It never ceases to amaze me how poorly people understand the principals of bicycle tires, tubes, and wheels. Take this sampling of problems from today's work.
1. BMX bike brought in by a father that had NO BEARINGS in the front wheel. The wheel wobbled and banged around in the fork like crazy. Question: Did those bearings all leave at the same time? I think not! (Well.....there is the possibility that "Johnny Home Mechanic" pulled them out, but the axle was assembled too well for that!) So, hmmm..........when did we notice that something was wrong?
2. The tire and tube must be bad! I just got them, and the darn tube keeps going flat! Uhh, dude! Check the rim strip? Yeeeaaah! That's what I thought! (Rim strip was WAY too narrow, exposing some spoke holes. - the best part was that the customer claimed that he hadn't had a flat in years until the tire and tube was replaced, and the whole reason he had them replaced was because he was getting too many...............flats!) Gotta love customer logic!
3. Another flatting problem: This time the customer is complaining of chronic flats, and can't figure it out. Hmmm.........did'ja check the tyre, fer...ya know! Furrin' ob-jecks? Riiigggghhht! That's what I thought! So, I do the tube diagnosis thing. Find the hole, orient the tube to the tire, look in the inside of the casing in that general vicinity, and..........lo and behold! A small wire sticking inwards! Pulled that puppy out of the tire casing, and whattaya know? No flat, no more!
4. The Daily Sermon: Air pressure! It comes as a major surprise to most folks that the common tire, be it tubeless or tubed, has to regularly have it's air replenished. Yep! Some folks don't even know that most bicycle tires have tubes in them! Amazing! I suppose the fact that their tire sidewalls bulging, and the increasing difficulty that they have in pedaling their bike must be due to some form of black magic, the Republicans, or gasp! a terrorist plot to overthrow Major League Baseball!
5. Speaking of Conspiracy Theories.... The ongoing valve debates! Presta vs. Schrader, or in laymans terms, "that funny, skinny valve vs. the standard, car tire one." How many times have I had to recount the the answer to, "Why do they even have those!" (Ever wonder who the collective "they" are?)
Well that's a minor sampling. I'm sure anyone with any shop experience at all can relate. To those of you that don't toil in the shops of bicycling goodness, become a evangelist of Air. Spread the word amongst the brethren! Air- it's good! Roll on it! Give your tires the love that is Air! Understand their tubey nature! Get to know how to make them better, and let everyone else know too! Please! There are WAY too many air-heads out there, if ya know what I mean!
Iowa August 2014
23 hours ago