Detail of bicycle tire showing gash in tread

The Ol’ Switcheroo

I’m working from home today and the weather is glorious. I don’t know when the urge to play hooky has been so strong.

Telling the monkey on my back to chill, I took advantage of the warm sun to deal with the flat that happened on the way home from Hamura on the last ride.

I’ve seen people with similar gashes in their tires stitch them up with needle and thread and continue using them — at least until they get a chance to replace them. But I figured I have no need for such extreme measures when I already have a spare set of wheels with perfectly good tires. Just need to freshen them up and pop them on the bike and I should be good to go.

That was the theory

I built up these wheels a year ago and used them only a few months before swapping them out again. I intend to use them long-term, particularly for multi-day rides, but I have a little more work to do before I switch to a dynamo light full-time. Until then, the slick tires I’ve been using offer a bit more efficiency.

But given these were set up a year ago, and before I realized I was using crap sealant, I knew I had to replace the sealant before putting these on Kuroko again. The tires have been sitting for months and so had almost no pressure, and it was just a moment’s work to unseat one bead. As expected, the sealant inside was totally done for. I spent a couple of minutes sopping up the liquid with paper towels, and wiping up some of the hardened latex. (I didn’t bother trying to remove it all, though.)

I poured in a healthy dollop of fresh sealant — the good stuff, this time — probably a bit more than absolutely necessary. And then worked the bead back on the rim by hand.

And then I wondered: I’ve seen a lot of videos of people inflating tubeless tires using just a normal hand pump. It’s never worked for me. I’ve had trouble even using the Joe Blow with the holding tank. But this time I was working with ideal circumstances: one bead was already seated, and the tire had already been in place on the rim for a year. Surely … ? I attached the Joe Blow but instead of charging up the holding tank I just started pumping air right into the tire. And … Pop! Pop! Pop! The tire seated almost immediately.

I pumped the tire up to the max 60psi and then swirled it around to distribute the new sealant. I bounced it a couple of times on the workshop floor and then inspected the bead all the way around to make sure it was seated: it was perfect.

I followed up with the front tire, and it was exactly the same routine. I was a bit less certain about getting it to seat, but it eventually did after just a few more pumps than the rear had required.

Gearing up

The cogs came off the “old” wheel without much fuss. I nearly got them on the “new” wheel at a single go, but then I muffed it and had to spend some time carefully aligning individual cogs and spacers. Nothing out of the ordinary. I got them on the hub nice and tight, and then it was a moment’s work to get the wheels mounted on the bike.

The wheels were rubbing the brakes a bit, which isn’t unexpected. I decided to adjust the brakes and check the shifting next.

Where theory meets practice

Adjusting the brakes means loosening the calipers, holding the brake lever down (I use a thick rubber band for this purpose) and then tightening the calipers again. I started with the rear, and my first thought was a bit of surprise that the bolts were already fairly loose.

My surprise turned to dismay as I found myself tightening the bolts against no resistance. After a couple of attempts, one of the bolts dropped out of the frame. A close inspection revealed the truth: there were a couple of threads of silver metal around the bolt threads. In other words, the bolt was stripped out of the caliper.

When I rebuilt Kuroko with Di2 shifters and hydraulic brakes, the bolts I’d used for the rear caliper were a bit short — in fact they were engaged by only a couple of threads. Obviously that wasn’t enough, and I knew it at the time. It’s been on my mental list since then to replace them with more suitable bolts. And that time has come. With luck, only the first couple of threads of the caliper have been stripped, and there’s lots of good thread left to engage when I get some bolts of the proper length.

Adjusting the front brake went easily enough, but there’s still just a bit of rubbing after I was done. No doubt these discs are a bit wider than the well-used ones they’re replacing. I’ll take care of that once I’ve sorted out the rear caliper.

It’s binning time!

Detail of bicycle tire showing gash in tread
Where it all started

With all that out of the way (and Kuroko still in the stand), I turned my attention to the gashed tire that started all this. It was, indeed, still gashed. It didn’t take long to let the air out of the innertube and then strip the tire off the rim. The wheel gets stored in the Workshop in the Sky until I’m ready for it again. I wiped the remaining latex off the innertube and hung it over the workstand to dry: it can be used as a spare again.

As for the tire …

Used bicycle tire, folded
Dispose responsibly

Every time something like this happens, my buddy points out what a rotten PR flak I’d make for cycling as a hobby.

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3 responses to “The Ol’ Switcheroo”

  1. […] went to the bike shop yesterday and got some M5x18 bolts to replace the shorter ones that had stripped out of Kuroko’s rear brake caliper. These turned out to be a perfect fit, and I soon had a working rear brake once […]

  2. […] a great day for a ride (and my only chance this weekend), so I quickly prepped Kuroko, fresh off not one but two days of maintenance, and set […]

  3. […] (I used it on Lejog, and I’ve had it on the bike — sans lights — since I did a wheel swap a while back) and the lights, but I need a mount to put the front light on the fork crown. […]

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