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  1. #1
    Senior Member dpayne's Avatar
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    changing flats in the cold?

    I'm managing to stay pretty warm on my 45-minute commute, but my biggest fear is getting a flat and not being able to change it because my hands and the tires are too frozen and unpliable. How do you deal with flats in sub-30 degree weather? I currently run size 35 Performance clinchers (with Kevlar belt). They've been surprisingly reliable, considering the price I paid for them.

    I tried searching the forum for something on this but had no luck.
    A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

  2. #2
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    1 Walk the bike to somewhere warm if possible (store breezeway, tire shop, fire station).
    2 Call for sag support.
    3 Grin and bear it.

  3. #3
    clevernamehere
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    My plan of action for flats in cold weather:
    I carry a spare tube & tire levers. My plan is to try to change the tire. If my hands get to cold or it's taking to long I will move to plan B

    Plan B:
    - Lock bike to nearest light post
    - Call cab using the cel phone I always carry
    Plan Bb:
    - Lock bike to nearest light post
    - take bus

  4. #4
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    Understanding that the repair may be short-lived and only good enough to get me where I'm going, I always carry glueless patches so I don't have to wait for the glue to dry.

    One late January day a couple of years ago, I sat along the Delaware River towpath trail in mid-20's temperature, waiting for glue to get tacky because my ride partner, who flatted, didn't have a spare tube, patch kit, pump, or the knowledge of how to use those items, and my Schrader valve spares would not help, as he had Presta valves.

  5. #5
    Ice Eater gmacrider's Avatar
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    I don't worry about repairs on my commute, except for something real simple that can be fixed with a small multi-tool.

    My commute is about 50 minutes. If I get a flat or other problem I just jog (pushing my bike) to whichever destination is closest (home or office). So at the most I only have to run 7 or 8 Km - no problem even in deep winter. In the last 4 years I think it's happened twice. Not worth the effort of carrying extra tools around for.

    Trying to fix a flat with frozen hands in the middle of nowhere? No thanks!

  6. #6
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    I have had one flat this winter. It was 18 F and really no trouble. I carry a spare tube, like always. Just pulled out the old one and put in a new one. THe trouble came when it was time to use my frame pump. It wouldn't work because the little plastic lever didn't want to raise to attach it to my shrader stem.

    I kept fiddling with it until it finally went. I then went to LBS and bought CO2 setup. Screw frame pumps when it is below freezing.

  7. #7
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    I have had one flat this winter. It was 18 F and really no trouble. I carry a spare tube, like always. Just pulled out the old one and put in a new one. THe trouble came when it was time to use my frame pump. It wouldn't work because the little plastic lever didn't want to raise to attach it to my shrader stem.

    I kept fiddling with it until it finally went. I then went to LBS and bought CO2 setup. Screw frame pumps when it is below freezing.
    Wait until you try the co2 below freezing !!

    Ever see then ice up when you use them in 90 degree weather? The nozzle freezes in the cold. The only way to get much out of it is to put the cartridge in the inflator and put the whole thing under your jacket until it is nice and warm. Then attach it and use it quickly before it cools off too much. You still don't get much pressure in the cold as the temperature changes what pressure you get in the tire. Don't count on the co2 in the cold.
    By the way, you can warm up the head of your frame pump by puting it in your jacket too, then it works.
    Alkaline powered lights too, in the jacket. Water bottles too.

  8. #8
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpayne
    I'm managing to stay pretty warm on my 45-minute commute, but my biggest fear is getting a flat and not being able to change it because my hands and the tires are too frozen and unpliable. How do you deal with flats in sub-30 degree weather? I currently run size 35 Performance clinchers (with Kevlar belt). They've been surprisingly reliable, considering the price I paid for them.

    I tried searching the forum for something on this but had no luck.
    You work as much as you can untill your hands get cold, then put your gloves on or better still put your hands under your jacket and repeat. It's not that bad. The tires don't seem to change much.

  9. #9
    MTWThFMuter Jeprox's Avatar
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    Here in my area the temperature during my commute this winter only dips to the low 40s. Inspite of that, I will not do flat tire repairs in this temperature. My spouse does not work so I sort of have an on-call SAG. She's OK with that since we always meet up at some shopping area.

  10. #10
    Senior Member dpayne's Avatar
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    Appreciate the input. I like the bus idea; my route goes parallell to a bus route. Guess I'll try to change the tire first, and if it's too rough, I'll lock it up and catch the bus.

    Considering my hands are already freezing with gloves and liners, though, it's hard to imagine changing a tire---seems like it would be killer on your hands. Hopefully, I won't get a flat in the severe cold to begin with. I've been pretty lucky so far this winter. Today was a cold ride in---12 degrees. Cold enough for Baltimore, anyway.
    A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

  11. #11
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Your bus might even have a bike rack on the front of it. All buses in Heaven---I mean Denver---have them.

  12. #12
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    Take the bus... and take the flat wheel with you:
    1) Nobody can steal you bike during the day.
    2) You can repair your flat at your work and take back you bike on the evening.

  13. #13
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpayne
    Appreciate the input. I like the bus idea; my route goes parallell to a bus route. Guess I'll try to change the tire first, and if it's too rough, I'll lock it up and catch the bus.

