Frozen water bottles, dollar bills, 3D printed solutions and full-sized Allen keys — our staff's favorite bike 'hacks'

From fashioning a tire boot from a wrapper or freezing a bottle pre-ride, file these tricks for later

CW Asks
(Image credit: Getty Images)

"CW asks" is a feature series where our seasoned staff answers a range of questions. The series isn't just about delivering knowledge; it's a chance for us to share a bit of our personality and our passion with you. As we dive into some questions, please feel free to send in some questions of your own to

Previous Questions:

Question 17: Do you have any bike hacks you have used or continue to use?

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan, Digital Editor

Image shows allen keys for maintaining a bike on a budget.Michelle Arthurs Brennan Cycling Weekly Digital Editor

(Image credit: Future)

I'm not sure this is a 'hack' per se, but I actually like to carry full sized Allen keys. I remember sending photographic evidence as a sort of low effort meme to James Huang when Cycling Tips (RIP) was still running its Nerd Alert podcast, he or one of the other presenters had commented that no one was going to be crazy enough to do this. They were wrong, and I am the proof. 

I'm now CW's Digital Editor, so I'm rarely at the coal face testing bikes. But, when I was, I was always amazed by the industry's ability to keep churning out bikes with stupidly hard to reach, ridiculously tiny, often seemingly made-of-cheese bolts. Couple this with being 1) somewhat of a micro-adjuster 2) a human not blessed with the highest levels of patience, and you've got capacity for problems. 

So, I'd always check which sizes were required across the whole bike, and ride around with high quality Wera tools fit for purpose to save the horror of rounding off a bolt in anger at the roadside. That said, Wolftooth does offer some nice slimline multitools with swappable Hex bits, which make for a more compact jersey pocket experience, if you're similarly inclined but more weight conscious.  

Anne-Marije Rook, North American Editor

Picture of a crumpled dollar billAnne-Marije Rook

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I've used a nutrition bar wrapper and a dollar bill in lieu of a tire boot before and it actually works! If you find yourself on the side of the road with a slash in your tire that's too big for sealant to do its job or you risk pinch flatting a tube, simply insert the dollar bill or bar wrapper between the damaged tire section and an inner tube. It'll get you home but once at home, I would recommend repairing the tire. 

Nowadays, I tend to carry Park Tool's emergency tire boot in my flat kit but if not, I can rest assured knowing that I usually have bar with me and its wrapper can be put to work. 

Sam Gupta, Video Manager

Tacx GoPro Bike MountSam Gupta

(Image credit: Future)

I can’t say any true "hacks" spring to mind, but I am currently enjoying a love affair with 3D printed components from small group of independent people working hard to fix the problems the industry has created.

I’ve recently purchased a saddle rail to GoPro mount and a GoPro to Exposure TraceR mount. It resulted in the cleanest mounting of a rear light I’ve ever had and looks absolutely spot on. Sure, it’s a bit pricey but, since it saves my carbon seatpost from getting mashed up from a light mount, in my eyes it’s completely worth the money. Let’s call it a bougie hack. And just because a products doesn't exists (yet), 3D printers are offering a way for you to create them yourself. One of custom products, printed in minutes!

Adam Becket, Senior News and Features Writer

Image shows Castelli's Toe Thingy 2 on a rider's cycling shoes.adam becket

'I tried the turbo trainer lifestyle last year but it just wasn’t for me'

(Image credit: John Stevenson)

I appreciate this isn’t a hack, and I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but I absolutely love wearing toe covers. I’m never really riding in cold enough weather to necessitate full shoe covers, so a little bit of neoprene covering the important bits works wonders for me. I have been known to wrap my feet in tin foil too, should the mercury dip too low. Other than that, I’m a pretty straightforward cyclist. Just climb on and go. 

Tom Thewlis - News and Features Writer

Image shows a rider drinking from a water bottle.Tom Thewlis

(Image credit: Future)

The first one is something which I do on every ride during the summer although it isn’t particularly revolutionary: I put one of my bottles in the freezer the night before I go out. I then put that in my second bottle cage and it soon defrosts once I’m moving and means I’ve got a nice, ice cold drink for the second half of the ride. 

A second 'hack' would probably be making sure I take out a very small amount of sun cream to put on midride during hotter weather too. I burn quite a bit and the initial cream soon washes off when you start to sweat. It's worth it to avoid the weird looking tan lines later!

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