Riding with a badly bent wheel

It eventually happens to the best of us.   A pot-hole or storm-drain you didn’t see, a really rough curb hop, or a crash can bend a wheel pretty quickly.   Not all hope is lost, however.   You can often limp home on a taco wheel.

If your bent wheel locks up from rubbing on the brakes, but isn’t too bent to rotate through the front fork or rear stays, try unhooking your brake from that wheel.   On cantilever brakes, you can usually just unhook the yoke cable from one of the two cantilever arms. On side-pull “V Brakes” you can unhook the metal “noodle” to open the brake arms.

This doesn’t work too well on caliper brakes like you see on many road and BMX bikes.   Try loosening the brake cable barrel adjuster if it’s been tightened.   If you have a quick release, you can try opening it up or if you have a tool set with you, simply unhook the brake cable.

This is a temporary fix used often by mountain bikers that bend a wheel on the trail.   Keep in mind that after performing this trick, you’re operating with limited braking ability just long enough to get you to your office, to the trailhead, to a bike shop or back home.   This way, you don’t get stuck carrying your disabled bike or leaving it on the side of the road until you can come back to pick it up.

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