Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bicycle Maintenance: Tires and Flat-changing (part 1)

This is Part 1 of the 3-part series on Bicycle Maintenance: Tires and Flat-changing.

When I first started cycling, my mechanic in New Jersey encouraged me to attend a flat-changing and bike maintenance clinic put on by the parks department. I remember following all the steps the instructor told me, but still being so confused, and feeling like I only got through the flat-changing part because someone more knowledgeable than me was there to help.

Since that clinic in Feb 2003, I've tried to learn as much as I could about bikes and bike maintenance. Being something of a compulsive teacher, I naturally have to pass on what I've learned, so I started teaching flat-changing clinics with women as the target audience.

Now I teach a flat-changing clinic at B+L Bike and Sports once a month. This past Sunday afternoon, I taught at the Solana Beach store where we had nine women attend. It was a great afternoon!

Jenny and Robbin watch as Monica pulls the tube out of the tire in a simulated flat.

It's important that everyone actually work on a bike and not just spectate. Doing it yourself boosts your confidence, and reinforces the notion that you can, in fact, do this yourself. We always work on rear wheels, with at least ten minutes spent removing and replacing the rear wheel, until everyone is comfortable doing so. As with most things, there are tricks to making removing/replacing a rear wheel easy. 

 Monica continues working on her tire as Bev (background) looks up from her work.

Depending on space, there will be 4-6 bikes to work on. Attendees will work singly, in pairs, or even in groups of three to get the job done. Taking turns, everyone gets a chance to practice removing and replacing the rear wheel, removing the tire, getting the tire back onto the rim, and inflating the tube with CO2.

Heather and Megan (left) and Patti and Jennifer (right) work in pairs  to install the tube.

Everyone gets a chance to practice using CO2, thanks tosupport by Genuine Innovations. I remember being somewhat skeptical myself (read: afraid of it) at first. But once I realized how easy it is to use, and how I could eliminate ten minutes or more of exhausting frame pump arm work on the side of the road by using a CO2 cartridge that costs as little as a vanilla latte, I was sold.

Jan and Bev line up the CO2 to inflate the tire. Special shout-out to Genuine Innovations for providing MicroFlate Nano heads and CO2 cartridges for the women to practice with.

In part 2 of the blog Bicycle Maintenance: Tires and Flat-changing, I'll answer 
frequently asked questions, including:
  • What do all those numbers on the tube box mean? 
  • How do I know I have the right size tube?
  • Do I need to take the whole tire off?
  • Why are some tires perfectly slick and others have ridges (tread)?
  • Is the rim and the wheel the same thing?
Please feel free to post your questions below! If I can't answer it, I'll find the answer from someone more knowledgeable than me.

Patti checks to make sure the MicroFlate head in lined up square to the rim for best air flow.

Thank yous are in order to all the attendees of my most recent clinic in Solana Beach: Monica and her friends Robbin and Jenny, Bev, Jan, Heather, Megan, Patti, and Jennifer. Thanks to the guys at B+L Bike and Sports Solana Beach: Tom, Scott, Gisan, and especially Kevin who stayed late for us. Thanks to Mark of B+L Bike and Sports who invited me into his shop and is hosting these events. And big thanks to Genuine Innovations, who supplies the MicroFlate Nano heads and the CO2 cartridges we use in class. These San Diego Flat-changing clinics exist because of your efforts.

Next clinic:
Sunday, 5/20/12, 3:45 PM

B+L Bike and Sports in San Diego (Rosecrans).


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember the first time I had a flat on my commuter bike - I tried to change it myself but couldn't and I was so worried I'd be late to work. Thankfully, I commute on a folding bike, so I just caught the bus with my bike and fixed the flat on my lunch break.