Soap bubbles show air escaping from bicycle tire

Laughing (to keep from crying)

The day dawned cloudy and wet, but by noon it was warm with hints of sunshine. I decided to have a go at mounting the tire on my newly rebuilt wheel.

Box of Schwalbe Doc Blue Professional tire sealant
Always the last place you look

I found the bottle of tire sealant right away, just where I expected to find it in the tool box. But it was nearly empty. I knew I’d bought another bottle, and so I started looking for it. I looked, and I looked, and … I took everything out of the toolbox, and didn’t find any sign of it. Then I remembered that I kept a number of bicycle things in a box in my den, as well as in an empty suitcase. The sealant was not in the box, and it was not in the suitcase.

I returned to the toolbox, and emptied it all out again. Nothing. It was a real head-scratcher. I was putting everything back in the toolbox, rearranging a few things as I went, and I was about to stick a small box back into a stack of boxes when I realized I didn’t know what was in the box. Wouldn’t you know it … I’d been looking for a black plastic bottle all along, and I hadn’t removed it from the box.

Bicycle wheel with tire pump attached to valve
Charged up for the first attempt

With all the necessary bits in order, I filled a pan with soapy water which I brushed all around the tire bead. I charged up the air reservoir to 120psi, attached the head to the valve and let it go. A lot of hissing, a lot of soap bubbles, but not much luck. The bead was near to seating but it was leaking all the way around.

Bicycle wheel and valve core tool
Valve core out

While I was resting up from the attempt, I looked around at the items I’d prepared, and I realized I hadn’t removed the valve core before trying. That was a moment’s work, and then I pumped up the reservoir again and soaped up the tire bead once more. This time when I opened the valve there was a lot of bubbling and then … it held. I hadn’t heard a loud pop when the beads seated, but the tire was holding some air.

Soap bubbles show air escaping from bicycle tire
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

I worked quickly then, superstitious that if I didn’t finish the job quickly, the seal wouldn’t hold. I removed the pump head and added sealant in through the valve. Then I replaced the valve core and inflated the tire again. This time I was rewarded with a couple of loud pops … the beads were fully seated.

Using a syringe to add sealant to a bicycle tireBicycle tire leaning against balcony railing
Sealant in, air in

Done! I swirled the sealant around the newly inflated tire to allow it to reach all areas of the bead. Nothing left to do but check that the beads were seated evenly.

Here’s where the crying part comes in

As part of seating a newly installed tire, I like to bounce it sharply against the ground a few times as I rotate it. While I was doing this I thought I heard something loose. I picked up the wheel and shook it. Something rattled. Not the sound of the latex sealant sloshing around, but a definite rattle.

The realization dawned on me with horror. When I removed the most recent broken spoke, I’d dropped the spoke nipple inside the rim. I had spent some time trying to rattle it out and then gave up, figuring I’d take care of it when I was ready to rebuild the wheel. Then, a couple of months later when all the parts were ready and I had time to set out on the rebuild, I’d shaken the rim to get the nipple out, and there was nothing. I remember at the time I’d shaken the rim more than a little bit and given it a few slaps, but there was no rattle. I’d shrugged my shoulders, figuring the nipple had fallen out by luck when I’d stuck the rim out on the balcony.

There was not a peep from the lost nipple the entire time I rebuilt and trued the wheel. But now it’s back. And it definitely needs to come out. With luck I’ll be able to get it out via the valve hole and not have to remove all the rim tape. But it’s going to be a mess with all that latex to deal with.

If I have any luck, the tire will go on more easily the second time around.


Rather than deal with the loose nipple right away, I decided to put the wheel aside again and have a go at mounting the other tire on the spare front wheel. I’d already prepped the rim with fresh tape and a valve, and I spent a couple of minutes wrestling the new tire into place.

Bicycle tire halfway mounted on rimBicycle wheel covered in soapy water and attached to pump
Soaped and ready

I gave the new tire the ol’ college try. Each time it seemed like it was about to get seated, but I was just blowing bubbles.

Soap bubbles showing air escaping from bicycle tire
Blowing bubbles

The tire is still a bit mishappen from having been folded up in the packaging, so it might be easier to let it sit for a week and then give it another try. These are spare wheels, after all, so there’s no real rush to get the job done.

Papa’s got a brand new bag

My last bit of maintenance for the day was to replace the cockpit bag on Kuroko. There’s nothing really wrong with the current bag except it doesn’t leave enough room in front of the saddle when I dismount. Nothing dangerous, just makes things a bit tight. The new bag is a few centimeters shorter, which should make a world of difference.

Detail of cockpit bag on bicycle
Fat Wally’s gotta go

Detail of cockpit bag on bicycle
Sukoshi more room in the crutch

I took everything out of the old bag — tissues, alcohol wipes, tire patches, minitool and omamori — and put it all in the new bag. With all that, my phone just fit. I’m not sure if my wallet will fit in as well. I’ve got a ride planned tomorrow and we’ll see if the change is worthwhile.

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One response to “Laughing (to keep from crying)”

  1. […] task that’s been on the back burner for more than a month now is to remove the loose nipple that I left rattling around inside the rear rim when I rebuilt the wheel. I didn’t remember the nipple was in there until I had the tire […]

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