Off-kilter brake pads rubbing on the rim of your wheel can really slow you down. Joe Christensen of the Great Lakes Touring Co., who often does quick on-the-trail fixes on the company's rental bikes, says newer bikes have brakes that can be unhinged. "That's something you can do without a tool," he says. Most brakes are made of two arms that are latched together by a coupler at the top of the arms. By unhinging the coupler, you can get to your destination on one brake, provided that you ride carefully.
Prepare, patch, pump
Repairs on the road are easiest when you have the tools you need. "I find that the most important tool is a sturdy set of metal core tire levers to repair a tire or tube," says Shawn Mariani, who cycles in monthly Critical Mass rides downtown. The flat utensil with a tapered end makes it easier to remove a snugly fit tire from a rim. Also bring along a spare tube, bicycle pump and patch kit.
It's often joked that duct tape is so strong that it holds the universe together. Tim Wilhelm can be seen riding his bike or rickshaw anywhere between Cleveland and Akron, and you can bet he's got a roll of the ubiquitous adhesive on him. "I've used it to tape up a tube and put it back inside the rim," he says. "It got me back to the car." He has also carried zip ties ever since he lost a screw on his rear rack.