With enough willpower, you can always convince yourself to keep pedaling when your body screams out in pain and begs to stop. But what do you do if it’s your bike that starts protesting?
No matter how diligent you are about maintenance, mechanicals happen. Punctures are easy to repair mid-ride, but eventually, you’re bound to encounter problems that are more complicated. Sometimes, the only solution is to simply keep riding.
That's why this week’s question is: What is the worst mechanical you’ve ever ignored?
Leave us a comment below with your best answer. Polls close Thursday at noon, and after that, a winner will be randomly chosen from the commenters. This week’s grand prize is once again a limited-edition TPC x Lead Out handlebar bag!
UPDATE: This week's winner, randomly selected from the commenters is Nick, who had a surprising mechanical with potentially catastrophic consequences while riding America's highest paved road. Fortunately, he's still here to tell the story:
"Before riding to the top of Mt Evans (14,265ft) I unknowingly over-tightened my rear thru axle which caused a small bit noise. Annoying, but it should survive for the day. As I got closer to the summit it got louder and rougher. Then when I started to descend it made even more horrible noises. Rough and scratchy sounding and like a bearing was bouncing around. Killed the vibes and now I'm worried that my hub is going to explode and I'm going to fly off the mountain. It progressively got worse as I got closer to Idaho Springs and by the time I rolled into town there was a ton of noticeable drag. It felt like pedaling while braking.
Moral of the story is do not over-tighten your thru axle, you may crush your bearings."
See below in the comments for a photo of his mangled hub bearing.
Allow me to regale you with the story of my worst mechanical. Early last summer, I was experimenting with shocks on my REEB Sqweeb V3 enduro bike and swapping in a different one before each ride. Well, as you can probably guess from the photo above, I failed to adequately tighten one of the trunnion mount bolts. This bolt worked itself loose during my next ride and destroyed the bearings in my rocker link on its way out.
Being a perceptive genius, I failed to notice the bolt was gone until I was at the top of a climb. After much cursing and conferring with my riding buddies, I decided to just keep riding and hope for the best. Shockingly (haha), my bike seemed to work fine for the next 10 miles with only one bolt supporting the shock. By the end, I’d almost forgotten that my bike was “broken.” I think this is a testament to the impressive rigidity of the REEB’s rocker link.
Shock bolts, who needs 'em anyway?
This story has a happy ending too. I walked about a mile back up the trail and found the missing bolt lying in the dirt (it’s titanium, I couldn’t leave without looking!). REEB is a local builder so I immediately took the bike to their shop. They extracted the mangled bearings and pressed in new ones. I reinstalled the bolt, this time with plenty of Loctite and the proper torque.
The shock and rocker link are pretty scratched up from rubbing against each other, but they still work and I’ve been riding this set-up ever since. Whenever people make fun of my bike’s weight, I bring up this story. I ignored the issue and trusted that my bike could survive the abuse because it’s an absolute tank.
Okay, now it's your turn! Hop into the comments below and tell us about the worst mechanical you’ve ever ignored. Better still, if you have photos to share, please add them — we just upgraded to a fancy Disqus comment system that'll let you do that. I can’t wait to hear about some of the crazy things cyclists ride through!