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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 11-28-06, 10:21 AM   #1
cornucopia72
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Changing a tire

Recently we changed from 28 front and back to 23 front and 25 back. We like the way the tandem rides particularly while cornering. The other night while getting ready to start what was intended to be a two hour ride in the dark we noticed a low pressure front tire. After four new tubes, don't ask me, what usually take us about 5 minutes tops, became a 1 hour ordeal that almost derailed our outting. We are used to not needing tire levers for mounting our tires but with the cold fingers and tired hands we had to use them. We wanted to pick the brains of experinced riders to possibly learn a few tricks while mounting a stuborn tire. Thanks for your help.
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Old 11-28-06, 11:23 AM   #2
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you have to use levers on narrower tires... end of story.

If you intend to ride 23/25s regularly, I'd suggest that you check the pressure on yer tires B4 every ride with a gauge, not just by looking.
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Old 11-28-06, 11:32 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by ElRey
you have to use levers on narrower tires... end of story.

If you intend to ride 23/25s regularly, I'd suggest that you check the pressure on yer tires B4 every ride with a gauge, not just by looking.
+1 on this. Especially when it's cold, you may need levers, but it depends upon the brand of tire/rim. Those are pretty slim tires for regular tandem riding, racing is another story. I use talc on my tubes and I've noticed that the talc sort of lubricates the tire, too. It seems to help it slide on the rim a bit easier.
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Old 11-28-06, 11:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornucopia72
We wanted to pick the brains of experinced riders to possibly learn a few tricks while mounting a stuborn tire. Thanks for your help.
It varies from tire brand to brand, model to model, and foldables are usually easier to deal with than wire-beaded tires. The foldable Vredestein Fortezzas that I've used since '98 in 700x23 and 700x25 can be a bit tough to get mounted out of the box, but after full inflation and a few rides they always can be peeled off and reinstalled by hand... typical mounting method, no tricks.

Avocet's foldable tires are also not too hard to get off once they're been used a bit and Continentals foldables and even wire bead models seem to be OK after initial use as well. The ones that are always a bear to get on and off are the Michelin tires: wire bead or kevlar. When I encounter these it takes either a tire lever (one is usually sufficient) or a few extra moments spent working the slack out of the tire from bottom to top around the rim as you would a sew-up to get enough play to roll the last few inches of bead into the rim at the top of the wheel.

Most others -- at least the ones I've pulled off of bikes and helped to reinstall during rallies, etc... -- can usually be persuaded on and off the rim by hand using the sew-up approach.

The foregoing all assumes that a new tube is nested in the tire, given a "pull of air" so that the tube is given some shape before the first bead is pressed onto the rim. Too much air in the tube will sometimes keep the bead from seating. After the first bead is seated, the tube is pressed into the rim and then the second bead is worked into the rim. Again, you want to have just enough air in the tube to help it keep its shape so that you don't get the thing pinched inbetween the rim and tire.

Again, it has been my experience that most new tires shoud need a tire lever to install if the tires are fresh from the box (folded). If they don't, the tire may not be a good fit for your rim so be wary if you haven't been successfully using that brand, model, size of tire in the past. Wire beads tend to remain a tougher install than most foldables.

Sorry, no real tricks... just lots of technique.
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Old 11-28-06, 12:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ElRey
you have to use levers on narrower tires... end of story.

If you intend to ride 23/25s regularly, I'd suggest that you check the pressure on yer tires B4 every ride with a gauge, not just by looking.
When we first installed the 23s in the warmth of our house they went in with relative ease, no levers were used... then the 25s were easier to mount by hand but never as easy as the 28s before.

The first two tubes that we mounted outside at night were harder... but they also went in by hand (the first one had a short stem that did not fit our sweet 16 rims and the second one had a defective valve). Things got a lot more difficult after that.

We always pump up the tires to 120-125 before loading the bike on the truck whether they need it or not and check the pressure at the same time with the pump gauge.

