Sunday, February 5, 2012

Studded Failure.

I have a new bicycle in what I suppose I can call my "collection". I always thought it was weird to have multiple bicycles- why would you want more than one? But Zoomie has proven to absolutely hate having studded tires.

I rode to work the morning after we studded both tires. The ride was great, although the road was dry. It would figure that the promise of snow would prove to be a myth after I spend the time to winterize Zoomie. Also we had at least 2 weeks of sunshine being forecast. Oh well. Zoomie got me to work just fine, and I was feeling really happy with our project. I do hear the studs on the roadway, but its a soft noise that quickly becomes normal and unimportant. The same with the slight bumps of the studs on the tires: at slower speeds you notice the  vibration, but at normal pedaling speeds it just doesn't matter. I didn't feel any slower with the studs at all, which was also nice.

I remember talking with one of my bus mechanics after my route about the new studs that he noticed, so I am fairly certain the front tire was inflated at that time. I rode Zoomie to the top of the small inclined driveway when my husband called. I stopped there and spoke with Jamie for maybe 2 minutes, straddling Zoomie out of the saddle with both feet on the ground. When I went to pedal after hanging up, there was a very strange feeling and sluggishness and I discovered in the middle of the road that the front tire was extremely flat.

I wheeled Zoomie back inside to a few strange looks (why is Aimee back?). I disassembled the wheel and while Zoomie perched precariously on top of a first aid kit (fenders can be a slight annoyance sometimes), I found and patched the leak. I discovered that one layer of duct tape does not a durable liner make. The screw heads had torn the duct tape a little bit, mostly on the sidewall side f the tire rather than towards the center. I added seat tape. That is a cloth tape much like duct tape that the shop uses in various colors to patch rips and tears in the vinyl seats of our school buses. I thought the cloth might prove more durable. I applied it right over the duct tape already there.

It turns out that if you have a flat tire- it may be due to more than one hole.

We aired it up again to have all the air hiss out almost immediately. I discovered 3 more holes. It's a good thing I had just cut up my last big patch into more smaller ones! After patching those holes also, we aired up the tire again and things seemed ok. I only prayed that the rear tire would hold- I was trying not to be late getting home because I was supposed to be taking a leftover burrito to Jamie at school for us to share breakfast.

One mile from work, Zoomie went flat again on the front and I had to tell Jamie to buy food for himself. I was really disappointed too, because I love going places on my bike, like pedaling to the bowling alley bar to drive him home after he celebrated the last day on a job by having a few drinks with coworkers. Or a sort of "picnic" for breakfast on campus.

I walked most of the way home with Zoomie before being rescued by some coworkers, who drove me the last little bit to my house.

To try and fix the studded tire, I had to take it all apart again, and we decided to try a new method to protect the tube. I had been told by the wonderful employee at Home Depot to use an old inner tube to line the tire. Thanks to the studs, I now had a junk tube to use, but only one. So, using more seat tape, I made little tape and inner tube "band aids" or both tires. I cut pieces of tube and taped them in place over each pair of studs. I installed the new tube on the front.

I rode to work. I rode home. Yay!
I went out to get Zoomie to ride to work that afternoon. Flat front tire!

I got home from work and took the wheel apart. The hole this time appeared to be from a fold of duct tape which might have had a sharp point which the tube might have been rubbing against which created a hole. I patched it and reassembled everything. Jamie expressed concern that I didn't test the patch before putting it all back together, since the 4 patches I put on earlier had apparently failed. I was pretty sure I knew the mistake I had made- I hadn't let the rubber cement dry before pressing patches to tube. This time I did.

The first patch I had ever applied (before I lost the directions) held fine for months until I messed things up by installing studs, what could go wrong?

I woke up and Zoomie had a flat front tire. I switched my lights over to the mountain bike which I had replaced the tube in just in case, wrapped my cable lock onto it and I rode a different bike to work for the first time.

I've decided to name it "Foreman" after Red Foreman on That 70's Show. I thought it was a cuter name than simply Red. Foreman's tires seem impossibly wide after riding ZoomieZoomie.

I am not sure at this point if I even want to try a whole tube as a liner for the studs (without any of the previous tape), or if I just want to take the studs out completely. The weather is still forecasting sunny days. Well, one day shows a 20% chance of rain/snow, but here in Klamath if it isn't at least a 50% chance, it is more than likely you won't see any rain at all. I can use Foreman as my "winter" bike and Zoomie the rest of the time, I suppose.