Don’t let a flat get you down

Two hooked tyre levers and a cyclinder of compressed CO2

The right tools: hooked tyre levers and compressed gas make it much easier to get going again after a puncture. Photo: Eddie Barkla

If it went on it must come off – it’s just holding your tongue right!

Some of us are practically-minded people who look at a manual dexterity task knowing that there must a key to make it achievable with minimal fuss. It is a bit like those mind bending puzzles – there is a way they come apart and go back together with relative ease.

Getting the back wheel out of a bike frame is a bit of a mystery for some and becomes a chore that does not merit such hard work. The back wheel has a natural alignment with the frame hangers, chain and rear derailleur. Knowing when these all align together the rear wheel when rear axle quick release is taken off and brakes have been backed off the rear wheel will drop out almost by itself.

Try selecting the smallest cog on the rear cluster and all the pressure is off the rear derailleur and frame hanger and the chain is aligned allowing the wheel to freely release.  When putting the wheel back in after changing the puncture place the chain onto the smallest cog that will keep the naturally alignment of the wheel allowing it to roll back into the rear frame hangers with minimal pressure and fuss.

Having a wrestle with getting tyres on and off your rims and you feel like you need three sets of hands to hold keep hold of the tyre levers?  There are two things worth considering, the brand of tyres you are using and possibly the type of tyre levers you have in your kit. For example the external circumference rim size in certain brand name wheels may only need to be a millimetre towards the larger tolerance allowed and the tolerance on the tyre brand name on the smaller millimetre side in size and they may not be compatible with each other.

It is expected that tyres on rims can be a snug fit but it need not be a wrestling match out the road and in some cases be that one bad experience that dints the confidence and fear sets in and reducing the enjoyment factor that makes cycling a freedom.

Ask around what tyres others are using or check with local bike shop what their experience has been. Tyre levers are available with a hook on one end that allows for the lever to be captured under a spoke and held under its own pressure when securely beneath the bead of the tyre and side of the rim allowing for two free hands to get the next tyre lever safely in place.

If you do get caught out with tight tyres getting them onto a rim keep the tyre as tight as you can in the middle of the rim perimeter as this will reduce the overall circumference. Do this by pinching the tyre together into the centre of the rim clincher that you have over the rim and follow this around to the last bits to get over the rim hoping that you have made an improvement of the amount of free tyre to slide over the rim. Please be very careful with ensuring tyre levers are well secured as a tyre lever released under pressure will become a dangerous missile.

One of the great advancements for blowing up tyres would have to be the CO2 compressed cylinders and applicator head.  A tyre can be re-inflated within seconds.  Be careful: the gas filled high pressured cylinder goes very cold when the gas is released with such force, so don’t throw away the protective cover over the cylinder (if it has one).

The other aspect is if the tyre has a slit right through the casing of the tyre, the tube will herniate out through and blow out the tube. A tip is to put a sleeve of any plastic $ note folded up or a wrapper off a energy bar inside the tyre over the slit. Also make sure that there is no tube caught between the tyre and rim as the sudden pressure can pinch the tube and you are back to changing another flat and a possible tyre that has the beading torn open.

See you on the road soon God willing

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