haven’t cut a tire in more than a decade, but I know it can happen. (An energy bar wrapper works as a tire boot in a pinch, but a dollar bill doesn’t.) My bike carries a pump on the seatstay, so I didn’t need to include one in my toolkit.

There was one other concern: On my new bike, the saddle height might need fine-tuning. For that, I would need a 5 mm wrench. And since I have a 4/5 mm combined wrench, I brought it. That way, I could adjust a fender stay if it got bent in a fall.

On bikes with narrow chains and integrated shift levers, chains can break. If my bike had that type of drivetrain, I might bring a lightweight chain tool. On my ‘manual’ bikes, I feel the gears engage, and I’ve never broken a chain.

During the 56+ hours on the road, I didn’t need any of my tools. My trouble-free bike brought me peace of mind. I was free to concentrate on pedaling well. My control stops were focused on getting food and rest, rather than messing with my bike. It made for an uneventful PBP, and that was a good thing.

What tools do you bring on long rides?

59 Responses to Tool Kit for Paris-Brest-Paris

  1. John D October 7, 2019 at 4:29 am #

    Very nice write-up, Jan. Could you write a few words about packing your bike up for the flight? A bike with fenders, lights, racks, seems more of a challenge to pack up for a flight than a bare bike.

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 5:00 am #

      I packed it Rinko-style, so the fenders, rack and lights didn’t add any additional challenge. Here is a photo at the airport, just after my bike arrived. The biggest issue is protecting the frame so the other parts don’t cause damage. I’ll talk about that in another article in the future.

  2. Alexandet Krauss Germany October 7, 2019 at 4:39 am #

    I bring a minimalistic mini tool cluster, gorilla tape (we fixed broken frames with this and a stick already) and cables plus two tubes. In fact needed both as a) I find out that the innovative tubolino tubes (the orange ones) do not work well with Lezyne pumps, as these you have to screw on the valve and un-screwing it you un-screw also the valve. The second was a “don´t know why” flat before St Nicolas. Could not find the reason in 10 min trying. What I did find was that the bike mechanic shop in Viallaines as well as their colleagues in St. Nicolas did not sell useful tubes for my 28mm tires. They had either Michelin superlight 18-23mm or very heavy low quality and heavy trekking bike 40-55 mm. I bought one of the latter but luckily did not have to install it. So luck about two spare tires…

    • Jon Lumpkin October 7, 2019 at 7:35 am #

      Key with the Lezyne pumps and threaded valve stems is to bleed off the pressure before you unscrew. Their newer pump heads should have a little button on the chuck for this. On Schraeder valves this will actually lower pressure from the tire. However, on Presta it just removes the pressure from the hose (tire is not affected). You can then unscrew the chuck without removing the valve stem. If your Lezyne pump doesn’t have this you should be able to order a new chuck with this feature (I think they call it ABS for Air Bleed System).

    • Rick Thompson October 7, 2019 at 7:55 am #

      Hahn Rossman showed me something I did not know about the Lezyne Road Drive pumps: The hose has two ends, one labeled “presta” and one labeled “slip”. If you screw the “presta” end onto the pump, then the “slip” end will slip onto a presta valve and seal. This way it does not unscrew the removable valve cores.

      • Andrew Ess October 7, 2019 at 12:11 pm #

        I now apply a drop of Loctite to removable Presta valve cores. That eliminated my Lezyne pump unthreading the removable Presta valve core. I did not know about the Air Bleed System! Thanks for the tip.

  3. jon h October 7, 2019 at 5:54 am #

    Hi Jan, Great article, but could I ask a non tool related question? Where did you source the lightweight black plastic to make your fender mud flaps on your beautiful René Herse? Thanks!

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 5:58 am #

      The mudflaps are made from a plastic file folder. I made a pattern from thin cardboard and then translated it to the plastic. The mudflaps snap into the rolled edges of the fenders, so they are easy to remove and install. I’ll probably do an article about that in the future.

      • John goguen October 7, 2019 at 11:20 am #

        I use Black Gorilla tape folded over for mud flaps including one off the front of the rear fender at the seat stay bridge, keeps water off the BB. Lightweight, replaceable. In 100000+km of riding over 50 years I have never broken a chain.

