On-Playa bike repair
For several years now Burning Man has placed two fully-supported bicycle theme camps in Black Rock City: one camp on the 3:00 Plaza and one camp on the 9:00 Plaza. Several other bike shops generally sprout up around the Playa. All of these are generally open during the day, but you're pretty much on your own at night.
With that in mind, and even if you pick up a rental bike, it is wise to bring some basic tools and become familiar with some common problems that can arise in one of the most punishing environments your bicycle will ever endure. Somebody you know is going to have a problem with their bike. How cool would it be if you could be their savior? (Answer: very cool.)
Basic Playa Bicycle Repair Kit (recommended)
- Spare tubes are a must. Your chances of getting a flat are less than 50%, but your chances of getting a flat fixed at Burning Man without hours of hassle are higher than 90%. And they’re super cheap. Check your tires for tube size. Also check your tubes to see if you have Schrader valves (standard, like on your car) or Presta valves (skinny and complicated).
- Wrenches that fit your axle nuts (note: front axle nuts may be different size than rear axle nuts or you may have quick release hubs which do not require tools to remove or install). Also, a good 8" adjustable wrench can go a long way, but it's not going to do squat for you if you need a hex wrench (check your bike).
- Other "tire" tools. The basic idea here is know how to remove your wheel. The most troublesome is usually the rear wheel. There are racks and baskets and brakes and chains and gears that can get in the way. Sometimes a screwdriver is also needed. Sometimes more.
- Tire levers (these are very helpful in getting the rubber off of your rim)
- Air pump (or CO2 cartridges). Check to make sure your pump works with the valves on your tubes. Bring the appropriate pump or adaptor.
- Screw driver (flat or Phillips head (check your bike))
- Pliers (recommend 6" needle nose). Small and versatile.
- Zip ties (small and large). Often succeeds where duct tape fails.
Repairing a Flat on the Playa
So your bike has a flat tire. You're out on the Playa, hundreds of yards from anyone that can help. Don't worry, you can handle this. Step One: print out this Maintenance guide so that you will have step by step instructions for changing a flat tire on the Playa without getting your computer or smart phone full of Playa dust.
Check out our Classic Tube Change article
Cleaning Off the Playa Dust
If you do take your bike home from Burning Man, clean it ASAP (or have it cleaned). The sooner the better. The Playa dust is alkaline (the opposite of acidic, but just as destructive). It speeds up the oxidation process (rust), dries out plastics and rubber, and generally makes things yucky. It eats everything that makes a bike a bike. Cleaning your bike well after a good Burn is essential to being able to use your bike in the future.
Hammer And Cyclery theme camp and Re-Cycle, Inc share no official affiliations with Burning Man or Black Rock City, LLC.
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HAMMER AND CYCLERY
Playa address announced in July
Open Daily 10am-6pm
Saturday Aug 26 - Monday Sept 4