Monday, July 30, 2018

When Your Words Come Back To Haunt You

***My fellow New Yorkers: Sign the Complete the Concourse petition.  Thank you***

In my most recent Outside column I wrote about old bike stuff that still works good:

One of those stuffs was inner tubes, about which I had this to say:

Well, wouldn't you know it, shortly after sharing this column last Friday I headed out on the Jones SWB Complete for a ride:

It was one of those rides that was so enjoyable I kept congratulating myself as I rode for managing to steal away, and while I'd only planned on a fairly short outing I kept making additional withdrawals from the mileage bank since this bike just makes you want to ramble:

Eventually I decided to head up to my favorite lunch spot:

Where I like to splurge every so often on something sustainably curated such as this:

Moreover, I decided I'd get to Stone Barns via some singletrack I don't know all that well and that I probably shouldn't even be writing about for the sake of discretion, but what does it matter really since who even reads this blog anymore anyway?

In any event, there I was roughly 20 miles into my ride, now riding the aforementioned singletrack with visions of artisanal quiche dancing in my head and still patting myself on the back with every pedal stroke for what an awesome ride I was having.  Then, just as the trail started getting unfamiliar, I felt my rear tire go soft.  Flat tire.  Goddamn it.

Hey, no big deal.  Naturally I always carry a tube and a patch kit.  So I hopped off the bike and got to work.

This is where my words in Outside came back to taunt me.

The Jones is tubeless-ready, but of course it comes with tubes installed.  The Marin is also tubeless-ready, and it also comes with tubes installed.  But while I've never had any difficulty replacing a tube on the Marin (which I guess is why I never bothered to go tubeless in the first place), the Jones was another story.  The wheel/tire combo is snug.  Really snug.  Of course you want this when you're setting up tubeless, but when you're using tubes in the woods what it means is a protracted struggle that involves sweating profusely as mosquitos swarm all around your person and you push your wimpy thumbs to the breaking point.

Then, when I finally got the tube in, it turned out my diminutive hand pump was not powerful enough to push the tire bead completely out of the channel in the center of the rim.  (The fact that I was using an undersized tube didn't help.)  That meant that even at maximum pressure there was a gap between the tire bead and the rim that looked like this:


So of course I did what any reasonable person would do:

Ride it anyway and hope he tire would seat itself eventually.

It did not.

By now time was becoming a factor (I had to be home to parent), so not only did I give up on my Stone Barns repast but I also abandoned the trail and simply bushwhacked to the nearest roadway where I emerged sweaty, dirty, and irritated.  No sooner had I remounted when another of my Outside columns came to life and a driver attempted to stop me for directions.  Before he could even finish I replied with my usual "I don't know I don't live around here," at which point the driver began to argue and insist I must know where he wanted to go, and the fact that I didn't put the Jones through his windshield should qualify me for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The upshot of all of this was that I spent the entire trip home bucking and undulating on my wobbly unseated rear tire like a novice equestrian who's never learned how to post.  This was bad enough on the flats, but on the downhills it was severe enough to nearly throw me.  So by the time I got home I was...cranky.  

Needless to say I set the Jones up tubeless the first chance I got over the weekend, and ironically the very snugness that made my trailside repair attempt so frustrating meant that I was able to get the tire seated with an ordinary floor pump.  (I should probably get one of those tubeless-compatible floor pumps, but I haven't yet.)  So all is right with the world.

Indeed, by way of redemption I headed out for a truncated version of Friday's ride on the now-tubeless Jones this very morning and had a positively delightful time:

So, in conclusion, if you order yourself a Jones SWB Complete (which you should), save yourself some time and do the tubeless setup as soon as you take it out of the box.  You'll be glad you did.  Once you get the tube out of there everything should also seal up easily thanks to the snug fit.  All you'll need is a couple of tubeless valve stems and the sealant of your choice.  (I make my own out of pancake batter.)  Then just roll up one of the tubes and carry it with you for emergencies.  (Maybe if I'd used a full-sized tube I'd have been able to get the tire seated out on the trail.)

You're welcome.


Anonymous said...

Karma is a bitch

boys on the hoods said...

Tubeless podium???

boys on the hoods said...

Tubeless podium??

Anonymous said...

mosquito tire repair is one of the worst mt bike experiences

Chazu said...

The lion's name is Hans.

...who even reads this blog anymore anyway?

What are we? Chopped liver?

