Author Topic: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner  (Read 4183 times)

Teachstache

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Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« on: June 16, 2017, 07:17:17 AM »
Hey all, I bought a used bike trailer yesterday for $30 to take my 2 year old around this summer and to daycare on my way into work in August. However, yesterday, I found that my bike tubes are completely flat. Any recommendations for a complete novice with no way to get my bike into the shop for how I go about replacing my bike tubes? I had Mr Tuffies with Slime Tubes previously installed by a now defunct bike shop 4 years ago (and haven't ridden my bike since having my 2 year old 😥), but I'm not seeing them online. Suggestions for best tubes and possibly tires to buy and where to get them? Tires are 28 x 1 5/8 x 1 3/8.

nereo

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2017, 07:27:13 AM »
There are tires and there are the tubes which go inside the tires.
Also, it's not abnromal for bike tires to go completely flat after 2 years of non-use.  Do they hold air after you've inflated them?

I highly recommend Continental Gator Skin tires (pretty close to puncture-proof with great durability). 
I've never seen much difference with tubes - I buy what my co-op sells for ~$4. IME as long as the tire is good and the inside free of debris any tube will work for non-race purposes.

For changing them you'll need only a set of tire levers (usually $6 or so at any bike shop or online).  Watch a YouTube video - it's not hard, just requires a bit of finger dexterity and some patience your first time doing it.

AlanStache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2017, 07:30:17 AM »
You need bike tire levers to get the tire off.  You can get these on Amazon along with new tubes - just get what ever is well reviewed.  I road long ago with some type of slime tire - did not stop the leaks or holes.  Always carry the tire levers, a spare tube and a pump.  As for how - it is fairly easy with the right tools and sized tubes/tires just watch a youtube video and be ready to get a little dirty.

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2017, 07:35:55 AM »
There are tires and there are the tubes which go inside the tires.
Also, it's not abnromal for bike tires to go completely flat after 2 years of non-use.  Do they hold air after you've inflated them?

I highly recommend Continental Gator Skin tires (pretty close to puncture-proof with great durability). 
I've never seen much difference with tubes - I buy what my co-op sells for ~$4. IME as long as the tire is good and the inside free of debris any tube will work for non-race purposes.

For changing them you'll need only a set of tire levers (usually $6 or so at any bike shop or online).  Watch a YouTube video - it's not hard, just requires a bit of finger dexterity and some patience your first time doing it.

Thanks for the recommendation on the tires. My tires don't hold air at all. I assumed that was tubes, but maybe it's the tires instead?

aroberson77

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 07:43:47 AM »
Thanks for the recommendation on the tires. My tires don't hold air at all. I assumed that was tubes, but maybe it's the tires instead?

The tubes are the piece that hold the air.  It is normal over time for the tubes to leak down even if there isn't a hole.  The air leaks through microscopic holes in the tube and through the valve stem.  I would try to pump the tires up first and see if they hold air for a few hours, if they do you won't have to change anything!! 

If you do want to change them like others said, buy the right tools, watch youtube and so you can learn how to change the tire and tube.  Do you have a bike co-op near by?  Im sure someone would be willing to show you how to change tubes and tires as well.   

Your bike may need some other maintenance as well if it has been sitting for 4 years or so

Aggie1999

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 07:57:34 AM »
While the right tool makes it easier, you can easily replace a tire and tube with one or two screw drivers. Just work the tire off and back on the wheel. Took me about 15 minutes.

nereo

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2017, 08:00:25 AM »

Thanks for the recommendation on the tires. My tires don't hold air at all. I assumed that was tubes, but maybe it's the tires instead?
Like aroberson77 said, teh tube hold the air.  All the tires do is protect the tubes from puncture.

Carefully examine the tires - if there are no punctures and they aren't cracked you need (at most) new tubes. Even minor spiderweb cracking along the sidewall isn't cause for concern or immediate replacement. Fill the tubes to the maximum pressure rating written on the tire and let them sit for several hours - if the tire stays inflated you are golden.  If not, replace the tubes with any 28" tube that fits your width (tubes cover a wide range of widths)- just make sure you get the same valve-stem type. Make sure you carefully check the INSIDE of the tire for any bits of glass or gravel.

