Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dust-up: My Mild Disagreement With Outside Magazine Experts

I recently ran across a "Test Your Bike Repair IQ" quiz at I was shocked to only score 8 out of 10. I missed one question because I didn't consider repairing a torn sidewall by sewing it with an unholstery needle and dental floss. While it may be possible, those are not items I typically have on hand when flatting on my mountain bike. Don't get me wrong, I am a big believer on good dental hygiene, but I don't plan on going all MacGyver to fix a flat. On that question, though, I will defer to the quiz writers.

My other supposedly incorrect answer was #4:

The question was: True or false: Dust your tube in talcum powder before installing it in a tire.

Their answer:
It is an urban legend that talcum powder reduces flats and makes it easier to remove tubes in case of flats. The myth is a carryover from automobiles, which used the powder between tubes and tires to prevent the two from vulcanizing together from the heat. Bicycles don’t generate enough heat to generate vulcanization, and talcum powder can actually cause air to release faster if you flat.

My response is an emphatic, "Hah!", and I have thrown the bullshit flag. 

I will not argue that a non-dusted tube will bond to the tire. (Though, by coincidence my neighbor just found her tube hopelessly stuck to the tire as she took a women's bike class and was learning to fix a flat. )
I will argue that a tube dusted with talc is much easier to properly place on the rim and into the tire.  It also makes it less likely to get the tube trapped between the tire bead and the rim during installation. And the bit of talc that ends up on the rim also makes it easier to push the tire back over the rim. I am a big fan of anything that makes changing a flat faster and easier out on the road.

So, Outside's premise as to why people use talc is outdated and incorrectly associated with the use of talc by modern cyclists.
I don't know what the hell they mean by their unexplained statement ,"talcum powder can actually cause air to release faster if you flat." I would guess that they think if the tube is stuck to the tire it will leak more slowly than if it can move freely. But....what about the urban legend?

The only thing that a reasonable thinking person, like almost all JBarCycling readers, can conclude is that they are full of shit and that I am absolutely correct. Now that you are completely convinced that talcing tubes is good policy, here's how.
I keep a gallon ziplock in my bike gear box with a little talc in it. When preparing a tube for use or for your flat kit, just unroll the tube, drop it in the bag and shake. Blow a little air into the tube and you ready to install.

 For the flat kit, roll the tube back up and wrap it in plastic wrap. Secure it with tape or a rubber band, making a neat package for your seat bag.
 I prefer Scotch tape unless you need the rubber band to hold your hair while fixing a flat. You're going to tear open anyway, and it keeps the tube tightly wrapped. The wrap keeps the talc intact and gives the tube a small measure of protection while in your flat kit.
We suggest this premium branded talc. It is very important that you use bike-specific products that come from trusted sources.
You spent big bucks on a bike, you buy premium tires for your fancy carbon wheels, so you can afford to buy the good stuff! A bottle like this will last for years, so do not scrimp.

On the other hand, there are many generic or store-branded imitations that list exactly the same ingredients and are often priced under a dollar. Do not trust these products. How could they possibly be of equal quality? 
There a few few take-aways here, so I will close with a few bullet points:
- Outside's "experts" are wrong on question number 4.
- I am right.
- JBarCycling would not bullshit you about the relative value of talc brands.
- If you search the web on this topic, you will find varying opinions. When you're      through reading those opinions, refer back to second bullet point.

1 comment:

jobritt said...

I agree that talc does help the tube slide in easier but I usually don't do it since it is a little messy and I only flat about once a year. I think I have medicated talc with camphor or menthol and it works too!