We will try the talc idea.
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Old 11-28-06, 12:29 PM   #6
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Yeah, talc works, but I gave it up after mom (finally) found her can of expensive body talc in the garage with grease on it, and roasted me. Corn starch works too, but don't get it wet.

I also stay away from the ultra-light tubes. I've had nothing but probs with them over the years. Best tires I've used so far are the Vittoria Rubino Kevlars.
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Old 11-28-06, 05:54 PM   #7
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Width of the innertube has some effect if tire/tube will install easily. Installing a narrower tube will help.
Seeing that you just switched from 28s to 23 and 25s, maybe you need to get some narrower tubes!?
As you found out with warmer temps, a tire is easier to install than when it's cold out + cold fingers & darkness don't help either.
Get rid of your rimstrips and install Veloplugs . . . takes up less room than rimstrip and will facilitate mounting.
Crank Bros. have a neat tire tool that my make tire installation easier, if desired.
Some tire/tube combinations work better than others, and folding tires (kevlar bead) are usually less hassle to mount. Using talc can also help 'lubricate' tube/tire.
For nearly 30 years we've used narrow tires on our tandems (in the 'old days' 27x1 1/8", later 700x23c). Now we've upped the width a bit an tend to go for 25mm.
Hope this helps.

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Old 11-29-06, 07:23 AM   #8
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There is a tradition of using thumbs to put on tyres which is OK for MTB etc, but I always find it's a bit odd to strain fingers on narrow tyres as tyre levers are the tool for the job and work fine. The secret as Tandemgeek says is to slightly inflate the tube while putting it on to avoid pinches.

With tight tyres/rims another disaster avoidance move: After you've seated the tyre, inflate to about 20psi and push in and pull up the side of the tyre where you've just 'clicked' it into place. If the inner tube is caught (you will see it poking out under the tyre bead when you push in) the movement allows inner tube to shift back inside the tyre before you inflate fully. Keep wriggling the tyre until you can't see the inner tube and then inflate fully. If the inner tube is caught, an explosion at about 80psi will result, normally destroying the inner tube.

Second tip for tough tyre / rim combinations is to partly mount the tyre then use the tyre lever to wiggle the bead nearly on / off a few times. This straightens out the in-the-box kinks and will mean the tyre also comes off easier.

Worst combination I've had were Campag Atlanta and Michelins and funnily enough a pair of MA2s with cloth rim tape. The only way to get them off was 3 or more tackx tyre levers and lots of swearing. The thick blue Park tyre levers just don't work as they're too thick to get under the tyre bead and just pop out. Personally I think it was more the rims than the tyres as the Michelins on my other rims aren't a problem.
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Old 11-29-06, 08:48 AM   #9
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I'm new to all this so this may be a dumb question,BUT why would you put the small tire on the front?BMX racers found out 30 years ago that the large tire on front reduced frame shock and the smaller tire on back adds speed---is tandem ridding different because of rider weight,cornering etc?---sam
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Old 11-29-06, 09:36 AM   #10
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Thanks to all that responded. If we can mount a tire with our hands we prefer to. We use tire levers as a last resort. Maybe because I can't see very clearly on close range without my reading glasses. With the 28 wire bead gatorskins we never had an issue mounting by hand on fir rims or on the sweet 16's. The three times that I remember damaging a tube while mounting was using levers.... that is why we do not like to use them.
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Old 11-29-06, 11:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornucopia72
If we can mount a tire with our hands we prefer to. We use tire levers as a last resort.
+1
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Old 11-29-06, 11:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by frameteam2003
I'm new to all this so this may be a dumb question,BUT why would you put the small tire on the front?BMX racers found out 30 years ago that the large tire on front reduced frame shock and the smaller tire on back adds speed---is tandem ridding different because of rider weight,cornering etc?---sam
While I'm not exactly sure how what works on BMX bikes fitted with very small diameter, fat, knobby tires that are used on dirt tracks translates to a 700c road bike... let me offer the following examples under three different premises:

Load: Weight distribution is heavily biased towards the rear wheel, thus it carries a greater load which is reason alone to use a tire with higher volume / taller sidewalls than is needed for the front. The latter is particulary of interest to teams that tour with fully loaded rear panniers or who have a need for additional load bearing capacity.