Finally - if you change the tubes save and repair the old ones.  Inflate the tube (sans tire) until it's the width of a thick sausage and then feel/listen for leaks.  Soapy water can help.  Typically I patch my tubes 3-4x before tossing them in the garbage; you can buy individual patches at the counter of any bike shop for ~50 or you can buy a kit with several dozen (an almost lifetime supply ofr the casual biker) for ~$10.

You'll need a set of tire levers to do the work yourself, plus a bike pump. (link to example)

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2017, 08:12:59 AM »
Thanks for the recommendation on the tires. My tires don't hold air at all. I assumed that was tubes, but maybe it's the tires instead?

The tubes are the piece that hold the air.  It is normal over time for the tubes to leak down even if there isn't a hole.  The air leaks through microscopic holes in the tube and through the valve stem.  I would try to pump the tires up first and see if they hold air for a few hours, if they do you won't have to change anything!! 

If you do want to change them like others said, buy the right tools, watch youtube and so you can learn how to change the tire and tube.  Do you have a bike co-op near by?  Im sure someone would be willing to show you how to change tubes and tires as well.   

Your bike may need some other maintenance as well if it has been sitting for 4 years or so

The tubes went flat again within minutes, so it must be those.

Does anyone use Tuffies or slime in their tubes?

nereo

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2017, 08:26:25 AM »


The tubes went flat again within minutes, so it must be those.

Does anyone use Tuffies or slime in their tubes?

I've used slime, but only as a short-term fix.  IME over several weeks the slime won't solve the problem and you are back to flat tires.

For ~$4/tube I'd just replace them and check the tires carefully for punctures and debris.  Save and repair the old tubes so you can swap those out next time you have a flat.

aroberson77

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2017, 10:36:21 AM »


The tubes went flat again within minutes, so it must be those.

Does anyone use Tuffies or slime in their tubes?

I've used slime, but only as a short-term fix.  IME over several weeks the slime won't solve the problem and you are back to flat tires.

For ~$4/tube I'd just replace them and check the tires carefully for punctures and debris.  Save and repair the old tubes so you can swap those out next time you have a flat.

+1 the slime is really heavy too IMO I think all that is gimmicky.  If you are trying to use your bike as your main form of transportation make the investment in good tires, nice tools to work on it, spares to carry with you, and preventative maintenance so that it is as reliable as a car.

FLBiker

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2017, 10:59:43 AM »
I'm a daily bike commuter, and I also don't use slime.  I've got some sort of hard plastic thing (I forget what it's called) inside my tire between it and the tube.  I'm not sure how much different it makes, though.

And I'm also going to start bringing my 2 yo to daycare in a trailer this August! :)

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2017, 11:35:17 AM »
I'm a daily bike commuter, and I also don't use slime.  I've got some sort of hard plastic thing (I forget what it's called) inside my tire between it and the tube.  I'm not sure how much different it makes, though.

And I'm also going to start bringing my 2 yo to daycare in a trailer this August! :)

Hope that the bike trailer commuting goes well for you! I think that the hard plastic thing is called a thorn shield or a Tuffy.

Did you install them yourself?

robartsd

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2017, 11:55:05 AM »
Annother vote against slime. My experience has been that whatever punctured the tube gets stuck in the tire and agrevates the slime enough that it just keeps leaking out making a mess. The slime does make it easier to see where the puntcure is located, but harder to clean the surface for a good patch.

My experience with high quality tires is positive. I found a good deal on a 26x1.5 Schwalb Marathon for my rear wheel (I was looking for tires I could inflate to 100 psi for my rear wheel). I've put thousands of miles on my bike since installing these tires without a puncture and the tread still looks great.

I have no experience with thorn shields.

ZiziPB

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2017, 12:08:14 PM »
Sounds like you need new inner tubes.  I replaced mine recently because one was ruptured and one looked fine but leaked all air out withing a few hours.  My brother replaced them for me - he used no specialized tools.  I got one tube at REI and they told me what kind to get.  I didn't have time to go to REI for the second one, so I just picked it up at Target.

