I’m old enough, experienced enough, and dumb enough to know…

…that the list of possible answers to the question “what could go wrong?” is extremely long. Name a mistake, I’ve probably made it. If it was fun, I’ve done it lots. But I do try to learn from the more serious ones.

And one of the more serious life lessons old one-legged Uncle Joel has learned from his mistake-ridden life is this: Not only must you take precautions not to stupidly strand yourself too far out in the boonies to walk back, you must know that you know how to use those precautions.

Training! It isn’t just for Tactical Timmies anymore. As a side benefit you not only learn how to use emergency gadgets but you also ensure that said gadgets work in the first place.

Point currently in discussion: I want to take the new electric bicycle farther afield. Probably to town at some point, but the truth is I’ll probably cheat and trailer it to the county road. From there the total round trip actually pedaled will be less than 10 miles. But there are also neighbors more distant than D&L where I occasionally do paying gigs, easily within the bike battery’s range but gotten to entirely on rough dirt roads with cactus and sharp rocks and lots of nice thorn bushes. Honestly that trip sounds like a lot of fun and I’ve wanted to do it for several days while the weather’s still dry, but it would be stupid to do so unless I not only have the equipment I need to repair and re-inflate tires but know that I know how to use it.

Big Brother sent me a gadget I didn’t even know existed…

…and I was damned if I could figure out how to use it. Couldn’t be that difficult, right? Two threaded fittings and a dial. But I only had one gas cylinder and didn’t want to expend it until I had spares. One fitting seemed to go with the cylinder well enough but I couldn’t figure out how the other one went on the tube.

Using my spare tube, I finally concluded that it didn’t fit. There didn’t seem any way to make it fit. Conspired with Big Brother, who agreed: There are two kinds of tire valve (I did not know this) and the device is for the other size. It’s the wrong gadget. Nifty, compact and efficient, but it won’t work at all.

Point is: The time to learn that was in Ian’s cool cave with a beer on the table, not kneeling on rocks in the hot sun ten miles from home. Old man not so dumb.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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16 Responses to I’m old enough, experienced enough, and dumb enough to know…

  1. terrapod says:

    All my bicycles have had standard automotive Schrader valves, since time immemorial.

    Wife’s new super duper city 2 lb titanium whatsit touring bike uses those skinny European valves so favored by Tour de Fwance racers,which do not fit any pump I own or U.S. gas station pump and the adapters keep getting misplaced (and don’t work well anyway).

    Whomever decided to bring in the euroweenie valve to America should be shot, drawn and quartered. Keep the old style Schrader valve for all time and stop screwing with what works..

    /Rant/ off

  2. Mike says:

    Don’t throw it out just yet… :^)

    Scroll down at this link and watch the video. It clearly shows how this unit works, and it will work on the tires of your bike. .


  3. climber says:

    Also note – there’s enough gas in the cartridge to get a road bike tire to 120 psi or so.

    Bigger tires will need several.

    There’s a screw on adaptor for presta valves, and they are cheap.

  4. Robert says:

    Won an itty-bitty tire pump as a door prize. The host was a national-level bike rider person. I couldn’t figure out how to use it and neither could he. Took it to the local high-level bike shop. They were stumped, too. I don’t remember what happened to it. Oh, well. Don’t feel bad, Joel- you’re in good company.

  5. Joel says:

    Mike, that’s interesting. I think the only way to learn that for sure is to actually try to inflate something with a Schrader valve. That means expending my only gas cartridge which, for probably irrational reasons, I’m reluctant to do. But I may go ahead and do it, after all I already have some coming if the weather ever allows Landlady to come up…

  6. clarence says:

    Look up paintball cylinders. There are adapters for them to be used to fill tires.

