Friday, August 4, 2017

Swapping Bicycle Tires for Dummies

Suitable Tire width vs. Rim Width for Bicycle Wheels
We still remember the first mountain bike we ever saw, 'way back in the early '80s – a Specialized Stumpjumper. In the 30-odd years since, mountain bikes have become wildly popular, especially with people who ride very little and often live hundreds or thousands of miles from a mountain. The knobby tires that are one hallmark of the style are, unfortunately, ill-suited to road use, since they're heavy and slow; so many owners who can't afford a second bike try to improve on them with touring or road tires ("slicks"). We just hope they don't find Matthew Ferguson, freelancer, when they ask themselves, "How Do I Change from Mountain to Smooth Bicycle Tires?"

Ferguson wrote dozens of cycling-related articles for the DMS¹ family, though this is the first time he's been nominated for a DotD award – from the looks of this tripe, it may not be the last. A few of Matthew's statements seem... suspiciously uninformed: you know what we mean? Well, try this one on for size:
"Before swapping to a pair of smooth, road-specific tires, match the new tire size with your old one. The tire size is stamped on the side of the tire just above the inflation valve."
Now, we don't know about you, but of the twelve bicycle wheels within easy reach of our writing desk, none of them has the tire size "stamped on the side of the tire just above the inflation valve" -- they're at random locations relative to the valve, since it's not part of the tire! And why does Fergie need to modify "valve" with "inflation" – are there two valves per wheel? Moving on...

Matt's first instruction:
"Deflate your current tire by depressing the inflation valve and holding it until the tire is flat. "
Shouldn't that be the deflation valve? 😄 Anyway, mountain bikes (almost always) have Schrader valves on their inner tubes, but Ferguson's pretty much described how you deflate a tire with a Presta valve. Moving on, again, Matt seems to think you need three tire levers to get a tire off -- heck, he may be right: no one here bothers with knobbies... but when it comes to installing the new tire, Matt says to,
"Fit the old inner tube inside the new, smooth tire... Lift the tire and inner tube together and align the inner tube inflation valve with the hole in the rim. Place the tire label on the right, drive-side of the wheel to ensure that the tire tread turns in the rolling-direction."
Ummm, most people who install bicycle tires would suggest that you put a wee bit of air in the tube to keep it in the tire at this point. Oh, and Matt? very few smooth tires have preferred directions: you must have cribbed that from mountain-bike tire instructions. And while you're at it? Your readers may not be able to find "smooth" tires the exact width of their knobbies, so they'll need to determine the width of their rims and choose a suitable size. Oh, yeah, and using a different-size smooth tire may necessitate a different inner tube! You blew it, d00d!

     Changing a bicycle tire might well be one of the most common DIY instruction sets on the internet, and Ferguson managed to find one for changing mountain-bike tires, but he clearly couldn't find one for swapping tire style. As such, his answer qualified Matthew for Dumbass of the Day!

¹ DMS is Demand Media Studios, now known as Leaf Group. We still call them DMS though because, as we often say, "You can't spell 'dumbass' without 'DMS'!"
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