Three tubes in as many weeks!?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Donny Harder Jr, May 14, 2003.

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  1. I just wanted to make sure I am not doing anything out of the ordinary and pardon the newbie-ness of
    the question.

    I have been steady riding more miles in the last weeks now that the weather has broken (roughly 100
    miles a week), commuting to and from school and around Chicago running errands. I have gone through
    two on the rear wheel. I have been installing brand-new tubes each time. After the first flat, I
    also noticed that shifting is completely off, though I am not sure it's related.

    Tire pressure is usually 80 psi front and rear. I ride 99% of the time on the road or paved bike
    path. Could I be installing it incorrectly?

    Thanks, in advance, for any advice.
     
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  2. Jon Isaacs

    Jon Isaacs Guest

    >I have been steady riding more miles in the last weeks now that the weather has broken (roughly 100
    >miles a week), commuting to and from school and around Chicago running errands. I have gone through
    >two on the rear wheel. I have been installing brand-new tubes each time. After the first flat, I
    >also noticed that shifting is completely off, though I am not sure it's related.
    >
    >Tire pressure is usually 80 psi front and rear. I ride 99% of the time on the road or paved bike
    >path. Could I be installing it incorrectly?
    >
    >Thanks, in advance, for any advice.

    3 flats in 3 weeks is a bit abnormal but certainly possible. 3 flats in one ride, that happens.....

    It is not possible to tell if you are installing the tubes correctly without knowing how you
    are doing it.

    However the fact that you ask this question implies that you do not know the cause of each of those
    flats. After removing the tube, the next step in repairing a flat is to find the cause of the flat.
    This is a critical step because unless you know, it is likely that you will get another one.

    Flats really fall into three classes:

    1. Foreign object damage, glass, nails, staples, clipped cable ends carelessly left on the garage
    floor, thorns etc. These will invariably remain in the tire, often hidden and unless you find
    the problem, it will come back to get you.

    2. Pinch flats: also called snake bites, these are caused by hitting something in the road, a pot
    hole or curb, that flattens the tire against the rim, pinching the tube. Normally one can feel
    that solid hit and know that a flat is likely.

    Pinch flats are normally two small slices maybe a quarter of an inch long and separated by a bit,
    they look like a "snake bite."

    You did not indicate what size tires you are running, 80 psi might well be sufficient but if you are
    running 700Cx 23 or 25's then this is certainly not enough. Keeping your tires pumped and avoiding
    pot holes and other obstacles are the ways to avoid pinch flats.

    3. Assembly problems, wheel/tire problems. One can always pinch the tube under tire when installing
    the new tube. After installing the tire, it is best to pump the tire up slightly and then push
    the tire away from the rim and look carefully to see if the tube is caught under the bead of the
    tire. This will eventually cause a blowout.

    It is also particularly easy to pinch or cut the tube if one is using tire tools to reinstall the
    tire. the tube gets caught under the tool and cut. For that reason, many cyclists avoid using tire
    tools to reinstall a tire. With proper technique, making sure that the tire beads are in the center
    of the rim, all tires can be mounted without the use of tools. It may take some practice and some
    hand strength but it can be done.

    Another cause of a flat tire is rim tape that does not adequately cover the spoke hole in the rim.
    If the tape is too narrow or has shifted, this will cause a flat, it is normally indicated by the
    fact that the hole is on the inside of the tube rather than the outside but sometimes tubes are
    twisted so it is difficult to tell. A similar problem is a broke spoke which stabs the tube.

    A bad tire, one that has a cut in it, possibly from poorly adjusted brakes will allow the tube to
    escape the tire and blow out. This should be obvious from the pop when the tire blows out and the
    fact that if a new tube is installed, it will soon blowout.

    So, I think i have hit on the major causes of flats, I might have missed some.

