How to Change out a flat tire like a pro in 2 Minutes flat

Hey all, flats do occur and you need to know how to change these out.  This short action list is all you need to fix a flat like a pro.flat tire picture

Hopefully, you are using my tips to prevent flats, but they still occur sometimes.

Actions to change a flat tire:

  1. Disengage the brake
  2. Remove the wheel from the bike. I assume you have quick releases, and if you do not than pull out your crescent wrench and use this to remove wheel
  3. Fully deflate the tire, if not already done through the puncture failure point.
  4. Use the tire lever tool to remove the tire from your rim
  5. Remove the rubber hose from the tire
  6. If possible, take a damp rag or shirt and clean out any rocks and debris from inside the tire
  7. Take the new rubber hose and partially inflate (I recommend a small pump here rather than the CO2 cartridges) just enough to easily snake back into tire
  8. Place partially inflated rubber hose into the tire
  9. Position inflation nipple into hole of rim
  10. Use the tire lever tool to place tire on rim again (you may need to deflate the tire again)
  11. Once tire completely on rim, partially pump up tire and ensure that the rubber hose is completely below the tire (if not deflate and get rubber tube positioned completely below tire)
  12. Complete pumping up the tube
  13. Remount bike wheel
  14. Reengage the brake

That is it- simple and to the point.  Good luck all.

 

How to be a night rider without having to be above the law:

It is starting to get dark out earlier here on the top side of the world and we need to stay safe while biking as the sun starts setting sooner.   Getting caught in the dark can be stressful if you are not prepared.

First and foremost it is important to remember safety and visibility is paramount. Knowing that the darkness is coming sooner here are 8 suggestions to help you stay safe during the evening hours:

  1. Rear lights. The rear lights that are battery operated allow you to stand out where you are most vulnerable, when a car comes up from the rear. Make yourself visible.
  2. Front lights. The front light is the second most important piece of equipment. It allows you to see the road and oncoming cars to see you as well. Get as strong a light as possible. With the LED lights you can get very high Lumens at low energy requirements.
  3. Brightly colored jacket. Preferably one of the yellow neon jackets. These make you much more visible when a light is shined upon you as well. Additionally, they keep you protected from the rain and weather.
  4. Blinking light on backpack or helmet. One of these devices helps you to stick out more through the rapidly blinking light.
  5. Reflectors on your wheels. When a car is coming onto your perpendicular to you these reflectors help you to stick out further.
  6. A bell. Sometimes while riding you come across pedestrians who may not being paying attention and a bell can help communicate quickly that there is a bike rider nearby.
  7. Choose lightly traveled routes. This applies in summer as well. However, in winter it applies even more. Find paths where cars move the slowest, or not at all.
  8. Cell phone. Keep your charged cell phone on you, so if you do get into further trouble you are able to call home or call a taxi to give you a hand.

These simple tips will keep you safe and let you be a night rider too.

How to Stop flats from happening in the first place

Flat tires happen, and it sucks when you have to change a flat in the dark on a busy street under a street lamp. However, these events can be avoided through preventative maintenance and there are actions you can take to minimize the chances of a flat tire.

These are the actions to minimize the chances of a flat tire while commuting:

  1. Avoid broken glass and other debris on the road.
  2. Avoid bunny hopping over curves – this increases the pressure on the tire at impact.
  3. Ensure tires inflated to optimal pressure. If you see on the side of the tire it tells me that the optimal tire pressure is between 4 and 7 bar (55 and 100 psi) for my bike. The tires should be checked weekly – see maintenance schedulerubber pressure examples
  4. Check the wheels of your tires monthly and look for the following:
    1. Cracks in the rubber – if you see cracks then change them outbad tread example
    2. Bulges in the tire – this shows a weak point in the tire and indicates a good failure point
    3. If you can see the fabric due to wear – means you are starting to compromise the integrity of the tire and time to change it out
    4. If you see a different colored rubber (this is a telltale sign of wear and indicates it is time to change out the tires)
    5. Are you getting flats more often than before (3 times in the last 3 months) – then it is time for new tires.
  5. Rotate your tires per the maintenance schedule every 6 months / 2000 miles – this is done to equalize the amount of wear on your tires to prolong the life overall.
    1. When you rotate your tires, clean out the tire with a damp and soapy wash cloth to remove any small stones that might have migrated under the tire.

The actions above are preventative maintenance, which are little actions that should extend the useful life of your tires (analogous to a stitch in time saves 9) and prevent flat tires. Since implementing this process, I have not had a flat tire in the last 2.5 years, so this works!

However, flats do ultimately occur and therefore you need to know how to change out a flat tire.  Check out this article on fixing flats.

I hope that you adopt the preventative actions so that you can escape the in the dark tire changing events that I had to go through. Bike commuting is great, and you do need to do a little bit of preventative maintenance to avoid the pain I experienced and since I have adopted these actions, I too have eliminated the in the darkness tire changing events.

