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The Cycling Industry and COVID; The $#!+$#0w Continues… Stock Up On Your Essentials, My Friends

I took in my Trek to clean and service the headset at the shop. Chris King GripNut headsets are a little tricky. There’s a washer with a key that slots into the main nut that has to be lined up for the lock nut to thread on properly… if that key isn’t lined up, the headset lock nut threads won’t start. So, I went to learn how to put the thing back together the right way. The last time I tried, I took my bike to the shop in pieces.

At the heart of this is the King headset on my Trek is the last known part on any of our… let’s see, one, two… ten bikes I didn’t know how to pull apart to service – and I know how to service everything on my bikes, especially my Trek. The shop manager walked me through the process and let me put everything back together so I could get the feel for what was required to get the thing back together. The key is actually getting the GripNut system together first, then starting the assembly on the threaded stem, whilst keeping pressure on the system as it’s threaded on so the key stays locked in.

After I’d gotten everything back together and lined up perfectly, I found the system to be a little loose, so I had another mechanic check my work and he agreed, so I loosened the lock nut then gave the main nut a half-turn and locked it down. That did the trick. While I was tinkering, the mechanic (a friend of ours who rides with us on Tuesday night when he doesn’t feel like riding with the A guys) lightly suggested that I pick up any spare parts I might need to get me through the season as manufacturers are woefully behind. We’re talking tubes, tires, chains and cassettes. He said anything that isn’t manufactured in the states is going to be a problem for the rest of the year. I picked up two 10-sp chains and one 11-sp, along with two tires for my wife and one for my Venge (they only had one 26 mm Turbo Pro in stock). I also grabbed one of the last bottles of Squirt chain lube they had in stock. It was a hefty bill, but I’m set for the season.

I’m no prognosticator, but it might not be a bad idea to make sure you’re set in wearable parts for the season before March. It sounds like the same problem they had with bikes last year* is going to metastasize into replacement parts this year. According to my mechanic, the suppliers went through all of their shelf stock to get through last year. Now there’s no shelf stock left.

*If you weren’t aware, buying a new bike has been unbelievably difficult. A friend of mine ordered a brand new $5,000 Specialized Tarmac in October and he’s hoping to have it in April. If you get in the que now, it’s 2022 before you’ll see your new bike. We may all be in this together, but I’d prefer to be in this together with all of my replacement parts sitting in my bike bag…

A Revolutionary Way to Change a Bicycle Tire… Here’s a Hint: Leave the Tire Irons in Your Saddle Bag

Everyone I’ve ever seen change a tire has used a tire iron. Every. Single. Time.

Until last week.

I was dropping off a rear wheel at the shop to be relaced. Seconds before I left I realized I needed my rear tire to put on a spare wheel I had at home. No sense in riding a new tire this early in the season, right? Of course right.

I raised a finger in the air and exclaimed, “Wait, fine shopkeep! I need my tire!”

I strode confidently toward one of the shop benches for tire irons… I was in the back of the shop. Matt, the owner, stopped me in my tracks.

“Neigh, neigh, my young apprentice, we shan’t be needing the irons of the tire”, he said.

Aghast, I stumbled backward as if mortally wounded, clutching at the heart fluttering in my chest…

“Kind sir, that’s imposs…”

My word trailed off as, with a pinch, a twist and a healthy push, the tire and tube were stripped from my clincher wheel.  I $#!+ you not.

I looked at him as Luke first looked on Yoda after realizing who the little green fella was.

But unlike young Skywalker, I’d paid attention to those deft three moves and I shall now pass them on to you, my friends, because that’s how I roll.

May the Force be with us.

First, let the air out of the tube, all of it. Dead flat.

Next, opposite the valve stem, pinch the tire so you’ve got the tire and tube between your thumb and forefinger.

Next, bend/wiggle the tire back and forth until you can see a little daylight betwixt the tire bead and rim, like so:

Then, with one move, twist and push the tire away from you and the rim… the tire and tube will come off, straight away – and the twist is not left or right, it’s away from you, top to bottom (or tread to bead):

You want to look like some kind of pedaling Svengali? Next time you’ve got a flat, try that little move and watch the jaws go slack.


*** I should add, here, this won’t work with every tire and rim combination – some tires are simply too tight on the rim, though I did this with two different sets of wheels and it worked both times for me.