Mechanical Monday: What To Do When You Crash

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Joey hit the ground hard, but he's OK! Craig Fowler

Joey hit the ground hard, but he's OK! Now what should he check on his bike? © Craig Fowler

Whether you’re a noob to cyclocross or a seasoned pro, you will crash in a cyclocross race at some point or another. Even here at Cyclocross Magazine, we’ve had our share of crashes; see “Is Joey OK?” for an illustration. But before you remount onto a seat that’s no longer in place, there are a couple of things you should take a second to check before getting back into the race. A few seconds of looking over your bike can save precious minutes in the grand scheme of the race, since if you remount only to realize you’ve dropped a chain or your brake is rubbing, you’ll just have to stop again. Our intrepid mechanic Jason Gardner gave us some tips for what to look at immediately post-crash.

by Jason Gardner

The sort of crash you have will often determine how you look at the situation.  For instance, if you simply slide out on the non-drive side of your bike, all you’ll really need to check is the left shifter and take a quick look that your tires haven’t rolled or peeled.

But if you slide out on the drive side, first check the drive train to ensure that your chain hasn’t fallen off of the chainring or cassette. Then, make sure the rear derailleur is not bent. If the hanger has become bent, you won’t want to use your lower gears; you will run the risk of sending the lower part of the derailleur cage into your spokes. After the drive train check, spin the wheels and check the tires. Then, give your cockpit a quick look to see if the stem has been tweaked and shifters are in place.

What if you do an endo, like Joey? First, make sure your head is still there. If that checks out, then give a good look at the front wheel, handlebars, and fork.

But let’s face it, nobody has time to think about how they crashed.  So, for simplicity’s sake I suggest the following:

1. Drive train: It doesn’t matter if everything else checks out and you get back on only to see your chain throw. A stuck or thrown chain can be one of the most difficult problems to fix on course. Make sure the chain is on and give it a quick spin while raising the rear wheel.

2.  Wheels: Make sure they spin freely and that your tires are good.

3.  Cockpit: Check for shifter/brake lever position and handlebar condition. If you’re using a carbon bar, first of all, stop that (!), but second, give it a good side to side twist to ensure that it isn’t noticeably damaged.

Of course, the easiest thing to do is not crash in the first place, right? Or attempt to only crash near the pit.



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After dusting myself off, I always either reach for whatever downed competitor is nearby giving him the "psyche!" pull away as he goes to grab my arm. I then follow this with a swift kick to their solar plexus to be sure the will not be catching back up with you anytime soon. Alternatively, bashing said competitor with your rear wheel with a sweeping motion as you simultaneously remount your steed is also a good choice. This is a more advanced move and probably should be kept in the hands of solid Cat 3's and up.


Just say no to carbon bars. Good stuff.


Great advice.  I'm already looking forward to my next major crash.

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