Over the course of my time in the saddles of various colors of dirt bikes, I have come across numerous situations where a little ingenuity and preparation was the difference between a horrible disaster and a sweet adventure. Let’s start with letting the cat out of the bag. There are a million and one ways to fix various issues. However, we can all agree that when the inevitable happens (its dirt biking and you will break things), having a clear and logical fix might be the thing that saves your day and that of your riding partners.
Each bike has its weak spots. One that I find is more universal is the clutch cover. I have managed to see holes in every one of my Hondas, Huskies, and KTM’s. Early on in my trail riding days, I discovered this stuff called JB weld (a cold weld epoxy compound).
I first used it to connect the foot pegs back to the four stripped out bolt holes in the bottom of the case of my XR 80. I don’t have any pictures as it was a long time ago. However, that stuff was the solution for many a problem over the years. When I started riding in Peru, JB Weld wasn’t available. However, there was another thing that looked really similar. Soldi-Mix. I am guessing it’s even a little better as they can use more toxic and dangerous ingredients in some other parts of the world.
This story starts with a couple of bikes, mostly stock, and two anxious fellas in search of a couple of amazing routes. Weston and I had been spending our time ripping all over the areas around the city of Cusco as our goal was to begin to map out trails in the area in order to understand the system for my MotoMission clients. These were the early days. Before I knew any better.
There was an exquisite trail that I had paid good money to hike. It was a five day excursion complete with mules, backpacks, guides, and some good buddies that were not dirt bikers. However, the first time I hiked it, I realized just how fun it would be on a dirt bike and had to come back someday. My someday had come.
Weston and I planned to go from Cusco to Santa Teresa over the Salkantay pass. Google Salkantay and you will find millions of pictures and stories from tourist that have done the route on foot.
We headed out early in the AM, worked our way through the valley, then down to the base of the route at a little town called Mollepata. We stayed in a nappy little hostel, ate what we could find, and rested for the day to come.
This hole was so big we patched it with a coin...
Morning arrived and off we went. The next place to stay was in the jungle on the other side of the pass. We committed to reaching the top and continuing down to Santa Teresa and eventually looping around back to Cusco.
Over the course of the morning, we fought a tough battle with wet rock, mud, swollen creeks, ice and snow, and tons of altitude. Little by little we made it to the top. We celebrated and quickly began the descent toward the jungle.
Within a couple hundreds of yards from the top, Weston found himself dropping off a rocky ledge and punching his rear brake lever deep into the clutch cover. All the oil was gone in a matter of seconds.
As we sat there wondering what to do, I certainly felt a sense of panic as I had not prepared well for the trip. I had done this before, although it was in the US and not such a ways from civilization. First, we had a hole in the side of the motor. Second, we had no oil to refill the tranny. Third, which we found out later, we had no tow strap.
What did we do? We learned a handful of valuable lessons.
First, the bike was damaged at 15000ft elevation. Our destination was down in the jungle at 8,000ft. It was mostly downhill. However, there were a number of climbs that proved to be nearly impossible without the motor pushing the bike forward.
We chose not to use the motor and coast as much as possible, but when we reached the first section of trail that went uphill, we quickly found ourselves in a bind. I managed to find an old alpaca herder that had a twisted piece of twine that I bought for a couple of good days wages. It was all worth it. Let that be the first one…BRING A TOW STRAP OR SMALL SECTION OF ROPE.
We made it to the town of Santa Teresa well into the night, and found a place to stay. However, we still had a hole in the clutch cover. This is where I discovered the value of a cold weld compound like JB Weld or SoldiMix…Second lesson learned…ALWAYS CARRY COLD WELD.
For the equivalent of three bucks, I found a pack with a two-tube epoxy mix. You squeeze together equal amounts, stir it up really well, then apply the toothpaste textured goop over the hole in the clutch cover. Over the course of about 20 minutes, it dried and was ready for use. A scrounge around town to find some motorcycle worthy oil, and Weston and I were back in business.
A couple of lessons I learned on this one. Always carry a new pack of Soldimix (cold weld compound). Always carry a small section of rope or tow strap. Had we had those items, we would have fixed the problem on site, rode down the hill and finished our ride as planned. We may have needed the tow strap later for something else, but with the Soldimix, we could have taken a small bit of the oil from the other bike and made it work. A pack of Soldimix takes up only a tiny little space in a fanny pack. It can be duct taped to the frame somewhere if you don’t want to carry it. The weight/volume vs the benefits is a no brainer. Sure, you can’t take everything, but when it comes to an efficient use of space, bring a cold weld kit. If you forget it, then make sure you have your tow strap.
The final thing to never leave at home is your brain. Sometimes people are gifted with being able to make solutions. If that is not you, then read about it. Thumpertalk is full of amazing little trail tricks and creative ways to fix your bike without certain tools. You can fill your mental toolbox up with a couple of good forum threads, then take it with you. If you are good at figuring things out, all the better, but DON’T FORGET YOUR BRAIN.