How to Fix Common Mechanical Issues on Gravel Rides in Vietnam
Gravel cycling in Vietnam challenges both the rider and their equipment. The diverse terrains—from lush paddies and forested trails to rugged mountain passes—can stress-test your bike, often leading to mechanical issues. Being prepared and knowing how to address common problems can make the difference between a minor setback and a trip-ending situation. Here’s a guide to fixing common mechanical issues on gravel rides in Vietnam

1. Flat Tires

Flat tires are perhaps the most common issue gravel cyclists face, exacerbated by the sharp rocks and rough terrains often encountered in Vietnam.


  • Pre-ride: Use tubeless tires filled with a quality sealant to reduce the risk of flats.

  • On the trail: If you get a flat, first try adding more sealant and air; the sealant may plug small punctures. If that fails, or if the tire is severely damaged, you'll need to replace the tube or apply a tire boot for larger cuts. Always carry a spare tube, a patch kit, and a pump or CO2 inflator.

2. Broken Chains

The varied terrain and sudden changes in elevation can put considerable strain on your bike’s chain, potentially causing it to break.


  • Carry a chain tool, spare quick links, and know how to use them.

  • If your chain breaks, remove the damaged link and use the quick link to reconnect the chain. Be mindful that your chain will be shorter, so avoid cross-gearing to prevent further issues.

3. Gear Shifting Problems

Mud, dirt, and continuous vibration can affect your bike's drivetrain, leading to gear shifting problems.


  • Regular maintenance before your ride decreases the chances of this issue.

  • On the trail, check if the derailleur hanger is bent and straighten it as much as possible. Clean the derailleur and apply lubricant if you have it. Adjust the limit screws and cable tension if necessary, but these are temporary fixes until a proper repair can be made.

4. Brake Issues

Continuous descents and gritty conditions might lead to brake wear or reduced efficiency.


  • For hydraulic brakes, pumping the lever may temporarily firm up the feel if the brakes feel spongy. If your brakes are mechanical, adjust the cable tension to improve brake engagement.

  • Ensure you carry spare brake pads and know how to replace them, as gravel riding can accelerate wear.

5. Loose Components

The vibration and impact from riding gravel can loosen bolts and components on your bike, such as the handlebars, seat post, or pedals.


  • Conduct a pre-ride check to ensure all bolts are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.

  • Carry a multi-tool with various hex keys and a Torx bit (commonly T25) to tighten any loose components you might encounter on your ride.

6. Wheel Trueing

Hitting a pothole or obstacle can lead to bent wheels, affecting your ride's safety and comfort.


  • While a perfect true requires a truing stand, minor adjustments can be made trailside using your brake pads as a guide. Carefully bend the rim back into shape by applying gentle pressure at the point where the wheel rubs against the pad.

Preparation and Prevention

  • Pre-Ride Checklist: Before setting off, conduct a thorough bike check, focusing on tire pressure, brake function, and drivetrain condition.

  • Skills Practice: Familiarize yourself with fixing these common issues at home. Practice makes perfect, and being comfortable with these repairs can save time and stress during your trip.

  • Carry Essentials: Always have a well-stocked repair kit that includes at least spare tubes, a multi-tool, a chain tool, quick links, spare brake pads, a pump, and tire levers.

Gravel riding in Vietnam is an adventure that can test your limits and mechanical skills. Being prepared for common issues ensures that mechanical setbacks are just a brief pause in your journey, not the end of it.

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