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  1. #1
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Dumb question, but I'm baffled, so...

    I'm a newbie. Loving every minute, but I am NOT mechanically gifted. Never was, never will be. I once poked a hole in a very old refrigerator/freezer with a screwdriver trying to defrost it and let all the freon escape. On another occasion, I poked a hole in my car battery trying to get the cable connectors loose. I once thought I could fix the kitchen sink and ended up paying a plumber twice as much as it would have cost had I called him in the first place.

    Okay, so I'm getting back into cycling, and every day I start thinking -- what if I have a flat? WHAT if I HAVE A FLAT???

    The dealer gave me a 60 second course on how to patch a flat, and I've been reading Cycling for Dummies, and still I wonder -- how does one learn to fix a flat BEFORE one gets a flat? Seems like the last place I would want to make the attempt would be out on the road somewhere, the sun beaming down at 90 degrees, the sweat running down my neck, the cars racing by at breakneck speed, my water bottle empty, and not another cyclist (read: angel) in sight. I can just see me walking ten miles with a bike with one flat tire just to get home or back to my car.

    So, I realize to experienced cyclists this must sound really stoopid, but how can I learn how to fix a flat or change a tire BEFORE I get one?

    Okay, start the guffawing now.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Stubacca's Avatar
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    Deflate your tire and practice changing the tube is the simplest option. The only thing it misses is learning how to find where the hole was in the tube and checking for debris inside the tire (so that you make sure you don't get a flat in the new tube). By far the hardest part about about changing a tube is getting the tire off and on the rim.

    Best advice I can give to you is to carry 2 spare tubes and a patch kit. This way, you'll probably never have to patch a tube on the side of the road - just slip a new one in.

  3. #3
    Conquer Cancer rider Boudicca's Avatar
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    I've done the screwdriver on the fridge bit too, so I tried to be extra careful with a bicycle. Don't think they contain ozone-eating freon, but you never know. But I have managed to fix a flat on both front wheel (relatively easy) and back (a little tougher). I'd suggest learning first how to take off a wheel and put it back on again (make sure there's someone around to show you what you are doing wrong), and then move on to the tire and tube stuff. It's like building Ikea furniture. The first chair takes two hours, the second 40 minutes, and by chair 6 you could do 'em in your sleep.
    Zero gallons to the mile

  4. #4
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    I concur with what the past respondants have said about simply deflating your tyres and trying to change the tube. If you really want to simulate the true experience, you could try and find that screwdriver you used on your fridge and go at the tyres with it. In all seriousness, changing the tube in the comfort of your home is a good way to practice for both newbies as well as experienced cyclists. Also, it's a good thing to do anyways as it causes the tyre's bead to "loosen" up a little thereby making it easier to deal with tyre removal and installation when a real flat occurs. Some tyre beads can be a PITA to deal with when they're new and haven't been removed and installed a number of times.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
    "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send." -- Jon Postel, RFC1122

  5. #5
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    I had to learn by deflating my tires and taking the inner tube out, then putting it back onto the rim with the tire and reinflating it. It really does help to do it on your own when you can so that when the real thing happens, it'll come to you more naturally.

    Koffee

  6. #6
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    On the side of the road, use a bit of common sense. Call for help (you do carry a cell phone?) if the roadside is too dangerous. Just like in a car, try to find a place off the road to fix the flat.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  7. #7
    the dog ate my earbuds KirkeIsWaiting's Avatar
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    this new ride is my first time with clinchers. I've always used sew ups/tubulars.
    at the bike shop yesterday I got the thorough lesson in tire changing and the little tricks. even using a dollar bill to cover the hole from the inside to prevent the tube from bursting through. the tube/co2 kit is now part of my gear.
    Now mind you, I have no intention of ever changing a tire. No more so than I do knitting a sweater or replacing a clutch. But is nice to know that I can.

  8. #8
    Senior Member geeklpc1985's Avatar
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    This is what I have done. I went to the bike store and had them order a really good set of tires that had a no flats or we will pay to have the tire changed. The tires are Continental. I have 26 x 1,3 Max pres. 85psi, but they can hold 100psi. I talk to the LBS person and he said it would run 100psi with no troblem. He was right!! Over 800miles on these tires in less then 2 months (Had studs before).

    Good Luck,

    GEEK
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    Max Speed: 40 mph

  9. #9
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Let me tell you that I am the third in this thread to have done the screwdriver through the wall of the freezer trick! Many bike shops offer simply maintenance courses, and usually the first thing covered is changing a flat tire. See if any of the shops in your area do. Most in this area do.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  10. #10
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    definately learn to replace a tube. It's easy and fast.

  11. #11
    Burnt Orange Blood Longhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    Many bike shops offer simply maintenance courses, and usually the first thing covered is changing a flat tire. See if any of the shops in your area do. Most in this area do.
    In fact, I'm taking one next Friday and Saturday. It covers both bicycle maintenance and traffic safety. Classroom Friday night and out on the road Saturday. I'm really looking forward to it! $50 for Austin Cycling Association members; $60 for others.

  12. #12
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Since you love to poke holes in things, may I suggest intentionally poking your good tire with a thumb tack and practice fixing flats from the comfort your home. When on the road, it's alot faster and easier to simply replace your tube with a good spare that you brought with you instead of wasting time locating and patching the leak in the tube.......
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee


    but how can I learn how to fix a flat or change a tire BEFORE I get one?
    Easy ... change your tire in the comfort of your own living room now.

