Is that a little flint in there?

Is that a little flint in there?

The Wipe Down

by / / 103 posts

Frank’s maddening post about doing things because, well, because that’s the way to do things made me question some of my own questionable cycling behavior.

My sensi taught me to clean off my tires immediately after riding over something that might cause a puncture. This was done while riding, finger tips floating over the tread to dislodge any potential trouble. The front wheel is easy, the rear requires some technique, indexing one’s hand against the seat-stay. Did sensi mention the indexing part? I don’t think so, sensi did not have to state the obvious all the time. The obvious being: if your hand gets too close to the seat tube your hand becomes firmly wedged between tire and seat-tube, hilarity ensues.

Drunk people are not interested in recycling or redeeming the $0.05 deposit on their beer bottles. It is much more fun to throw them out the window, resulting in me wiping off my tires, usually a few times a ride. I do this and have not had a flat tire in a long time so you must all start doing this, except my wife’s bike roll with the same Veloflex Arenberg tubulars and she never does this and she has not had a flat in a long time either. We train together and she blithely rolls over the same glass that I’m madly wiping off my tires.

The conclusion is, on dry roads glass rarely punctures tires. I have found tiny wire segments are what sometimes punctures my tires, possibly from destroyed car tire radial belts but one never rides through a glittering, highly visible, pile of those. All bets are off when the tires, road and debris are wet. My current theory is the water provides enough lubricity to let glass and other fun things go right through the tire tread. I have no data to prove this; it might be standing on the side of the road in the rain makes a more vivid memory of getting a flat.

Paul Sherwen is always saying the rain causes more “flints” to wash into roads, hence more punctures on rainy days. I’m thinking, if anything, the rain washes “flints” off the road but in any case the wet causes the troubles. Again, Paul was a Pro but I’m one year older (we share the same birthday, I did not know that) so that’s a wash.

Have we learned anything today? Not bloody likely as I will continue to wipe off my tires as I ride over bad things despite no evidence that it helps. Have I cursed myself and my wife by mentioning our lack of flat tires, quite possibly. Does this mean I should shift my bike into the small/small cogs when putting her away for the night, no.

// Tradition

  1. @PT

    @Oli

    I take it Andre Greipel hasn’t called asking for his gloves back yet? Or are they Tom Boonens?

    Black, red, gold, these are the German colours, Belgian is black, yellow, red!

  2. @Carel

    @PT

    @Oli

    I take it Andre Greipel hasn’t called asking for his gloves back yet? Or are they Tom Boonens?

    Black, red, gold, these are the German colours, Belgian is black, yellow, red!

    Thankyou – I should have known, should have checked…..

    @Oli – does Didi want them back?

  3. Hang on a mo, aren’t we all crushing it at such speed that nothing could possibly stick to our tyres?

  4. I used to do this when I rode tubulars, but not so much with clinchers. And only at fairly slow speed. My Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tires have a bead-to-bead kevlar belt so are fairly resistant. I rode 4,000+ miles on my last set before replacing them, mostly because the rear had flat-spotted enough. But not a lot of cut marks on the tires.

  5. @chuckp

    I used to do this when I rode tubulars, but not so much with clinchers. And only at fairly slow speed. My Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tires have a bead-to-bead kevlar belt so are fairly resistant. I rode 4,000+ miles on my last set before replacing them, mostly because the rear had flat-spotted enough. But not a lot of cut marks on the tires.

    I love the Pro $ Endurance tires. Never done 4000 miles though – my fat ass wears them out way before that!

  6. @luke

    I always wipe, but all this talk of bleeding fingers, jammed hands, and resulting mishaps is proof that using hands and fingers is not the proper way. Pull out your bidon and hold it against the tire for a few revolutions to clear debris. Didn’t anyone else learn this method?

    Tried it. Makes a mess of your bidden quick smart.

