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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bye bye tubes [While Out Riding]


More semi-nerdish gear talk, I’m afraid. A persistent cold and rattly lungs have delayed my travels plans – I’ll be heading off for a few days of Arizonan bikepacking very soon though, hopefully returning with a story or two to tell.
In the meantime, I’ve been inspired by nearly-neighbour Gypsy by Trade, and his pursuit to fine-tune his tubeless fat tyre conversions. Nick and an ever growing legion of fat bike riders are doing goathead-battle along Albuquerque’s river trails. They seem to be winning.
When it comes to prickly things, Santa Fe isn’t so different – indeed, the same could be said for the whole of the South West. Devil’s eyelashes, as goatheads are more poetically called (not that there’s anything romantic about them) mine the bike paths around town. It’s not uncommon to discover a dozen of these vengeful thumb tacks clinging tenaciously to your tyres, should you inadvertently stray off trail. To avoid a lifetime of patching inner tubes peppered with puncture wounds, you can inject in a few globs of sealant. If a goathead or thorn worm its way through your tyre, this sealant reacts with the air, plugging the hole. A few strokes of bike pump and you’ll be ready to roll again.
Better than this though, for various reasons, is moving over to a tubeless tyre system. To anyone unfamiliar with the concept, it’s basically a tyre that doesn’t require a separate inner tube to hold its pressure. Instead, the bead of the tyre presses against the lip of the rim to create a seal, secured in place with the addition of some sealant.  Again, puncture = air, and air = seal. Clever stuff. There’s several brands around to choose from, the most popular being Stan’s Notubes. You can even make your own with stuff like liquid latex, water and glitter. Whichever brand you use, you’ll need to top up your tyres occasionally, as the sealant dries out over time. A small price to pay for a puncture-free existence.

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