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Ever notice how many bicycle tires are grossly underinflated?

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Ever notice how many bicycle tires are grossly underinflated?

Old 09-09-10, 12:59 AM
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John_
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Ever notice how many bicycle tires are grossly underinflated?

Although I almost can't fathom the occurrence, I can still manage to sneak my hand and squeeze several unsuspecting tires, whilst trying to remain inconspicuous during this apparently creepy gesture, albeit, to an inanimate object.

I am not sure if commuter bikes at some racks have been abandoned for a while, but most of the tires are seriously underinflated, and, almost all are on MTBs, although a few road bike tires are not properly inflated, too.

This might be the result of inflating with a hand/mini pump, with which it is not easy to achieve high pressures. As a kid, I always used a floor pump, and while I never used a gauge, pinch flats never occurred, which meant that air pressure levels were closer to normal. Recently, when the floor pump went on the fritz, I briefly used a mini pump to inflate tires designed for about 70 psi. After much pumping and wrestling to stabilize the pump, I thought I must have reached the near proper pressure, satisfactorily "felt and squeezed" the tire, and stopped. Well, the first torn valve base and, later, the first pinch flat came.

When I attached a new floor pump with a gauge, I was surprised to see that I mounted 220 lbs and rode with only 20 psi per tire, about 75% less than optimal.

One might wonder how many riders experience pinch flats more than regularly, and just accept them. Or, unfortunately, how many become discouraged, and abandon bicycling due to a lack of knowledge, and because of ill-prepared/equipped bikes.
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Old 09-09-10, 01:38 AM
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Personally I believe that bicycles are coeval with people, and that by groping their rubber thus you are committing casual ****. It's no wonder they go limp at your approach; please desist.
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Old 09-09-10, 02:09 AM
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Originally Posted by John_ View Post
Although I almost can't fathom the occurrence, I can still manage to sneak my hand and squeeze several unsuspecting tires, whilst trying to remain inconspicuous during this apparently creepy gesture, albeit, to an inanimate object.
QUIT FONDLING MY BIKE! Or at least let me get my camcorder ready!

Seriously though, I notice it all the time. I also notice how low people have their seats. BLURGH! Low seat and underinflation! They are making it MUCH harder for themselves. Then to see them on the wrong side of the road to boot! Ok, I better stop.

I will admit to riding on the wrong side at time for VERY SPECIFIC reasons. Like when I think I lost something on my commute so I try to find it on the way home.
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Old 09-09-10, 02:13 AM
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I think that most people just don't want to invest in a floor pump really...
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Old 09-09-10, 03:07 AM
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You don't need a floor pump to inflate your tires to high pressure. I use a mini pump and I never had a problem getting 90 psi into my tires. There are several good quality mini pumps that will work very well.I wonder why does OP sneak around and feel tires on other peoples bikes ??
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Old 09-09-10, 03:35 AM
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I'm more worried about all the cars I see running on underinflated tires.

I would venture to say bikes with properly inflated tires are in the minority around here. Don't even get me started on the completely out-of-true bike wheels... I don't understand how anyone could stand riding more than 10 seconds on a bike that violently shudders with each wheel rotation.
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Old 09-09-10, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by johnr783 View Post
QUIT FONDLING MY BIKE! Or at least let me get my camcorder ready!
This thread has all of the prerequisites to become epic. Next thing you know, there's gonna be a news report on a new bike tire fondling craze

And I do sometimes notice others having almost flat tires, but I see it while they ride, rims almost running on the ground, and I have never fondled others riders bike tires

And if they don't mind that, why should I mind. I mean, it's they who have to push that much harder, not me. It does look a bit ridiculous, and gives an insight of who really cares about their bike, and who knows almost nothing about maintenance, though. But, anyway, it's none of my business to care how much pressure they have in their tires.
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Old 09-09-10, 05:51 AM
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Like mine. My floor pump broke this morning while I was pumping up my rear tire for the commute. That caused a bunch of air to go out of the tire, so I had to drive. Really sucks.

