Now we all like a good hack. No, not a lung shaking early morning cough, but a bit of simple and inexpensive genius that makes life that little bit better. Our first list of Trail riding hacks went down so well, that we asked our tame trail monkey Julian to come up with ten more nuggets from his worryingly vast and largely unused bank of biking trivia. So here we go – ten more hacks for your viewing pleasure ….
ISO to HYPO
OK so we all know that taking a drink with you in a drinks reservoir or Camelbak is a smart move, allowing regular hydration throughout the day rather than just when you stop and get a bottle out of your rucksack. But what drink do you take?
Water will be fine but ideally you want something that will give you a bit of a calorie hit, replace a few of the salts you are losing and top up the water that you are losing through sweat. Sports drinks like Lucozade sport are good, but as they are isotonic they are the same concentration as your internal fluids – to replace water you ideally need a hypo-tonic drink that gets the water back in quickly.
So a simple hack is just to pour in the isotonic drink, fill the bottle with water and add that and you’ve got an instant hypo tonic drink with all the calories and salts suitably diluted and good to go.
And what’s more it’s only half as expensive – hack heaven.
Now once we’ve finished riding for the day, what we should do is wash the bike, wash the kit and of course. empty out the reservoir on our Camelbak, wash and rinse it thoroughly and then leave it to dry fully on the washing line, before storing it dry in a safe place.
The reality looks more like throwing it all in the garage and rushing into the house as you are late for Sunday dinner again. And of course the next time you go to use the Camelbak again, the content has gone mouldy, grown a beard and now smells like a damp flannel. Not good
But when you’ve finally cleaned the thing out, the fausty smell and hence taste is likely to remain. A dilute bleach solution can work but isn’t the best and can replace the smell and taste with one equally unpalatable, so it’s best to use something like Milton’s Sterilising fluid to really cleanse out any nasty bugs, but after that there’s often still a distinctly medical tang.
The solution comes from your gran’s denture pot. For years pensioners have been storing their false teeth in a pot at night, and freshening them up as they sleep by tossing in a Steradent tablet. And it works for drinks bladders simply fill it up with water, leaving the top open, chuck in two tabs and leave. An hour or so later it’s clean and minty fresh – perfect.
So we’ve just covered this in our blog on replacing wheel bearings, but as it’s a true hack it deserves a place in the list. The problem with fitting all bearings is that to work correctly they need to be a tight fit, so if you try to put them on at the same temperature as the things your trying to fit them to, it will be really tricky and you’ll need to hit them far harder than is safe.
The way round this is using simple physics, like the stuff you learned at school at age thirteen. When things get hot, they get bigger and when they get cold they get smaller – you’ve been swimming in the sea and noticed this right?
So for wheel bearing fitting, putting the bearings into the family freezer for an hour while at the same time heating up the hub will make fitting simple. But this approach will not work for head bearings – no, no, no. For this one you need to put the steering stem in the freezer and heat up the bearing as it’s a fit to the inner surface rather the outer. Do it the other way round and you’ll get into all kinds of difficult.
Now we’ve just mentioned head bearings, and although the top race is simple to fit, correctly seating the bottom race onto the stem can be hard even if you’ve done the whole heat / chill thing. The problem is the fact that the edge you are trying to tap down is quite so small and it’s really easy to get knock it down unevenly. So how do you get round this?
The answer, and a beautifully simple little hack, is to make your very own bearing drift from the old bearing you’ve just removed. Simply get an angle grinder and cut a half centimetre wide slot into the bearing case, discarding the rollers and cage and using a fine file and emery paper to remove any rough edges.
You can then place this bearing case upside down onto the cooled head stem and with two identically sized edges in contact, tapping down the bearing on the larger bottom edge of your new circular drift is super easy. And once the new bearing is in place, the cut in the drift will mean it will not grab the stem too tightly and thus will be easy to tap off and remove.
Job done and hacktastic!
So this is a product based hack but a hack all the same. Punctures are a constant pain when riding, and changing tubes at the side of a muddy trail is not fun. Of course you could head for mousses or tubeless systems to avoid the problem but both are expensive compared to conventional tubes. But what if there were a cheap and cheerful solution – a fit and go option for under £30
And here it is – we found Bike Seal at a trade show and have been using it in our Yamaha Tenere ever since, of every possible surface from brashwood to rocks with no sign of any punctures, Of course the nature of the product means that if we have had a puncture, it’s been plugged by the kevlar fibres straight away.
Either way, we think this is a smart and neat solution for buttons – hack heaven then.
Stopping water, mud and dust getting into your boots while you are riding is a constant battle. It’s not so bad in the winter when you might be wearing enduro trousers that go over your boots, but for the summer when you’ve broken out the MX jeans then your boots form handy funnels for everything going.
Now the foolish rider goes for wrapping gaffer tape round numerous times, thereby messing up both the boots and the jeans at the same time and leaving sticky stuff on both.
The hack solution is neoprene boot gaiters – a simple hoop of that cunning wet suit material that forms a great seal between boot and trousers. The firm we got ours from some fifteen years ago still seems to have them in stock, and also makes some dandy fork gaiters for your scoot as well.
Perfect and recommended too.
OK so we’ve stopped water and mud getting into our boots, so how do you go about stopping it getting at your bearings, seals, bushes and the like. The answer is going to the marine market and buying waterproof grease rather than just conventional grease.
Of course no grease is really water soluble, but thinner greases can emulsify if they are constantly exposed to water. Not so the marine versions which are the Marines of the grease world – the ideal product to protect those vital components and keep them suitably slippery.
Now this one is a clothing hack, but it’s definitely not one that’s going to get you a photo in the Style section of the Sunday supplements. We’ve found the merits of using flight socks under our waterproof socks for days in the saddle and out on the trails.
Like compression base layers work for your body, flight socks seem to work for your feet and lower legs, keeping everything supported and in place. OK so it seems unlikely that DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis – which the socks are designed to prevent if you are sat for hours on a plane – is ever a problem on a bike, but regardless of this, flight socks seem to work really well as a base layer. And they make getting your waterproof socks on and off easier.
Odd, but all the same a great hack.
UP YOUR PIPE
Number nine on our list is the perfect hack – no cost genius to make things easier.
You’re taking out the back wheel and doing that odd little one handed lift as you raise the wheel remove the spindle at the same time. But where do you put the spindle? It’s got a thin layer of grease that makes everything it touches sticky, and if you put it on the garage floor it will get covered in all kinds of grit and crap. Not good.
So what’s the answer? Well it’s staring you in the face in the form of your end can. Simple pop the spindle into the end can, where it’s held out of the way and easily accessible when you remount the wheel.
As a double bonus if you have a two-stroke, the thread on the spindle will probably get a small amount of unburnt oil on as you remove it, thereby making the nut go on easily too.
Hack life right there.
The final hack in our list and again it’s beautifully simple. After adjusting your chain it’s often difficult to ensure the wheel is full forward against the adjusters when you tighten up the spindle nut. You can knock it with a hide mallet, push it with your knee, but both are not ideal.
What you need is some way of pulling the wheel forward, and what better way of doing that by using the chain itself. Simply get the spanner you’ve been using to turn the adjusters, put it under the chain and turn it back so it’s trapped between the chain and the rear sprocket. This will tighten the chain considerably, pulling the wheel fully forward so that you can properly tighten the spindle nut.
Once done, turn the wheel forward, remove the spanner and your chain is back to how you adjusted it and you’re good to go.