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  1. #1
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    Tires tubes and touring

    I'm looking for some advice regarding tire and tube maintenance for long distance touring. I'll be staring my first long unsupported trek in a couple months and want to make sure I'm prepared, but also do not want to overpack.

    First, what is your method for keeping up on tire pressure on a long tour? Do you use car style pressure gauges with a presta adapter to check pressure? Just do the pinch test? Where do you like to fill up on air?

    How many spare tues do you bring? I was thinking one or two spare tubes and vulcanizing patches. That way could swap the tube quickly on the road, and repair the punctured one later.

    Do you like to bring a spare tire if touring long distance and unsupported? Have you ever needed to use it?

  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I use a Road Morph G pump. It has a built-in gauge. Great pump. Me: 2 tubes, patch kit, boot kit, very light folding spare tire - 220g class. Yes, I've used the spare tire. Also some electrical tape in case of flats on the inside.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Full length frame pump = less strokes to reach pressure,, had a presta gage on hand.
    mostly plastic. Pencil type tire gages for cars dont have high enough pressure readings
    to reach bike tire levels.

    tire boot ,but folding 3rd tire is a better back-up.

    my long overseas tour, i used thorn resistant tubes, heavy but they didnt puncture [luck] in 6 months,

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I use lightweight tubes and size them smaller than recommended. Given that two are in use and there are usually two spares, the difference in weight is fairly substantial. They also are easier to mount.

    I don't carry a spare tire. I've never had a tire I couldn't repair well enough to make it to somewhere that a replacement was available, but if that ever happens I'll hitch a ride.

    I have used a variety of pumps including the Topeak Mountain Morph and a variety of mini pumps. Balance the weight against the convenience and pick one that suits you. These days I lean toward lighter as better. When I was topping off tires on three bikes on the Trans America I was happy to have the bigger heavier Mountain Morph. When I was traveling ultra light on the Southern Tier and in the Colorado Rockies I was glad to have an ultralight mini pump.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I usually use the same general system as Carbonfiberboy. I carry a little more because I tour with my wife. In my mind this doubles the opportunity for punctures and tire tears.

    I carry 2 extra tubes, and have had to use them both on same bike on the same day. When we are running 28 mm tires I generally carry a light folding tire. I like the convenience of putting a high quality tire on the bike, not having to stop and find a bike shop, and being able to finish out the tour with the spare if necessary. I've use it twice so far. Once I just finished the last 2 weeks of the tour with the spare on my front wheel. We had 13 flats on our 3700 mile cross country ride, and I changed out my rear tire with a torn sidewall at about 2500 miles on that trip. We still had a ways to go, and I found the brand and model of tire I wanted in a well stocked shop.

    If we are running 32 mm tires, I may or may not take a spare, depending on where we are touring and the duration of the tour. So far I have not needed the 32 mm spare, but we have only toured about 6,000 miles since switching to 32 mm Schwalbe Marathon tire. We only had 4 flat tires with the Schwalbe tires during a 3 month tour. I have some 32 mm Continental Ultra Gatorskins I'm anxious to try. They are lighter than the Schwalbe tires, but I'm not sure of their puncture resistance. I am willing to trade off fixing a few more flat tires for a lighter, livelier tire.

    I carry a full sized frame pump and find that by using the pinch test(on the sidewalls) I come pretty close to my desired tire pressure. The full sized pump lets me get to the higher tire pressure easily. I generally run about 100 psi in the 28 mm and 85-90 in the 32 mm tires. I will stop at bike shops every week or so and borrow their floor pump, usually equipped with a gauge, and check my pressures.

    A set of plastic tire irons, patch kit (with extra patches), a couple of pairs of latex or nitrile gloves, and a tire boot round out my tire goodies. I have used a mylar candy bar wrapper as a tire boot in a pinch, and it got me home.

    I know the ultra light guys will have heart palpitations when they see this.
    The 28 mm folder is on the left the 32 mm the right.




    It seems like the flats are always on the back wheel and often when raining. Actually, I read somewhere that during wet weather more road debris tends to be picked up by the tire, and sticks to it longer causing more punctures. Who knows!

    Why does my wife always get to take the pictures


  6. #6
    Garlic
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    I do not carry a spare tire, but I do carry two spare tubes since the time I hit a patch of goatheads and got a dozen punctures in each tire. I carry one patch kit. I really like my Topeak Roadmorph pump with gauge. Your plan of patching the tube later is what I usually do, unless I'm in a good spot for a slightly longer break.

