Friday, May 24, 2019

Riding Into The Holiday Weekend!

Hopefully you've got one or both feet out the door already before the holiday weekend (assuming you're down here in Canada's leaky sub-basement where we observe Memorial Day), but if you're me you spend most of your time out the door and only pop back in occasionally to type words into the void that is the World Wide Internet.  For example, after a brief Titanium Fredding relapse yesterday, I once again saddled up my Artisanal Singlespeed from Engin Cycles, only this time I focussed my attention on the Trails Behind The Mall:

Prior to the ride I had also re-tubeless-ized my tires, since out of laziness I'd allowed them to lapse into a tubed state.  See, I'd appropriated the valves from this bike when I tubeless-ized the Jones awhile back, and the other day I finally got around into stopping in a bike shop and getting a new set so I could seal up the rubber on the Engin again.

As a world-renowned semi-professional bike blogger and social media influencer I have been very lucky over the years to have received various pieces of fine cycling equipment that I have neglected to return to the people who sent them to me.  (Wooden bicycles, novelty fixies, that sort of thing.)  Also, between my vaunted status and my many years of bicycle cycling, I have a lot of stuff. Therefore, on the relatively infrequent occasions when I do need to visit a bike shop, I feel like I somehow owe it to them to let them upsell me (which they always try to do), especially if it's a small item.  For example, if I ask for a tube, I'll let them hand me the more expensive name-brand tube instead of the cheaper ones that are clearly visible right next to them.

Still, it did not occur to me that I could be upsold on a pair of tire valves.  (Bear in mind I've never bought tubeless tire valves before so I have no idea what they cost; the Engin was my first tubeless bike and it came fully assembled, and I never bothered to switch any of my other bikes over until the Jones.)  When the person at the shop handed me a package of WTB something-or-others and explained that these were the valves he recommended because they were aluminum and therefore saved weight I tried not to laugh audibly, and I should have known at that moment I was in for it.  Nevertheless, I was shocked to turn the package over and see the price: twenty-eight American fun tickets!  Egads!

Alas, the words "Do you have anything cheaper?" stuck in my throat, and instead I paid for the valves and went on my way.  Only later did I turn to the Internet to see what these things usually go for.  As it turns out, $28 is indeed on the high side (brass ones seem to cost less than half that, but those extra three grams will really slow you down), and for less than that I could have gotten Silca stems with a speed shield:

Mind you, I have no idea what a speed shield is, but if you like to go fast yet need protection obviously this is something you absolutely have to have.  I'll also probably upgrade to their SpeedBalance system, which is a bargain at $36:

I was definitely looking for the "ultimate marginal gains" while shooting sealant into my tires with a syringe like I was basting a turkey.

Anyway, the sticker shock has now subsided, and while I can't say I noticed the reduced weight of the aluminum, they are black, and arguably they're worth it for that alone:

Retail is so confusing, I don't know how you normals do it.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Possible lunch time podium?

Anonymous said...

I keep thinking about getting a tubeless setup, because or "reasons" like the up-selling thing, but then I read a thoughtful piece which gives me pause. I can buy a lot of tubes for 28 fun tickets and I don't have to deal with sealant oozing out like cream out of a doughnut or, even worse, exploding all over your face like in a bad porn movie. (Sorry if this is a repost but g**gle sucks.)

TGIF said...

Serious question: If a tire says on its side it is "tubeless ready," does that mean it has a tube in it, or that it can be run without one?

No making fun of me and my lame questions, please,

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:22pm,

It's worth it for a MTB. I haven't had any weird issues with oozing sealant or anything like that. I lapsed on the tubeless with the Engin because my tires wore out and I was in a hurry to change them so just stuck tubes in. Once you get the hang of the initial setup it's a good system and the benefits are real.

(Though if your rims aren't tubeless-ready that changes the calculus.)

--Tan Tenovo

N/A said...

My bike shop does some pretty generous markup on their goods, too. But I'm of a similar mindset, I'll buy the more expensiver "cheap" stuff just to throw them a bone. I also usually have them build me a set of wheels a year. It's worth it to help do my part to help keep a little local place around.
And though it's been a stretch since Ive needed a hail Mary Friday night fix before a race, I know I can count on the shop. Aint no amount of beers going to make Amazon help.

BikeSnobNYC said...


"Tubeless ready" means the tire is rated for tubeless use (though if it's already installed on the bike it may or may not have a tube in it depending on how the bike has been set up).

--Tan Tenovo

pbateman is not stable nor genius but gets by just fine said...


I would like to extend some hearty good vibes for the copy writing marketing genius for that one. just fucking lovely.


enjoy laboring you galoots and ride safe.

Leslie Wong said...

When a $100 haircut place opened up next to my barbershop (who was charging $18 for a haircut at the time), on Columbus Avenue, Frank stopped cutting my hair for a second and said, "Leslie, the more people get f*cked, the more they like it."

skydave said...

Isn't a "Stable Genius" something like a horse whisperer?

Some guy from upstate said...

Is UST (universal system for tubeless, or something like that - special rims and tires with a hooked bead) still a thing? It seems like going tubeless now mainly entails something to seal up the spoke holes, a valve, and sealant. I'm still not sold,but those 29er tubeschew are pretty heavy, so it might need to consider it for the XC bike

Cuomo said...

"Tubeless Ready" means the tire basically has an inner tube already molded into its carcass (to make it air-tight), which is why it is heavier and stiffer than a normal tire. Also, it means it might take you half a day to get on or off your rim. If you're getting pinch flats from smashing in to things while bicycle cycling, consider tubless-izing, otherwise I'd skip it, according to me. And don't pay more than $15 for a pair of brass tubeless valves, the shop is already doubling their money on that deal.

Anonymous said...

Single-speeds are so 2007. Get some gears!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Some guy from upstate,

Tubeless compatible rims help the bead lock into place, there's a "pop" when that happens. I'd say the wider you go on tires the more sense it makes to go tubeless. A 29er is one thing (I'd say on balance tubeless is better but I never minded tubes very much), but after a few years now riding "plus"-sized bikes where you're suing like 12psi I'd say using tubes is borderline ridiculous.

--Tan Tenovo

BikeSnobNYC said...


BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 10:54am,

Telling people to get gears is so 2005.

And when you have more than five bikes you *have* to have at least one singlespeed, it's the law.

--Tan Tenovo

Ichthyander Schulze said...

Riding any more than ambient pressure is so Q1/2019

JLRB said...

Don't forget to remember

huskerdont said...

Can't believe you actually think anyone who comments on here can even pass for normal.

If I ever get around to replacing the rims on the MTB, I am going to go tubeless. Finally went mountain biking again yesterday and that was one of four things I decided I want to do with that mountain bike. (If you're playing at home, narrowing the handlebars, getting a shorter crank, and (maybe) going to 1X are the others; I keep striking or almost striking things better left unstruck.)