      • Mark Petry October 7, 2019 at 2:17 pm #

        That is a pretty cool idea ! Very clever !

      • Mike M October 8, 2019 at 9:34 am #

        I also use Gorilla tape for my mudflaps. They’ve lasted far longer and are more effective than any other mudflaps that I’ve tried.

  4. Steve Palincsar October 7, 2019 at 6:10 am #

    Tools I always carry: multitool – a souvenir of the last Classic Rendezvous Weekend which for sentimental reasons replaced the allen wrench set I used to carry. Surprisingly, every now and then one of the other tools besides an allen wrench comes in handy. Last month, after over 1,000 miles my front derailleur begin overshifting to the high side, requiring the Phillips screwdriver to adjust the high limit screw.

    A Swiss Army knife – the Tinker or Hiker model – mostly for the tool they call “awl” that I call “glass picker outer” which has come in handy more often than I can remember for removing deeply embedded glass shards and small flints from tires; but, you never know when you’ll need a knife blade or a bottle cap remover.

    Tire levers. Although I can remove many, even most, tires without tools, even some of the newer Compass/Herse tubeless-ready tires are tight enough that levers are required. And some tire/rim combinations are so difficult, special tools like the Kool Stop Bead Jack or the VAR lever are required to get a tire back on the rim.

    And most important, folding reading glasses. Since the cataract surgery I can’t see embedded sharps that cause flat tires without high powered reading glasses. They pack up smaller than a Bic lighter and don’t weigh much, and the relief of actually being able to see what’s stuck in your tire (instead of a hopelessly out of focus blur) is well worth the weight.

  5. Andy Goodell October 7, 2019 at 6:51 am #

    I will always carry a multitool and tire levers. If not for myself, then for the people I ride with, or encounter on a ride. I haven’t needed to adjust much on my bike while on the road, but it does happen occasionally, so why risk it? I also commend Jan for always having the perfect tire and rim combinations to never need tire levers.

    Most recently I came upon a group of riders staring at a bike with a bent up chain waiting for a spouse to come pick them up with a car. I took my tiny chain tool and fixed it in a minute and they were back on the road. As Jan Heine once said about weight on the bike, “Few cyclists notice the difference in performance whether their bottles are full or half-empty.” So I’ll carry an extra few ounces of gear to ensure I can complete a ride, especially when such a renowned randonneur says it won’t affect my performance!

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 7:12 am #

      I also commend Jan for always having the perfect tire and rim combinations to never need tire levers.

      That is one of the advantage of tubeless-ready rims – even if you use tubes: Rim tolerances have improved tremendously. With the right technique (push the tire bead into the rim well all the way around, sometimes more than once), removing and installing tires no longer requires brute force and/or tire levers.

  6. Jon Lumpkin October 7, 2019 at 7:29 am #

    While I carried more for PBP I did follow a similar philosophy. All wear parts were replaced shortly before PBP to ensure they were in good condition and minimize chances of failure.

    Front handlebar bag had a minimalist toolkit that would quickly handle the most likely mishaps (category 3 above). This included a single tube (Schwalbe SV20), tire lever, Ritchey CPR-9 multi-tool (3-8 wrench and size 0 spoke key in a single ~25g tool), glueless patch kit with tire boot, 10ml chain lube. Pump was on the frame.

    In the front of my Apidura rear seat bag (next to seatpost to minimize effect on handling). I had a spare tire, two tubes, larger multi-tool with chainbreaker (Crank Brothers 17), two sets of quick links, couple of links of chain, FiberFix, one shift cable, spare derailleur hanger, couple of extra bolts. Spare clothing and food then finished out the bag.

    Ultimately I was lucky and had no mechanical issues during PBP. However, I did not want to risk a DNF (this was my first PBP) so I think there was value in carrying these things. My general philosophy is carry only tools that you know how to use, to cover all mishaps which could prevent continuing but can be easily field repaired, in the lightest way possible.

  7. Matt O'Toole October 7, 2019 at 7:29 am #

    I haven’t broken a chain in over 20 years. Before that they broke all the time, especially mountain biking. I would never leave home without one! Then in the transition from 7 to 9 speed, chains became much stronger, with peened rivets, and probably better materials. Even with maximum abuse, I haven’t broken one in ages, and no longer feel the need to carry a chain tool.