AnswerIs42

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2017, 12:14:29 PM »
My experience with high quality tires is positive. I found a good deal on a 26x1.5 Schwalb Marathon for my rear wheel (I was looking for tires I could inflate to 100 psi for my rear wheel). I've put thousands of miles on my bike since installing these tires without a puncture and the tread still looks great.
I second that. I used to get about a puncture a week on my old crappy worn-out tyres. I bought a set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres over a year ago, and haven't had a puncture since.

J_Stache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2017, 01:07:23 PM »
While the right tool makes it easier, you can easily replace a tire and tube with one or two screw drivers. Just work the tire off and back on the wheel. Took me about 15 minutes.

I'd avoid using a screw driver (especially when new to bike maintenance) as this increases the chances of damaging a rim.

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2017, 07:28:47 PM »
Update: I went to the bike shop, bought thorn resistant tubes, bought tire levers, spent 3 hours watching YouTube, unmounted both of my tires, undid the rear brakes, and I THINK that I successfully did the work myself. Bike shop would have charged $75 for installation and a tune up, I spent $33 including tax and a few hours to do what seems to be the same work. I feel a lot more confident taking my son out in the bike trailer and being able to handle a flat tire. Thanks, all, for your suggestions and guidance.

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2017, 07:32:49 PM »
Also, I patched both tubes and saved them for an emergency later.

I normally buy most everything on Amazon or Craigslist. However, I appreciate this local bike shop and needed some in person guidance. For that, I was willing to pay extra as a novice commuter cyclist.

nereo

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2017, 08:06:35 PM »
Sounds awesome!  Glad you were able to do this so successfully.

The first time I changed a bike tire it took a while.  The second time took about half as long. Now I can change a tire in roughly 5 minutes.
You'll have those skills for the rest of your life. 

aroberson77

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2017, 08:33:53 PM »
Great job, Im glad we could help.  Now you gotta learn how to adjust your derailuers and brakes!

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2017, 01:15:10 PM »
Another update: rode bike with panniers and trailer to the grocery store and back in 25 minutes round trip. Kid loves riding in the bike trailer, but he does NOT love his toddler helmet. Any tips on how to get him to stop trying to get the helmet off?

nereo

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2017, 12:41:12 PM »
Another update: rode bike with panniers and trailer to the grocery store and back in 25 minutes round trip. Kid loves riding in the bike trailer, but he does NOT love his toddler helmet. Any tips on how to get him to stop trying to get the helmet off?

1) make sure the helmet fits properly and nothing is scratching or itching him.
2) make the helmet look cool (stickers, a design he likes etc)

the above worked for my niece.  Oh, and of course your attitude toward helmets matters.  If you say things like "well I don't like wearing a helmet but we have to" kids will often resist. If you make it seem like something you want to do they'll follow along.  Until they're teenagers... then good luck.

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2017, 08:22:57 PM »
We did ensure that the helmet fits properly. It's got glow in the dark dinosaurs a faux hawk on it. The rule is that neither of us gets to ride the bike without our helmets on. Spouse and I are big proponents of wearing helmets while biking. He has gone out every day with me and he's getting better about tolerating his helmet.

frompa

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2017, 08:35:28 PM »
Hey, it's awesome to read that you didn't know what you were doing, you studied the problem and figured it out.  GREAT JOB!  I have one tiny suggestion - in addition to carrying spare tube, patch kit, pump, and tire levers, carry a tiny sliver of soap, because that is a great help when you are working your fingertips to the bone trying to slip the tire over the rim, at the final stages of putting your tire back on the rim after you've repaired/replaced the tube.  You just rub a little soap on the rim and the damn thing pops right into place with much less fuss. 

As for your son learning to keep his helmet on, ha ha.  Good luck.  My kids were so used to seeing their parents always wearing helmets that they never questioned it, but if your guy does, he'll probably adjust, given how much fun riding is. 

Teachstache

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Re: Bike tubes and DIY installation for a beginner
« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2017, 07:24:11 AM »
Thanks for the info about the soap. Will do that.

Part of the reason that my son doesn't like his helmet could be due to his peculiarities about how clothing feels (likely related to his autism). He won't allow us to cover him in bed and he doesn't like hats in general. Regardless, he isn't allowed to be in the bike trailer without his helmet.