1904 Cadardi said...

Well at least you made it home and didn't end up a mosquito desiccated corpse next to a rusted out Jones.

Next time a driver asks you directions you can try a friend's strategy: point in the general direction you think they should go and say "next left/right, about a mile after that". They should end up closer to their destination where someone else can give them better directions. At the very least, they aren't bothering you anymore.

pbateman blew 40 bucks at a deer bar once said...

its hard to feel bad for anyone that gets to pedull and putz about on nice bikes all day...well, many of the days anyway.

but i do feel horribly sad for anyone that must live a life where eating gluten free quiche is a yummy lunch.

i'd rather eat the batter you use to seal your tires AFTER you've cleaned it out for a re-seat.

actually, do you have to clean out previous sealant to do re-seals?

my current ride is actually rolling on tires/wheels that are in theory tubeless, i've just never really bothered with it and know nothing of the stuff.

what an exciting ending to that tour de france? nearly as exciting as watching those deer watch you change a tire.

Skidmark said...

Blueberry pancake batter- it’s the blueberries that seal the leaky hole. That’s the trade-off for TECH (Take Easy Convert to Hard).

Die freeeeee said...

Let us know how the tubeless goo holds up long term.

bad boy of the south said...

Flatsies are flat,and that's that.
I'm glad that early rise of the headless horseman did not appear before you.

NYCHighwheeler said...

"... at which point the driver began to argue and insist I must know where he wanted to go..."
OK, that is hilarious!
You are a much kind person then I am. I would have directed the driver off into the suburban wilds with such great advice as, "the sign may say "Tappan Zee Bridge, but there is totally an exit before you cross the Hudson." And other assorted bullshit.

Also the the World of Cycling, the most important cycling event just wrapped up. No not the tour de Fronce, but RAGBRAI. I missed this years ride, but it looks like those that survived the corn maze stage must have had a fun ride.

BikeSnobNYC said...


The sealant will eventually dry into a little clump. Just remove clump and add more sealant, that's really it.

--Tan Tenovo

HDEB said...

"...just as the trail started getting unfamiliar..."

bad boy of the south said...

Meant..."THE early...".back to school i go.

Anonymous said...

It goes to say that new tech encourage the use new tech. In that sence, new bikes are becoming less universal, therefore, less reliable when they break (even if it happends less often).

Writing on the skynwall said...

When inside your tubeless tire is nothing but a dry clump, you would be more accurately described as tube free (as in commando) until such time as you add more liquid goo (2,3,4 times a year).

wishiwasmerckx said...

Your bead-seating difficulties remind me of a classic "groaner."

What do a walrus and Tupperware have in common?

They both like a tight seal...

Socially Incompatible said...

You clearly need tubeless-compatible tubes.
Or tube-compatible rims.
Send it back to Jones.
Maybe a tire jack in the toolbag?
The VAR tire lever?

JLRB said...

Iron yman

I've never used tubeless and hope I never get sucked into it

BikeSnobNYC said...


If you really want to make the most of very wide tires it's kind of unavoidable.

--Tan Tenovo

Writing on the skynwall said...

Also, to be fair, tubeless tires even with dried-sealant,do not go flat due to small thorn punctures the way tubes will, because the air can only escape from the actual hole in the tire. Tire bead, nipples, and valve stem are air-tight. Tubes leak air out and around to the valve stem hole rather freely.

Schisthead said...

Those are tubeless rims, even if you use a tube, you have to have specially formulated tubeless rim installation lubricant for your tire's high tolerance beads to mate properly with your rim. If you're using pancake batter for sealant, I would recommend Pam, or perhaps a generic equivalent.

Remember, if all you have is KY for lubricant, you'll have to switch to spooge for sealant or risk wheel system compatibility issues. Don't know where you'll get the chunks, I'd hate to be the one to have to ask.

BamaPhred said...

Are those normal deer, or are they mentally challenged? I have had many generations of wild deer, that are as safe as a park deer, that wander through the neighborhood and if you so much as touch a door handle to go outside they bound off. Yet you ride up to those, lay your bike down, and take pictures. Incredible.

PS. I got out of my comfort zone and travelled to a suburb of a large midwestern city. After driving the length of The Land of Lincoln, I decided it was hella flat I bieksickled over 10 miles at one stretch and did not gain 100 feet of elevation, I’m pretty sure that has never happened to me before. Another incredible.

Some guy from upstate said...

