Friday, June 11, 2010

Don't buy Tiresome Hype

Few who study Artaud realize that when he advised, "Don't tire yourself more than need be," he was referring to heavy bicycle tires. Don't let the puncture-proof hype trick you into loading down your wheels with overweight tires. Even the heaviest tires get flats. If not in the tread, then the rim or spokes, valve hole or sidewall.

On really hot days, I have had some small-wheel ( They dissipate heat poorly ) valves melt out of the tube! Usually, this happened when parked in the sun after miles of riding on hot pavement. What tire stops that? Embarrassing.

In my youth, we used to ride delicate sew-up racing tires on gravel covered mountain roads with no unusual amount of flats.

Few people know how to efficiently fix flats anymore. In the old glory days of profitable bike shops with large staffs we trained our customers to fix flats and do lots of routine maintenance when they bought a bike; for free. I had to lay those two guys off years ago, and now when we do maintenance classes I'm so busy I hire a paid "repair consultant" that people pay to see in action while I go back to work.

Bike clubs used to share repair information but now the clubs are generally small and clic-ey, not clubby like the old days.

A bike with lightweight wheels is a true joy to ride. Tires can be both durable and light. My favorite touring bike can use three different tires that, together, are lighter than one of the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires--not that the Pluses don't have their place in remote areas and long distances on gravel roads or no roads. One thing to think about: Why spend the money on a lightweight bike if you are going to put several pounds of tires on it?

"I may be a living legend, but that sure don't help when I've got to change a
flat tire."

— Roy Orbison

Anyway folks, Get a rim, an old tire ( practice can be hard on tires ), some tire tools and a patch kit, then practice until you have no skin on your hands, wash up, repeat and develop confidence. When you ride with me, I fix your flats because I hate standing in the cold, or hot, or rain or snow while I watch people struggle. You only get one lesson from me, so observe well. Next time on the road, I wait up the road in a climate-controlled building for you to arrive with your new found self-sufficiency.

One tool tip: Some tire & rim combos are really tight; especially when the tire is new. A "Var Tire Tool" wishbone install jack is a small, easy-to-carry tire installer that allows you to get the tire bead on that last inch. If you can't find them easily, I sell and ship them all over the USA.

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