Friday, May 8, 2009

A bike tire beat me

Speaking of the new bike. I'm new to cycling so I'm learning a lot. One thing about me that can sometimes be a curse is that I over-research just about anything I'm going to do or purchase. When I was researching trainers I read about how they just eat tires. Because of this there are special tires created just for trainers. The one that gets the best reviews is the Continental Ultra Sport Hometrainer tire. I knew this would be a necessity given the amount of time I'm going to have to spend on the trainer before I'm allowed to ride outside. I did ride with my stock tire once while I waited for the Conti to arrive and I was shocked how much rubber came off the stock tire.

Of course I didn't want to keep changing tires when I rode the trainer, so I had to buy a cheap wheel and a cassette (that had to match the stock one). I was so excited when the tire arrived because I wanted to try it out. Did I mention cycling is expensive? Even with high-end running gear it wasn't nearly as expensive.

I haven't changed bike tires or fixed a flat since I was a kid. It's probably been over 25 years. Of course I watched some videos online to make sure knew how to put on the new tire correctly. Boy do they make it look easy! What a nightmare.

So I tried to do a test first without the tube. I should've realized right then and there that this was not going to end well. I got my trusty multi-tool which has two tire levers with it. I finally coaxed the tire on and was already frustrated.

I worked and worked and got the tire off. I was really worried about getting the tube and tire installed without creating a pinch-flat, which is caused by using a tire lever. There is an art to this.

Before trying to put the tube in I wanted to check the wheel for any abrasions, then I noticed something. All the spoke holes were uncovered and the edges were sharp. I thought to myself, "won't those cause a flat?" So I did what I do best - hit google. Sure enough, my new wheel doesn't have something called rim tape. What? Why in the heck did the wheel not come with this.

Of course I had never heard of rim tape so I surely didn't have any lying around. Surely I can use some other tape, like electrical tape. I got some and put a couple of layers on the wheel, being sure to stretch it a bit to fit the narrow wheel correctly without covering the bead.

I did some more research after getting the tape on and found out that electrical tape wouldn't work very well and I needed real rim tape, which is most common in the form of a cloth tape. So, my tire would have to wait. I went to the local shop and picked up some Velox tape, which I read repeatedly was the best.

I installed the rim tape and gave my first shot at installing the tube. I got the tire and tube on about 80% and then had to resort to using the levers. I knew to be careful not to pinch the tire. Sure enough I promptly pinched it and heard "hiss." Yep, flat #1.

I removed the tire and got to practice using the tire patch kit. Test number 2. I got the tire on and it seemed to have worked. Sweet! It appeared to be holding air, so I installed it on the bike and did a test ride. It worked great.

The next day I went out to do a ride. Yep. Flat. Dammit!

I did not want to be defeated by this thing, so I gave it another shot with a new tube.

I worked and worked to get this new one on right. In the process I broke one of my tire levers. Crap, this is not going to turn out well. You pretty much can't do this with just one, so I found some little flat tool in the garage that was shaped like the tire levers. Only problem was it was all metal, so it would do some damage to the wheel. So, I wrapped some tape around it and gave it a shot.

With the new tool and the one remaining unbroken tire lever I was eventually able to get the tire and tube on. I was as careful as I could be but the fit is so tight it's dang near impossible for me to do this right. I just hoped it had worked.

I aired up the tire and let it sit for a few hours. It seemed to be okay. Maybe it worked?

I got up the next morning. Yep. Flat. Son of a ...!

Well, I know when I'm beaten, so I gave up and took it to the local shop. Even the guy at the shop had a hard time with this tire. He said it was a really tight fit but he felt like he got it installed correctly. He also commented that I was smart for getting that tire for my trainer. Hey, the googling paid off :-)

Ever pessimistic, I didn't install the tire until it had made it through a night holding air. I woke up this morning and it still had full air in it. Yeah! Went for a 30 minute ride today and it worked great.

It's the little things in life that make you happy.

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