Hack Attack: Emergency Roadside Repairs – Tinker Talk 5

We have all heard or made cracks about tape, bailing wire and zip tie repairs. Most repair hacks are not intended to be permanent but they can get you by in a pinch. Being able to perform these types of repairs can make or break your ride. Do yourself a favor and equip your mental tool box with some useful repair hacks. Here are a few to start, add to or refresh your arsenal.

When installing a new kickstand spring you do not need a spring puller. You typically don’t need any tools at all. This job can often be completed with pocket change. Pennies and dimes are easiest to use since they are thin. Arch the spring and wedge coins in between the coils. This will lengthen the spring, reduce tension and greatly simplify installation. With the kickstand retracted, secure one end of the spring to the anchor in the frame. Pull the spring until the other end reaches the anchor on the kickstand. After securing the spring you will need to remove the coins. You can hulk them out by hand, pull them out with pliers or pry them out with a knife.

Broken wires may pop up from time to time but not frequently enough to justify packing a soldering kit every time you ride. If you encounter a broken wire, a single zip tie and some electrical tape can get you up and running again. Pull some slack and strip off about 1/2” of the insulation on each side. Twist each end tightly then twist the halves together. Secure the center of the adjoined wire halves with a zip tie. Cut the excess zip tie and wrap the joint with electrical tape. The wire should now hold well enough to get you to your destination.

Not many bikes on the road today utilize a points style ignition system but this classic hack could not be excluded. As the contact points wear, the gap between them widens. When this gap becomes excessive, the engine will run poorly should it run at all. The gap will need to be reset to overcome these symptoms. In the absence of a feeler gauge or dwell meter, a small book of matches can be used to get the job done. The lid of the book can be used as a gauge to set the points. You can also clean the points with the striker. In most cases this crude tune up will get you back on the road.

Familiarize yourself with the utilization of bailing wire and cable stops. Bailing wire can be used to secure a broken shift linkage or suspend an exhaust pipe when a hanger breaks. Cable stops are worth their weight in gold in the event you snap a cable. They are inexpensive, fit in your coin pocket and are readily available at most hardware or auto parts stores. Their use is very straightforward. Simply slip the broken cable through the port in the stop and tighten down the screw.

These hacks may seem crazy but they are tried and true. I have performed all of these myself in parking lots, race track pit areas and in the Nevada desert. Anything goes when you are flying blind on the side of the highway. Don’t be afraid to hack away and make things happen.

Tinker, Shred, Destroy, Repeat

-Justin James (Follow more of my Tinker shenanigans on Instagram @justinjamesmoto)

Coins are wedged between the coils to lengthen the spring.
The kickstand spring is anchored. Once the coins are removed the installation is complete.

The insulation is stripped back and the wire halves are tightly twisted.
The wire halves are twisted together then secured in the center of the joint with a zip tie. All that is left to do is cut off the excess zip tie and wrap the joint in electrical tape.
The cable is inserted into the stop. The screw is tightened. When performing this hack the broken cable will likely be frayed. If possible, trim off the frayed portion.
Here is a rough example of using a matchbook lid to set points. This unit is on the bench since I did not have a bike with a points ignition to show an actual demonstration. Obviously the actual process will be performed on the bike.
Consider taking these hack supplies along on a ride in addition to your specific tool/supply kit. Most of this can fit in an old chewing tobacco can. (A) Zip Ties (B) Cable Stops (C) 16-20 Gauge Bailing Wire (D) Matchbook (E) Pocket Change (F) Electrical Tape