    You don't say where you'll be touring. That could change the kit.

  7. #7
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    I usually use the same general system as Carbonfiberboy. I carry a little more because I tour with my wife. In my mind this doubles the opportunity for punctures and tire tears.

    I carry 2 extra tubes, and have had to use them both on same bike on the same day. When we are running 28 mm tires I generally carry a light folding tire. I like the convenience of putting a high quality tire on the bike, not having to stop and find a bike shop, and being able to finish out the tour with the spare if necessary. I've use it twice so far. Once I just finished the last 2 weeks of the tour with the spare on my front wheel. We had 13 flats on our 3700 mile cross country ride, and I changed out my rear tire with a torn sidewall at about 2500 miles on that trip. We still had a ways to go, and I found the brand and model of tire I wanted in a well stocked shop.

    If we are running 32 mm tires, I may or may not take a spare, depending on where we are touring and the duration of the tour. So far I have not needed the 32 mm spare, but we have only toured about 6,000 miles since switching to 32 mm Schwalbe Marathon tire. We only had 4 flat tires with the Schwalbe tires during a 3 month tour. I have some 32 mm Continental Ultra Gatorskins I'm anxious to try. They are lighter than the Schwalbe tires, but I'm not sure of their puncture resistance. I am willing to trade off fixing a few more flat tires for a lighter, livelier tire.

    I carry a full sized frame pump and find that by using the pinch test(on the sidewalls) I come pretty close to my desired tire pressure. The full sized pump lets me get to the higher tire pressure easily. I generally run about 100 psi in the 28 mm and 85-90 in the 32 mm tires. I will stop at bike shops every week or so and borrow their floor pump, usually equipped with a gauge, and check my pressures.

    A set of plastic tire irons, patch kit (with extra patches), a couple of pairs of latex or nitrile gloves, and a tire boot round out my tire goodies. I have used a mylar candy bar wrapper as a tire boot in a pinch, and it got me home.

    I know the ultra light guys will have heart palpitations when they see this.
    The 28 mm folder is on the left the 32 mm the right.

    It seems like the flats are always on the back wheel and often when raining. Actually, I read somewhere that during wet weather more road debris tends to be picked up by the tire, and sticks to it longer causing more punctures. Who knows!

    Why does my wife always get to take the pictures
    True about the rain. Rear wheel because it is more heavily weighted and thus more force on the debris.

    I carry a 23c Tricomp that I can pump as high as I want, to carry whatever weight. It even works on our tandem for example. It's sort of a get-by tire, but I could run it for hundreds of miles if I had to, even on the tandem. It'll work on rims from 19-23mm. I have to carry a pump that'll pump it high enough, which is that Road Morph.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Two spare tubes, size smaller than indicated by the tire width. Easier to install. Topeak Roadmorph, pinch test(gauge is hard to read and not terribly accurate.) Boot material, never used. No spare tire.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  9. #9
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    I use a Zefal pressure gauge. It’s easy to use, no batteries, accurate and works on both Presta and Schrader valves. I also use the pinch method at least twice a day. It is no fun to finish breakfast and be ready to hit the road and find you have a flat. A quick pinch will tell you if you have a slow leak.

    I bring two spare tubes. One doubles as a camp cushion and sleeping pillow. As I keep harping, I only use tubes with replaceable valve cores and therefore bring a couple spare cores. If you break off the stop nut on your valve stem you just screw in a new core and pump it up without having to take off you wheel and/or panniers, or throw away an otherwise perfectly good tube. One time is worth the 2 grams of extra weight. Because I use tires of very different sizes I only use Continental Tour-All 28/47x700 (150g) and my favorite, Schwalbe SV18 Extralite (105g) 28/44x700. I have only found a couple of online sources for the SV18, and they tend to back ordered more than in stock so I have to hunt for them.

    I carry two dirt tires and have used one once in an emergency when I had a sidewall failure, but their main purpose is for riding on dirt and gravel roads and single track. They are too slow for me to use them on paved roads except in emergency situations. I should point out that I didn’t pass an open bike shop with a suitable touring tire for five days.

    I carry one or two pumps depending on the tires I take. Both are Blackburn 2-Stage pumps, the Mammoth and the Airstik Longneck. One is high pressure and the other high volume. Because I tend to change tires and air pressure frequently the 2 stage pumps get the tires inflated much faster with less effort.
    Last edited by Western Flyer; 02-25-13 at 10:41 PM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    One time is worth the 2 grams of extra weight. Because I use tires of very different sizes I only use Continental Tour-All 28/47x700 (150g) and my favorite, Schwalbe SV18 Extralite (105g) 28/44x700.
    Do you know a domestic source for these tubes? Are these the models that have replaceable valve cores? I did a quick search and there was no mention of the valve cores or replacement cores. Also, they only seemed to be available in the UK.

