The Goldilocks Principle: Valve Stem Length
The Goldilocks Principle is under assault, balance is lost. Without balance, we are reduced to savages. Steerectile dysfunction is spreading like wildfire; socks are quickly becoming knee-highs and the line between shorts and knickers continues to blur.
We spend considerable time making everything on our loyal steed fit and look perfect. Bar tape and tire color are carefully coordinated to frame and decals; the tape is wrapped and finished expertly. Saddles are positioned with a spirit level. Cables are cut to the shortest length possible to allow for smooth and friction-free braking and shifting. Cable ends are trimmed to the shortest sensible length. Tires are mounted with labels mounted directly above the valve. And yet the valve stems themselves have recklessly been allowed to grow ever longer.
The Prophet and De Vlaeminck didn’t ride around with 5cm of valve stem sticking out of their rims. Granted, they only had one length to choose from, but that one length stems were made in was obvious: as short as possible. Valve stems need to be managed just like everything else on our bikes. They need to protrude from the rim enough to allow for a pump head to be securely attached to it; anything more is ugly and dead weight. (Incidentally, if you are using a pump with a screw-on head like a Lezyne or Silca, then this means all you need is the threads of the valve core plus a few millimeters to allow for the head to securely thread on.)
For those among us riding deep section rims, forget the long-stem inner tubes. Buy tubes with 32mm stems with removable cores and use the shortest valve extender possible. Under no circumstances should one use an inner tube without removable cores. It is important, however, that upon removing the tube from its package and before installing it or placing it in your kit, that the core be removed and reinstalled using a small wrap of plumber’s tape; this will ensure that the core does not unthread with your pump head, causing a disappointing deflation of both spirit and tire.
Bring back the balance. Stop this long valve madness and get thee to your local bike shop for some fresh, short-stemmed tubes.
We are not savages, my children. We are the Velominati. Vive la Vie Velominatus.
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