On my commuter bike, I currently run Compass Stampede Pass tires with tan sidewalls. Besides looking pretty slick, they feel and handle great, and 99% of the time I love them.
The big downside: Flats. Because they are supple and light, they are prone to flats. And the tires have a really tight bead with my rims, making it very hard to get them off and on. In fact, the last four times I’ve flatted, I didn’t even try to repair it myself. I just went to the nearest bike shop.
Notice how I said “the last four times”? Well, three of those happened in the last week, and two of them happened yesterday.
Last week, I got my flat just shy of Fremont, and eventually found my way to Free Range Cycles, where I paid a mere $11 for a flat change. But they didn’t have any tubes with a long enough stem, so I used my spare tube for that change.
Yesterday I ran over something in the morning as I rode in the bike lane up 7th Ave. Unfortunately, it was heavy rain misting – a perfect Washington rain – and I not only did I arrive at work much later than usual, having walked the mile I normally ride, but I arrived drenched. My shoes and helmet remained soggy in the afternoon, a deeply unpleasant experience.
Midday, a coworker wanted to go for a walk. So he and I took my bike to Back Alley Bike Repair, where I encountered Ben, a bike mechanic I knew back in Bicycle Alliance days. Crazy! Ben repaired my flat for $20.
Unfortunately, although Ben said he found whatever caused the flat, either he was mistaken or I was extremely unlucky. I felt my tire going noticeably squishy about 17 miles into my afternoon commute. Sure enough: another flat. Happily, the sun had come out. Even more happily, this happened right at Bothell Bike & Ski, where I got my flat fixed again. For $28 I also got a new spare tube.
They mentioned that the sidewall of the tire is delaminating, not the cause of all these flats, but a good reason to replace the tire. I guess I’ll do that. Now I have to decide about whether it’s worth the hassle to keep those comfy Compass tires.
So, in the last two weeks, I’ve paid $60 to repair flats, and that doesn’t even include what it might cost to replace the tire! Meanwhile, my S-Works has a huge slit in the rear tire and it also needs replacing – and I run some pretty sweet (read: “expensive”) tires on that bike. I may need to up my bike tire budget.