As if I got dropped in today’s Tour stage, I’ve got some serious catching up to do this week! I’ve been away on vacation riding some sweet car-free roads in Oregon, and after that, in 100+ degree Vegas, where I only dared ride in the cool evening on a trainer.
In the meantime, there’ve been some great technical discussions in RBR Newsletter and in Comments. So today I’m going to weigh in briefly on fast tubed clincher-tire flat repair and speed wobble, also known as “shimmy.”
Fast clincher tire flat repair
Because the road tubeless tips appeared in the same issue last week as my Tech Talk with fast clincher flat tire repair secrets, I want to clarify that I was talking about removing tubed clincher tires fast, not tubeless tires.
Tubeless tires can be harder to install and remove. And, especially if you had a flat that required installing a tube in the tubeless tire.
So, for tubeless tires, I recommend carrying tire levers because you will probably need them should you run over something sharp and puncture. If you used sealant in your tubeless tires, it should seal it, and usually so quickly you won’t even know you just put a hole in your tire.
I’ve also noticed what appears to be an increase in what I consider poorly designed standard wheels (not tubeless) that make tire installation and removal overly difficult. The only way to know if you’re going to run into this problem with a wheelset you’re thinking of buying is to actually try installing and removing the tires you like to use. So, that’s exactly what I recommend doing.
And, I wouldn’t buy any wheelset that doesn’t allow you to pop the tires on and off as easily as the wheels you have now. Wheel makers should be checking this and there’s no reason it should be a battle to fix a flat tire or change tires. I see that as a defect in the design of the wheelset, to risk stranding a rider for want of being able to fix a simple flat tire.
At the very least, if you test fit your tires before buying those new hoops, you’ll find out if you need to carry a crowbar in your seat bag for your next flat!
Dealing with speed wobble
This is an important safety issue because I’ve seen speed wobbles occur on everything from superlight road bikes to mountain bikes and even beefy electric cruisers. I’ve owned several wobblers myself.
In my worst incident, I barely escaped crashing while descending Monitor Pass, a long climb above Lake Tahoe and one of Greg LeMond’s favorites back in the day. Luckily, I knew to clamp the top tube between my knees and I was able to steady the bike and keep riding. But it did scare me into slowing down a lot.
However, there was error in last week’s Reader Feedback on Bike Shimmy that should be corrected. In that article, it said, “It is virtually impossible for a speed wobble to occur on a tandem.”
This is not true. Tandems may wobble, too, as was recorded by the late, great Bicycling Magazine tech guru Fred DeLong. He described one when riding in the Alps with his wife on their tandem. He said it was so bad, that when they finally got the bike under control, the top tube had shimmied so violently that he was black and blue on both inner thighs!
I felt it was important to mention this so that tandem riders don’t think they don’t need the tips to stop a speed wobble. I have experienced it on so many different bikes, and have heard so many rider anecdotes about it, that I recommend everyone know about it and keep the tips in mind for regaining control. You’ll be happy you did should your bike someday start wobbling.
It’s terrifying, so be ready! And, whatever you do, hang on and don’t let go.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.