    In order to avoid flats, the important things are to keep your tires inflated, keep a careful eye on
    the road, avoid debris and problems in the road and to make sure that when you do get a flat, you
    understand what caused it and take care of it prior to reinstalling the tire

    Flats are always an issue with cycling but the problems with flats can be help to a minimum if one
    is careful and attentive.

    jon isaacs
     
  3. Mike Kruger

    Mike Kruger Guest

    "Donny Harder Jr." <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I just wanted to make sure I am not doing anything out of the ordinary and pardon the newbie-ness
    > of the question.
    >
    > I have been steady riding more miles in the last weeks now that the weather has broken (roughly
    > 100 miles a week), commuting to and from school and around Chicago running errands. I have gone
    > through two on the rear wheel. I have been installing brand-new tubes each time. After the first
    > flat, I also noticed that shifting is completely off, though I am not sure it's related.
    >
    > Tire pressure is usually 80 psi front and rear. I ride 99% of the time on the road or paved bike
    > path. Could I be installing it incorrectly?

    In addition to Jon's excellent advice ...

    Anybody can have one flat.

    The fact that the shifting is "completely off" suggests that the rear wheel was not correctly
    aligned in the rear dropouts after you dealt with the first flat. If that's the case, it is possible
    that your brake pads could be rubbing the tire. This could occur only when you are braking, so you
    would not notice any noise when not braking. Putting the brake pressure partly on the tire instead
    of all on the rim can rapidly wear a hole in the tire. (Not that this has ever happened to me.) Once
    there's a hole in the side wall of the tire, a flat follows soon thereafter. Furthermore, replacing
    the tube will just lead to another flat.
     
  4. Thank you, everyone, for the overwhelming responses! I have been trying to read through them all --
    public and private -- and trying to sort out what might be the issue. I believe I discovered the
    culprit: a piece of glass, though small, that was sticking to the inside of the tire. I will be
    tearing down both the front and rear to make sure it doesn't happen again, as well as the tire
    liner. It seems a wise investment -- especially replacing all these tubes all the time.

    Thanks, again. I cannot say enough!
     
  5. Snortley

    Snortley Guest

    One thing that helps: stay out of the gutter, where most of the sharp things are. Ride as far out in
    traffic as you safely can. Most traffic lanes are around two cars wide and in the open you are
    actually more visible to motorists. Also, don't ride into puddles; both water and little pointy
    things collect in low spots.

    Use good tires. Lately I've used Scwalbe tires that have remarkably tough rubber tread and Kevlar
    belts, with the added nicety of reflective sidewall stripes (schwalbetires.com). Their "Super HP"
    rim tapes are great, too. Other brands also address puncture problems; shop around.

    I'ved had great success with Spin-Skins Kevlar tire liners, though others curse them. They really
    only work well if there's a good match between the width of the tire's footprint and the width of
    the liner. I use the MTB width in a 37 tire and have gone as far as 6,000 miles without a flat,
    riding on glass-strewn NYC streets and trails. They only last about that long and should really be
    changed at 5K. You need to keep tire pressure up or the liners crack from flexing and will slice the
    tube. Installation is a bitch, but if anyone's interested, here's what I've learned: The tire must
    be broken in so it's not twisted. It's also necessary to roll up the liner the other way from how
    it's packaged, so the fabric side is out, reversing it's curl so it seeks the center of the tire
    when installed. Be carefull the fabric doesn't fold over and follow the instructions to the letter
    with the talc, inflating slowly, pinching at low pressure, and so on. If they're not centered,
    you'll get a wobbly tire. Install with the tire completely off the rim, hanging from a stand of any
    sort. It's a pain getting them in, but if they're properly positioned, after some riding they
    conform to the tire's shape and stay in place for good. Well, that's probably enoug to scare you
    away from Kevlar liners, but if you're up to it you might give them a try. If you can get them to
    work, they're a miracle, well worth the trouble. For me, they've been far, far more effective than
    the "Mr. Tuffy" types made of pliable plastic.

    You got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.

    - Yogi Berra
     
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