Comfort: The stoker sits almost on top of the rear wheel and, as a result, must endure a lot of unexpected road shock since they don't have the benefit of seeing what's directly in front of the tandem, hence the reason that new captains are schooled to call out "bump" to forewarn stokers of an impending jolt. Many teams will use a suspension seat post for stokers to help reduce road shock and you'll even note that Softride beam-equipped tandems have been on the market for many years for the same reason. You'd really need to stoke on a tandem to appreciate just how much road shock a stoker will experience. Anyway, a larger volume tire will help to null out some of the road shock which is often times the lesser of two evils vs. using a shock post.

Constraints: Tandems equipped with an AME Alpha Q or True Temper Alpha Q X2 carbon fork are limited to a maximum front tire size of 700x25, which is clearly a small diameter tire for some teams. The compromise is the use of a larger rear tire for reasons as already noted above.

All that said, it has been my experience that most teams will use the same size front & rear tires.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-29-06 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 11-29-06, 12:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frameteam2003
I'm new to all this so this may be a dumb question,BUT why would you put the small tire on the front?BMX racers found out 30 years ago that the large tire on front reduced frame shock and the smaller tire on back adds speed---is tandem ridding different because of rider weight,cornering etc?---sam
Tandem geek has a very good answer for why Tandems use the same size tyres and I have to support this. I Ride offroad and you have added a point about narrow rear tyre adds speed. This is how I set up my solo- but on the Tandem, we go for a front tyre in a size and type that will give us the grip that is necessary. If we want to go faster- then we have two choices- Pump the tyres up to a higher pressure,and lose grip-or fit a narrower set of tyres.

The fitting of a narrower tyre on the rear(as solo setup) does not work. The pilot normally has to buy a new helmet- as the stoker had just hit him over the head with the pump for not calling out the bumps-and smaller bumps hurt more with a small tyre, OR the tyre on the rear does not grip well enough and unbalances the Tandem.

Tandem riding is different, but that weight on the rear affects the handling a lot. I would like to try a smaller tyre on the front sometime for less drag, but we wear out front tyres fast enough as it is. I will stay with the accepted Method of same size front and rear. That way I do not have to replace the pump quite so often.
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Old 11-29-06, 01:29 PM   #14
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I just got finished installing a new set of Continentals on our bike. I worked REALLY hard not to use levers. I often pinch the tube with levers. I often wonder - bike mechanics must change dozens of tires each day. How do they do this? Do they have some sort of tire machine like for auto tires? I can't imagine that they just use thumb pressure or risk using levers.
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Old 11-29-06, 02:37 PM   #15
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I can't imagine that they just use thumb pressure.
Believe it. Very strong thumbs. You'd have 'em too if you mounted several dozen tires or more per week.
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Old 11-29-06, 03:25 PM   #16
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I switched over to 32 Schwalbe Marathon Pluses this year on all my bikes with various levels of frustration on mounting them depending on the style of rims. Some where exremely easy, but when I got to the Deep Velocity it was a another story even with tire levers. My LBS said he had the same issue and said until they got warmed and stretched I would have this issue, but we found a solution in a toe clip pedal strap which we attached it to rim and tire then rolled the tire on. While tire changing is not a snap it's gone from a 30 minute job to about 5 minutes. I really like these rims and tires irreguardless of the hassel - just took awhile to find a solution. For those who can date themselves Specialized Team Turbo's were similar - I bent many a tire lever of trying to mount them, but they were a great tire.
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Old 11-30-06, 03:25 PM   #17
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One of the things I have found that affects Tyre tightness in fitting is The Rim Tape, I prefer to use Velo tape that is nice and thick, but this fills in the recess where I would normally put the bead of the tyre to give me a bit of slack. On the Mountain tyres- I am generraly OK but these Slick Things that I fit occasionally are very tight. I have a set of wheels that I fit the Slicks to and this set have a neoprene rim tape. Very thin but still strong enough at 100 psi to stop any problems.
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Old 12-19-07, 06:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
For nearly 30 years we've used narrow tires on our tandems (in the 'old days' 27x1 1/8", later 700x23c). Now we've upped the width a bit an tend to go for 25mm.
Hope this helps.

Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
Hi Rudy,
Can you use a regular 25mm tire on a tandem? I mean, do tandem tires have to be tandem specific tires when going down to a 23mm or 25mm?

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Old 12-19-07, 08:47 PM   #19
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... do tandem tires have to be tandem specific tires when going down to a 23mm or 25mm?
To the best of my knowledge, there's no such thing as a high-performance, narrow, tandem-specific tire.

Those of us who run skinny (23mm - 25mm) tire on our road tandems simply use -- in most cases -- the same brand/model of tire we use on our single road bikes, e.g, Michelin Pros, Continental GP's, Ultras and Gatorskins, etc...

Personally, our very nice roads here in Georgia have allowed us to use Vredestein Fortezzas exclusively for the past decade or so, in both 23mm and 25mm varieties and with no ill effect aside from fairly rapid tread wear.
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Old 12-19-07, 10:28 PM   #20
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Any brand of tire that works on a single should work on a tandem.
Experience/usage will tell you how well you'll like a certain brand/width.
Kevlar beaded tires are easier to mount, as has been noted, than wire beaded.
We've run the gamut of tires in decades of tandem iding and some work better for us than others. Longevity/flat resistance is always a plus.
Tires have improved in most instances although longevity seems to have suffered.
Way back when, we got 4,000 or more miles off some front tires an about as well on some back tires.
However the same brand switched factories into the far east, and although they looked the same, longevity diminished greatly.
We've had good luck with some tires that were on sale of $9.95 to tires that cost $30+, so price is not a guarantee off good tire value.
Stoker Kay is quite sensitive to even how much air we have in the tires . . . she'll say "you just boosted these tires of to 120+ didn't you?" But then again, she does not use a suspension seatpost on our personal tandem.
Check tandem manufacturers specs to see what they use, and you'll see quite a variety! Most will list 28mm tires until they get into a bit more performance oriented bikes and then they'll go down to 25 mm.
Which does not mean you can't use 23s!
Not a bad idea to experiment around a bit with tire brands and widths to find what suits your tandem team best.
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Old 12-20-07, 01:11 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
Any brand of tire that works on a single should work on a tandem.

Check tandem manufacturers specs to see what they use, and you'll see quite a variety! Most will list 28mm tires until they get into a bit more performance oriented bikes and then they'll go down to 25 mm.
Which does not mean you can't use 23s!
Not a bad idea to experiment around a bit with tire brands and widths to find what suits your tandem team best.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
Thanks Rudy, I'm about ready to replace the stock 28 on our Raleigh since the treads are already squared and I just happen to have a pair of new 25's sitting in my bin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
To the best of my knowledge, there's no such thing as a high-performance, narrow, tandem-specific tire.

Those of us who run skinny (23mm - 25mm) tire on our road tandems simply use -- in most cases -- the same brand/model of tire we use on our single road bikes, e.g, Michelin Pros, Continental GP's, Ultras and Gatorskins, etc...

Personally, our very nice roads here in Georgia have allowed us to use Vredestein Fortezzas exclusively for the past decade or so, in both 23mm and 25mm varieties and with no ill effect aside from fairly rapid tread wear.
TG, I agree with you with the roads in GA. I was in the Decatur area a few weeks back and I went to Stone Mtn from the Perimeter Mall on a 6 speed piece of old steel but the road are smooth it didn't bother me. I was happy to meet RonH, a fellow BF'er from the southeast forum, who showed me around when we crossed path while taking a tour around Stone Mtn. The only thing I didn't see a lot of in Atlanta are bike lanes. I guess I'm too spoiled with California biking.

-----

Thank you both for the input on tires.

-gas
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