Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Coping Strategies

One of the problems with cycling in Metro Vancouver (aka Lower Mainland) in the winter is that you get flats... Usually the problem is that wet glass cuts rubber far easier than when it is dry. And we are blessed with long, cold, wet Winters here.

So in a (possibly vain) attempt to reduce or minimize this problem I have evolved the following strategy:
  • start with a good set of training wheels
  • make sure that you have a good set of reasonably flat proof tires
  • put in some cheap, heavy tubes (weight is more rubber, more rubber, harder to puncture)
  • install with Tuffy Liners (those strips of thick plastic tape that go between your tube and tire, again to prevent puntures)
  • fill the tubes with puncture sealant (note for above, when buying the tubes make sure you get ones that have removable presta valve)
So to actually get a flat, something has to get through the new puncture resistant tire, through the tuffy liner, through the thick rubber tube, and then leave a hole to big for the sealant to fix.

The only downsize is that your wheels feel like they came off a Wal-Mart Huffy... These are not wheels for riding in a race or HC.

Finally for on the road, just in case:
  • working pump
  • CO2 inflator
  • replacement tube
  • emergency flat patches
  • presta adapter to allow filling at a gas station
  • cell phone to call home
I really hate having to use the cell phone to call home.. It usually results in months of reminders about too much cycling etc etc. :-)

The other Winter safety strategy is lights, lots of lites, even more lights... I have four different blinky lights on the rear of the bike (and helmet). Plus two small blinkies and one big (2 watt) LED spot on the front... I especially like the new blinky lites that have 5 or 6 LED's and flash in a "circle" effect..  

Finally I dropped by my LBS (Capps Westwood) and asked for some of "those reflectors that come on all the new bikes wheels"...  The ones that NOBODY ever keeps on their bike... (well except for kids under 8 maybe...)  Anyway, they obliged out of a huge box of them (actually they had to look a bit to get some that work on flat racing spokes, they where quite amused by the entire project...) 

The point is that these actually provide some nice protection from the side where the blinky lights are not usually that well seen. Better safe than in fashion.

Anyway if you see someone in the Port Moody area, dressed in Red EV kit, light up like an Xmas tree, riding a bike with almost balloon tires... it's probably just me...


Colin Griffiths said...

That's strange, there's a chap that cycles around the lanes of Leicestershire in the UK with wheels, tyres, lights and other bits just like that. I think that it's also a bit of "getting older, getting wiser" thing too.

Anonymous said...


While I am not yet old enough or wise enough to fit spoke reflectors, I do put white reflective tape on top and bottom of each crank which dazzles in the headlights of on-coming or following cars. You could probably put the same on some spokes and avoid the stigma of plastic spoke reflectors. The tape would actualy work better on flat spokes than round ones.

See you at the VVV Xmas do.

Anonymous said...

What tires do you use? And what brand tube?

Stuart Lynne said...

Bontrager Race X Pro 23, which is claimed to be reasonably puncture proof and starts out with a good CRR (which means if they survive the winter they become quite nice backup tires on the training wheels...)

The tubes where just the cheapest and heaviest I had sitting around... probably MEC or similar store brand... with the only caveat being that it had to have a removal presta core so I could put the sealant in.