    One exception: recently I broke a quick link (KMC) that had been re-used too many times, and also had gotten bent and bent back while installing, which probably weakened it.

    A flat tire tip: bring a cotton ball to wipe around the inside of the tire. It will catch on any sharps that you might not be able to see. I’ve missed a few and re-flatted.

    • JonA October 10, 2019 at 5:22 pm #

      That cotton ball tip is great! Saves your fingertips too. Thanks

  8. Tom Anhalt October 7, 2019 at 7:35 am #

    Not to be picky, or anything…but isn’t the beeswax you used on “most screws” basically just a natural form of loctite? 😉 BTW, I’ve read that linseed oil operates similarly (some old school wheelbuilders use it on spoke nipples).

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 8:17 am #

      isn’t beeswax just a natural form of loctite?

      Yes, except it doesn’t harden as much. The screws remain easy to turn. I mostly use it to prevent galling, not to glue the screws in place. When you tighten a bolt, it stretches, and the tension keeps it tight.

      • Tom Anhalt October 7, 2019 at 8:46 am #

        As a Mechanical Engineer, yes, I can confirm that proper preload of fasteners goes a LONG way towards preventing loosening 😉

        That said, if the joint being clamped experiences any sort of transverse loading, this can cause the thread interfaces to experience “micro-slipping”, whereby the fastener preload actually tends to contribute to the loosening. Thread lockers which “fill the gaps” (natural, or manufactured) help to minimize that transverse motion of the threaded interface and reduce loosening.

        So…they actually help more than just using grease, or anti-seize compound.

      • Tom Anhalt October 7, 2019 at 8:57 am #

        …and the point isn’t to “glue them in place”, it’s to fill the gaps between the screw and its mating thread to prevent that transverse motion.

    • R October 7, 2019 at 6:06 pm #

      Lanolin (sheep’s will fat) is another alternative to bee’s was as a thread lubricant that can help with galvanic corrosion in dissimilar metals (particularly stainless steel in aluminum). I’ve also used a product called Tef-Gel in marine applications where corrosion is very likely.

  9. James Valiensi October 7, 2019 at 7:49 am #

    I think it is funny that you use beeswax and avoid Loctite. Loctite does everything beeswax does, only better. Give Loctite 222 a try for fenders and water bottle bolts. I like 248 because it is in stick form (like Chapstick) and I use it for small fasteners, 3mm and bigger.
    Cheers!

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 8:18 am #

      See the comment above. I could use grease, too… Nothing against Loctite, just it’s not needed, and I prefer natural materials where they perform as well or better than synthetic ones.

    • millpostmerino October 8, 2019 at 1:17 am #

      Loctite is a toxic and polluting chemical which is a skin and respiratory system irritant and beeswax is, well, beeswax.
      I think thats a pretty good reason to use beeswax.

  10. E.Mann October 7, 2019 at 7:54 am #

    When riding in dark I carry an ultralight headlamp to make any flat repairs easier. Otherwise pretty much same as your kit with a couple other size loose hex keys.

  11. Neil Macc October 7, 2019 at 7:54 am #

    Jan, in the most recent issue of Bicycle Quarterly there are pictures of you riding the PBP with something attached on the non-drive side of the seat tube. It is a black tube that looks to say “Morio.” This is not pictured in the writeup of your bike, nor is it listed here as a tool. Can you shed some light on what this is?

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 8:19 am #

      That was a tracker, so our photographer could find us.

  12. Dane Morrison October 7, 2019 at 8:05 am #

    OK – so tell us about the bike – Are you going to be offering Complete Frames/Bikes soon?

    What about the Rear Derailleur?

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 4:14 pm #

      We aren’t framebuilders – our job is to provide the parts that make it possible to build these great bikes: Kaisei tubesets, fork blades, braze-ons, and all our components. They all were created out of a need that wasn’t met by other makers. The rear derailleur is a prototype, but it’s not intended to be a one-off.