    Considering my hands are already freezing with gloves and liners, though, it's hard to imagine changing a tire---seems like it would be killer on your hands. Hopefully, I won't get a flat in the severe cold to begin with. I've been pretty lucky so far this winter. Today was a cold ride in---12 degrees. Cold enough for Baltimore, anyway.
    When it is way below freezing I ride my 1994 mtb. I can operate the old rapid fire shifters and the brakes fine, (not exactly like without the mittens) with heavy leather goose down filled mittens. My hands are never cold when riding. I don't remember where they came from, or how much they were, I have had them since the late 1960's. or early 70's. In the low teens if I'm working hard my hands get sweaty.

  14. #14
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    My $.02. yesterday evening, in NYC (about 16deg last night) I ran over a plastic trash bag which got caught in my rear derailleur. To make a short story shorter, the derailleur ran up into the spokes broke clean off the frame and the derailleur hanger (non-replaceable) was bent. It could not have happened on a better day. Seriously. I had just received a rear der in the mail from an ebay seller for another of my bikes!! I found a spot out of the wind and lit (luckily NYC is lit up like a friggin xmas tree at all times). ANyway, I used my multi-tool to remove the chain and the blasted der. then, using a tip I read on loose screws just a week or so ago, I threaded my rear wheel axle onto the frame where the der screws in (amzing tip - the der and rear hubs on most bike are the same size and thread pitch). I used the leverage to straighten out the frame, attached the der. (though it was a short cage road der, it worked fine since I kept my commuter in the middle gear and shifted minimally), reattached the chain and wheels
    and off I went. It was truly unpleasant in the cold, but I stopped periodically to warm my hands and put them in the gloves.

    as for tires - always carry a spare tube and keep a mini-pump inside your pannier or backpack. NYC is not the coldest place, but I think you can accomplish this in most climates with the right gear.

  15. #15
    SAB
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    Stick your hands down your pants to keep them warm if they start to get cold.

  16. #16
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Changing the tube is easier than trying to fix it. I mean, it can sometimes be difficult to locate a puncture even in the summer. Tyres don't change a lot, so that will not be a problem - your hands will, though. If you try a roadside fix, just be careful, warm your hands periodically as already stated, and have a couple of backup plans ready.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  17. #17
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    I usually wear thin glove liners under insulated gloves; the liners are thin enough that I can keep them on, with some manual dexterity, and I can manage simple tasks like changing a tire. BTW, I agree with others here that it's easier to replace a tube than patch it; I just meant (in #4) that, if necessary, a glueless patch is a quicker fix than a standard patch.

  18. #18
    ONE GEAR TO RULE THEM ALL hammye's Avatar
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    I tend to curse alot when changing a flat in the snow. It's never fun but sometimes it's best to just take it and move on.
    Doing card tricks for dogs

  19. #19
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Is it really true that co2 will not work in the cold? I don't understand why it wouldn't work just because it is cold. How does a gas "freeze up"?
    Bring the pain.

  20. #20
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    Nokians are about as flat-resistant as motorcycle tires. I've never had a flat with them. If I were to get a flat, I'd just get a taxi.

    Paul

  21. #21
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    1. Get a white LED light that will strap on the front of your helmet. It's a great back up head light and it puts light just where you need it for night repairs.
    2. Get a frame pump.
    3. Carry a spare tube and a patch kit. If you get a flat, just switch tubes. Never try to patch a tire on the road in the cold unless you have the misfortune of blowing the spare tube, as well.
    4. Get glove liners. They often give you the dexterity you need to work. If you have to use bare hands, just work until it hurts. Warm up. And work some more.
    5. If you're concerned about getting too cold, carry chemical hand warmers.
    6. Keep emergency bus fare in your seatbag. In Columbus, I can put my bike on a rack in front of the bus. If you can't do that, lock your bike and suffer the humiliation of having a friend or family member pick up the bike after work.
    7. Walk to work or home, if needed.
    Last edited by Daily Commute; 02-02-05 at 10:29 AM.

  22. #22
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    I do what everyone else suggests. Plus I run armadillo's and air em up to max. The tires are tough enough to resist most things and since they're always at max, it stretches out the bead so that it's easy to remove if need be. Always carry a spare tube and some change. I carry a frame pump and test it out every week or so. If that does fail, I can always walk it to the nearest gas station for air.

    If your hands get cold, stick em in your loins or underarms, they're usually the warmest places in your body though I wouldn't do so unless you were about to lose your fingers.

  23. #23
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Slvoid makes a great point. Regularly check your air pressure (every day in really cold weather). This will greatly decrease your chance for a pinch flat.

  24. #24
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    I have found that tures don't flat nearly as often in cold weather. I have Continental Sport 1000 tires on my commuter and they are practically impervious to road hazards. Fortunately, my commute is fairly short (5.5 miles), so I am never more than 2.75 miles from one end. Starbucks is in the middle, so I can always push the bike there to change a flat. Much more pleasant that way.

    My commuter has 27" wheels, which has holes for Schrader tubes. I am using Stem Savers, which allow me use Presta tubes in a Schrader rim. I did this because my floor pump doesn't work with Schraders and I got tired of switching my frame pumps back and forth between Presta and Schrader. I recently had to replace my front tire because of a deep cut in the tread. It was lucky that this was planned maintenance because I couldn't separate the stem from the Stem Saver and couldn't get the whole thing loose from the wheel. It took a hammer, vise, and pliers to get all this apart. The Stem Saver, rim, and stem had all corroded together. If that had happened on the road, I would have been reduced to bashing it with a rock. This is apparently the price that I pay for not getting a flat in over 2 years.

  25. #25
    Flatman RoadToad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SAB
    Stick your hands down your pants to keep them warm if they start to get cold.

    Brrrrrr....

    RT
    BRING THE HEAT

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