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Can you patch a bicycle tire?  RSS feed

 
Jan de Boer
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I seriously wonder if this is a chore only the Dutch can do.? I have lately become the bicycle repair man for all the immigrants in our office. So do you know how to fix a flat tire by yourself? I am getting a lot of credit from my colleagues for doing this for them. So I am quite happy to do it.
 
Pete Letkeman
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This is something that I learned how to do when I was about 13 years old or so. I had a bike with only one gear and to break you would peddle backwards or lower your feet to the ground, that is unless you wiped out.

I guess it may depend on how and where you grew up. I grew up in the country area where the closest population center (~4,000 people) was about a 25 minutes car drive away.
If you wanted to go somewhere and you were a kid then you wanted to bike there. So you would have to learn how to maintain your bike as well.

I suspect that with more people living in higher population centers which over services like this kids are not learning this skill or others like it.
 
fred rosenberger
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my dad was an avid cyclist until he tore his ACL.  I've known how to patch an innertube since i was eight or nine, although I wasn't always strong enough to get  the tire back on around the rim at that age.

I haven't done it for years (ok...decades is probably unit of measure), but i'm pretty sure I still could.

edit - I've lived in St. Louis, MO, USA, pretty much since the day I was born, so this is at least ONE non-Dutch who can do it.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Were you really as old as 13 before learning to patch a puncture? We all knew how to do it at primary school. The patches and tyres were nowhere near as good as today's, so patching was a frequent chore.

Can you patch a tyre without needing any water? It may not be possible adjacent to a major road.
 
Jan de Boer
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Can you patch a tyre without needing any water? It may not be possible adjacent to a major road.


I can but the success rate is lower. You are right that the gear is improved. I remember that the first time I used new glue I got angry. 'I cannot get the patch in the right position if it dries that fast!' I would have 15 minutes time before it was dry with the old solutie. The first time I did it, I was 16. My dad used to do it, but he divorced my mom. The first time I needed three attempts to get the patch right. But yes, almost all teenage boys could do it. Also the city slickers that had busses and metro for transport. It was a one time a month chore, continuously. Maybe a little less now, depending on the tire, and the roads you are on, but not much.
 
Pete Letkeman
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Were you really as old as 13 before learning to patch a puncture?

I may have been a year or two before 13. Sometimes having older brothers to help out is a great thing.
Other times have older brothers to help out is not a great thing.
Campbell Ritchie wrote:We all knew how to do it at primary school.

For me, primary school was kindergarten to grade 8 and it still is for many children in Ontario Canada.
What grades do you mean by primary school?
 
Bear Bibeault
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Used to do it all the time when I was a kid. But I haven't ridden a bicycle in (many) decades.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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I am 99% sure I could mend punctures by the age of ten. Maybe earlier, but it was a long time ago.
 
Paul Clapham
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Yes, I learned how to do that from my father too. Although technically what I've been patching are tubes, not tires. But I haven't done it for a while -- even when I was riding to work I found out about Kevlar tire liners which prevent most sharp objects from puncturing both the tire and the tube. And keeping the tires fully inflated helped to avoid pinch flats.
 
Stephan van Hulst
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I have terrible luck with bikes. I end up mending my tire four or five times per year, if there's nothing worse that needs to be fixed.

I'll fix my tires and brake/gear lines, or shorten my chain, but more than that and I usually take it to the shop.
 
Paul Clapham
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Can you patch a tyre without needing any water? It may not be possible adjacent to a major road.


The only thing I needed water for was to find out where the hole was. (Fill a tub with water, pump up the tube, put the tube into the water and see where bubbles come out.) And usually that wasn't necessary, the hole was obvious. And nowadays patching a tube is easy: clean the area around the hole with sandpaper, peel the plastic off the little patch, apply the patch over the hole sticky-side down.
 
Jan de Boer
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Most of you posters are talking about the past time. Nobody using a normal bicycle just to commute or to go to any occasion less then say 20k away? Just to save a little cash and the environment. Yes I do that.
 
Jan de Boer
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Paul Clapham wrote:The only thing I needed water for was to find out where the hole was.


I also use the water to sometime adjust the patch a little. Like Monday, a colleague of mine had a hole just 3mm away from an old patch. I carefully applied a new patch besides it. Then when I checked it, it was still leaky. I pushed the new patch a little, and the bubbles stopped. Then when I was one hundred percent sure, it was fixed, it put the tire back in. That really was a hard one to fix.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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I hardly ever use water to find the hole. I can almost always hear the air hissing out of the tube. But that doesn't work for a really slow puncture. It also doesn't work anywhere noisy, which is why I said I can't mend punctures near a major road. Any hole which doesn't get the tyre really soft within 24 hours doesn't merit patching. I leave it for a few days and it can be relied upon to enlarge and once it starts going down faster, it becomes easier to find.
Are those self‑adhesive patches any good? Maybe I only used the first versions, but I found them peeling off the tyre after about two weeks. Maybe the more recent versions are better, but they are much more expensive than old‑fashioned rubber solution.
 