    -- Go get the necessary tire changing equipment (levers, new tube, pump, patches, boots, new tire - and no, you won't have to use it all during this learning process, but it is good to know you've got it all)
    -- Remove the rear wheel (because it is harder to remove than the front one)
    -- Release the air in the tire
    -- Remove the tire and tube together
    -- Mark the tire where the valve on the tube is located as a reference point for later
    -- Pull the tube out of the tire
    -- Find the hole
    -- Keeping track of the hole, place the tube loosely inside the tire using the reference point you made
    -- Check the tire near the spot where the hole in the tube is for possible bits of broken glass or wires or whatever ... it is preferable to do a visual check first so you don't cut yourself, then you might try cautiously feeling for something. Chances are you will find the cuprit. Remove it
    -- Take a look around inside the rest of the tire for any other foreign matter that may cause another flat.

    And I think I do this next part differently than others, but ...
    -- Fill the new tube a bit (or in this learning case, you would use the original tube because it is still OK), and tuck it inside the tire
    -- Put the valve through the hole on the rim
    -- Start tucking in one side of the tire, taking care not to pinch the tube
    -- Start tucking in the other side of the tire, also taking even greater care not to pinch the tube. You may need to let a bit of air out of the tube during this process if it is really tight, and you will likely need to use the levers right near the end to get the last bit in
    -- Check to make sure it all looks even and that there are no pieces of tube sticking out or caught between the rim and the tire.
    -- Pump the tire up to about 6- or 70 psi, and do another check to makes sure it all looks OK
    -- Finish pumping tire, and replace on bicycle.

    And you are done! Repeat a few times till you feel more comfortable with it, and then when you are stuck out in the middle of nowhere, you won't be in a complete panic.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geeklpc1985
    This is what I have done. I went to the bike store and had them order a really good set of tires that had a no flats or we will pay to have the tire changed. The tires are Continental. I have 26 x 1,3 Max pres. 85psi, but they can hold 100psi. I talk to the LBS person and he said it would run 100psi with no troblem. He was right!! Over 800miles on these tires in less then 2 months (Had studs before).

    Good Luck,

    GEEK
    I've NEVER heard that Continental offers a deal like that!!

    Also ... 800 miles isn't much for a tire. You should be able to put on a couple thousand.

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkeIsWaiting
    Now mind you, I have no intention of ever changing a tire. No more so than I do knitting a sweater or replacing a clutch. But is nice to know that I can.
    I'm sorry ... but I had to laugh at this!! And just who is going to change the tire for you when you are out in the middle of nowhere????

  16. #16
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Just go to the bike shop on a Saturday and volunteer to change flats for them for a day or two. Tell them all you want in return is to be able to change your own flat by yourself.


    Machka ~ I'm sorry ... but I had to laugh at this!! And just who is going to change the tire for you when you are out in the middle of nowhere????
    It's obvious, the person riding by with the handmade sweater and clutch plate dirt all over their hands!

  17. #17
    jur
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    Use Kevlar reinforced tyres, thick pucture proof tubes, and put slime on the inside. If you DO get a puncture with this setup, pinch yourself to check if you're dreaming.

  18. #18
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Best bet is low pressure tires, same setup as above, but add in a tire liner as well.

    I ran a setup like that on my old commuter back in cali, and that thing took debris like nothing...glass, metal, goatheads, I feared none of it. I carried around a spare tube, but that was it.

    Oh, and there are ways of removing a MTB tire tool-less (I do this all the time), but it's not reccomended for street repairs due to the chance of getting glass or metal into your hands

  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Don't let yourself become a flatophobe! The earlier posters had the right idea, in my opinion. Practice changing your tubes (especially the rear) at home a few times before you get your first flat. When you do get a flat, put in a new tube, then practice patching the old tube. Fixing tires is really not difficult. I mean, fifth graders can do it so you probably can too! You will enjoy cycling a lot more when you can handle flats, lubing, and other simple repairs on your own.

    (I'm a little superstitious. Like many cyclists, I usually avoid "the F word." I usually use euphemisms like "unscheduled tire event." Now that I've used the F word several times, I will probably experience a series of "rapid deflations.")

  20. #20
    Senior Member
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    If you live near a REI store they have free classes on basic bicycle repair and how to fix a flat every month.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Easy ... change your tire in the comfort of your own living room now.
    Eeek!

    The carpet. The furniture. The oil and dirt from the bike.

    I'm shocked.

  22. #22
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    Knowledge is power!

    All you need to know about bike flats:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/flats.html

    --nw

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IanB
    Eeek!

    The carpet. The furniture. The oil and dirt from the bike.

    I'm shocked.

    Your bicycle shouldn't be that dirty!! If it is ... you'd better give it a bath right now!


    When I lived in my apartment, all my bicycles lived there with me. And because I didn't have the luxuries of a backyard, garage, or basement I washed my bicycles in the bathtub/shower, did my repairs in my hallway, and changed my tires seated comfortably in my living room.

    Simple Green is not only a great bicycle cleaner, it also leaves your tub shiny and sparkling. The other product I used when I washed my bicycles in the tub was Avon bubble bath. The combination of the two left my bicycles and my bathroom beautifully clean.

    As for repairs in the hallway, I would put down newspapers so I didn't drip everything everywhere, or if I did, the floor was tile so I just sprayed it down with Simple Green and soap, and it came up nice and clean too.

    And for the living room, I would carry my rear wheel in there to change it. My rear wheel would be clean - maybe a little bit dusty but that's all, and my cassette would have grease on it, of course, but I wouldn't lean the cassette side against any furniture or lay it on the floor, so there's no reason to get grease on things.

    If you are careful there is no reason why you and your bicycles can't peacefully co-exist in the same dwelling.

  24. #24
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Bunch of posuers in this thread. If you're scared of it, find another hobby you'll be happy with.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  25. #25
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    Bunch of posuers in this thread. If you're scared of it, find another hobby you'll be happy with.
    It must give you a real warm feeling to write posts like this!

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