Monday, April 15, 2013

Upside-down flat repair

Sometimes when I'm riding, I'll see another cyclist by the side of the road, obviously repairing a flat tire.

I can identify - I used to do that a lot myself. On a couple horrible days, three times in a day! (That will make you want to hang up the bike!) Thankfully, since I switched to Vittoria Randonneur tires, my flat quotient is WAY down. I haven't fixed a flat so far this year.

Years ago, I was a "professional" bicycle flat-tire repair instructor. Well... "professional" may be a stretch, but over the course of 2 or 3 years I taught a one-hour Community Education class. Probably 25 or 30 people learned the art of flat repair under my expert tutelage. (You can definitely save some cash... I understand most bike shops don't patch tubes, but rather replace them. My personal policy is - 3 or 4 patches, then the tube gets replaced.)

Whenever I've been repairing a flat enroute, I've always thought it was VERY nice when a passing cyclist asked if everything was OK, and I generally try to do the same thing, or at least make sure they're equipped with what they need, to get the job done.

If the flat-tire victim has his bicycle turned upside down, I tend to dismiss that person as an "amateur." Is that wrong? Do y'all turn your bikes upside-down, to fix a flat tire?

I used to, years and years ago (probably 1000 flat repairs ago! haha). But I observed, and learned from practice, that it's at least as easy to separate a wheel from a bike by lifting the bike... and that keeps your saddle, brake hoods, handlebar tape, bike computer, etc., from getting scuffed up in the dirt.

Nowadays, if you see me fixing a flat tire, my bike will be lying on its side, or leaning against a support... or after the third flat in a day, maybe crumpled in a heap where it landed after I tossed it! (Just kidding about that last one. As much as I've felt like it a time or two, I've never tossed my bicycle.)


db said...

If my flat is on the rear tire, I will flip the bike upside down AFTER removing the tire. That way, the chain doesn't get dragged in the dirt. I remove the computer and the light before turning it upside-down, though.

.t-b0ne. said...

I think the importance of getting a good set of tires (spending at *least* $40/set) needs to be more emphasized. Panaracer Pasela TG's, Schwalbe Marathon, and these days I'm rollin' on Conti Country Plus 20x1.9's. They may be heavy, but the flat protection is definitely there, and it has a great profile for roads and dirt/broken paths. *always* get a good set of tires, and it may be months, or even years before you have to patch a flat.

As for flipping the bike, it depends on what bike I'm working on: If I'm on a geared bike and need to change the rear, I'd do the same as you suggest (leaning, or on its side). If i'm working on my SS GT with its solid axles/bmx hubs, I'll flip it as to better tension and center the wheel between the rear stays/on the dropouts.

thx biek naziii

Scott said...

Ditto DB. I flip my bike upside down if my flat is on the rear. One nice thing about the Topeak trunk bags is that they detach, so I don't have to worry about dumping my goodies on the ground when I flip the bike. Also, I can get to my tools since the trunk bag is right there beside me.

Marcus said...

Rear tube flat: bike is upside-down.

However, I do ride quality touring tires and rarely ride on sidewalks, alleyways, dirt paths, gravel, parking lots, etc.

Down at the Boise Bicycle Project we always joke: "There are two ways of avoiding flats, you either change your riding behavior or buy your way out of it".

.t-b0ne. said...

*and of course, certain bikes just do not stand well upside down, like my road bike w/'stache bars, or say drops with non-aero brakes... otherwise, flip dat shite ;)

Clancy Anderson said...

I have left the wheel on and pathced a flat. Not to hard if you can identify the offending puncture from the outside. I recall it was on a loaded bike on a Weiser River trip.