  7. @wilburrox

    gives me the willies just thinking of it… yea man, protect those nerve endings, they’re not overrated! Cheers

    I’ve got to admit, as an industrial designer that spends his days designing against stupidity making equipment “safe”, it looks pretty dam stupid on paper.

  8. @Oli

    This look is not quite complete without a set of 26.0 bars and a quill stem.

  9. I never wipe, and rarely flat (clinchers), like, years w/o a flat. Why risk getting a bad cut on the hand? That’s not an enjoyable cycling experience, and won’t help the application of V.

    Of course we flat more in wet weather. The wetness is a slight adhesive that makes every loose little thing more likely to stick to the tire, then work it’s way in. Isn’t that obvious? And the wetness helps every little thing on the pavement loosen up so it CAN stick to the tire. Screw the lubrication theory. So should we then wipe in the wet? Don’t bother. You’d have to have one hand on the front 100% of the time, one on the back 100%. Maybe Sagan, but not normal humans.

  10. @girl

    @the Engine

    Although if you start squelching your way to shelter (looking like one of Napoleon’s currasiers walking back from Moscow after having eaten his horse) Police Scotland will sometimes give you a lift home.

    During the drive home they will take a keen interest in your mental health.

    Very funny. Last line is gold.

    ++1

    And my sensei taught fingers not gloves, touch the rear sear stay first and follow down to the tire, never a problem in 35 years. Always do it as fast as I can and I know that it has saved me from flats. As to sliced fingers that has to be rare, as in bloody meat but it’s never happened to me.

  11. Funny how many here are advocating not wiping tyres upon fear of death or dismemberment. Like anything else in cycling, this is a skill that is required to be learned.

    1. Wear gloves. Always. Don’t get the whole too cool to wear gloves thing.

    2. Front tyre, wipe with palm of right hand.

    3. Rear tyre, wipe with palm of left hand, thumb hooked around the seat stay to make sure it doesn’t wedge in the seat tube…

    4. Grits/glass shards more likely to ‘stick’ to the tyre due to surface tension of the water layer on the tyre. Hence has more likelihood of being driven into the surface of the rubber with each revolution.

    And, yes… I’ve jammed a hand into the seat tube/tyre nexus. Managed to do a rad skid but kept it upright. Funny in retrospect.

  12. Just want to add that the only reason for gloves is crashing. Padding is unnecessary, thin and light will do the job. As a self employed craftsman gloves mean I can go to work if the road rash allows me to sit…

  13. @mouse

    Funny how many here are advocating not wiping tyres upon fear of death or dismemberment. Like anything else in cycling, this is a skill that is required to be learned.

    1. Wear gloves. Always. Don’t get the whole too cool to wear gloves thing.

    2. Front tyre, wipe with palm of right hand.

    3. Rear tyre, wipe with palm of left hand, thumb hooked around the seat stay to make sure it doesn’t wedge in the seat tube…

    4. Grits/glass shards more likely to ‘stick’ to the tyre due to surface tension of the water layer on the tyre. Hence has more likelihood of being driven into the surface of the rubber with each revolution.

    And, yes… I’ve jammed a hand into the seat tube/tyre nexus. Managed to do a rad skid but kept it upright. Funny in retrospect.

    1,2+3, why ruin a good pair of gloves? Except if you ride track and need to do an emergency stop by grabbing the front tire?

  14. @Rob

    I’ve never ruined a pair of gloves from wiping tyres. It’s a fairly light brush of the tyres that does the job.

    Really? Grabbing the front wheel on the track would be a prescription for instant death! How could you possibly;

    1. Think of it in an emergency?

    2. Take your hands from the bars to grab the wheel when you should be steering up the track.

    3. Be even remotely stable while you attempt to hold a wheel that’s rotating forward at speed, whilst trying to brace your other hand on the bars.

    Back pedal, sunshine.

  15. @emerson

    It’s just perfect as it is, thanks. I have several other bikes for achieving that “look”…

  16. @piwakawaka

    Glove on the front wheel, bidon on the back,

    @The Pressure never stop, unless absolutely necessary.

