The Main Causes and Solutions of DNF

by Tonu Kallast
The Main Causes and Solutions of DNF

Chalking up a DNF - to poor planning, mechanical failure, preventable punctures or sheer bad luck - can be gutting. After investing time, money and emotional energy in the preparation and buildup to an event, a DNF is expensive in more ways than one. Here we round up some of the main causes of DNF and throw in some solutions that might help keep your pride, bike and bones intact on race day.  

Failing to Prepare

Possibly the only thing worse than a DNF is a DNS. Failing to prepare before your race might mean you never even make it to the starting line. Get some seat time in a day or two before racing to make sure everything feels right, and run through the rev range with the bike on the stand, while watching to make sure nothing has worked loose. Look over your chain for lube and wear, check your wheel bearings, replace any fluids if needed and don't forget to check tyre pressure immediately before racing. A DNF caused by running out of gas really does happen!  

Trying to Run Before You Can Walk

If you set your sights too low, you might sandbag your race but you won't learn anything. But stretching yourself too far is a surefire way to a DNF. There is no easy solution to this common cause of DNF. Don't push yourself unrealistically hard in new racing conditions, but if it happens that you DNF in a race that was just beyond you, then try not to beat yourself up. This at least is the most noble cause of DNF. By trying and failing, you can at least know how to prepare for next time.  

Underestimating The Conditions

Another main cause of DNF is riders underestimating the conditions. And this can catch out even the best. The International Six Day Enduro race in 2014 saw a massive 90 riders DNF in one day, caused by super fine silt in the transfer sections. Underestimating the conditions on the day - both the track and the weather - can put an end to even an experienced rider's race.  

Puncture Problems

A particularly frustrating reason for DNF is puncture. This is a preventable problem. While those using pneumatic or tubliss inner tubes can find themselves prone to race­-ending punctures, riders using a bib mousse are able to ride with one less worry. (Want to know how to take care of a bib mousse so you can perform better on race day?

Click here to join our mailing list to receive the official Rabaconda Guide to Caring for Your Bib Mousse.)  

Mechanical Failure

A broken engine or chain - among other mechanical issues - can bring your race to a premature end. Guard against this as much as possible by maintaining your bike properly. Tear down your bike to the frame at regular intervals to inspect and repair, and be sure to choose good quality products and parts for your bike when repairs are required. Most simple mechanical problems can be solved with small number of basic tools. Have them with you during longer races/rides. The fun doesn't have to end when a bolt comes loose or because you are missing pliers and a piece of duct tape.  

Rarely is an abrupt and premature ending something to celebrate, and a DNF race can feel crushing. Some things are beyond our control, and everyone has DNF at some point in their riding career. Completely avoiding a DNF might be possible only by avoiding racing altogether. But understanding the main causes of DNF and some potential solutions can help avoid seeing those letters by your name on the race card too often. Do you have a comic (or tragic) DNF story? Did we miss any other main causes of DNFs? Share your comments below.

by Tonu Kallast
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