Tuesday, September 15

Nothing’s Idiot Proof


CO2 Cylinder Used by Clueless Idiot

Some say it is a poor mechanic that blames his tools. It’s true.

I don’t get flats often. Eventually, however, a flat will occur. It happened to me on Buddy this morning. Commuting on Buddy, I normally carry a CO2 pump and cylinder, a second Topeak pump, a spare tube, two plastic tire irons, and a patch kit. Until this morning, I’ve never needed to use any of it.

I got a flat on the Alliance Gateway Freeway, right at the turnoff to Cabela’s. Confident, I whipped out the leaking tube, put the new tube in, remounted the tire and started to pump with the Topeak. “Gosh this’s slow, let’s get that CO2 going and not be late for work.”

Next thing you know, I was wondering why nothing was happening. Then I tried inflating the old tube. Nothing. Tossing the worthless (notice the tool blaming?) CO2 pump aside, I got enough air in to get me the last two miles in to work. At lunch, I noticed that the glue in the patch kit was hard – the CO2 pump had punctured the glue tube. I also noticed that if you UNSCREW the CO2 cylinder a bit, gobs of pressure come out. Maybe that pump wasn’t so worthless after all. MAYBE it was just the idiot operator. I’m glad I didn’t get a flat on the HH100 when I was running with ONLY CO2 and 2 cylinders, along with a spare tube and the patch kit with the dead glue.

Note on Tires and Flats - Testimonial
Buddy uses 28c Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires for commuting. I bought them at the LBS at the end of January, so all my Buddy commutes have been on them. Today was my first flat in over 2300 miles on these tires. I use normal tubes. These tires may be good for 4-5K miles. When they wear out, I’ll buy another set – they weigh much less than Armadillos and perform well. Unlike Armadillo Elites or other flat resistant tires, they’re available in 28c width in a foldable configuration (that's 180g less rotating weight for those that might care). For me, 28c is a nice commuter width. The width gives up about three minutes over the 20 mile commute compared with 23c tires, but they offer much better stability and comfort in exchange.
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I do think I'll rotate the tires this winter when I yank them off to try Cyclocross. The rear is showing slightly more wear than the front. It's the front one in the picture below.


28c Continental GP 4 Season at 2300 miles

15 comments:

Big Oak said...

I like Buddy. I use Schwalbe Marathon tires on my bike and have been very happy with them. I've been using 32mm tires, I may go down to 28mm next year. For organized rides I pump them up to 95 psi, but for regular commuting, I pump them up to 75 psi. I may try the Continental tires on my Trek. Thanks for the info.

Steve A said...

Big Oak. Hardly an impartial party when it comes to Tricross bikes! I'll do an update on the Contis when they get a little closer to the bitter end or when anything interesting develops. I run the rear Conti at 120 and the front at 115. That'll make a big contrast with the Vittoria cross tires which I'll run as low as I can get away with.

Doohickie said...

Maybe that pump wasn’t so worthless after all. MAYBE it was just the idiot operator.

I learned that on a recent club ride. One of our number got a flat. One of the more experienced guys changed it for him, including using a CO2 cartridge to reinflate the tire. I believe he screwed the fitting onto the tube, then screwed the cartridge onto the fitting, then backed it off until WHOOSH the whole tire filled up, then screwed the cartridge back in to stop the flow and not overinflate the tire. He said that sometimes you can even inflate two tires off one cartridge.

Good stuff to know.

ChipSeal said...

Another tip on using CO2: Protect your hands! The discharging cylinder gets very cold very fast.

So the glue tube was was worn through due to vibration and movement in your utility bag?

Steve A said...

The glue tube was worn through because I didn't protect it from the CO2 pump head which was in the plastic patch kit box with it. The patch kit box lid kept coming open. This is now corrected thanks to one of those black rubber bands that come along with new tubes. I'll also wrap the pump head in a little plastic to keep the sharp edges covered. I also puchased some of those "no glue needed" patches and will throw one or two into the box for worst case scenarios.

Doohickie remembers the sequence perfectly accurately. One might inflate two 23c tires. I think you wouldn't get more than one 28c tire with a cartridge. BTW, they have two different size cartridges. I bought the bigger one, figuring that idiot operators need a little more gas.

Steve A said...

I considered seeing if my tongue would stick to the cylinder, but figured I'd tried out enough new stuff for one day...

Doohickie said...

Hehehe.

Rantwick said...

I've got co2 cartridges, but I've never used one. I have the instruction sheet in a ziploc bag with them... but maybe I should re-read Doohickie's club ride thing...

Keri said...

Steve said: "I do think I'll rotate the tires this winter when I yank them off to try Cyclocross. The rear is showing slightly more wear than the front. It's the front one in the picture below."

If you're going to rotate, I recommend putting the unworn front tire on the rear and a new tire on the front. Not a good idea to put a worn tire on the front — front flats at the wrong time (not to mention blowouts) can cause serious injury.

Rollz said...

I double dog dare you to put your tongue on that co2 cylinder.

Steve A said...

OK. Just did. Tasted sorta like room temperature steel. Just in the interests of science, touched the label. It sorta tasted like plastic. NOW IT's MY TURN.

Double dog dare you to use one of those cylinders and then put YOUR tongue on it before it's had a chance to warm back up!

Steve A said...

Who's the idiot?

Steve A said...

Keri's advice is good for car tires as well. Luckily, the rear tire isn't much more worn than the front, and it'd be nice to keep things evenly balanced. If anything, the tires are at the stage where the wear manifests itself as a broader contact strip in the more worn tire - which gets BETTER straight line braking. It's a lot like my Jaguar XJ6 tires which posted their best slalom times right before I traded them in for "concours correct" sized tires.

In the final miles, I will keep the old tires on the rear until flats get just a bit more frequent than is tolerable. I've never actually worn out tires with fresh sidewalls before...

ChipSeal said...

I am suspicious that riding in wet conditions result in a higher rate of flats. I am not sure why that is, somehow grit and such gets in between the tube and rim/tire? (Perhaps the valve hole.) Slivers picked up in fair weather make better progress through the tread in the wet?

Steve A said...

ChipSeal's theory has some merit, though the particular flat in question occurred in Tuesday's dry conditions, albeit with crud on Old Denton Highway left by traffic going through the recent rain.

Investigation suggests it was a thorn that worked its way through the tire casing at the main contact patch, and into the tube; then fell out upon the Alliance Gateway Freeway, at which point the tube gushed out its air. I also saw a cut in the front tire that has not resulted in a flat as of yet. No foreign object remains in that cut. The tires have seen nothing suspicious in any of the sidewalls so far.

Certainly, there was a lot of grit in and ON everything this afternoon. The only items that avoided same were my iPhone and the contents of the water bottle. The iPhone escaped thanks to the combo of a Rantwick bag and my SPI Belt. I even got grit in the pockets of my cargo shorts and the back pockets of my jersey.

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