    Tried the bidon wipe… it ruins bidons.

  17. @luke

    Yep, that’s what I was taught too…

  18. @brett

    @piwakawaka

    Glove on the front wheel, bidon on the back,

    @The Pressure never stop, unless absolutely necessary.

    Tried the bidon wipe… it ruins bidons.

    it’s a bidon, when was the last time you had to buy one?

  19. @piwakawaka

    also, the slight build up of black crud on the bottom of the bidon is no worse than the marks most bottle cages leave on them anyway.

  20. Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

  21. @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

  22. @wiscot

    @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

    Someone suggested having a pair of latex gloves in your repair kit for mechanicals, to avoid grease stains on kit or bartape – could you don a pair while riding to perform a wipe down then hurl them in a bin as you roll past?

  23. @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

    Someone suggested having a pair of latex gloves in your repair kit for mechanicals, to avoid grease stains on kit or bartape – could you don a pair while riding to perform a wipe down then hurl them in a bin as you roll past?

    Ach, forget the latex gloves. I’d rather just have a team car follow me and take care of everything!

  24. @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

    Someone suggested having a pair of latex gloves in your repair kit for mechanicals, to avoid grease stains on kit or bartape – could you don a pair while riding to perform a wipe down then hurl them in a bin as you roll past?

    Ach, forget the latex gloves. I’d rather just have a team car follow me and take care of everything!

    You mean you don’t already? Amateur…

  25. I ride on a MUP every day during my commute to/from work. There is a group of folks who hang out just off the trail drinking all day, every day. At least once a week, but more like 2-3 times one of them goes off the rails and breaks numerous bottles directly on the trail. I’ve pondered how I might convince them to break as many bottle as they want – in the woods – but haven’t figure out the best approach.

    Their hangout spot is in one of the most depressed parts of the city, so the police have little interest in breaking up their party. A few months back I did make enough calls that I found a guy at the DPW who gave me his direct number and told me to call whenever there is glass out there. It worked really well. Last week I call him and he told me due to budget cuts, he’ll only be able to send the guys out once every two weeks. Damn. It was good while it lasted.

  26. @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    All while rolling of course…………

  27. @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

    Someone suggested having a pair of latex gloves in your repair kit for mechanicals, to avoid grease stains on kit or bartape – could you don a pair while riding to perform a wipe down then hurl them in a bin as you roll past?

    Ahum, the person suggesting latex gloves in your repair kit would be yours truly. I mentioned it during a prior post on packing your tool kit. I do not use these gloves for wiping tyres though, that would be too time consuming to put on the latex gloves over my normal gloves.

  28. @EBruner

    Post ride tires always get a good scrubbing and inspection.

    I’m opposite. I live by the motto, ” Never look at your tires. It can only lead to bad news”. That’s how I roll.

  29. @Teocalli

    “All while rolling of course…………” We should ask @Brett, as he knows how to make pictures -while rolling- of impossible poses (See A shift in time).

    Someone else mentioned having an octopus pet as being handy in the #26 and#65 post.

    But realistically: anything goes. A picture while standing still and then showing how to hold on to your seat tube/stays while rubbing your rear tyre or bidon, is more than acceptable. And for that particular shot, I will not wine about stems at 6 o’clock and pedals not at 90/180 degrees.

  30. @KogaLover

    @Teocalli

    “All while rolling of course…………” We should ask @Brett, as he knows how to make pictures -while rolling- of impossible poses (See A shift in time).

    Someone else mentioned having an octopus pet as being handy in the #26 and#65 post.

    But realistically: anything goes. A picture while standing still and then showing how to hold on to your seat tube/stays while rubbing your rear tyre or bidon, is more than acceptable. And for that particular shot, I will not wine about stems at 6 o’clock and pedals not at 90/180 degrees.

    That would have been me with the pet Octopus (not that I actually do – but for those who know about these things I was mighty surprised to see a Blue Ring Octopus for sale in a Tropical Fish shop I used some years ago).

