MAINTAINING PROPER AIR PRESSURE IN TIRES


flat tire

It is not only not good to fool mother nature, but it is not good to ride on a tire with low air pressure or worse yet … completely flat. Tires are designed to be pumped up somewhere within a range from a minimum to a maximum pressure. Going under or over is a no no. Various undesirable things can happen with either extreme.

sidewall tire pressure

The pressure range should be displayed on the sidewall of every tire and the pressure of the tire should be checked periodically as air does leak out … yep, literally right thru the rubber of the inner tubes. Some inner tubes seem to leak thru more than others. And the higher the pressure in an inner tube the more likely it is to leak down and require more re-airing (pumping it back up).

bicycle tire & air pressure gauge

One never knows when a tire will go flat so it is a very good idea to carry all that is needed to make the repair. Whether you patch inner tubes or replace them like I do you should carry some sort of an air pump and tire tools.

pumping up bike tire 3

tire lever tools

Properly equipped we can deal with most of that which comes our way. Most tires have relatively soft and pliable sidewalls so when air pressure gets low it can become quite noticeable and difficult to ride since the tire will squat right down. I use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as do many of you. With these tires the sidewalls are not nearly as soft and pliable so when the air pressure goes down low it is not nearly as easy to tell as the tires don’t squat nearly as much. I have had extremely low pressure and couldn’t tell it by looking at the tire. Upon squeezing it and comparing it to the tire on the other side I could tell it was low on air. When I went to re-air it I was quite surprised to find out just how low on pressure it was … way down to about 15 pounds. So be aware that if you are using these tires  you can’t necessarily go by looks only.

Riding on a tire that is low on air pressure can damage the tire, the inner tube, or even the rim … making for far more expensive, difficult and time consuming to repair the damage.

Of course, low air pressure equates to high rolling resistance. And again, the tire makes the difference as to how noticeable this is. A tire with soft pliable sidewalls will let you know in no uncertain terms that it needs air. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire, on the other hand, will barely be noticeable when the pressure goes down low in it. That is another plus for the Plus as far as I am concerned. I love these tires and can’t say enough good about them. I would never use anything else as I am completely sold on them. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about them. They are just the best. Oh, I suppose one could complain about the fact that they are somewhat more difficult to install and uninstall on a rim, but even that isn’t much of anything once you learn how to properly go about it. Besides, once installed you usually don’t have to mess with it until it is time to replace it from wearing out. And with the extreme high mileage they provide (3 to 4 times what I got out of any other tire) it is not very often you have to mess with them.

Lastly just a quick word about air pressure in general. Some people like to only inflate a tire to minimum pressure so that they get a “softer”ride. You do get a softer ride, but in doing so you also get more rolling resistance and therefore will go slower and require more effort and energy out of you. In addition you won’t get as much mileage (wear) out of the tire as you would if you inflate it to the maximum range. Of course, hitting bad bumps with a tire that is pumped up to the maximum pressure is undesirable as it can result in damage occurring to the tire and/orrim and/or spokes. The bottom line is try not to hit harsh bumps. Of course, running a tire at a lower pressure can also result in damage to things … particularly the rim should the tire collapse enough to where the rim actually bangs into the hard surface.

cracked bicycle rim spoke holes

bent rim 2

I have seen people riding bikes who purposely bang into curbs quite hard giving no thought nor concern as to what they are doing to their wheels. It is bad enough when the rims are steel, but when they are aluminum or carbon fiber that is definitely something to be avoided if at all possible. They both damage easier than steel and both are more less considered throw away items vs. capable of being repaired. Even steel in a bicycle rim is not something I would recommend attempting to repair.

BTW- awhile back I noticed that I had significant damage to my right front rim. The aluminum broke out around one of my spokes. It was right next to the valve stem hole.

hole in rim around spoke

Ideally it should have been replaced, but I didn’t have the money to spare so I opted to repair the rim myself. Although I am a highly experienced weldor I chose to use the Marine grade  J.B. Weld epoxy to make the repair. In doing so I eliminated that spoke as I wanted to regain maximum strength in that area of the rim. My repair has been holding up great. I even have a 2nd spoke which is broken on that wheel and I have not replaced it yet … too lazy I reckon … I just haven’t felt like messing with it. It is located only about 4 spokes away from the place I repaired and is on the same side as the one I repaired. I have been riding my trike with this wheel like this for several thousand miles now and it is holding up well. I had people tell me that I should not attempt this repair as it was too risky and needed to be replaced. I am glad I didn’t listen to them. I have worked at repairing metal most of my life and I felt confident that I could successfully repair it. The most difficult part in making the repair was truing the wheel back up since the missing spokes tend to allow it to pull over to the other side. I got it running pretty true though and as I said it is holding up just fine. Even in hard fast cornering I have not had any problems. In the picture below the epoxy repaired area is shown by yellow arrow and the missing spoke by a red arrow. Pardon all the mud on the rim as I know it is a distraction from trying to see clearly. My trike is almost always nasty looking from riding on our local trails along the rivers as they have mud from river silt on them frequently. When it isn’t wet mud it is dry powder that gets all over everything. By telling you this about the rim repair and the broken/missing spokes I am not recommending riding around with broken spokes or repairing a rim like I did. I normally replace my broken spokes fairly quickly. I just haven’t done so this time around and it has been interesting to see how the trike is doing riding it like this. So far it has not been a problem. I would have much preferred to replace the rim, but just can’t afford to spend the money to do so at this time.

repaired wheel 2 reduced with arrows

Here is a closeup of the repaired area …

repaired hole in my rim

Well, that’s my story and I am sticking with it. Keeping our tires properly inflated and everything else properly maintained will help us to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

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About Steve Newbauer

I have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, and truthtoponder) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at stevenewbauer at outlook.com

Posted on December 30, 2015, in maintenance/repair, tadpole trikes, tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on MAINTAINING PROPER AIR PRESSURE IN TIRES.

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