You're right though. Most casual riders are on bikes with woefully underinflated tires. They probably get a lot of flats too.
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Old 09-09-10, 06:24 AM
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I have come to believe that perhaps 1 in 100 people EVER checks their tire pressure on any vehicle. Bike tires just happen to have very little air volume in them anyway, so a month's worth of leakage means they're really low. I think all tires leak air a little. My car tires will go down about 1 or 2 PSI a month, though if it's getting warm (winter to summer) at the same time, the increase in temperature seems to make up the difference.

This is why cars all have tire pressure monitors now - because nobody can be bothered to check their tire pressure on their own.

I have a friend who has an ebike with a very nice controller computer that shows him how many watts he's pulling from the battery at any given time. He says that just a few PSI difference in tire pressure can increase draw on the battery by 10% - and the same thing goes for regular pedal power.
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Old 09-09-10, 07:29 AM
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Along with the under inflated tires, some of these folks don't carry spare tubes or patches. I would naturally think these folks are not commuting folks, but not so. Two of my coworker are commuter. One met up with me at the train station with a flat. Lucky he and I ride the sane train home. I offer him my patch and lever. My second worker comes to work on a low tire and pump it up at work. He is a year round commuter who does 15+ miles a day commute. He carries no spare tube, patch or pump. Nothing more than a brown bag lunch and a water bottle on a bike with a semi flat tires. I look out for this guy and do a quick check of his bike whenever I can for him. The last time I did that, his brakes were very loose and I had to tighten it up for him.

There are some stuff in life I will never understand.........
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Old 09-09-10, 07:38 AM
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A friend of mine told me once a story: he was at Wallmart and there was a woman returning her bike, saying it's way too hard to ride. He noticed that the tires were nearly flat so he asked her if she tried pumping up the tires so it'd be easier to ride. She was like "What do you mean?!?"
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Old 09-09-10, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by johnr783 View Post
QUIT FONDLING MY BIKE! Or at least let me get my camcorder ready!
Brings a whole new meaning to bike porn...
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Old 09-09-10, 08:28 AM
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Last week my SO and my son both had flat tires. In fixing them I determined every bike in my garage except my road bikes had low tires. 25-50% of capacity.
I spent 15 min inflating 9 tires. One was a trail a bike.
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Old 09-09-10, 08:29 AM
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Go ahead and squeeze my tires. My bike likes it.
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Old 09-09-10, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
Last week my SO and my son both had flat tires. In fixing them I determined every bike in my garage except my road bikes had low tires. 25-50% of capacity.
I spent 15 min inflating 9 tires. One was a trail a bike.
On this note, I have to pump up my SO's bike's tires otherwise she gets pinch flats. She's a space case and always forgets to check.
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Old 09-09-10, 09:16 AM
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I just converted by commuter wheels to tubeless, thus inadvertently joining the under-inflated tire movement.
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Old 09-09-10, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by johnr783 View Post
QUIT FONDLING MY BIKE!
Originally Posted by johnr783 View Post
I will admit to riding on the wrong side at time for VERY SPECIFIC reasons. Like when I think I lost something on my commute so I try to find it on the way home.
Originally Posted by whitecat View Post
This thread has all of the prerequisites to become epic. Next thing you know, there's gonna be a news report on a new bike tire fondling craze
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
This is why cars all have tire pressure monitors now - because nobody can be bothered to check their tire pressure on their own.
Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
My second worker comes to work on a low tire and pump it up at work. He carries no spare tube, patch or pump. Nothing more than a brown bag lunch and a water bottle on a bike with a semi flat tires.

You guys, and the gal Colleen, are hysterical with your comments! When I wrote the OP last night, I never expected all this to come out. Also, thank you for the insightful comments about seat height and wheel integrity -- all important.

So, Colleen, all in good jest, is it something of a fashion or minimalist trend for your second worker to arrive to work with an underinflated tire and pump it there? The way you described it, I could not stop laughing, and even more so as I continued to read your story. But it is very nice of you to look after his bike. I've done the same for someone's bike at work, and it made an unexpected difference.