    I guess the idea is to hook your thumb rear side of the seat stay and dangle little finger side of palm onto tyre.

  31. @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

    Someone suggested having a pair of latex gloves in your repair kit for mechanicals, to avoid grease stains on kit or bartape – could you don a pair while riding to perform a wipe down then hurl them in a bin as you roll past?

    Ach, forget the latex gloves. I’d rather just have a team car follow me and take care of everything!

    You mean you don’t already? Amateur…

    Yeah, I know (hangs head in shame). Mind you, one of the blessings of black shorts is that they are, in fact, ideal for wiping off oil and lube from one’s hands. That was actually my downfall – I thought I’d put the chain on with my right hand only, but I inadvertently used my left hand too. Result? Black smudges on the left side of the stem.

  32. @Rob

    @girl

    @the Engine

    Although if you start squelching your way to shelter (looking like one of Napoleon’s currasiers walking back from Moscow after having eaten his horse) Police Scotland will sometimes give you a lift home.

    During the drive home they will take a keen interest in your mental health.

    Very funny. Last line is gold.

    ++1

    And my sensei taught fingers not gloves, touch the rear sear stay first and follow down to the tire, never a problem in 35 years. Always do it as fast as I can and I know that it has saved me from flats. As to sliced fingers that has to be rare, as in bloody meat but it’s never happened to me.

    Thank you. No need for palms, or bidons, just a little sense and practise.

  33. @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

    Someone suggested having a pair of latex gloves in your repair kit for mechanicals, to avoid grease stains on kit or bartape – could you don a pair while riding to perform a wipe down then hurl them in a bin as you roll past?

    Ach, forget the latex gloves. I’d rather just have a team car follow me and take care of everything!

    You mean you don’t already? Amateur…

    Yeah, I know (hangs head in shame). Mind you, one of the blessings of black shorts is that they are, in fact, ideal for wiping off oil and lube from one’s hands. That was actually my downfall – I thought I’d put the chain on with my right hand only, but I inadvertently used my left hand too. Result? Black smudges on the left side of the stem.

    To each their own, but to me this is on a similar level to snotty kids wiping their noses on their sleeves.

  34. @osbk67

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @KogaLover

    Until now, I stop and use my gloves to wipe the tyres. My only concern then is that the dirty palm of my glove ruins my white bar tape…

    I can see how one can clean the front tyres while cycling, but anyone care to take a picture of how to position your hand for cleaning the rear tyre with glove or bidon?

    Spoken like a true Velominatus! Just the other week my chain came off my small chainring. I put it back on, wiped my hands on my (black) tights. Imagine my horror when I got black smudges on my clean white handlebar tape! First world problems indeed . . .

    Someone suggested having a pair of latex gloves in your repair kit for mechanicals, to avoid grease stains on kit or bartape – could you don a pair while riding to perform a wipe down then hurl them in a bin as you roll past?

    Ach, forget the latex gloves. I’d rather just have a team car follow me and take care of everything!

    You mean you don’t already? Amateur…

    Yeah, I know (hangs head in shame). Mind you, one of the blessings of black shorts is that they are, in fact, ideal for wiping off oil and lube from one’s hands. That was actually my downfall – I thought I’d put the chain on with my right hand only, but I inadvertently used my left hand too. Result? Black smudges on the left side of the stem.

    To each their own, but to me this is on a similar level to snotty kids wiping their noses on their sleeves.

    That’s cos the kids haven’t mastered the nose-clearing double nostril blast with a gentle pinch of thumb and forefinger to tidy up.

  35. @mouse

    @Rob

    I’ve never ruined a pair of gloves from wiping tyres. It’s a fairly light brush of the tyres that does the job.

    Really? Grabbing the front wheel on the track would be a prescription for instant death! How could you possibly;

    Back pedal, sunshine.

    It’s a story I heard, old school six day and someone heading for the top of the banking and doing this to save himself… To me it makes sense if the emergency was that dire.

