The dreaded slow leak

The Race of Truth

by / / 70 posts

We’ve all felt it; going over a bump or through a corner and feeling that unmistakable bit of slop in the handling that sends your heart straight to your feet. Hoping you’re wrong, you bounce the tire as you roll along, confirming you’ve got a puncture.

But it’s not really flat – not yet, at least. Just softening. The question is, do you stop or do you try to keep going and hope its a slow enough leak to finish the ride? Barring that, can you at least get to a comfortable spot to change the tire, such as the little café near the turnaround point. Everyone who has ever changed a tire knows that changing a tire with a coffee at hand is a civilized way to go about such things.

Or, hypothetically, you realize that you’ve forgotten to bring the little tool that removes your valve extender and valve core, making it impossible to change your tire. Which means you are now committed to a race against your slow leak to get home.

Forget the contre la montre; the real race of truth is the race against the escape of air in your tire as you speed home at full gas in an attempt to avoid a long wobbly walk of shame in cycling shoes.

Spoiler alert: I made it home. Hypothetically.

// Accessories and Gear // Breaking The Rules // Musings from the V-Bunker

  1. @wiscot

    “slow enough leak to finish the ride,” “little café near the turnaround point.” What are these luxuries you speak of? Must be some kind of Seattle thing . . .

    Hopefully this article will not jinx me on tonight’s ride. I rarely flat but it’s never of the “maybe I can make it home” type and there are no cafes to be found. They’re quick and if I’m lucky a gas station may be in the vicinity. . . . I also usually flat in the winter when there’s more crap on the roads. Nothing like changing a tube in 30 degree weather.

    I’ve had some very interesting experiences using CO2 at or near freezing in the rain…chuck frozen to core, unscrew…core stuck inside chuck…tire remarkably flat after very fast release of air through chuckless tire.

    I use pumps now, unless I’m racing.

  2. @Owen

    Had to drop a buddy of mine on an out and back a couple summers ago, climbing out of some Indian ruins, to make it back to the car in time to outrun a flattening front tire. Felt bad but would have felt worse having to duck walk in.

    Don’t remember if I bought beers out of remorse or not.

    Which indian ruins? Sounds amazing!

    @Ccos

    Few things will have me say adult words in my outside voice like a good tub going soft. Too bad there’s not a pill for that.

    Especially a gorgeous FMB. Its this college neightborhood that happens to have one of my favorite climbs, but the kids can’t seem to keep from throwing heaps of glass out on the road.

  3. @Puffy

    I too ride tubs… what to do when they wear down? Run it until the canvas shows, handling starts to get dangerous and a high risk of puncture or tear it off and throw a new one on?

    I’m at that point now and by not making the decision (budgetatus vs conserative logic) I am making the decsion to run the gauntlet…

    I wish I knew the answer.

    In my younger more foolish days I ran clinchers and have ridden home a couple of times with a flat no problem….well, no major problem. Just make sure you take the tube out, don’t go any faster than your grandmother can walk and forget about cornering!

    I find myself changing them before I start getting flats. Usually about once a year…but it is not cheap.

    @Stephen

    @frank

    Every time I have an incident, I am pushed closer to tubs. In fact, N+1 will be achieved this fall and it will likely be an 11 spd cassette, meaning not compatible with my current rig, and I may upgrade to the proper, pure set of wheels.

    I feel like a drug dealer, pushing people to tubs. I’ll never go back; absolutely love them. Even if the ride quality were the same, the joy and connection of gluing on a tub and cornering hard and feeling it grip the road is worth it to me.

  4. @frank

    I rode home with the co2 chuck still attached to the (broken) valve stem once. Probably about 25kms. It was in Waucousta and there was a fair bit of snow on the ground . . . Fat fingers once frozen really didn’t want to work.

    We had some wicked storms roll through here on Sunday night – hail, 80mph gusts, torrential rain, the whole shebang. Result? Tons of twig, branch and leaf debris to contend with last night. Luckily, no punctures resulted!

  5. @frank

    I had the orangeseal in tub before flat. I am sure you can resurrect the FMB with the orange. It would kill me to put that FMB in the trash.

  6. Darn it, I had this today – trouble was I was in the car.

  7. Jesus H, there needs to be a rule about even mentioning the P or F word. That is like Hamlet to a thespian ( not being a thesp precludes me from the jinx) If you say the word you’ll get one, sure as G wears white jawbones!