  13. Jacob Musha October 7, 2019 at 8:10 am #

    Your point about changing consumables is a good one. To which I would add: don’t change *anything* immediately before a big ride. If you make changes, even tires/chain/cables, take the bike for a 10-20 mile spin to ensure everything is working properly. If you’re going on a big camping trip, ride your bike with all your bags and gear loaded up. The last thing you want to is leave and immediately find out that your bag rattles like crazy, your derailer is out of adjustment, your chain skips on worn cogs, or any other number of nuisances. A saddle might be the most risky thing to change before a big ride. Having it look good “in the stand” is not good enough.

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 8:20 am #

      Absolutely. Even my ‘brand-new’ bike went for a 30-mile (50 km) test ride before going to France, plus another, shorter one after being reassembled in Paris.

  14. Brian Ogilvie October 7, 2019 at 8:24 am #

    I usually carry a multitool, a tiny Leatherman Squirt tool (mostly for the needlenose pliers), a couple spare tubes, a patch kit, a Crank Bros. speedier lever, a Kevlar tire boot, a compact pump, a spare master link for my chain and another for my wife’s chain (different sizes), a FiberFix replacement spoke, a spare brake cable, a spare derailleur cable, and a tiny tube of chain lube. I also carry an assortment of reusable zip ties, an adjustable strap, a few ziplock bags of various sizes, a pair of nitrile gloves, and a couple individually wrapped wet wipes, for cleaning up after a field repair.

    I keep my bike in good working order, but since I ride in remote areas without cell phone coverage, I want to be prepared to deal with the results of a crash and also to help out other cyclists who might need it. Ironically, the one time a riding companion broke a spoke, it was on a fancy modern low-spoke-count wheel that wasn’t compatible with the FiberFix.

    • Steve Palincsar October 7, 2019 at 9:16 am #

      About those FiberFix spokes: the only time I’ve ever seen one used, the friend who had the broken spoke had been carrying that FiberFix spoke around in her tool bag for 20 years, but never had it out of the package. When we opened the package, at first glance it was incomprehensible (it really is a weird looking thing) so we had to study the instructions. When we unfolded the instructions, the paper separated on every fold, leaving us with a jigsaw puzzle of instructions to assemble in the field before we could study it. We were ultimately successful, but it took 3 people and around a half hour to get it done. Had there been a wind, it would have been hopeless.

    • scott g. October 7, 2019 at 10:29 am #

      One of the group ride leaders carried a spare shift cable, spare tyre and a small hemostat. The hemostat was used for fishing broken shift cable out of STI shifters and plucking michelin wires out of tyres. Duct tape wrapped around a spare tyre lever,
      I did once tape a riders shoe to the pedal, a sampson cleat had broken

  15. mike w. October 7, 2019 at 8:36 am #

    i agree with most of your choices, except the dollar-bill tyre boot. We did manage to get a rider through the last 100+k of a brevet with just such a repair. In my kit are a set of tyre levers in a holder; the holder is wrapped with a length of gaffers tape (NOT duct tape!) which i have used to boot a tyre or help fellow riders improvise other roadside fixes. A small multi-tool, swiss army knife,two tubes & a patch kit round out the supply. i also favour a full-length framefit pump, having yet to find a mini pump that does the job. A full length pump is also useful when one has to deal with aggressive canines.

    • Ted Martin October 8, 2019 at 7:18 pm #

      I was wondering the same thing. Dollar bills work fine. Why say they don’t? Do you have any evidence?

      • Jan Heine October 10, 2019 at 5:35 pm #

        I am glad dollar bills have worked for you. I was trying to say that, compared to Clif Bar wrappers or even a piece of Tyvek from a USPS envelope, dollar bills have little strength, so the hole you can cover with them has to be small. Of course, if a dollar bill is all you have, it’s worth a try.

        When I tried it – albeit with a brand-new $5 bill – the tube immediately blew a hole into it. Then I tried a Clif Bar wrapper (with my last tube), and the ‘repair’ lasted for the 150 miles ride home.

  16. Bobby Robertson October 7, 2019 at 10:36 am #

    This makes great sense. As far as support goes, PBP has more in common with a 50 mile charity ride near a city center than a remote gravel adventure Off The Beaten Path. It’s likely that all of those participants around you likely have plenty of tools and tubes and would be more than willing to help out a fellow cyclist. I wonder if you could get away with no tools at all next time?
    Also, why not show your wonderful frame pump in the photo?

