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Old 10-13-06, 11:27 AM   #1
Cadillac
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Tubes

Although the following question could be answered by the maintenance forum, I'd like a response from those of you who ride long distances based upon your experience.

When you encounter a puncture, you have the option of patching the tube or replacing it.

However, when your tire is worn out (i.e., no or little tread left) do you replace the tube as well as the tire?
Do tubes wear out?

I ask the question because in the wheelchair shop where I work, we replace both tire and tube because we were told the tube may have rubbed thin by the time the tire is worn out. Sometimes you see the valve stem at an awkward angle which seems to indicate that the tube has moved within the tire. But if the tube has not obviously moved (i.e., the valve stem is still perpendicular to the rim), has the tube suffered wear nonetheless?
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Old 10-13-06, 12:16 PM   #2
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However, when your tire is worn out (i.e., no or little tread left) do you replace the tube as well as the tire?
I don't, but I can be a cheap bastard sometimes. I don't know if tubes wear out, but my most frequent reason for replacing tubes is popping some kind of leak within the stem. That seems more to do with impromptu tire installation and inflation than wear and tear.
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Old 10-13-06, 12:44 PM   #3
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I sure have looked at a lot of bike tubes over the years and have never seen one that has "worn thin". Sounds like a way to hit up folks for a bit of extra profit. One the other hand, unless I have to patch a tube, I generally put in a fresh one. But I have no qualms about using a patched tube either, I am just lazy. I would not consider changing the tube just because a tire has worn out.
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Old 10-13-06, 03:04 PM   #4
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No. I only replace tubes when they actually won't hold any air or have more than 10 or so patches. Yes, 10 patches. I'm not made of money and so I patch as much as possible. I always carry a spare, though
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Old 10-13-06, 09:55 PM   #5
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When a tire is worn out, I replace it. When a tube cannot be patched, I replace it. The two are separate. I have one tube that has between 5000 and 10,000 miles on it. It's been used in about four tires and hasn't worn through yet.

Replacing tubes with tires on wheelchairs just sounds like a way to sell more tubes.
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Old 10-14-06, 02:51 AM   #6
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I don't have any experience with wheelchairs, but I would imagine it would take years to wear out a tire, vs a bike tire that for most long distance cyclists will unlikely last 6 months. Rubber deteriorates with age (tho' I've never noticed it with tubes). If the consumer is changing his own tires, sure... keep the tube. If they're throwing down to get it done in a shop, they don't want to have issues with the tube in 6 months.
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Old 10-14-06, 02:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by roadbuzz
I don't have any experience with wheelchairs, but I would imagine it would take years to wear out a tire, vs a bike tire that for most long distance cyclists will unlikely last 6 months. Rubber deteriorates with age (tho' I've never noticed it with tubes). If the consumer is changing his own tires, sure... keep the tube. If they're throwing down to get it done in a shop, they don't want to have issues with the tube in 6 months.
I always talc my tubes when fitting them and this does save some of the abrasive wear that a tube can sustain in normal use. I also use a Branded tube and not some Taiwanese manufacture. However- I will go along with the Age related degredation of tubes aswell as tyres. I fitted a pair of slicks to a set of rims 3 years ago. New tubes at the same time- but this year I had one of the Tyres go down on me in the bike shed. Pumped it up and I could not get it to take air at all. Must be a big Puncture so off with the tyre. This is the first puncture on these tyres since fitting and the first thing I noticed was No talc- Maybe I forgot to talc it. No need to look for the puncture as there was a long area of the tube where it had perished. Off with the other tyre and there was talc there but I changed the tube althiugh there was no sign of any damage. Both tubes were binned so perhaps the reason for Tube and Tyre change at the same time.
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Old 10-15-06, 08:37 AM   #8
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I'm backwards cheapo! First I'm cheap because I never replace a tube until I feel the tube is old and I can tell by how it feels or if it stuck to the tire and I had to pull firmly to get it off, but talc will prevent that; or if it got destroyed.

When on the road I also always try to repair the tube first BEFORE replacing it which is backwards from most others. I feel that by the time a replace the tube and get all the air out of the old one to stuff back into the seat bag I would have been long done repairing anyway, plus this alway leaves me with a new tube ready to go. I can fix a tube fast by simply removing half of the bead on one side (with the puncture in the center of the half), then pull out about a 1/4th of the tube (again with the puncture in the center), repair the hole with a glueless patch and replace.
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Old 10-15-06, 10:15 AM   #9
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Never noticed a tube wear thin. They do age, though, from exposure to the air -- they become brittle, less elastic, and can stick to the inside of the tire. All signs to ditch the tube.

