Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dear Dr. Wally...

(From this month's "Wheel Issues" the Red Dirt Pedalers newsletter.)

Dear Dr. Wally,

I have too many flat tires on my way to work. As a result, I'm often late. My employer is threatening to fire me if I cannot be on time. I'm thinking about putting some airless tires on my bike. Is this a good idea?


Deflated in Dawson

Dear Deflated,

Normally, I'd recommend finding another employer, but jobs are tight right now. I understand the attraction of so-called airless tires, however they're a bad idea for several reasons. Rather than flat tires which are relatively cheap repairs, you'll have wheel problems with more expensive repairs. A pneumatic tire absorbs impact and vibration. Without it, your spokes will loosen and your wheels will go out of true. You'll have a rougher ride, and in some cases, your dentist will put his kids through Ivy League schools as your fillings fall out.

What's the best way to avoid flat tires? Ride where the glass isn't. It's an awful sentence, but it's good advice. Ride in the right-hand tire track. Cars sweep debris away, depositing it on the shoulder or against the curb, so don't ride there.

Also, if you don't have a floor pump, get one that has a pressure gauge and use it regularly. Tires can lose a few pounds of pressure every day, so it's important to keep them inflated. This helps to prevent 'snake bite' punctures that result from hitting sharp edges on potholes or railroad tracks. Don't confuse this with snake bite punctures due to attacks by the wily Oklahoma Snow Snake. They're extremely rare, but if you encounter one you'll probably not survive anyway, so don't worry about it.

Finally, it's a good idea to leave early enough to allow for a quick tire repair on the way to work. You won't often need the time cushion, but on those occasional 'running late' mornings, it's a wonderful thing to have.

Next month: Vittoria beetles ate my tires!




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