Friday, March 23, 2018

Trashing a Tire in the Interest of Science

Having been mountain biking for the last 7 years or so in the sharp, thorny environment of AZ, I’ve certainly experienced my share of punctures, slices, and other issues.  Most of us are aware of the concept of plugging a tire using the commercially available product called “tire bacon”.  It’s basically a scaled down version of what people have been using to plug holes in car tires for quite some time.

I have actually never used tire bacon..matter of fact, I have lost the 2 Genuine Innovation tire bacon kits that I’ve bought due to somehow bouncing out of my jersey pocket.  I have however, stuffed other things into a sidewall hole to take up space and allow the sealant to fill the remaining yet smaller spaces.  Those things being a small piece of cloth (like t-shirt material) and even a stick.
However, I decided to try some other materials that are cheap and easily obtained.  Those being, strips of an old inner tube, cotton string, and strips of an old mouse pad.

It just so turns out that I’ve been putting off changing out an old Maxxis Ikon so before doing so, I decided it’s final gasp would be donating it’s tread and sidewalls to science…  I decided that I would see how the above materials filled a cut between about 0.15” and 0.2” since anything larger, you’d probably be either tubing or pulling out the sewing kit.  Punctures up to about 0.2 are great candidates for plugs.

So I took a small pair of sharp scissors and jabbed it in the tread as you see below.  I did this again a few inches away as well.  I then pushed in a strip of mouse pad material(neoprene covered with cloth) in one hole, and a strip of inner tube in the other hole.  I used a small flat bladed screwdriver to do this but in the case of the inner tube, I used a small allen key since the screwdriver just punctured the tube material.

Small flat bladed screwdriver used to push in the plug
I aired up the tire to 30 psi and after just a little sealant weapage, both sealed up well.
I repeated the process but this time in the sidewall where I punctured 3 slices, oriented radially and stuffed in a slice of inner tube in one, a slice of mouse pad in another, and a piece of cotton string in another. 

Aired the tire back up and all 3 held air.  I sprayed them all with some windex and none showed any signs of leakage.
No bubbles coming from any of the plugs

I then pulled the tire and what I noticed is that it seems like the sealant gathered around the mouse pad strip and the cotton string but not so much on the strip of inner tube (because it’s butyl rubber perhaps and not too much likes to stick to it).
Obviously, I did not go out and ride the tire to see which would stay in the best but would venture a guess that the cotton string and mouse pad strip would have the best chance.  So, bottom line, if you don’t have tire bacon around, any absorbent material would work, but I found the cotton string and mouse pad material held up to the poking device used (flat bladed screwdriver) the best.

Angry Ray’s MTB Hacks and Other Ideas

OK, so the Schilling Blog Machine has been a busy one and it’s time for me to catch up a bit.  Sure I’ve done some cool rides and could talk about that, but I’ll leave that to later…what I wanna talk about now is HACKS…and other ideas that will a) save money for which you can buy more beer and b) enable you to fix your bike trailside (so you can get back to your car quicker to drink beer).

Being a fairly creative and “thrifty” engineer, I love DIY ways to accomplish things.  Additionally, finding things that solve a problem that is otherwise not obvious is pretty cool to me…so here you go…a dump of what I think are some good ideas…

Chain Measurement
Our drivetrains here in the desert take a ton of abuse due to the dusty conditions.  Wearout is a given and lots of folks have come up with tools to measure chain wear (stretch, but such a poor term).  Here’s how I do it…first, I have several chains that I rotate through the SS bikes I have.  When I’m trying to see where a chain is in terms of wear, I put them on the ground in a circle as shown…smaller the diameter, the more the wear.  I’ve found at about 22” diameter, I will start to have chain derailing on the SS.  Then it’s time to put that chain in the “art” bin for a future project.

Fix it stuff and how to carry
I love the idea of repurposing worn out stuff.  It keeps it out of landfills and that just seems like a good thing to do.  Recently I lost a small kit of tire fix it stuff that I had in a zip lock baggie.  What I realized was that a zip lock is slippery against my jersey…and I needed something with a bit more friction that wouldn’t work its way out.  So I took an old MTB tube and sewed up a simple pouch.  You see below that the pouch contains many necessary items like a multi-tool, mini-leatherman, quick links, valve cores, cleat bolts, ibuprofen, etc…  Works awesome and stays put.

Tire plugging
I’m sure most of us have tried to plug a tire that was punctured on the trail.  Tire bacon works great, but I’ve found almost anything you stuff in the hole that is a tight fit and can absorb some sealant will work.  Heck, I’ve even used a stick and was able to ride back out to my vehicle before.  In the pic below are several items plus a simple poker tool made from a needle and cork. 

Cotton string, strips of old tube, strips of mouse pad

Chain tool
Sometimes a quick link can be undone by hand, but the right tool makes it super easy.  Park makes one which is fine, but if you have a spare set of needle nose pliers, just bend the tips slightly inward and boom, you’ve got a cheap set of quick link pliers.

Cheap Velcro
I can’t imagine where we would be without Velcro…Harbor Freight sells a package of Velcro straps for cheap…I’ve used these for so many things from securing a waterbottle, securing a battery pack, etc…  stick a few of these in your kit and I’ve sure you’ll find a need for them.

Mouse Pads
Mouse pads made from neoprene rubber have a number of great uses…cut them into strips for tire plugs, cut out rectangles to go between your light battery and your frame,etc…

Single speed spacers
Having 3 SS bikes, different cog brands, and several wheel sets creates a bit of a an issue when trying to change a cog for a ride and being sure the chainline is right.  I do a couple things…first, standardize as much as possible on a given cog brand…then, keep track of the spacing between the cog and the inside lip of the freehub.  Then use that as a reference when changing.  If you have a bunch of spacers like I do, I zip tie a set together with the cog so I can quickly change w/o measuring.

Good value brake pads
I love stuff that has value.  TruckerCo semi-metallic pads bought off of ebay in 4-packs are like $25 total…they work and work well.

Plastic syringes are an important part of maintaining your bike.  If you’ve ever bled brakes, a dropper post, or added sealant to tires, you’ve probably used them.  They are INCREDIBLY cheap off of ebay.  The larger one below cost me less than a few bucks and with the small included tip glued on, I can directly inject sealant into tires…super quick and easy.  The smaller one will actually thread right into a bleed port on a Xloc and enable you to easily bleed your fork lockout or dropper lockout. 

Super Glue
Super glue is another indispensable item…get the big pack from Harbor Freight.  Put some on the toilet seat before your buddy sits down.

Ok, so there you go...a few of my ideas and hacks that have served me well.