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 4:09 pm #

      I carry pretty much the same toolkit on our adventures in the Cascades – at least when I am on my own bikes. It’s not that I rely on help from others – there won’t be any ‘others’ on most of our routes. In the end, you cannot repair most failures in the field, whether it’s a broken fork or a broken pedal spindle, so we design and choose components to avoid failures as much as possible.

  17. Jim G October 7, 2019 at 10:51 am #

    I always bring a full tool kit, including spare cables, chain links, spare rack and cleat bolts, adjustable wrench, spoke tool, chain tool, tire levers, patch kit, Leatherman tool, etc. It weighs a lot, but I like to be prepared, especially when I ride offroad in the middle of nowhere. I use it to fix other’s bikes more often than my own. 🙂

  18. Nestor Czernysz October 7, 2019 at 12:30 pm #

    Prototype rear derailleur…well I’m interested, you have taken quite strategic pictures, at least from those that I’ve seen, not to show it. Soon maybe? Thanks!

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm #

      Check the feature on the bike (rather than the tools) in the new Bicycle Quarterly. There is a full-page photo of the derailleur.

  19. Tom Gandesbery October 7, 2019 at 12:34 pm #

    Law of Cycling Nature #1: If you don’t bring it; you will need it.

    When I’ve done multi day tours, I try to bring tools and parts that are unique to cycling, like a chain tool, or those flat screws that hold the cleat to the shoe, rather than something common like a screw driver or pliers since you can often borrow those from someone you meet along the way. Also a few hose clamps and zip ties can be very handy.

  20. Owen October 7, 2019 at 1:33 pm #

    I’ve always had bad luck with that type of glueless tube patches. My repair kit looks a lot like yours for all but the remotest rides, however I only use standard patch kits and make sure to check the sealant before a big ride. It might seem redundant, but I’ve learned the hard way one should look over the repair kit for any issues when checking the bike.

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 4:02 pm #

      With glueless patches, good preparation of the tube seems even more important than with normal patches. Unless standard patches, the glueless patches aren’t a permanent solution, but they do get you home – and they have a longer shelf life than the standard patches, where the glue dries out once you break the seal to use it.

  21. Rick Harker October 7, 2019 at 3:01 pm #

    I rode in a group where one rider carried nothing because everyone else had something to help him out if needed. Annoying.
    I bring the kitchen sink because Murphys law will show up if I take a chance.

    • Jan Heine October 7, 2019 at 4:11 pm #

      Relying on others is only OK if it’s part of a plan, for example, in a group to lighten the load. Otherwise, it’s just inconsiderate.

  22. Conrad October 7, 2019 at 4:34 pm #

    Park MT1 simple and lightweight multitool. Park TL1 tire levers if you have tubeless compatible rims that are therefore a bear to install or remove tubes from. I carry a spare Sram chain connector link but have never needed it. On a properly built wheel, the spokes should never fatigue and break. If they do, it was a suboptimal wheel build. The rim will wear out far before that should happen so I never carry a spoke wrench or spare spokes.

  23. Mike Morrison October 8, 2019 at 9:46 am #

    I bring a patch kit, two spare tubes, pump, multitool, chain tool, and a tire lever on my daily trips around town. If I head out on a longer ride then I pack a 3 or 4 tubes.

    A tire boot would’ve helped me in the 2019 Pan-Mass Challenge ride when the rear tire blew out about 1 mile from the first waterstop. I tried the dollar bill trick to try and limp the rest of the way to the waterstop (where I got a new tire) but it failed and I hitched a ride over there. Of course, in hindsight, I need to watch the tires carefully, particularly the rear one, for wear. The rear is covered by Honjo fenders + mudflaps, rack, and panniers, so I didn’t notice that it was worn paper thin until it was too late. Next year I’ll replace both tires about a month before the ride to avoid this problem.