Tim Holloway
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I recently reconditioned 3 bicycles. Two of them were so old that not only were the inner tubes shot, but you could clearly see through the sidewalls. So I didn't waste time on patches, just got new everything.

I should have a patch kit I bought 10 years back in the garage. I used the tools from the kit when I did the tire work, but didn't pay attention to the patches, assuming they're still in it. Probably not much good by now.

Back in the ancient days I did a fair amount of patching, and I'm pretty sure that was done with self-adhesive patches that you pressed on with the container, whose lid was something like a fine-toothed cheese grater. I don't recall ever having one fail, though. May have had one or 2 leak around the edges, though. That bubble test seems to bring back a memory.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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You aren't supposed to use the cheese‑grater on the tyre: that risks going through the rubber. Use sandpaper or emery cloth to roughen and clean the tube before patching. The cheese‑grater is probably good for grinding the little bit of French chalk to stop the tyre and tube sticking together afterwards. But you can grind French chalk with almost anything.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Tim Holloway wrote:I recently reconditioned 3 bicycles. . . . .
It is getting on for four years since I last had a bicycle to strip down like that.
 
Peter Rooke
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But could you fix a puncture on a proper bike?  Tubeless motorbike temporary tyre puncture repair
Back when I used to cycle, it was easier to just carry a spare inner tube.  As a kid, the biggest problem was using airlines and then overinflating - bang!      
 
Paul Clapham
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Jan de Boer wrote:Most of you posters are talking about the past time. Nobody using a normal bicycle just to commute or to go to any occasion less then say 20k away? Just to save a little cash and the environment. Yes I do that.


I rode my bicycle to work for about 20 years, about 12 km each way. For the same reasons as you. I've been retired for about five years now so that's why I used the past tense, but it's not that far in the past.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Peter Rooke wrote:But could you fix a puncture on a proper bike? . . .
Proper bike, indeed? Cheeky petrolheads
Back when I used to cycle, it was easier to just carry a spare inner tube. . . .
I usually carry a tube, too. I usually find it is quicker to patch a hole than to take the wheel off and change the tube however. Except when near major roads, for reasons explained earlier.
As a kid, the biggest problem was using airlines and then overinflating - bang!      
I have never had that problem, but I did catch the eyes of the Boys in Blue while trying to do that at Newport Pagnell Services. The explanation seemed to satisfy them, but they did say, “We were a bit worried you were going to ride onto the M1.” Air pumps usually have, “No bicycles” written on them nowadays.

The different technique you are using for a motorbike is because you have tubeless tyres. They never seem to have caught on for bicycles. Don't know whether that has anything to do with different pressures.
 
Paul Clapham
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:The different technique you are using for a motorbike is because you have tubeless tyres. They never seem to have caught on for bicycles. Don't know whether that has anything to do with different pressures.


I think you aren't in the right group of cyclists. Presumably you aren't a Mamil. If you were then you'd only be using tubeless tires, and you'd be carrying little CO-2 cartridges to use when replacing a flat tubeless tire. This is quite common nowadays.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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No, I ride a bicycle to get from A to B, not to glow in the dark. And I am too old to be a mamil.
 
Jan de Boer
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Peter Rooke wrote:As a kid, the biggest problem was using airlines and then overinflating - bang!      


Tell me about it. My inner tube got ripped last week. Bicycle shop owner told me it was not his fault, and the pressure was right. That would be 3.5 bar. He told me my tire was probably not good.

By the way it depends what kind of bicycle you have, if carrying a new tube makes sense. My back wheel is not that easily taken off.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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3.5? Does that mean I have to let half the air out of my tyres?
3.5 is soft unless your tyres are ≥ 2″ wide.
 
Tim Cooke
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I can repair tubes but dislike doing so on the side of the road so I carry spare tubes with me to avoid having to repair. I then fix up the tubes at home later. I also have to carry a 15mm spanner because I don't have quick release wheels.
 
Jan de Boer
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:3.5? Does that mean I have to let half the air out of my tyres?
3.5 is soft unless your tyres are ≥ 2″ wide.


