Sill nursing a sore back, I took advantage of the downtime to get some new tires for my bike. The original Bontrager T2’s on the bike had over 2,700 miles and were starting to resemble those old square racing slicks found on vintage Schwinn Stingrays. I was quite happy with the T2’s, but an upgrade was in order.
Road tires run the gamut from light high performance racing tires to heavier, long life, punture resistant tires. Without getting into all the details, high performance tires are lighter and have less rolling resistance, but tend to wear out much faster and are prone to flats. Training/lower performance tires, are heaver than their racing counter parts, but offer much longer tread life and superb puncture protection. The trick is to find a happy medium for your daily/training rides, one that will provide good performance, long life and the ability to deal with road debris without leaving you breaking out the tire levers and CO2 cartridges.
I opted to stick with Bontrager for my tires, but upgraded to the R2 Road Tire. It’s a faster tire and lighter by 150 grams than the original T2’s, but still offers great puncture protection and excellent tread life. Sure it cost twice as much, but it should provide a noticeable difference on the road.
My favorite LBS, the Estero Trek Store, had them in stock and in a variety of colors too…again who says cyclists are vain. I decided to stick with basic black and also picked up a couple of rolls of Velox tape. It’s always a good idea to change out your rim tape when installing new tires, it keeps everything nice and new.
New tires in hand, I thought, what better time to review the basics of changing out the tires on your bike. So, roll up your sleeves and follow along.
Besides the tires and tube, all you’ll really need is a couple of tire levers and a pump.
Remove your wheel
Since most of us do not have a bike stand, just flip your bike over, letting it rest on the seat and brake hoods. Open your brake calipers (normally found on the actual brakes) and then lift open the quick release lever, unscrewing it a few turns and then pull the wheel out. When removing the rear wheel, shift to the smallest (highest gear) cog in your cassette and the smallest cog (lowest gear) on your crank. This will increase the slack in your chain make putting the wheel back on the bike much easier. Take advantage of the opportunity to give your wheel a quick wipe down.
Removing the tire
Find your valve stem, remove the cap (and washer if it’s threaded) and let the air out of the tire. Squeeze, roll, press as much air out as possible as it will make the removal of the tube much easier. Close your presta valve afterwards so air does not get sucked back into the tube. Grab one of your tire levers placing it between the rim and tire opposite of the valve stem. Pry the tire out of the wheel and hook the tire lever to a spoke. Place the second lever a few inches away and pry out the tire. Then slide the lever completely around the wheel removing one side of the tire from the rim (some tires are stubborn and can take three levers). Remove the tube starting at the valve stem, working your way around the tire. Inspect it for any defects and set it aside. Roll off the other bead of the tire with your fingers and remove the tire from the rim.
Inspect the inside of the rim for any foreign objects. You’ll see a layer of cloth tape known as Velox tape lining the inside of the rim. Velox tape is used to provide a cushioning barrier between your tube and the rim/spokes of your wheel. Find the start of the tape near the valve stem and carefully pull it out. Inspect the inside of the rim again making sure it is clean and devoid of any debris. Grab your new roll of Velox tape and line up the whole in the tape with the valve steam whole. The tape has an adhesive backing so just roll it into the well of your rim, maintaining enough pressure to keep it taught and smooth. Continue around the rim until the tape runs out. there will be just a smal amount of overlap which is fine. Run your finger on the tape around the rim making sure that it is well seated.
Installing the new tire
Unpackage your tire and unfold it into shape. Slip one side of the tire bead onto the rim, working your way all around the tire. It should easily snap in. Add about 5 lbs of air to your tube to give it a little bit of shape and insert the valve stem into the whole in the rim. Slowly tuck the tube around the wheel placing it into the well of the tire. Check that the tube is not being pinched between the tire bead and the rim. Now starting at the valve stem, work the other side of the tire onto the rim, again working your way around the rim. This will become difficult when there are a few inches left to get on the rim. Although tempting, do not use your tire irons to wedge the tire onto the rim as you will most likely damage the tube. Just either use your thumbs to work it on or simply roll it on using your palms. Once the tire is seated, inspect both sides of the bead ensuring that the inner tube is not getting pinched between the bead and the rim. Screw down the washer on the base of the presta valve.
Inflate the tire
Add a few pounds of air to your newly installed tire and check to see that the tire is sitting evenly around the rim. If all looks well, fully inflate the tire and check one last time for any non uniform look to the tire. Check the washer of the presta valve making sure it’s screwed on tight, close your presta valve and cap your valve.
Reinstall the wheel
Slide the wheel back onto your bike, tightening the quick release bolt and then locking down the lever. Don’t forget to close your brake calipers. Give it a spin to make sure everything is correctly aligned and that your brakes are working.
Easy as pie right! Take advantage of your wheel maintenance period to give your bike a thorough cleaning. Degrease and lube your chain and tighten down all loose screws and bolts. Now take a step or two back and admire your work.