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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-31-09, 07:35 AM   #1
tarwheel 
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Doh! ... Ever have to walk it in?

I got my first flat while bike commuting yesterday morning in more than 2 years, 8,000 miles. I fixed the flat fairly quick and made it to work just 15 minutes later than usual. Unfortunately, I had another flat while riding home and didn't have a second spare tube or a pump so I could fix it. It was a slow leak, so I thought I could make it home using my second CO2 cartridge, but it quickly went flat again. So I ended up walking 3.5 miles home in my cycling shoes. My wife and daughter are at the beach, so I couldn't call them to rescue me. It was a long walk but I learned my lesson. I put my frame pump back on my bike and swapped out the tires. Some times you gotta learn things the hard way, over and over and over again ...

I dug several pieces of glass out of the tire tread when I fixed the flat in the morning, so I thought I had resolved the problem. Apparently not. Guess that tire is heading for the scrap heap. Sometimes they get small stuff imbedded in the tread that is impossible to find but keeps causing flats. As expensive as tubes are getting, it's just not worth the trouble since I probably had 2,000 miles on the tire anyway.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:00 AM   #2
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I carry a spare tube and some glueless patches in case I get a 2nd leak. I only usually flat once a year or so and it's only been due to glass once so I don't tend to flat twice (I think glass is mainly the culprit when you flat twice, because it's so easy to miss a piece).
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Old 07-31-09, 08:13 AM   #3
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tarwheel: what kind of tires do you have?
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Old 07-31-09, 08:50 AM   #4
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My tires were Michelin Pro2Race 25s. Very good tires, fast rolling and long wearing. Unfortunately they don't make them any more. The Pro3Races are much narrower and reportedly do not wear as well or hold up to abuse.

I had patches in my seat bag, but it was a slow leak initially and they are hard to find without pressurizing the tube. I only had one more CO2 left and you can't just use a little bit of it to find a leak, so I took my chances and refilled the tire, thinking I would have enough pressure to make it home. However, the leak got bigger after I filled the tire.

Anyway, I've learned my lesson and put my frame pump back on my bike.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:58 AM   #5
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I blew up a helicomatic hub about 3 miles from home, early one morning. The walk of shame was cold and dark.

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Old 07-31-09, 09:01 AM   #6
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I had to walk ~2 miles home once when my hub flange failed.... Haven't had to walk due to flats yet tho.

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Old 07-31-09, 09:49 AM   #7
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Dumped my chain off the smallest chainwheel downshifting at a light, didn't notice, mashed at the start, and twisted the chain but good--I had to break the chain apart to get it untwisted.

Of course, the chain has no master link, and I don't pack a chain tool, so I had to walk the last half mile to work.
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Old 07-31-09, 10:20 AM   #8
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Build the stereotypical "commuter bike" and then not carry a pump, or a patch?



You're out of the club.


---

I just noticed from your pics that you had Pro Race tires on it. That seems to be inviting trouble as well.
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Old 07-31-09, 10:46 AM   #9
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Busted. .. Actually, I have had excellent wear and flat resistance with ProRace tires, but mine are the "2s" and I've heard the "3s" aren't so good. The roads are pretty good on my route, although there has been a rash of broken glass lately, which probably caused my flat.
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Old 07-31-09, 03:56 PM   #10
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My wife and daughter are at the beach, so I couldn't call them to rescue me. It was a long walk but I learned my lesson.
Two words: Murphy's Law.

You know it's gonna happen at the most inopportune time. My luck too
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Old 07-31-09, 04:04 PM   #11
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Shoulder of a Freeway...

Was riding on the shoulder of a freeway (yeah that's legal in Oregon), when I took a nail in the tire... no rolling hiss, bam and tire's flat, no patch was going to save this tube. Had to cross a railroad line, and hump it ~two miles to get to the nearest bus line then ride home for a fresh tube/tire.

This was two months out of the brace from the car crash that broke my leg in two places...

Hell of a place to flat... My knee hurt for a week after that.
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Old 07-31-09, 04:04 PM   #12
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A friend of mine, who made his first commute with me a couple months ago, had his entire rear tire turn to shreds about one mile from work on said first commute. I had asked him about the state of his tires knowing bike had been stored for a long time. It was needless to say impossible to fix with a patch or two. Was kicking myself for not personally looking at them since we had several long and fast downhills to ride. Since then, he's been riding a couple days a week so good on him!
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Old 07-31-09, 04:23 PM   #13
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I appreciate you starting this thread. I'm starting a collection of these threads so I have things to link to for those "CO2 vs pump" discussions.