No idea! I read 6 bar is standard, somewhere. I do not have a pump with a dial on it. But I used that pump at the train station and got a crack in my tube. The crack was where the two rubber parts are melded together. A colleague of mine, she got a whole exploded tire with both inner and outer tire torn. I could fix my crack by the way, it was big but not too big not to be mended. I told him but the shop owner said : NO IT IS NOT OUR FAULT!! In such a way that I though, he is thinking I want him to fix my tube for free. I told him I already fixed it myself. Then I thought, okay never mind.
 
Jan de Boer
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Tim Cooke wrote:I also have to carry a 15mm spanner because I don't have quick release wheels.


Even then you should loose the cables for the drum brake, the cables for the gears, the mudguard, the wheel spoke covers. At least if you are talking about a normal bicycle like this one in the upper picture:

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiets

And then put every thing back again in the right position, spanning the roller chain the right way.


 
Tim Cooke
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My bike has none of that stuff, no gears, no rear brake, just a single sprocket and a chain with the wheel axle fixed by two 15mm nuts. I do have a mudguard but the wheel comes off without moving it. The only nuisance part is having to make sure the wheel is on straight while getting the chain tension right. It's a skill honed through practice for sure.

My bike is the same model as this one:
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Tim Cooke wrote:. . . make sure the wheel is on straight while getting the chain tension right. . . .
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeasy. When you have > 40 years' practice, as I have, that is Growing a third arm does make it much easier.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Tim Cooke wrote:. . . no rear brake . . .
O, a fixed wheel? The photo does have a rear brake, so it must have a 1‑speed freewheel.
 
Tim Cooke
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Yes, a fixed wheel. It has a "flip flop" hub with fixed one side and a single free wheel the other.

I moved the brake levers down to the end of the drops and the cable to the rear wasn't long enough so I took it off completely. The front brake and my legs are more than sufficient. It's a lovely bike to ride.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Since it is over forty years since I lived in London, I haven't tried a fixed wheel for forty years; my total lifetime fixed wheel riding is about ½mile. They do say they are better on icy surfaces, however. Have you tried riding on ice.

I remember stopping at lights somewhere near Kensington a few years ago (probably about the time of the Beer Festival) and a young woman riding fixed pulls up behind me, puts her L foot firmly on the kerbstone, reaches behind herself to lift the rear wheel, and spins the pedals so they are at 1 o'clock, ready to pull off.
 
Liutauras Vilda
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Ah, I love fixies. I bought one too, probably 2-3 years ago.
Bought with stainless steel frame, which is a bit heavier (total weight around 8-9 kg) than aluminium, but more stable, so wouldn't collapse with my whole bike to some pothole on the higher speeds. Of course if I would have reached that high But 12 miles one way it used to take me around 47 minutes I think.



 
Liutauras Vilda
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Have you tried riding on ice

I don't think they allow it to go on ice hockey field with it. Hardly elsewhere you could find ice in England.
 
Tim Cooke
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I've also heard that fixers are better on ice, but perhaps a bike with fatter tires and more sedate gearing. Mine has skinny slick tires and geared for speed. I wouldn't venture out on ice with it.
 
Tim Cooke
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:I remember stopping at lights somewhere near Kensington a few years ago (probably about the time of the Beer Festival) and a young woman riding fixed pulls up behind me, puts her L foot firmly on the kerbstone, reaches behind herself to lift the rear wheel, and spins the pedals so they are at 1 o'clock, ready to pull off.

That is another 'quirk' to deal with. I ride with clipless pedals so while leaning forward with the front brake on I can lift the bike with my foot to get the pedal in the right position ready to go again. Getting the other foot clipped back into a moving target is another skill honed through practice.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Tim Cooke wrote:. . . Getting the other foot clipped back into a moving target is another skill honed through practice.
The same applies if you use old‑fashioned clips as Liutauras has in his photo, and as I do. The L pedal is still a moving target, but you have to pick it up with your toes before getting your foot into the clip. Another skill requiring practice is changing with old‑fashioned non‑indexed levers. You woudn't need that riding fixed.
 
Tim Cooke
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Another skill requiring practice is changing with old‑fashioned non‑indexed levers. You woudn't need that riding fixed.

My bike I had as a kid had those little levers on the down tube. They were 'fun'.
 
Jan de Boer
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Tim Cooke wrote:My bike has none of that stuff, no gears, no rear brake, just a single sprocket and a chain with the wheel axle fixed by two 15mm nuts.


Looks like an ideal bicycle to commute from work to trainstation. Simple to fix, no unnecessary parts. But a quick search tells me it costs 500 pounds? That is rather expensive for a bicycle with half of its parts taken off.
 
Tim Cooke
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Exactly right, low maintenance is the key for a commuter bike. I bought mine second hand for £100 which I thought was ok, but you're right that £500 is quite expensive for a not-that-light steel frame bike with minimal trinkets.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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