Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Flat-Tire Spirits

No doubt you don't want to read about my inability to maintain, um, er... air pressure but here goes:

Apparently, I somehow really pissed off the tire god/goddess/spirits.  Been having a lot of trouble lately with flats. First, I'll just copy and paste from something I tacked onto the Vantage Day trip post:

Fat Flat update: I'd pulled a thorn out of my back tire after got home from the Up the Big Muddy Q. Patched the tire and the next morning it was flat. Pulled the tire off again, carefully checked for more thorns and found it was leaking from under the patch. Tore off the Skab patch and used a Park Tools patch.  Same thing the next day. Did it again.  Thought about replacing the tube, but I wasn't going to give up that easily. Was going to try one of the more permanent patch types, but the rubber cement tube was empty.  Put another patch overlapping the other one, since I thought part of the problem might be it was a larger hole in the tube than these patches were meant to fix. Found an old bottle of Slime in the basement and poured it in the tube, pumped it up and crossed my fingers.  That seemed to work, as no flats this trip!

Lately I've been thinking about the Freedom Ryder Tires I've had on the Vaya since the end of last September.  It's spring, prime season for sharp road debris in Spokane and I hadn't had any flats yet.  The Ryder has an "Urban Barrier" to protect against flats, but I don't really expect it to protect against the sharp screws, nails and staples found on Spokane's streets.

I know better than to verbalize any thoughts about flats, being a bit superstitious about this matter like many other bikers. There may not be any flat tire god/goddess/spirit and it may just be an indifferent universe out there, but I don't want to take chances.  A sort of Pascal's wager and all that.

So I didn't say anything out loud.  Turns out just thinking about it is enough.  We were out riding the Green Bluff area - which I don't like: windy, hills, pavement (and rough pavement at that), narrow roads - it seemed the back tire was getting bouncy.  I tried to ignore it,  but sure enough, a guy we were riding with said hey your back tire looks low.  I tried to make it in without stopping but finally had to stop and pump some air in it, enough to make it to the end.

Got home and pulled a thin sharp wire or staple out of the back tire, patched it and hoped for the best.  Next morning the tire still had air in it and I rode to work.  Riding home on the edge of Kendall Yards - BOOM!  Back tire exploded.  Is somebody trying to tell me something? A couple poked there heads over their fence, and asked if that was me.

Yep.  Asked if I needed help - said well I have some patches but we all agreed that wasn't going to help any.  Walked a mile or so up to REI - actually turned down a ride from a guy in a truck which I regretted - and bought two tubes,  one to replace and one to keep in the backpack from now on.  Replaced the tube out front of the store and noticed a little chunk missing next to the blow out:

The Freedom Ryders fit snugly on the rim, and I think I got a bit of the tube caught between the rim and tire when I put the tire back on.  Surprised it didn't blow during the morning commute heading down Alberta St at near 30 mph.

I've been considering setting the Vaya up tubeless and this has encouraged me to look into it more. Stan's has a rim tape kit recommended for my rims, but I don't know if the Ryders would work tubeless.  Maybe the Clements. Worth a try.  I'm tired of tiptoeing around the flat tire spirits.



    Tubes that remain inside tires don't make a "bang." For you to hear a bang, the tube must have escaped from the tire, either because of bad tires or bad installation technique. Since it didn't fail very soon after installation, I'm assuming that the tires are bad. (Sometimes that just means that the rim is at the smaller end of its tolerance, and the tire is at the bigger end of its tolerance.) I had several noisy failures with Resist Nomad tires before I threw them away.
    - Ventura

  2. thanks for the link, that makes sense. I was thinking it was bad installation on my part, but maybe it is the tires. Think the rim/tire combo is ok.