  7. jed says:

    Such hate for the Presta. When I got my current bike, I think I didn’t pay any attention to the valve stems, until I got home and had ridden it a couple times. Then I started thinking about longer rides. FWIW, I don’t mind the Presta at all. I like that there’s that little nut to keep the stem from being accidentally depressed. I like that it has a threaded stem, so it’s more stable when filling from empty, and doesn’t rely on air pressure to hold itself in. I’m sure there are threaded Schrader valve bodies, but I haven’t seen them on bicycles. I suspect that one reason for their popularity on road bikes is that they require a smaller hole in the wheel, thus removing less metal from what are already narrow rims.

    Also, FWIW, I hope, Joel, that you have, or will get, a hand pump. I assume you do. I have a compact little pump that stays on the bike, in addition to the floor pump. The CO2 gizmos are sure nifty, but the little pump doesn’t weight much, and I don’t have to think about replacing CO2 cartridges. The Crank Brothers “Gem” is about $20.

  8. Paul B says:

    It is the same gas cylinder as a CO2 pistol or rifle. Wally has them in a 24 count box. Not a problem till you get to your last one. Have several as well as a patch kit on all my bikes.

  9. Tsgt Joe says:

    first time I got a bike with “presta” valves I purchased a hand pump for that bike, made sure I had a repair kit then jumped on the bike and took off. I found myself with a flat 15 miles from my car, getting swarmed by mosquitoes and dark coming on and no idea how to use the presta pump or valve. Finally sorted it out. If they make schrader(automotive valve) tubes for your bike its no problem drilling the hole in the rim bigger. Your rims look pretty solid and a bigger hole wont measurably weaken them, unless they are a material other than steel or aluminum. In that case disregard what i said since I dont have a clue.

  10. Crane op says:

    My wife got on of those fancy road bike and none of my air stuff would work but the seat killed my ass

  11. RCPete says:

    In the ’90s I had a mountain bike, but I was using it on the road, so I used high pressure tires. The Schrader valves tended to leak at higher pressures, so I switched to Presta. No leaks, even in the year I did way too much cycling. Through the 90s, Presta valve tubes were available for mountain bikes. No idea about the current situation.

  12. Sendarius says:

    Agreeing with RCPete:

    My road bike tires are supposed to be inflated to 120 PSI.
    I am not sure why they are any better than a bare wheel wrapped in insulation tape at that pressure, but they are.
    Still, as RCPete says, the Schrader valves leak at that pressure, the Presta style don’t.

  13. Norman says:

    There are adapters for Presta valves to make them act like Shrader valves, several on Amazon (I got the “4 pack for $8.97” one). I wire-tied one to the one @&$% bike that has Presta valves and put a spare in the under-seat tool bag with the spare tube and spoons.

    Pro Tip: Practice with it first – a lot – preferably in well lighted air conditioned comfort, and especially with the pump you keep strapped to the bike and not with the very convenient 230V air compressor in the garage…..

  14. Mark Matis says:

    Then there’s this:

    By the way, since your electric bike is motorized, have you checked whether you need to have a tag and title to operate legally on public roads???

  15. sevesteen says:

    I’ve got a carbon fiber bike hanging from my garage that I used to ride a couple thousand miles a year, I still ride more utilitarian bikes. I’ve got a CO2 inflator somewhere (probably still on the carbon bike) but I rely on Remy Tip Top or Park patches, 2 tubes of glue with at least one unopened, and a small hand pump. I’ve usually got a spare tube, and if possible I use the spare and patch the puncture at home. The CO2 is easier, but you’ve got one chance, they don’t do multiple tires. I don’t like to rely on them alone on pavement with cell coverage and a wife who will come get me, let alone in the desert.
    Presta makes sense for racing bikes–the rims are only about half an inch thick, so there’s less hole to weaken that spot, and they work better over 125psi.

  16. Timbotoo says:

    You may want to take a look at a product like RideOn, which is a sealant which goes into the inner tube and effectively seals a puncture. I’ve used this to good effect on a motorcycle.

To the stake with the heretic!