  8. @mauibike

    Does the orange seal last indefinitely in a tubular? I’ve only ever used Pitstop after the event and I’ve found that while it’s saved the day and got me home (including 135 km of the London Cogal), once it’s in the end is nigh for the tubular in that it’ll eventually harden at best leaving a solid lump at the bottom of the tube or glues the insides of the tire together if it’s left long enough to deflate. Because of that I’ll carry it as an emergency measure if I’m going to be along way from home with little chance of being picked up if I’ve already used my spare tubular.

    Otherwise, I’ll use the spare to get home and then send the flatted one off to get repaired. I should really learn to repair them myself.

  9. I once rode over a screw that some plonker left in the middle of the road. Luckily the screw did not damage to my rim as it shredded my tire, tube and the tip of the screw punctured the rim tape and went in the spoke channel in my rim. Stupidly I repaired the tire on the spot. Two days later I had another flat. Repaired it. Another week later, another flat. This went on for about 2 months with flats every week. Until I finally figured out the when the screw punctured my rim tape, it exposed an inflated tube to the sharp edge of the spoke channel…with enough time and enough pressure and friction I eventually would flat. Many stops, repairs and much cursing was involved. Needless to say, I’m pretty meticulous about checking and rechecking every flat repair I do each time now. Didn’t flat for over a year after rotating my rim tape.

  10. @frank

    I feel like a drug dealer, pushing people to tubs. I’ll never go back; absolutely love them. Even if the ride quality were the same, the joy and connection of gluing on a tub and cornering hard and feeling it grip the road is worth it to me.

    When I started racing, it had to be on tubs… racing on clinchers seemed like an abomination even back then. The rot has slowly moved on from there into the ‘occasional ride’ bikes. I used to gleefully sneek a training ride in on the race wheels and now I am on the precipice of replacing my last set of clinchers (training wheels) with Tubs. If money were no object I would have already I think.

  11. I love me my FMB paris-roubaix for road racing, for sure. Best feeling ride evar. Had one simply explode one race mid pack with no obvious inciting object. Another developed a slow leak which some sealant I got many more races out of. Might still be riding it, actually.

  12. @Phillip Mercer

    I ride clinchers with friends who ride tubs. Nothing more irritating when they put in the sealant, pump up, we get going only for the sealant to give way again repeated three times in one ride…

    Unneccessarily delaying the bunch is a concern I have always had on any wheel/tyre. It’s why I use CO2 on bunch rides… hang the expense, it’s about respecting others and getting moving again ASAP. I’ve just put tubs on my latest vintage build which I plan to ride on bunch rides. I will be carrying a new, spare tub, no latex simply because of the problem you mention. It seems to me these days the concept of respecting others, putting others first is lost on most but I won’t get on that soap box here. I would not hessitate to tell the bunch to ride off without me if I were to be in the situation you mention above.

  13. @chris

    Have not been on Orange long enough for a report. It just filled the biggest hole with the least amount of air loss, I have ever seen. The other latex stuff only worked about half the time and the other half the time it was spraying all over me.

  14. @mauibike

    @chris

    Have not been on Orange long enough for a report. It just filled the biggest hole with the least amount of air loss, I have ever seen. The other latex stuff only worked about half the time and the other half the time it was spraying all over me.

    Yep, mauibike and I agree on this. The orange really works well (it has nano particles in it, so it must be bitchin’.). Does anyone need a large volume of cafe latex? It seals like ass. I’ve put the orange in, after the fact, on two slow leaks on two wheels. Both are still going strong even though the sealant has dried up in the innertube. And one resealed on the road in seconds when the sealant was not dried out. It’s the same stuff I use for tubeless.

    So my on-the-road repair kit is an old visine bottle that holds about 80ml of sealant and a syringe. The syringe holds one of those core removing tools. Best of all, you can have a syringe on your bike so everyone knows you are a cyclist/doper.

    Speaking of dopers, not TD, but didn’t that red bearded Italian Paolini of Katusha get booted out of the Tour for cocaine? That was pretty hush hush. Who does cocaine anymore? That does not get him fired? It was during the friggin’ race?

