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Trailside Repairs and Tools

Be prepared to get out of any situation you may come across in the field

By: theshrew9, Outdoor Life

There is a well-known rule of the universe called “Murphy’s Law.” Perhaps you’re familiar with it. The gist of the law is whatever can go wrong will go wrong. When you swing your leg over the seat of your quad, the last thing you want to do is prove Murphy right.

The middle of the woods, or dunes, or mountains is not an ideal place to do routine maintenance on your machine. The phrase “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true. If you take some time to check your quad’s fasteners and major mechanical components before you hit the dusty trail, chances are you’ll have a trouble-free ride. If you don’t, well, you’re going to have to use some common sense and whatever you have on hand to get your quad back home. Ultimately, no matter how well you prepare for a long journey into the wilderness, Murphy and his irritating law will catch up to you at some point. What do you do then? Think outside the box to get back home.

Your quad comes equipped with a tool kit (which is usually tucked under the seat). It has the basic tools you’ll need to adjust and tweak your machine. But if an accident occurs when you’re on the trail, the tool kit has only limited helping potential. You need to take the initiative and bring extra tools on your journey.

Tire Repair Kit: We can’t stress how invaluable these little kits are. Off-road riding presents a lot of sharp, pointy rocks, and quad tires are not impenetrable. Holes will happen, and if you don’t have a flat repair method, you’re going to have a thumpy and bumpy ride back home.

Zip Ties: You never know when you’re going to need to cinch something down to your quad. Whether the machine’s bodywork is breaking loose or cables are dangling, these little plastic strips can do the job.

Duct Tape: What doesn’t duct tape fix? It is one of this earth’s greatest inventions and can get you and your quad out of a bad situation. When riding in heavy mud, a lot of riders duct tape the front end of their quads to keep the radiator from packing up with slop. This prevents the engine from overheating. If you’re heading out on a long journey and don’t feel like packing a big roll of tape, use this tip from Mike Penland : “When we’re in Baja, I take duct tape and roll it on the bumper so I don’t have to have a roll of tape with me.” A quad with a built-in duct tape dispenser is the ultimate cheap mod!

Quick Links: If you don’t have a winch on your quad, or even if you do, quick links and rope can pull you out of a sticky situation. They can be used to pull, drag, or tow your quad, or your riding buddy’s, back to civilization. If you pack some quick links, bring a sturdy rope, too-they work great together.

Pro Advice:
Take it from a couple of guys who know their way around an ATV. These are the essential tools they don’t leave home without:

“Bring tools that fit important bolts on your bike. Some guys who go on long trips fasten a tube on the front of their quad (either a tool pouch or PVC tube) that can hold a spare chain, tools, spark plugs, and a tire repair kit. Always bring a tire repair kit.”-Dave Gibson, East Coast ATV

“Carry vice grips, a roll of electrical tape or duct tape, zip ties, safety wire, and a screwdriver with a multi-tip. The basic tool kit will help you fix stuff, but won’t help you with supplies. There are a lot of things that happen that are easy to fix, but you have to have the right stuff with you.” -Blake Stranz, Quad Off-Road Magazine Contributor

“I safetywire a lot of nuts and bolts onto my bike, so that they don’t come loose. I take extra wire with me, just in case I need it. I take a quarter-inch nylon rope. You can take 50 feet of it and wad it up in your hand-it doesn’t take up much space. Bring extra fuses. If you’re bike’s got a belt, take an extra one. Take a masterlink and a link or two for chain-drive bikes.” -Mike Penland, multi-time GNCC and Baja Utility race champion

True Quad Confession #1:
“If you ever knock a tire off the rim, you can fill it with grass and weeds so that it’s not flat. We’ve done that during the Baja race in the past. It’s better than riding on a flat tire.” -Mike Penland, multi-time GNCC and Baja Utility race champion

True Quad Confession #2:
“I had tie-rod ends break out on the trail, and I jammed a piece of wood in the spindle to keep that wheel straight. So, only one wheel would turn, but I got back home with it… You’re not going to put my name on this, are you?” -Dave Gibson, Owner East Coast ATV

True Quad Confession #3:
“I was riding with a bunch of guys, and one of them crashed. Somehow, one of the screws of his machine’s bodywork punctured the side of the radiator. The bike was leaking fluid everywhere. Some of us in the group went to a hardware store for a package of JB Weld, which is an epoxy that holds metal. Then we took a penny, sanded it flat on a rock, and then used the JB Weld to stick it over the hole in the radiator. We got the machine home with it like that.” -Blake Stranz, Quad Off-Road Magazine contributor

True Quad Confession #4:
“After dumping a quad 250 feet down a ravine, I had to leave it there and return with help to retrieve it. My rescue kit included an ATV equipped with a winch, two 150-foot spools of 1,000-pound rope, multiple 3,000-pound quick links, wheel chocks, tie-downs, an axe, a handsaw, a Saws-All kit, and a friend willing to put in some hard work. It took a few exhausting hours, but we got finally managed to get it out of the ravine. My words of advice are to always plan out recovery missions ahead of time. Think about what you’ll need, how you’ll do it, and what could go wrong. Then pack accordingly. And don’t forget plenty of water.” -Keith Mulligan, Quad Off-Road Magazine Photo Editor

True Quad Confession #5:
“I’ve had clutch cables break. I had a pair of vice grips with me, so I clamped them down on the motor where the clutch arm is so I could get out of the woods. I put my leg up against it, and treated it kind of like a clutch pedal in a car.” -Dave Gibson, Owner East Coast ATV

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