  36. @Rob

    Wow! Kudos to him then.

    I couldn’t even imagine being able to pull that off!

  37. I might start packing a toothbrush in one of my jersey pockets to brush any glass or dirt off while rolling.

  38. @RobSandy

    I might start packing a toothbrush in one of my jersey pockets to brush any glass or dirt off while rolling.

    That’s about the most sensible suggestion anyone’s had on this tread. The handle will (theoretically, at least) keep ones fingers away from the spinning spokes and if you drop it, no biggie (unless you stick it through the wheel then all bets are off). One question: Old school brush or one of them fancy new ones that massage yer gums?

  39. @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    I might start packing a toothbrush in one of my jersey pockets to brush any glass or dirt off while rolling.

    That’s about the most sensible suggestion anyone’s had on this tread. The handle will (theoretically, at least) keep ones fingers away from the spinning spokes and if you drop it, no biggie (unless you stick it through the wheel then all bets are off). One question: Old school brush or one of them fancy new ones that massage yer gums?

    We could also send this fella out in front

    Though in looking for a photo I came across the low(er) tech version…

  40. @Teocalli

    @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    I might start packing a toothbrush in one of my jersey pockets to brush any glass or dirt off while rolling.

    That’s about the most sensible suggestion anyone’s had on this tread. The handle will (theoretically, at least) keep ones fingers away from the spinning spokes and if you drop it, no biggie (unless you stick it through the wheel then all bets are off). One question: Old school brush or one of them fancy new ones that massage yer gums?

    We could also send this fella out in front

    Though in looking for a photo I came across the low(er) tech version…

    Sure looks like COTHO in that first pic. How apt that he’s scrubbing the roads clean!

  41. @wiscot

    Ideally, you would cut part of the handle off. Lighter that way.

    (this was a common strategy for backpackers)

  42. @robA

    @wiscot

    Ideally, you would cut part of the handle off. Lighter that way.

    (this was a common strategy for backpackers)

    Or mount a jet wash in a backpack and hose down your tyres with high pressure water to clean them.

    Have I gone too far yet?

  43. @Gianni ,

    Is it true you will be penning a sequel, entitled “Dirty White Bar Tape” ?

  44. @Oli

    @emerson

    It’s just perfect as it is, thanks. I have several other bikes for achieving that “look”…

    Nice one.

  45. @Carel

    And … Tom Boonen rides without gloves ;-)

  46. @osbk67

    …Pelissier tyre savers…

    In the old days, badasses had a piece of wire attached to the brake-bolt and skimming the surface of the tubular to remove grit. Take a look at this 1920s picture of Lucien Buysse, just behind the crown of his fork.

  47. @fignons barber

    @Gianni ,

    Is it true you will be penning a sequel, entitled “Dirty White Bar Tape” ?

    What is that? Hemp bar tape? Out damn tape, my eyes!

    Whatever that is, it’s very wrong. And needn’t be written abooot.

  48. @Gianni

    @fignons barber

    @Gianni ,

    Is it true you will be penning a sequel, entitled “Dirty White Bar Tape” ?

    What is that? Hemp bar tape? Out damn tape, my eyes!

    Whatever that is, it’s very wrong. And needn’t be written abooot.

    It’s fi'zi:k Tacky “white”. It offers quite nice grip, but doesn’t go well with the combination of the “wipe down technique” and high training mileage. I’m open to any suggestions on how to clean this shit. Dirt seems to lock onto it and not want to leave.

  49. @emerson

    @Oli

    @emerson

    It’s just perfect as it is, thanks. I have several other bikes for achieving that “look”…

    Nice one.

    Throwing shade on Oli’s glove game is asking for it, innit

  50. I even do the post ride tyre rinse and wipe down, with a mix of white vinegar and water, wipe the tyre down with a rag and polish the rims a la Merckx’s mechanic on one of his track bikes. I largely do it to check for cuts in the tubs, but now the clinchers get the special treatment too.

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