    I think this is a good idea. When I was younger and riding tubulars, I always seemed to have several perfectly good tires lying around that had broken valve cores. Some of the better tires came with replaceable cores, but it was hard to find replacements, and cores were usually cannibalized from a worn tire.
    Last edited by Doug64; 02-26-13 at 12:13 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Western Flyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    Do you know a domestic source for these tubes? Are these the models that have replaceable valve cores? I did a quick search and there was no mention of the valve cores or replacement cores. Also, they only seemed to be available in the UK.

    I think this is a good idea. When I was younger and riding tubulars, I always seemed to have several perfectly good tires lying around that had broken valve cores. Some of the better tires came with replaceable cores, but it was hard to find replacements, and cores were usually cannibalized from a worn tire.
    Wallbike and EBT both carry the SV18, which in addition to having the replaceable valve cores come with a neat machined stem nuts that can act as a Presta to Schrader valve adapter. You can also buy the SV18s direct from Schwalbe USA at full MSRP. Schwalbe is so proud of their tube quality that they come with clear valve caps. These caps are worse than even black caps as far as finding them in the dirt during a roadside repair. I keep a bottle of bright red nail polish in my garage to eliminated this problem. All my valve caps are painted RED no matter their original color.

    Continental has a much wider distribution network in the US and the Tour Alls are available at many LBS. I tend to get them from Universal, which is one of my LBS, but they are really an online store. The Tour Alls claim to be fit 28 to 47 mm wide tires. The 28 end is a bit of a struggle but it works. They also have replaceable cores. A Tour Alls have a feature I have never seen in a rubber tube before, they are seamless which makes patching a dream.

    You can buy a bag of Presta valve cores or dumpster dive for them at you LBS.
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  12. #12
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    I am a strong proponent of a small pump with pressure gauge, either the Toppeak Road Morph G or the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive with gauge. (The Lezyne comes with or without guage, mine has the gauge.)

    If it is not too inconvenient, check your gauge before you leave town. Some of these pump gauges are up to 20psig off, I pump up a tire with one of those pumps and then use a good quality digital electronic gauge to check accuracy of the pump gauge. (I assume the electronic gauge is correct, but I leave the electronic digital gauge home.)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I use a Road Morph G pump. It has a built-in gauge. Great pump. Me: 2 tubes, patch kit, boot kit, very light folding spare tire - 220g class. Yes, I've used the spare tire. Also some electrical tape in case of flats on the inside.
    +1 on everything but the electrical tape. I carry a few strips of the fancy envelope material for tire boots; sometimes need to glue them in (and let dry) to keep it in place while inflating.

  14. #14
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    The flat paranoia associated with cycle touring is largely absent when traveling by car or motorcycle, even though the distances are typically larger. So personally I took a different approach. Antiflat tires and self sealing tubes. Have never had a flat on a tour. A few years back moved to Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires in a 700x50 size and last year swapped out for Michlin Pro Max tubes. No flats in three years / 6,000km and air retention is way up with the Michlins. (Milage would be higher but I'm running a half dozen different bikes) Larger tires take lower air pressure that reduces chances of a carcass failure as well as air loss so ..... no spares and no pump. Air stations are easier to find than decent restaurants. To further reduce the risk of equipment failure - I won't travel with anything that hasn't been road tested for a month anyway.

    Not everyone will be comfortable with that approach and if I was touring in a group on an extended ROAD tour - tires and tubes would be matched ahead of time and I'd carry ONE spare that would cover everyone. Personally I can't see anything short of an accident damaging these tires and I'm not going to carry a spare frame to try to cover that eventuality either. Spares and tools to address a mechanical breakdown are pretty non-existant too.

    But my bikes all get completely stripped at least once a year and I know them inside out. YMMV
    Last edited by Burton; 03-05-13 at 09:55 AM.

  15. #15
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    No problem find a nice presta specific tire gauge on amazon or ebay... last one I bought was about $5.

    If running any higher pressures, say over 70psi, I bleed off a bit of pressure before bed. I check and adjust pressure each morning before heading out.

    /K

  16. #16
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksisler View Post
    If running any higher pressures, say over 70psi, I bleed off a bit of pressure before bed.
    I've never heard of that one. Why do you do that?

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