Toolkit Essential: Zip Ties

On a trip to Big Bear last weekend, an hour into our ride, a friend of ours broke his rear derailleur shifter.  It was still functional, but broke away from the handlebar mount.   Usually, this would mean the end of the ride for most.  But we really wanted him to be able to enjoy the rest of the day riding with us.  So we improvised.

The Broken Shifter



First we figured out the range of motion of the shifter, and then used one zip tie to secure one part of the shifter to the bar.  It wasn’t going to work under the bar in its normal place under the bar for sure.



We realized that we needed a spacer so that the shifters would move freely.  So we found a few sticks nearby and selected the one with the best spacing.



Next, we secured the shifter in place with another zip tie and left the twist tie there for extra support.   Then we used a saw to cut off the extra bit of stick so our friend’s hand wouldn’t get cut.  And lastly, with everything securely in place and the stick trimmed, we cut the extra bits of zip ties off (not shown here).



Zip ties are among the many things you should always have in your bag.  I’ve fixed seats, front chain rings, rear chain stays, and now a shifter with them.  The best zip ties are a foot long, and you should carry plenty of them.

Read the related article, “Essential Tools and Parts for Mountain Biking” for a list of other things you should be carrying in your bag.