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Daily Archives: April 18, 2014

Lance: How To Fix A Flat… And I Actually Learned Something Worthwhile.

Once in a while I run out of good stuff to write about.  Hey, you put out a minimum of one post a day for more than a couple of years and it can happen (1,418 posts and counting).  When I run into this wall I like to check out the cycling magazine websites for a topic – and if I’m lucky, I find a good one.  Like today.

When I change a tire, I’ve always completely removed the tire from the rim to check for pebbles, glass or metal stuck in the tire.  It never dawned on my that I don’t actually have to – so leave it up to Lance to show how it’s done (and Bicycling Magazine to write bring it to light – thanks Bicycling Magazine):

Another trick I liked was blowing into the presta valve to get the initial bit of air in the tube rather than hooking it up to the pump and then rolling the tire onto the rim (it’s that last foot that’s always a bear).

Finally, he shows proper disdain toward the black plastic twist-on cap…  “Don’t put this back on”.  Now, for those who don’t know the difference, I’ll get a little deeper into tubes than is probably necessary but you never know, this could be new.  First, the old Schrader valve (the same valve on your car tire) is notorious for leaking air – especially when you’re talking about the high pressures involved in road cycling.  This is why they came up with the Presta valve.  It has that tiny little nut on the stem that locks the post and seals the valve so it won’t leak air.  Now, when that nut is screwed down, the valve post presents a sharp point on which the tube can rub during shipping and while it’s sitting in your saddle bag/back pocket/cage keg waiting for you to get a flat.  This is why they put that plastic cap on it – so it won’t wear a hole in the tube before it’s installed.

Once the tire is on the bike, the cap no longer serves a purpose. Therefore, if you put that cap back on, you are not seen as an anti-cool/anti-establishment hippie. To put this gently, it’s as bad as showing up to a club ride with your tighty-whities sticking out of your cycling shorts.

One other piece to the tube packing that, usually, isn’t necessary is the little steel nut on the valve stem:
Many people use that little nut to secure the valve to the rim.  In the vast majority of cases, if you have the right length of valve stem, you can throw that right in the recycling bin – it’s absolutely useless unless you want to wear the paint off of your rim.  On purpose.  There is one scenario in which it could be useful:  When your valve stem is too short for the rim.  See, when you put the new tube in the tire (if you didn’t blow air into it in the first place), if the stem is too short for your rim, you won’t be able to get the pump nozzle to grab the valve stem.  That little nut will hold the stem up so you can get the pump nozzle to grab the stem.  Next time just make sure to get a tube with the proper length valve stem.