    • Jan Heine October 8, 2019 at 1:13 pm #

      Many years ago, I cut a (reinforced, extra-tough) tire almost in half while riding on the shoulder of a highway. Never saw what I hit. The dollar bill trick failed after 500 meters. I tried a Clif Bar Wrapper, and it kept the tube inside for the 150 miles that separated me from home…

      • marmotte27 October 8, 2019 at 1:26 pm #

        “Never saw what I hit.”
        That’s the scary stuff that stays with you. I had a skiing accident like that in which I broke my wrist, and a fall from my bike on a descent where I don’t know what happened because I woke up in the ambulance…

        • Jan Heine October 10, 2019 at 7:47 am #

          In my case, it wasn’t scary. Just suddenly, all the air went out of my rear tire, and when I checked, there was a large cut half-way across the tire. It’s almost as if a razor blade was buried in the asphalt (unlikely!).

      • Mike Morrison October 10, 2019 at 9:41 am #

        I think I’ll add a clif bar wrapper to my bikey toolkit. Not that I intend to run my tires bald again, but this sort of blowout can occur even with a new tire, so I think it’s worth it.
        Come to think of it, I haven’t yet used the chain breaker, so I might take that out. The one time that I could have used it, was when I ran over a stick and it somehow twisted the chain and broke off the rear derailer. It was a Shimano RD, but OEM, so ~40 years old. I could’ve broken the chain and looped it around the cassette but it happened only 1/4 mile from, so I just walked it the rest of the way.

    • mtbvfr October 8, 2019 at 5:01 pm #

      “Descending from Puerto de Cuarto Pelado I suffered another rear tyre blowout due to the sidewall rubbing against the brake shoes when applying the brakes. I couldn’t determine if the bulge in the rim, which caused this to happen, was a consequence of the damaged and bulging Avocet Cross I had on for so long or perhaps the large deep pothole I hit on the morning of the day when the Avocet finally expired. A small hole was made in the tube, which I patched, and I booted the tyre wall with some cardboard from my tool kit. The tear wasn’t that great but I think the walls were much thinner than those of the Avocet Cross and so it didn’t take much pressure for the tube to be pinched. With a bit of luck I reckoned I could make it to Sevilla (I did – 750kms) where I hoped I could get the rim repaired and buy a new tyre. I inflated it to 75 P.S.I.(5 < MAX.) and it seemed to be coping well. I also disengaged the rear brake's quick release mechanism in case I forgot to not use the rear brake."

  24. Isaac October 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm #

    Thanks, Jan. For mixed terrain rides I’ve previously read that you ride gravel and paved roads at different pressures. Are you estimating these by feel or do you ever carry some sort of gauge?

    • Jan Heine October 10, 2019 at 7:45 am #

      I try to adjust the pressure as little as possible – usually, I can find a pressure that works well on gravel and on pavement. Usually, that is the pressure where the tire still – just – has enough stiffness to corner well even at the limit. At least with 42 mm tires, that tends to be the pressure where the tire doesn’t bottom out on gravel.

      With very wide tires (48 mm+), there is room to reduce the pressure further when riding on rough gravel. Then I go by feel – pushing down on saddle and handlebars and seeing how much the tires deflect. However, in those cases, a lightweight tire pressure gauge might be a worth while addition to the toolkit…

  25. hector October 10, 2019 at 3:07 pm #

    What is your opinion about Rohloff (or similar) hubs in long distance rides like PBP? Are they reliable enough? If so, would they fall into category 1, since they would avoid derailleur-related problems? Or would they be too risky due to the almost certain inability to repair them on the road if they break down?

    • Jan Heine October 10, 2019 at 5:31 pm #

      Most of the time, Rohloff hubs appear to be very reliable. I do know of one round-the-world tourist who got stranded when theirs broke – it’s not something most bike shops can easily repair.

      There are other reasons why I wouldn’t choose a Rohloff hub – all that weight in the rear wheel changes how the bike feels and performs. Also, for spirited riding, the long pause required to shift from Gear 8 to Gear 7 (when you change from the high gear range to the low one) is a real issue for me. All other gears shift quickly, but this shift requires a long pause. If you don’t keep track of which gear you are using, you end up in the largest gear (14) instead of 7! I also find it hard to pedal through the gritty feel in the lower 7 gears – I am too much accustomed to think something is wrong and want to stop pedaling immediately. However, there are others who are very happy with their Rohloff hubs. I think it mostly depends on how you ride – if you like the agile feel of a racing bike, the Rohloff is not for you, but if you prefer a more ‘deliberate’ riding style, it may work quite well. It’s certainly a high-quality product.