Let me know how this goes for you. Happy bike commuting 🙂

Lights, Camera, Action!

woman-with-video-camera-for-web1I have come across a couple of times in which having a camera would be useful when commuting by bike. The video mounted camera is especially useful if you get into an altercation. It seems that very often the police do not do a good job enforcing violations when bikes are involved and having video proof helps to make your case if you or your bike were hurt in an accident. This is definitely something for increased safety and a good cover your butt move.

These are the following things that you need in a good bike camera:

  • Video capture capability
  • Memory storage which covers the time length of your commute one way
  • Able to mount on your bike, person or helmet – depends on what makes you most comfortable
  • Weatherproof
  • Able to handle the expected temperature extremes you may be riding in of -5 C to 45 C

There are many different cameras out there that fill this need. The best known name in the extreme sports section is the GoPro camera. These cameras are quite good, and very expensive.   The asking price of the GroPro Hero 3+ silver edition is $299.99 as of August 2014. On top of everything you are looking for above this camera is also waterproof up to 40 m water depth (deeper than sport divers). Additionally, this camera can be synced with your iPhone and you can see in real time what your camera is recording, in order to optimize the positioning.

For those looking at a midrange camera I recommend the Polaroid XS100. This is also a very solid camera and priced around $120. Of all the cameras, this camera has the best price to quality ratio. You cannot go wrong with this unit. It is also waterproof up to 30 m too, which is at the maximum depth of sport divers (if you are into that).

However, if you are a little more price conscious than I recommend the camera from Asone. It has many adapters and fits very well on to your helmet.   The asking price is $67.42 as of August 2014. It has good reviews and appears to be a solid plugger.

Any of these choices are solid cameras that can be a great add to your bike commuting set up. In the end I recommend that you mount your camera on your helmet, if you wear one. This limits the amount of vibrations you see on the screen.   Even though some of these cameras are able to stabilize the picture, the fewer vibrations on the camera, the better the picture, and the fewest vibrations are when the camera is mounted on you rather than on the bike.

Let me know if you have had experience with other cameras or what your experiences are with the cameras I mentioned above.

 

Good luck and happy riding 🙂

Gearing systems for commuter bikes

When looking for a commuter bike there are a number of different types of gearing systems that you can use for commuting. Bike gearing can be as simple as a single speed all the way to 28 speed with deraliuers. For bike commuting you want something simple, and sturdy and reliable.

Remember you are providing the power to the wheels through your pedaling and there is an optimum pedaling range to give the best effort to speed ratio.

 First the different types:

  1. Single speed. This is like the first bike we had when we first learned to ride a bike. No gears, and no worries. The braking system can either be through braking with the pedals or using the handle brakes if you have them. This is by far the simplest, and the downside is if you have a lot of hills, the gearing ratio will not be optimal and your efforts go up significantly.
    1. There is a subset to a single speed, and it is called a Fixy. The bike does not have any pedal braking and you must continuously pedal. I do not recommend this bike for commuting, because in commuting you must stop at lights, slow down for traffic, and look out for pedestrians. For this reason this type of bike, in my opinion, is much too dangerous for commuting.
  2. External Derailleur System. Here you can see all the gearing when looking at the bike. Normally you have 2-3 gears in the front and 5-9 gears in the back.   This gives you a total of up to 27 gear combinations. The external derailleur system’s advantage overall all others is its better efficiency and less weight for a gear system. External Derailleurs work well for commuting.derailleur
  3. Internal Hub gearing system. This bike gearing has all the gears hidden inside the wheel hub. The gearing uses a planetary gearing system. The advantages of this system are the gears and oil for the gears is protected from the elements. The maintenance with this system is significantly less than all others. The hub system works well for commuting.hub inside-out

Efficiency:

The efficiency of converting the human power input into forward momentum is determined by a number of factors – roll or road resistance, air resistance and the best gearing ratio chosen.

  • Roll resistance – this is determined by type of road finish, the tire width, tire rubber type and tire pressure. All things being equal, in order to reduce roll resistance chose thin tires and keep tires properly inflated.
  • Air resistance – increases greatly as speed increases and is the most significant factor at speeds above 10 miles (16 km) per hour. The drag force increases in proportion to the square of the speed. Therefore at higher speeds this becomes the dominate resistance.
  • Optimal gearing ratio – You, the power source, work best when the revolutions per minute are around 100 rpm. If you go much over this, then you lose efficiency as you start to bounce in your seat and your legs are pumping too quickly.

All things being said you can expect the following in efficiencies:

gear efficiency

As a good rule of thumb you can expect about a 2% advantage using a external derailleur system over a hub gearing system. This is not huge, but is a slight advantage.

Final Recommendation:

Therefore, when choosing a commuter bike, either an external derailleur or a hub gearing system are good choices. If you prefer speed than an external derailleur is your best bet (2% better) and if you want total simplicity than a gear hub is your best choice (gearing is protected from elements).