  15. @Puffy

    I too ride tubs… what to do when they wear down? Run it until the canvas shows, handling starts to get dangerous and a high risk of puncture or tear it off and throw a new one on?

    I’m at that point now and by not making the decision (budgetatus vs conserative logic) I am making the decsion to run the gauntlet…

    I wish I knew the answer.

    In my younger more foolish days I ran clinchers and have ridden home a couple of times with a flat no problem….well, no major problem. Just make sure you take the tube out, don’t go any faster than your grandmother can walk and forget about cornering!

    What is the reasoning behind taking the punctured tube out of a clincher tire for a delicate ride home? I done the ride, but never considered taking the tube out. Thanks!

  16. I’ve

  17. @frank What brake pads (red) are you using in that photo?

  18. @frank

    Wupatki and Sunset Crater national monuments, they run together outside of Flagstaff AZ. Great ride to go out and loop them. During summer a popular thing is to go during a full moon and ride them without lights. I’ve never done that so I can’t comment on the relative safety.

  19. @Gianni

    nano particles

    i think the VMH has that in her shampoo, must be the appliance of science, or, dare i call – BULLSHIT

  20. @Puffy

    @Phillip Mercer

    I ride clinchers with friends who ride tubs. Nothing more irritating when they put in the sealant, pump up, we get going only for the sealant to give way again repeated three times in one ride…

    Unneccessarily delaying the bunch is a concern I have always had on any wheel/tyre. It’s why I use CO2 on bunch rides… hang the expense, it’s about respecting others and getting moving again ASAP. I’ve just put tubs on my latest vintage build which I plan to ride on bunch rides. I will be carrying a new, spare tub, no latex simply because of the problem you mention. It seems to me these days the concept of respecting others, putting others first is lost on most but I won’t get on that soap box here. I would not hessitate to tell the bunch to ride off without me if I were to be in the situation you mention above.

    waiting is voluntary on bunch rides, they’re for riding not standing around while people sort their shit.

  21. @Ron

    What is the reasoning behind taking the punctured tube out of a clincher tire for a delicate ride home? I done the ride, but never considered taking the tube out. Thanks!

    The first two times I had a flat close to home (and had already used my spare) I found the tube to move around and bunch up a bit (creating a lupy spot) when it is totally flat. The handling was better without the tube in. It’s still very hairy especially if the clincher is a loose fit to the rim.

  22. @piwakawaka

    waiting is voluntary on bunch rides, they’re for riding not standing around while people sort their shit.

    True, it is. However around here we tend to stick together and look after each other. That’s why I aim to make any stop as short as possible! Anyone causing delays unnessesarily is told about it in short order.

  23. @LIIIXI

    Record carbon.

    @Owen

    @frank

    Wupatki and Sunset Crater national monuments, they run together outside of Flagstaff AZ. Great ride to go out and loop them. During summer a popular thing is to go during a full moon and ride them without lights. I’ve never done that so I can’t comment on the relative safety.

    Sounds incredible. That’s one reason I have now to go visit AZ.

    @Gianni

    @mauibike

    @chris

    Have not been on Orange long enough for a report. It just filled the biggest hole with the least amount of air loss, I have ever seen. The other latex stuff only worked about half the time and the other half the time it was spraying all over me.

    Yep, mauibike and I agree on this. The orange really works well (it has nano particles in it, so it must be bitchin’.). Does anyone need a large volume of cafe latex? It seals like ass. I’ve put the orange in, after the fact, on two slow leaks on two wheels. Both are still going strong even though the sealant has dried up in the innertube. And one resealed on the road in seconds when the sealant was not dried out. It’s the same stuff I use for tubeless.

    So my on-the-road repair kit is an old visine bottle that holds about 80ml of sealant and a syringe. The syringe holds one of those core removing tools. Best of all, you can have a syringe on your bike so everyone knows you are a cyclist/doper.

    Speaking of dopers, not TD, but didn’t that red bearded Italian Paolini of Katusha get booted out of the Tour for cocaine? That was pretty hush hush. Who does cocaine anymore? That does not get him fired? It was during the friggin’ race?

    GENIUS. And supervised by a cat named Magnus gives it all the credibility it needs.

  24. @Owen

    @frank

    Wupatki and Sunset Crater national monuments, they run together outside of Flagstaff AZ. Great ride to go out and loop them. During summer a popular thing is to go during a full moon and ride them without lights. I’ve never done that so I can’t comment on the relative safety.

