Monday, April 4, 2011

Know Your Bike

Let's face it, you're gonna have a flat.

I would hazard a guess that you may go years without having to change a flat tire in a car.  In fact, I took a trip and we got a flat about halfway from our destination.  The driver, a smart, independent 30 year old woman, had never changed a flat tire.  She didn't even know where the jack was or how to operate it.  End of story, we changed it and went on our way.

But biking?   You're gonna change a lot of flats.  Now, this is not some post where I walk  you through the process.  No, there is plenty of help on the net for that.   This is a small post that simply points out one thing.    There are two types of inner tubes for your bike.

Is your tube Presta or Schrader?

Now, most bikes that you'll see on a cost-effective budget will be Schrader.   Almost all pumps can work with both, but most of them will be set up by default to work with Schrader.  To make it work with Presta, you have to do a little adapting on it.   Make sure you know how that works (just ask the local bike shop how-you are buying your bike stuff from a small, local bike shop right?) or else you'll end up like me and wrestle with it and still take your bike to the shop.

Presta valves are apparently more structurally sound, so the pricier bikes will use Presta (funny, I don't really think of my bike as pricey, but it does have a Presta valve).   So before you replace your tube, know what size of tube you need (written on the side of the tire (26 X....or 750C or ?) and whether it is Presta or Schrader.   You can't use one in the other.   But, and this strikes me as a cheap solution, you can add an adapter to a Presta valve so you don't have to futz around with your pump every time you have to pump it up.

The adapter looks like this:

Presta to Schrader Adapter
 And it'll totally save you time if you have more than one bike and don't want to be flipping it around between bikes. Best $1.61 I spent today.

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