I tend to keep patches for emergency repairs. For an LD event, whether a race or a brevet, I make sure I've got some good tubes, tires, etc. It's worth the few extra bucks to me not to have to start knowing all my equipment is in tip-top shape. YMMV. I keep the patched tube around for running on the fixie (which is an in-town bike) or on the trainer.
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Old 10-15-06, 03:46 PM   #10
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I only replace the tube if it has a few patches on it. My tubes usually don't get too old as our roads are rather strewn with glass bits and wire. I reach my patch limit before age deterioration can effect the rubber. Unless wheelchair use is different than bicycle I can't really see any mechanism that would wear a tube thin. Only place I ever saw "tube wear" was from abrasion at the valvestem hole. That case was more tear than wear.
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Old 10-15-06, 04:41 PM   #11
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I threw out 4 tubes recently because they would no longer hold pressure even for a day. These were all lite tubes that had been patched several times over and were old......about 10 years old. There were no detectable punctures or leaks on these old tubes......I believe they were just old and at a point of deterioration.
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Old 10-15-06, 07:27 PM   #12
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We have found that tubes on wheelchairs and electric scooters tend to move especially if we apply talc to the tube. This is evident by the valve stem being directed at an awkward angle. In many cases where no talc is used, the tube is almost glued to the casing of the tire.

Someone mentioned that the replacement of the tube at the same time as replacing the tire was a way of charging a customer for something he didn't need. However, while you might wear out your tire in less than a year (and in some cases you go through several tires in a season), a client in a wheelchair might have his worn tires replaced every four or five years. Thus there may indeed be an aging problem with the tube.

In those cases where the wheel has suffered a puncture, the client often requests both a new tire and tube. Most wheelchair clients are in their wheelchairs 16 hours a day. They don't trust a patched tube that might disable them should the patch not hold.
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Old 10-15-06, 07:35 PM   #13
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froze mentioned that he performs a tube repair/replacement (if I am reading him correctly) by removing only one bead of the tire. I have never done that because in the process of dealing with the hole in the tube, I want to discover the cause of the flat. It might be a nail/pin, etc that was embedded in the tire. Or, as in one case I had, a small piece of metal went right through the tire and remained loose in the casing. Had I not discovered it, the repaired tube would have blown a few minutes later. I remove the whole tire and perform a thorough inspection so that I don't have a repeat flat.
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Old 10-16-06, 12:56 AM   #14
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I have NEVER patched a tire in all the 16 years I've been cycling. I don't even know how!! Instead I replace the tubes ... I figure tubes are cheap, so why not!

As for replacing the tubes when I change my tires ....

I try to change my rear tires every 3000-4000 kms and my front tires every 4000-5000 kms, unless I've got a long brevet coming up in the very near future which will send me over that amount, and in those cases I'll change the tires earlier. When I change my tires, I also change my tubes. Again, why not? Tubes are cheap! However, I have kept my old tubes ... I guess I figure that if I'm in a position where I've run out of tubes (because my tube source is about 100 miles away, so I don't get there very often) I'll use an "old" tube.
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Old 10-16-06, 06:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadillac
froze mentioned that he performs a tube repair/replacement (if I am reading him correctly) by removing only one bead of the tire. I have never done that because in the process of dealing with the hole in the tube, I want to discover the cause of the flat. It might be a nail/pin, etc that was embedded in the tire. Or, as in one case I had, a small piece of metal went right through the tire and remained loose in the casing. Had I not discovered it, the repaired tube would have blown a few minutes later. I remove the whole tire and perform a thorough inspection so that I don't have a repeat flat.

You can find/remove the cause of the puncture most of the time even if you only remove one bead. In the example you mentioned, you might not have been able to, which would prompt me to remove the entire wheel and do a detailed look. Froze's example, though, can be WAY faster on the rear wheel. If you're good, you don't have to remove the wheel from the frame. Just pop the bead, take out the section w/ the puncture, patch it, remove the cause of the puncture, reseat/reinflate and head out.

...I usually replace the tubes, myself, but I'm impressed by folks that can do this technique efficiently. Like I said, it can be faster.
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Old 10-16-06, 08:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadillac
froze mentioned that he performs a tube repair/replacement (if I am reading him correctly) by removing only one bead of the tire. I have never done that because in the process of dealing with the hole in the tube, I want to discover the cause of the flat. It might be a nail/pin, etc that was embedded in the tire. Or, as in one case I had, a small piece of metal went right through the tire and remained loose in the casing. Had I not discovered it, the repaired tube would have blown a few minutes later. I remove the whole tire and perform a thorough inspection so that I don't have a repeat flat.
Most of the time I know where the object penetrated the tire or I pump it up to find the air leak before I start taking the tire off. At that point I can find the object that was embedded sticking partially out of the thread so I pull out from the top of the tire not from the inside of the tire using a small folding pliers that I carry or a small knife to pry it out without damaging the tire otherwise I may have to remove from the inside.

If the object cannot be located or I have to remove it from the inside then I remove the entire side...not both sides of the tire and run my hand or a cloth to try to snag the object if I wasn't able to locate it.

If I still can't find the object then of course the entire tire has to be remove but that is rare and only about 5% of the flats I ever get resort to that level.

I've been doing this way for about 30 years and was taught this method by my old racing buddies and it works; I've never had a problem with getting a repeating flat due to an object in the tire that I couldn't find.
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