    Ah, a great ride. I need to make a journey up there to ride in the cool pines and get some climbing in. I can actually ride tubs in Flagstaff this time of year. In the desert, our summer storms wash billions of thorny bits (from cactus, palo verdes, etc)into the roads, making tubs a big risk.

  25. @MangoDave

    @Owen

    @frank

    Wupatki and Sunset Crater national monuments, they run together outside of Flagstaff AZ. Great ride to go out and loop them. During summer a popular thing is to go during a full moon and ride them without lights. I’ve never done that so I can’t comment on the relative safety.

    Ah, a great ride. I need to make a journey up there to ride in the cool pines and get some climbing in. I can actually ride tubs in Flagstaff this time of year. In the desert, our summer storms wash billions of thorny bits (from cactus, palo verdes, etc)into the roads, making tubs a big risk.

    Yeah I picked up my habit of front and back Gatorskins in grad school at ASU, then kept it in Flagstaff. Glad I still have the habit, because eastern Washington is lousy with tackweed.

  26. Exceedingly scenic area to ride, although unlike WA there aren’t a ton of paved back roads so road riding is limited to a handful of roads, most of them highways. Flagstaff is a town of 70,000 people or so with 8 breweries, so one’s recovery options are staggering.

  27. Also, roads.

  28. @piwakawaka

    That might be how it is here, but it might surprise you to know that many bunch rides around the world (and even NZ) have a policy of waiting for people to effect repairs, so standing around in those cases can indeed be a valid concern.

  29. @Oli

    @piwakawaka

    That might be how it is here, but it might surprise you to know that many bunch rides around the world (and even NZ) have a policy of waiting for people to effect repairs, so standing around in those cases can indeed be a valid concern.

    maybe they just don’t wait for me!

  30. Another good pocket-sized sealant container is a Kodak lens cleaner bottle. Kodak doesn’t make it any longer, but the Tiffen version appears to be identical (fluid and bottle). The little flip up spout is square, and about the same diameter as a valve stem. A 3cm length of 1/4” vinyl tubing press fits over both to squirt the sealant in. This method even works with non removable cores.

    The bottle only holds about 40 ml, but I’ve found that half that will usually do the trick. The hole in the spout is quite narrow, so I enlarged it with a drill bit to avoid clogging. I’ve been using the same one for three or four years and it hasn’t leaked.

  31. @Puffy

    I too ride tubs… what to do when they wear down? Run it until the canvas shows, handling starts to get dangerous and a high risk of puncture or tear it off and throw a new one on?

    I’m at that point now and by not making the decision (budgetatus vs conserative logic) I am making the decsion to run the gauntlet…

    I wish I knew the answer.

    In my younger more foolish days I ran clinchers and have ridden home a couple of times with a flat no problem….well, no major problem. Just make sure you take the tube out, don’t go any faster than your grandmother can walk and forget about cornering!

    If there’s no more riding it, send it to Buckit & get them to make you a belt/watchband.

  32. @Mikael Liddy

    If there’s no more riding it, send it to Buckit & get them to make you a belt/watchband.

    I’ve seen those belts! A very excellent idea sir!

  33. @Puffy

    @Mikael Liddy

    If there’s no more riding it, send it to Buckit & get them to make you a belt/watchband.

    I’ve seen those belts! A very excellent idea sir!

    Yep, I concur, Ive got one penciled in for my watch on or around the 25th Dec.

  34. @Phillip Mercer

    I ride clinchers with friends who ride tubs. Nothing more irritating when they put in the sealant, pump up, we get going only for the sealant to give way again repeated three times in one ride…

    Surely there is one thing more irritating… listening to them prate on about how their tubs are So Much Betterer.

  35. @ChrisO

    @Phillip Mercer

    I ride clinchers with friends who ride tubs. Nothing more irritating when they put in the sealant, pump up, we get going only for the sealant to give way again repeated three times in one ride…

    Surely there is one thing more irritating… listening to them prate on about how their tubs are So Much Betterer.

    all this talk of sealant, syringes, vinyl tubing, valve stems etc , this is better how again?

  36. @piwakawaka

    Haha! I’m sure that’s not true – I was meaning the less hitter-ry bunch rides.