I did not include in the original post, that during summer, once I arrive at the commuting destination, I immediately remove my shirt to cool, relax and dissipate perspiration. So, perhaps it is even creepier to see this shirtless, sweaty guy slightly bent over and feeling and grabbing tires. Indeed, the stuff to make an epic, or something unilaterally misunderstood.
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Old 09-09-10, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by John_ View Post
So, Colleen, all in good jest, is it something of a fashion or minimalist trend for your second worker to arrive to work with an underinflated tire and pump it there? The way you described it, I could not stop laughing, and even more so as I continued to read your story. But it is very nice of you to look after his bike. I've done the same for someone's bike at work, and it made an unexpected difference.
We have air line everwhere in the shop with one station that has an air chuck for tires. It's great for my tire because the pressure set at the 150 hp compressor is 120 psi. He tops off his tires by feeling hoping not to pop it. My coworker don't get paid much so he never bought a tire pump. Beside topping off at work, hd goes to the gas station and top it off. As soon as I get another road Morph G pump, I'll give him my old pump which is ok for his MTB tire. Just not too long ago when I got MS taillight, I gave him my old 3 led rear flasher light so that he will stop riding stealth in the dark.

That being said, I think I found part of my own misunderstanding of why some cyclist run on flat tire. Too broke to buy a pump perhaps?
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Old 09-09-10, 10:51 AM
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I'm assuming there's a lot of people like my wife who think that a tire/tube in good condition shouldn't lose air. So once it's filled it should stay that way in their minds. No reason to check or top off.

I had an older brother who didn't drive and rode his bike everywhere back in the 70's. I was a kid at the time but I remember him constantly checking and filling his tires so I sort of grew up with the idea that bike tires need to be topped off regularly.
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Old 09-09-10, 11:12 AM
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I see lots of soft tires also. I think it has little to do with whether they have a pump. My best friend rode soft tires on purpose. They want a cushy ride. Both our fathers were car mechanics, and had little interest in fixing bikes. haha
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Old 09-09-10, 11:22 AM
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Fat tires are much more forgiving of low pressure. We have 2 bikes in the household w/ skinny tires that are susceptible to pinching, and they get attention.

My 9 yr old can ride on his bike w/ 1.5" tires that don't register on the pump's gauge and not even squish them down.
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Old 09-09-10, 11:23 AM
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I sometimes feel up the tires on the bikes on the rack in my apartment's garage, just so I can get an idea if I'm the only one riding my bike. I guess if people are running flat tires, maybe this isn't the best way to judge.
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Old 09-09-10, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
Lucky he and I ride the sane train home.
Not even going to ask what the alternative train is like.
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Old 09-09-10, 11:59 AM
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I think the alternative train is BART.
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Old 09-09-10, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
Along with the under inflated tires, some of these folks don't carry spare tubes or patches.
I invested in a set of kevlar tires, so I wouldn't have to carry spare tubes and all that. Six months later, I got a flat ( on a weekend leisure ride, not on my way to work - Murphy took the day off ). My best laid plans were foiled! Turns out you really do need a spare; magic protection doesn't cut it. Part of the reason I tried to avoid it was to carry less gear, but another part was I've never found a frame pump that would pump enough air into my tires.

But I check mine every other day or so, with a floor pump at home. Like the lady who returned her bike to Wal Mart because it was difficult to pedal, I learned pretty early on that the right amount of air in the tires makes the bike a lot easier. On a weekend ride, say 50 miles, it adds up. In fact, it wasn't until I spent a lot of time on a bike that I realized why proper air pressure gets you better mileage in a car.

I'm not mechanically inclined, and every now and then, I learn about something else I should have been doing all along, to maintain the bike. I'm not surprised a lot of people don't know they need to check the air in their tires. Still ... once you learn, it makes such a huge difference!
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