Situations like this are why you should always carry a backup pump, even if it's a tiny one that only inflates the tire to 40 psi, or one of those pump/CO2 inflator combos.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:09 PM   #14
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My worst commuting disaster was a broken pedal spindle (or is it axle?) about 12 miles from work at 6:00 AM in a suburb. I called a cab and got picked up minutes before a torrential rain. Now I carry a spare pedal (joking).
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Old 07-31-09, 05:21 PM   #15
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Sooner or later, if you're a full-time commuter, you'll end up walking it in. I've broken a chain and disintegrated a bottom bracket (not in the same ride, thanks) and had to walk it. I've only once run our of spares/patches, but when it happens it sucks. Just do the best you can and know that Murphy also rides a bike.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:24 PM   #16
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Taxi!
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Old 07-31-09, 05:27 PM   #17
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My rims have always proven tricky to remove the tires on my commuter bike. I once got a flat, and in my attempt to remove the tire, managed to remove the bead from some of the tire. Had to seek help at that point. The tire was a conti duraskin.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:46 PM   #18
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Quote:
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My worst commuting disaster was a broken pedal spindle (or is it axle?) about 12 miles from work at 6:00 AM in a suburb. I called a cab and got picked up minutes before a torrential rain. Now I carry a spare pedal (joking).
Ooohhh... Did it stab you in the calf like mine when that happened? Nothing like a deep gouge mid-calf to bloody up a pant leg when you are in a rush to get to work.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:16 PM   #19
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If you're pressed for time, perhaps go with a spare tube rather than a patch kit. Take the time you would have spent on the glue patch and lightly but thoroughly rub the inner tire with bare fingers. Your fingers will find debris you can't see; usually wire or glass fragments.
Last year I flatted and used the CO2 gig. Was in a huge hurry and didn't take my own advice. On the second flat had to call the cavalry.
Back to the frame pump for me.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:27 PM   #20
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Had my first flat last week, after a full year of riding, Nail got caught in the fender did it's damage and heard it come back out. But as JeffS suggested, I keep a packed trunk on the back of my commuter. Had the flat changed, rode to work and patched the flat tube so I had a spare just in case for the ride home.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:31 PM   #21
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I've done pretty well, but I had the "walk of shame" 3 or 4 weeks back. My wife had two flats within a couple of days, which used up the two spare tubes I usually carry. Then I shredded a tire. Replaced. Rode to work. About halfway home on my 6 mile ride I noticed my new tire going "thump, thump, thump". I had just enough time to think, "why didn't I notice that on my way in?" before the tire jumped off the rim and the tube exploded. Walked it home, after getting the tube untangled from the axle and replaced. Next commute it hardly went a quarter mile before it did the same thing. Ended up driving to work that day. Replaced that tube and re-installed. It seems to be stable now, it's been about three weeks or so. Still, I haven't been riding very fast. That kinda shook my faith.

Just today, as a matter of fact, I restocked my bike with two new spare tubes and a pump.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:34 PM   #22
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I had to walk ~2 miles home once when my hub flange failed....
What tha hell?!.. Wow.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:01 PM   #23
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Only really weird thing that's happened to me was my rear wheel seizing up suddenly on the homebound commute one night when I still had 4 miles to go. It was probably operator error, I had repacked the bearings not long before and my guess is the locknut on the cone came loose and jammed the cone into the ball bearings. I carry a pretty good toolset, but cone wrenches aren't on the list for commuting. Ended up loosening the QR and walking the bike most of the way home, with the rear axle turning in the dropouts the whole way. A kind soul stopped and gave me a lift in his car for the final mile.

Both my commuter bikes are converted MTBs with beefy 26" wheels. I carry spare tube and patch kits, but when it's dark, cold and rainy these wheels will handle a few hundred yards of riding with a flat to get to a sheltered spot or bus stop.

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Old 07-31-09, 08:22 PM   #24
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Nearly got caught out by my good deed this week. Helped someone with a flat Wednesday night, used my patch kit because of incompatible sizes. Had trouble with the pump, must play with it tomorrow and find out if it's defective or i just don't know how to work it. Anyway, used my second CO2. then Thursday morning, hunted around for another, just got to the point where i said " Ah.. what are the odds?" just then, found another CO2 and thew it in the bag.

Yup, flat. Fix took about 10 minutes, was late, but I'm golden at work so no worries. Last time i did a walk was from the bottom of the hill, didn't find out until then that my freehub had frozen, grrr. Before that was when I was riding a department store bike and sheared the rear axle.

yesterday was the first flat in... 2 years?
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Old 07-31-09, 09:53 PM   #25
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On my way into work one cold winter day, 12 miles in to a 14 mile commute. Suddenly I heard a huge BLAM and the back wheel got squirrly. The whole tire had ripped open in one section. I had a spare tube, but not a tire. My lesson learned was that I can be a bit overly Scrooge-like. The tire was ancient with cracks and the tread long gone, but it never before gave any problems, so ever the penny-pincher, I wasn't about to replace it. I hate it when there's no one else to blame.

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