Monday, January 26, 2009

The Care and Feeding of Wheels

A couple of tips for bicycle commuters regarding wheels and tires

. Have spare tubes and tires on hand for your bike.

. Carry a spare tube with you on your commute, along with tools to change a tire. To change a tire you need tools to get the wheel off the bike (if you don't have quick-release hubs), tire levers to get the tire off the rim to get to the tube, and a way to pump up the tire (either a pump or a compressed CO2 cartridge).

. Anti-flat measures are good. There are several; it doesn't hurt to use more than one, including anti-puncture tires, thick-walled anti-puncture tubes, and/or anti-puncture liners that go inside your tire. There is also tire slime which goes inside the tube and is supposed to seal leaks, but my mechanic says that if you get a big tear your wheel turns into a gooey mess.

. Have a good floor pump at home and frequently check your pressure and inflate the tires when necessary.

. If at all possible, keep a second set of wheels for your bike in case you damage or bend a wheel.

. Learn a little bit about truing your wheels and adjusting spoke tension. If your wheel is way off, it's probably a good idea to get it trued by a bike mechanic, but if it's out just a little bit, you can true it yourself with a spoke nipple wrench. Bicycle Tutor has a pretty decent primer on the subject.


HeidiTri's said...

Perfect timing. I was just thinking about truing my wheels. I haven't got a clue how to do it, so I'll check out the link you posted.

Doohickie said...

Besides Bicycle Tutor, you also might want to peruse Sheldon Brown's website. He was a god among bike folks (passed away about a year ago), and was very active on the internet, documenting all kinds of bikes stuff on his site. Here is a link to his truing instructions. I didn't use them in the original post, though, because they are targeted more toward a new wheel build (versus retruing an existing wheel).