The deep, fine, poofy dust that was prevalent on the playa in 2017 wrecked havoc on the crank bearings of most beach cruisers and cheaper mountain bikes. The more expensive bikes with sealed bottom bracket bearings weren’t as affected by this phenomenon.
At the Bike Gods bike repair we replaced crank bearings at an unprecedented rate from previous years. We even brought in extra bearings from Reno twice until the bike shop there was sold out of bearings. So if you rode a bike at Burning Man in 2017 with a “one piece crank” you’ll probably need to service or replace the bearings. This video shows you how.
The bearings and grease are available at your bike shop. Please support your Local Bike Shop.
If you bend your wheel at Burning Man all is not lost. Check out this playa bike hack that should get you through the week.
A flat tire is the most common bike problem at Burning Man so these tools are the bare minimum.
Here’s a minimal list of tools to perform routine bicycle maintenance in a burning man camp.
- Bicycle tire floor pump
- Spanner wrenches – metric
- Allen wrenches – metric
- Pedal wrench
- Water pump pliers
- Needle nose pliers
- Crescent wrench
- Pedal wrench
- Side cutters
- Tire levers – 3 or more plastic levers
- Tubes: usually 26″ x 1.75-2.5 covers a range of cruiser and mtb tires, schrader valve
- Lube – wax based or dry lube
- Shop rags for chain
- Spare bike locks
- Camp bike rack .. see this article from Burning Man Bike Rack Construction Manual
- Hand cleaner
In bigger camps someone will usually lose their bike. Consider bringing a spare camp bike.
Allen wrenches, side cutter, open end/box end wrench set, pedal wrench
The best bike tires for Burning Man?
Type of Tire
The thing that you don’t want to happen, when you jump on your bike at the burn, is to auger into the sand and end up on your head!
So it is the width of your tire that is important on the playa and a 2″ width or greater works the best. A standard beach cruiser tire is 26″ diameter x 2.125″ wide and is perfect. The low profile cruiser tread pattern, that is pictured, is efficient too.
ALWAYS LOCK YOUR BIKE
Even though it is Burning Man …. bicycles have a way of disappearing on the playa if they are not locked. Even in your camp you’ll need to lock your bike. When you use the porta potties lock your bike. Anytime you stop – lock your bike.
The problem is not that there are malicious bike thieves afoot it is just inconsiderate people looking for a quick ride across the playa. So the lock that you bring to the burn doesn’t need to be able to withstand cutting or breaking – a pretty basic lock will work just fine at BRC. A combination lock is best so that you don’t have to keep track of keys. The “word” locks are cool because they’re easy to remember.
These Word Locks curl up for easy carrying.
FOR AN EFFICIENT AND QUIET RIDE – LUBRICATE YOUR BIKE CHAIN
The Black Rock Desert playa is a harsh environment for bike chains. At Burning Man you will need to lubricate your chain for your bicycle to function properly.
For riding in the desert we recommend using a “wax based lube” or “dry lube” that you can purchase from a bike shop. This type of lube needs to be applied more frequently than oil based lubes. Depending on how much you ride the chain should be lubricated every day or two. Luckily it is easy and quick to do.
A couple of examples are:
Clean Ride sets up as a dry wax film. There is no oily film to attract abrasive contaminants, so your chain and gears will perform better and last 2 to 3 times longer.
In the spirit of Radical Self Reliance here’s how to fix a flat bike tire.
If you find yourself in need of a spare tube, some tools or a pump then you can head over to the Bike Gods DIY Repair and still fix it yourself fast! 24/7 – it’s lighted at night and under shade for the day.
Or another option is that you can always come by our BGs camp during bike mechanic hours (M-F 12-4) and we’ll be happy to help you fix it 🙂