It’s a boring and daunting task, but yes. We have to look after our little folders. These simple tips will help you avoid nasty breakdowns and spot tyre trouble before it happens. So lets get after it:
Easy one to fall for, this one. Running at the incorrect tyre pressures will result in faster wear on your tread, increased risk of a puncture and a huge decrease on your cycling performance. The first thing we need to do is check what the pressure needs to be. This can be found on the sidewall of your tyres. The most common method of measuring the pressure is PSI. Typically a 20″ tyre will run at around 40-50psi, but always check the tyre. Also, don’t be afraid to go up 5psi or so if you’re a… *ahem* bigger rider like myself. Now whilst yes, I’ve told you to check your tyre blah blah blah, the psi it might recommend isn’t always what might suit you. I go slightly harder as mentioned, to counter the extra weight I might carry on both myself and in luggage. I can find that “sweet spot” just by feel now.
Second thing we need to do, is make sure you have a pump that can get that air in. Is your tube valve Schrader or Presta? Have I just made you sit back and think “Hold up, whys he talking jibberish?” There’s two types of valves, the above mentioned. Schrader is the one you’ll be most familiar with, its on most bikes and all car tyres. If you have a foot pump for the car, you have a foot pump for the bike. Presta on the other hand, is thinner and has a screw top valve. Advantage of using Presta is that it can hold the air in longer and can go to higher pressures. However, you’ll need the right pump for this valve, or at least an adaptor.
A tyre with cracks in it is a ticking timebomb. By putting high pressures into the tube you’re expanding those cracks, which in turn can cause the tube to push through the tyre and cause a pinch flat, or even worse, explode. Luckily it only takes a few seconds to have a look every now and then to check (especially if your bike has been sat in the shed for the winter)
Debris stuck in the tyre
This one ties in with the above. Whilst you’re checking for cracks, have a look at the tread. Any stones, glass or even nails can get stuck in and have the tube seal around it – and you wouldn’t have the foggiest idea it was there. Until it finally popped out and your tyre is emptied of air in seconds, of course. If you see anything, best to pull it out before a ride and fix any damage it might of caused. If you can put your finger up into the hole the debris has left and see skin clearly, best to get the tyre replaced ASAP.
Check your Tread
Keep an eye on your tread, especially your rear tyre. The tread keeps you upright in wet weather, and if it gets too low or thin, becomes a puncture paradise. It’s been known by some people to see their rear tyre have slight wear, and as a short term fix – swap it with the front one. The rear will always wear quicker, all the weights there.
And that’s it really. Keep on top of everything and you’ll see hundreds of miles out of your tyres.