India is full of bikes, almost everywhere you go you will probably find people riding bikes. But these bikes are all single speed, cheap, old bikes usually made in China. So if you have a bike with gears it can be very hard to get any of the spare parts you are looking for, except in major cities where you might be able to find a good bike shop. It is best to be prepared and bring all your own parts with you.
I have a lot of spare parts with me, but still unexpected things will always happen and parts can get damaged or broken. Then you must use your ingenuity to solve the problem. This happened to me on my first day cycling in India….the quick release bolt holding on my rear wheel had snapped off at the end and the nut holding it in place was gone. Not cool!
I was not feeling to good this day, I had not much sleep for a while and I was sick with the flu so I really didn’t need any more problems and I sure didn’t feel like roaming around a city looking for bike shops, but I had no choice. I got a cab to take me to a bike shop, then another and another but nobody there had seen quick release hubs before and told me I wont find any in India. Dam! I picked my tired aching brain for a solution…. I went to find a welder and asked if he could somehow weld a threaded piece of metal to the end of the busted bolt….he said maybe if I find him the material… ok, good enough answer for me. I then went around the city to a few different dirty old hardware shops and eventually found a small bolt that looked like it was the right size and had the right thread, I brought it back to the welder dude who cut the top off it and welded it to the end of the quick release bolt and charged me 50 rupee. I went back to my bike and tried to fit the bolt through the hub but it was a bit too thick and need to be grinded down. Lucky enough there was group of about 15 Indian dude standing around watching (big surprise) and some of them were cool enough to help me out. I jumped on the back one one guys motor bike with the wheel and bolt in one hand and we went flying around the streets to a friend of his with a grinder and he fixed the bolt up for me free of charge. Alright….time for the next problem….I forgot to find a nut to replace the one that broke off the end and I had nothing to fasten the bolt on with, and by this time it was afternoon and hot as hell, I hadn’t eaten all day and I felt like shit so I wasn’t looking forward to going back through the city to just to find a nut. Fun times! But the bunch of dudes standing around watching me fix up the bikes where really cool and it didn’t take long before one of them came with some old nuts and washers which, lucky enough, fit fine and I had the wheel fastened on tight and we were rolling in the blazing Indian sun.
So if something on your bike breaks in India and you don’t have the spare parts to fix it, with all the welders and ingenious mechanics around, you will probably be lucky enough to find help making some home-made custom parts to get you bye until you find a good bike shop.