Listen to Your Bike



We don’t post a lot of commuter tips on this blog, perhaps it would be good communal goal to do so in 2010!  Here’s a start…

bulging_tubeI was heading for home on Friday, when I picked up a piece of glass in my rear tire.  I was on a tight schedule and was heading for the bus anyways, so I decided to just toss it on the bus as is and I’d deal with it over the weekend.  Come Sunday night, I patched the tube and all was looking good.  I hope on the bike to leave home this morning and I hear a very faint, almost unnoticeable rubbing sound, almost like a break pad just barely touching a section of the rim.  I check the brakes, but they look fine and start riding again.  The noise is still there.  I stop for a better look and discover that the rear tire isn’t completed seated and is just barely bulging a little.  Mind you, the clearance on this bike is quite tight with the tires I use, so it’s really minor.  However, at the really high rate of speed I ride (you can stop laughing now ;), it’s quite possible that this could have been a serious problem down the road.  I turned around, two minutes with a pump and re-seating the tire, and I’m on my way again.

Moral of the story, get to know how your bike should sound.  If you’ve never really done this, then I’d suggest you take your bike in for a Spring tuneup and focus on how it sounds right after it’s left the hands of a professional.  When something doesn’t sound right, investigate it or you could be in for a surprise later down the road.


  • Labann
    Jan 25, 2010 at 9:24 am

    It's best practice to slightly fill tube, then "pinch" sidewall all around while visually checking if tube gathers up into tire, which helps tire fully seat in BSD. Then inflate. I like to roll tire a bit, too, when halfway full as an extra check. This is especially important if you're using plastic tire liners, which tend to displace tube a bit if not carefully centered beforehand.

    The bulging you show sometimes occurs at the valve stem. Repairers forget to shove the valve up into tire or prematurely replace the knurled nut whose only role is to steady valve during inflation.

    Speaking of brakes pads, if they get loose or aren't properly squared, they can rub sidewall and eventually weaken, resulting in a sidewall blowout.

  • Geoff
    Jan 25, 2010 at 11:46 am

    yet another example of why you should never ride your bike with headphones/ear buds.