  37. @wiscot

    I’ve been dealing with that crap all week as well.

  38. @Canucklehead

    I once rode over a screw that some plonker left in the middle of the road. Luckily the screw did not damage to my rim as it shredded my tire, tube and the tip of the screw punctured the rim tape and went in the spoke channel in my rim. Stupidly I repaired the tire on the spot. Two days later I had another flat. Repaired it. Another week later, another flat. This went on for about 2 months with flats every week. Until I finally figured out the when the screw punctured my rim tape, it exposed an inflated tube to the sharp edge of the spoke channel…with enough time and enough pressure and friction I eventually would flat. Many stops, repairs and much cursing was involved. Needless to say, I’m pretty meticulous about checking and rechecking every flat repair I do each time now. Didn’t flat for over a year after rotating my rim tape.

    Or just replacing the time tape…but this might be the best point raised on this thread. Flat? Fine. Check the tire for debris that caused it, and if it’s a big thing like a screw that went through to the rim, then you check the rim for sharp bits and fix anything that is abrasive before the next ride.

    We’ve all been there, son.

    For all you tub haters, bee tee dubs – we don’t have this problem.

  39. @ChrisO

    @Phillip Mercer

    I ride clinchers with friends who ride tubs. Nothing more irritating when they put in the sealant, pump up, we get going only for the sealant to give way again repeated three times in one ride…

    Surely there is one thing more irritating… listening to them prate on about how their tubs are So Much Betterer.

    Very clever, and also really made me laugh, despite how recumbent-esque the joke inherently is. Nevertheless, the strike at the heart of truth inclines me to award you +1 badge despite the fact that I also recall you telling me something along the lines of, “It’s going to be hard convincing the missus that I have to buy all new wheels to change over to tubs” on Keepers Tour when you were riding tubs and loving it.

  40. @piwakawaka

    Tell me again how the sealant works 80% of the time, every time…

  41. @frank

    @ChrisO

    @Phillip Mercer

    I ride clinchers with friends who ride tubs. Nothing more irritating when they put in the sealant, pump up, we get going only for the sealant to give way again repeated three times in one ride…

    Surely there is one thing more irritating… listening to them prate on about how their tubs are So Much Betterer.

    Very clever, and also really made me laugh, despite how recumbent-esque the joke inherently is. Nevertheless, the strike at the heart of truth inclines me to award you +1 badge despite the fact that I also recall you telling me something along the lines of, “It’s going to be hard convincing the missus that I have to buy all new wheels to change over to tubs” on Keepers Tour when you were riding tubs and loving it.

    I said that? Well I suppose if it was a way to convince the missus I should buy new wheels it would be excusable.

    Anyway, I’ll take badges when they’re on offer.

  42. @ChrisO

    I thought it was you, but it could easily have been another one of you pommy twats.

  43. Orange Seal, always in stock…

  44. @frank

    @ChrisO

    I thought it was you, but it could easily have been another one of you pommy twats.

    Wasn’t me. I’d already brought into the “tubs are so much betterer” thing that @ChrisO finds so tedious.

    Personally, I find the amount of flats that the clincher crowd suffer to be irritating.

    Btw, I’m sure @ChrisO will swear that he’s not interested in the game but the Aussies are in the middle of a very heavy defeat at the hands of the poms at Five Day English Baseball (the real world series). Calling him a pommy twat will cut deep.

  45. @chris

    Personally, I find the amount of flats that the clincher crowd suffer to be irritating.

    [ Redd Foxx voice ]
    You big dummy!”

    Your comment could hex us all! I’ve had a 2-year run on 4000s and Gatorskins, and now attempting to start another big lengthy run on Veloflex open and tubular.

  46. No flats whether on tub wheels or clincher.

  47. @chris

    @frank

    @ChrisO

    I thought it was you, but it could easily have been another one of you pommy twats.

    Calling him a pommy twat will cut deep.

    I completely deny being a pommy.

  48. Although I did get into a supermarket checkout fight with a Frenchman this morning, so maybe I’m being assimilated.

    If the fuckers could understand queues they might have a hope of sorting out those migrants.

  49. @Dan_R

    Orange Seal, always in stock…

    Do those beer glasses ship international?

  50. Fixing a flat on a still muggy summer evening near a loch anywhere in Scotland is utter utter misery thanks to the Highland midge

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