Hopefully the tight fit will prevent a repeat of my favorite tubeless tire incident: after last year's Black Fly Challenge, while everyone was sitting in the sunshine eating burgers and drinking beer, the tubeless tire on a bike lying on the ground next to our picnic table abruptly left the rim with a loud bang, spraying white goo around a 10 foot radius. There was much discussion about whether that was likely to happen on one of the fast gravelly downhills we had just ridden.

BikeSnobNYC said...


I never had much deer experience until I moved to the Bronx in 2012 and started riding in Westchester a lot. The place is rife with them, and they just stand there in herds on people's lawns, undaunted by everything. I know the towns try to sterilize them. Maybe whatever they're using takes away their flight instinct.

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

So the real issue was that you failed to bring the proper sized tube? But yanking the tubes out, then filling the tires with pancake batter was the solution? Let us know how often you must replace or rehydrate the pancake batter...or better yet forget all about it and have a great story the next time something punctures your whiz-bang, high-tech rim covers. You can eat the pancake batter while you mount the tubes and battle the bugs. But have the correct size tube this time!

leroy said...

My dog gave me a tire jack after hearing about me wrestling one late winter evening with the tire on my Milwaukee.

Well of course I was insulted... until the one time I used it.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 10:04pm,

Had a "regular" 27.5 tube instead of a plus-sized one. Have used them on the Marin without incident, but as I said this was a particularly snug tire so *maybe* if I'd had a plus tube it would have helped seat the tire better. Who knows.

Adding sealant a few times a year is generally sufficient. My Engin was always tubeless and was fairly worry-free. (There are tubes in there at the moment though for reasons I won't bore you with.)

--Tan Tenovo

JLRB said...

Tan T @ 6:46, so tubeless lets you ride the chubby tires at low pressure without pinching?

I think the chubbie bike I procured from a popular Tennessee dentist bike manufacturer is set up with wheels intended to be tubeless, which explains: (1) my pinch flat; and (2) my extreme pain when trying to get the tire off and on the rim. Maybe I will get sucked in to the tubeless goo set up after all, despite the precise logic of your Outside words.

STG said...


A few pieces of gear really help me with my tubeless tires.

One - Blackburn mammoth 2-stage anyvalve mini-pump. Has hi-volume and hi-pressure setting to quickly fill a tubeless tire. Comes with a frame bracket, which is a good safety feature, a pump in your jersey pocket or backpack can go perpendicular in a crash and break your back.

Two - Genuine Innovations bacon tire plugs. Insert into the hole in the tire and re-inflate. The tire does not need to be removed from the rim.

Three - Orange seal sealant, stays liquid longer than Stans and creates a film on the tire rather than a clump. Non-corrosive.

Unknown said...

Or, ditch the typically crappy micro-pump for something that can inflate tires to a respectable #whatpressureyourunnin

Anonymous said...

That photo of Stone Barns is a little too final solution-y.

Writing on the skynwall said...

Many/Most tubeless tires seem to require ~max recommended psi to “pop” the bead into place. That’s a lot of pumping even with a full-size floor pump.

Anonymous said...

No photo so it didn't happen.

Name said...

No photo so it didn't happened.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

Mr. Tan, I know everybody has put in their five cents about your seating your tires trouble... and I'm sure their five cents are much more valuable than anything I say since I ain't never ridden no bike with no sealant or no tube in the rubber (that's a quadruple negative!), but I hear you need a compressor to seat troublesome tires correctly... you therefore need to carry a compressor with your Jones.

Anonymous said...

Tubeless is hella sick until it's a huge pain in the ass. When you have fresh rims and tires, it works awesome. As soon as your rims start getting dinged up, and your sidewalls a little tired, it's not reliable. My rule of thumb is throw a tube in first flat, and don't change it until I'm putting on a new tire. I'm a dirtbag, and usually run the same tires f&r, keep the front tire fresh, and rotate the old front to the rear, til the sidelugs rip off. Does not work so hot with tubeless. You can't get away with running moderately hooped rims either.

Wesley Bellairs said...

F-That, buy Mavic normal rims and Panaracer tires and live your life. Both are 622 bsd, not 625 like Trek, et al.
What's next, a new car rack for TA hubs?
You're dealing with drug dealers who give you the first doses for free. Have you said goodbye to 18.00 wire beaded tires now that youre in the cool zone? How about normal spokes? Those gone too? No more loose balls for you! Just stop.