January 30, 2012

Flat Tires

Most bicyclists probably know that a flat tire is more or less caused by the inner-tube going flat either by puncture or an improper seal. What's an inner-tube you ask?

For the longest time, I had no idea of what the specifics were for a bicycle. There's a wheel, a tire, and a mythical inner-tube which keeps air in it. I finally learned what some of the components were when I suffered through a flat tire.

It was the luckiest kind of flat that one can get. I heard a loud bang in the middle of the night which I investigated. My tire had a glass shard in it and was completely flat! I believe the glass came from riding on bike lanes earlier that day. This was a complete fluke as most flats happen on the road.

It's difficult to change an inner-tube the first few times but after awhile, you'll get used to it. There's plenty a videos online of how to change it, but for now here's a list of tools that you'll need to change a flat tire.
  1. Bicycle tire lever - The smaller the width of the tire, the more difficult it is to pry the tire off to access the inner-tube. A lever makes the job do-able although it can still be a slight pain.

  2. Spare inner-tubes - You can also patch up a punctured tube, but if you're on the road, an actual spare inner-tube works best because you don't have to worry about finding where the tube is flat. I carry two because one time I was unfortunate enough to suffer two flats. A tube has to be sized right, so you'll probably want to go to a local bike store to purchase them, or you can look at the sidewall of your tire and buy it based on those specifications.

  3. Portable bike pump - If you're trying to replace a flat, you'll obviously need to inflate it somehow. All portable bike pumps aren't a true substitute for a floor pump, but you should at least be able to get to your destination.

  4. Tube patch kit - I have a patch kit which is more or less a sticker. I keep it on me as a quick fix but if I have additional flats, I would use a more heavy duty patch kit in the future.
Those are the basics of on-the-go kits. I would also suggest that you use routes by public transportation when possible and carry change or a pass so you can use it in a pinch. 

Link of the day (not me if you're curious):

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