A short time ago while rolling down an unusually smooth patch of road on my commute home I felt a bit of a wobble/shimmy/thump that caught my attention. I had grown accustomed to wobbling in recent months because with the onset of winter it is impossible not to wobble when riding in NYC. Water fills cracks in the streets, freezes, expands and turns the roads into a moonscape of sorts. Add to this ice, snow, salt, and all the debris from the cracked roads and the state of the streets is akin to the terrain one would expect on a mountain biking excursion.
Recently however the temperature had spiked, the ice and snow had melted, and I expected smooth sailing down a patch of road that had escaped the evil clutches of winter. My hoped for wobble free jaunt turned to concern as my whole bike started to shimmy when I kicked it in to high gear. When I got home a cursory inspection showed the culprit – a broken spoke on my rear wheel.
I am confident in making minor repairs and adjustments to my bike but leave wheel repairs and truing to the local bike shop. I tried to true a wheel once and not even a trained professional could correct my pathetic attempt. I was left with a wheel that was safe to ride with, but I could feel a noticeable wobble when I reached a decent speed.
So I left my wheel with the local shop and picked it up a day later. They had replaced the spoke, trued it and I was ready to rock and roll. Unfortunately on my first ride after the repair I noticed a little rock in my roll. I had just had my wheel professionally repaired but I was feeling a “thump, thump” when I was riding. I was not wobbling as much, but it felt like I was riding over a crack in road (over and over again) and yet there were no cracks.
My first thought was to take my bike back to the shop but I had felt the “thump, thump” on the way to work so I flipped my bike over in my office and inspected the rear wheel. I first pinched all of the spokes and they were fine. I then held a pen up to the sidewall of the rim and spun the wheel and there was no contact with the pen – I was flummoxed.
I then put the pen on the two chain stays and rotated the wheel and immediately the pen was dislodged by the tire after only half a rotation. I then rotated the tire slowly and placed my hand against it and felt a noticeable bulge in one part of the tire. I looked at the bulge from the side I was on and it looked like a foreign object has been inserted inside the tire. I stared at it a moment and could not figure out what was going on. The mystery was solved when I walked around to the other side of the bike and saw this –
Turns out my tire had started to tear. You can see the threads starting to fray and the bulge is quite noticeable. I had been hit with a double whammy – first a broken spoke and now a torn tire. I am not sure if the two were related, but I wanted to share this as a cautionary tale. It’s a bummer too because I only have like 2,000 miles on the tire and there is a ton of tread life left on it.
So the moral of this entry is that it is always wise to inspect your bike on a regular basis. Bolts can come loose, spokes can break, cables can fray, and yes tires can tear. If you have maintenance stories/advice to share feel free to comment or email us.