Certain repairs probably shouldn’t be attempted while you’re on the road.
In some cases, you probably won’t have the tools with you. In other cases, the chance of a malfunction happening makes continued riding a dangerous proposition.
Here are some situations when you should put away your emergency tool kit and start walking home:
✓ When your brake cables have broken: If you break a brake cable, you’ll be limited to half your brakes. Not only will you have reduced braking power, but applying only the front or rear brakes could cause you to have an accident. Squeeze too hard on only the front brakes and you wind up being thrown head forward over your handlebars. Do the same with the rear brakes, and you could skid out. When your front or rear brakes are out, your best bet is to walk your bike if possible or ride it home very slowly.
✓ When your crank is loose or has fallen off: If the crank has loosened or fallen off, it may be best to call it a day. The crank must be tightened with a significant amount of torque and this tightening is best done with the proper tools (including a torque wrench) and with the bike supported by a bike stand if possible.
✓ When your pedals are loose: Pedals can be secured with the proper wrench, but if you don’t have one available, you should walk your bike home. Riding with a loose pedal will damage the crank and could lead to an accident if the threads give out.
✓ When you have a problem with the bottom bracket: Working on the bottom bracket requires specialized tools that most riders wouldn’t consider taking along on a ride. If the bottom bracket comes loose or falls apart, don’t continue to ride.
✓ When your frame is damaged: A damaged frame is usually the result of an accident. If you’ve had an accident, you should immediately inspect the bike, paying particular attention to the frame. Besides looking at the frame from different directions to determine if it’s bent, you should inspect the frame close up, looking for cracks, especially in any welded sections, as well as cracks, bubbles, or ripples in the paint. (See the following section for more on what to do after an accident.). A damaged or bent frame undermines the integrity of the bike and increases the chance of an accident.