So there we were, happily trundling along on the second day of the TransWales stage event. One of the key considerations on a seven-day event is looking after your bike – there’s limited scope for mending or replacing things. Obviously we had the usual selection of trail spares – cables, inner tubes, that kind of thing. But strangely enough we weren’t carrying around a spare £165 SRAM X.0 rear mech…
We’d already passed a couple of riders who’d lost derailleurs on rocks or in undergrowth, and I was definitely wary of such things – we were a long way from anywhere, full suspension bikes don’t generally lend themselves to singlespeed bodges and there were another five days to do after this one.
But everything was working well, the trails didn’t seem to aggressive and a good time was being had by all. Until I started to have problems with an intermittently noisy transmission – it sounded like it wasn’t in gear properly, although it felt like it was shifting OK and it wasn’t slipping or jumping. A pause for closer inspection revealed that the chain had jumped off the bottom jockey wheel and was running alongside it instead of on it.
Now, that ought to be impossible – the mech cage completely encloses the jockey wheel and leaves the chain nowhere to go. So I was a bit bewildered – everything looked normal, how was it happening? And then the penny dropped – comparison with another mech revealed that the bottom bit of the X.0’s carbon fibre cage plate had neatly snapped off, leaving the bottom of the jockey exposed and letting the chain leap off over the bumps.
Riding on, it became increasingly annoying. The chain would bounce off the jockey and start rattling along, I’d try and bounce it back on by hopping the bike, which would sometimes work but more often not, so I’d have to stop and put it back. I tried staying in the big ring all the time to keep the chain tension up, but that just made my legs hurt. Something had to be done.
Resources were limited, but a rummage through the pack revealed a set of three plastic tyre levers, complete with conveniently hooked ends. A dry run with a bit of insulation tape looked promising, so some zipties were brought into play and presto – a high-tech moulded nylon derailleur cage.
It worked, too. It took a bit of fine-tuning of the position, but once it was sorted it lasted the rest of the week. I’ve done a few bodged repairs in my time, but I’m quite proud of this one…