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Why you need duct tape for emergency bike repairs

Alia Parker's picture
Duct tape: a bikepacker's best friend. Cycle Traveller

It's true; you can fix almost anything with duct tape and when it comes to being stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a broken bicycle, duct tape could become your new best friend.

Bang for your buck, duct tape is just about the best value 'gear' you can take with your while touring. Retailing from between $3 to $6, this pressure-sensitive polyethylene coated tape has a remarkable ability to hold together anything that has come apart.

This is why I won't go bicycle touring without a bit of duct tape. I've used it to hold a tire together after the bead ripped out, hold a loose screw in place on a rear rack loaded with panniers (after 600km, it's still holding firm!), cover a tear in the saddle, tape up a hole in a rain jacket and hold a torn stuff sack together. But there are countless ways this little roll of tape can get you out of a sticky situation.

Flat tire? No worries! If you're out of spare tubes or patches, you can use a bit of duct tape to repair the tube. Split tire? Get your MacGyver on, take the tire off and tape the split together from the inside. Worn or damaged rim tape? Cut or tear some duct tape to the right width and line your rim with it. Broken drink bottle holder? Duct tape it back on. Loose anything? Duct tape! You get the picture.

And that's just bike stuff. You can also use it to repair other gear that you've taken on your bicycle tour, like ripped tents, sleeping bags or air mattresses.

It may even be useful in the event of an injury, acting as a makeshift bandage. For wounds, place part of a ripped shirt or other material over the cut and then tape the material on with duct tape. It can also be used as a sling to hold an injured arm in place.

Tip: A roll of duct tape can often be pretty bulky. You can reduce the amount of space your duct tape will take up rolling it into your own roll, just like you would roll up a bandage. This gets it off the big cardboard roll and into a nice small bundle. You'll find the tape will peel away from itself quite easily.

As brilliant as duct tape is, don't rely on at as your sole resource for repairs; it's really for emergency situations only. You should always carry the appropriate tools and parts you need to fix your bike. For instance, if you break a chain, duct tape's not going to be much help. Instead, you'll need a chain breaker and either some spare links or a replacement chain, otherwise, you'll have a long walk ahead of you.

Have you had to make a repair with duct tape? Share it with us below.

Comments's picture

Zip ties also make a must addition to ones touring bike kit. Trust me, they held up my rear rack until I could get the eyelet welded back onto the frame :-)

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