Slime, Thorn Resistant Tires and Airless Bicycle Tubes?

James

Well-Known Member
Hey Guys,

I'm awaiting my Stromer ST1 Platinum and was hoping for some thoughts on puncture protection. I read the review Court posted on the company Slime (thanks Court!) but then have read mostly negative reviews about peoples experience about the product. I will be commuting about 40-45 miles a day and would like to avoid as much flat tires and down time as possible! My bike has the new Schwalbe Big Ben's on it which are supposed to be fairly anti puncture, but I'm trying to plan for some worst case scenarios. Speaking of which, how hard is it going to be changing a flat on this bike? I don't imagine it'll be much fun!!

I was also wondering what I should be using for chain lube (wax products maybe?) Anyway thanks in advance for the advice!!

Cheers,
James
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Great question, James.

When you find a better solution or a way to handle this situation, could you also post a summarized thread in "accessories" section under tires/tubes?
It will help others to follow and keep the thread alive.
 
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James,

My ST1 Platinum had it's first flat last week. Those Big Bens are good, but not invincible. It was in the rear tire and caused by a piece of glass. I was three miles out and called for a pick up. There was no way to change the tube on site. 19mm nuts lock on the axel, so no quick repair kits are going to work. You'll need to carry the actual wrench.

Hoping to avoid anymore problems, I tossed in a "Mr. Tuffy" tire liner, which has done well in the past.

...Two days later I had another flat. Doh. This time it was caused by the edge of the tire liner. There's a point where the liner overlaps on itself and I could see the impression of the liner, with the puncture it caused on the tube. I've sanded down the corners of the liner and reinstalled it. I hope it works.

Frankly, with the exception of my experience above, we've never had an issue with tire liners. Only one customer has ever complained about his, I we found a nail had pierced his tire. Everything has its limits. I recommend a good tire liner.

Personally, I hate slime. It might be doing its job and I just don't know it, but we've had lots of punctures with it. It can fill up the tire when you have to change it, causing you to have to rinse everything off. It 'spits' out of the valve when you pump up the tire, which can ruin a pump. I'd stay away from it.

If this is something you're really concerned about, you might consider going the way of an Eflow instead of a Stromer. All the new ones are 28 mph like the Stromer and they have quick release through axles in the rear. That's going to make a change SUPER easy. Man-O-man is that ST1 good though.

Wet, wax and dry lubes are all great depending on your weather and conditions.

Wet=wet conditions
Dry=pretty much anything
Wax=dry and dirty

Personally, I use a little GT85 after degreasing and cleaning about once a month. Electric Bike Action Magazine features a great article about lubing up a bike in the Feb. issue.

Enjoy that bike.

-chandlee
 

James

Well-Known Member
Hi Chandlee,

Thanks for the info! I hadn't thought of a tire liner, although it does seem like the most logical choice. I'll make sure I pick some of those up right away.
I did look at the Eflows' originally, but we don't have a local dealer near where I live, so the Stromer was the most logical bike I thought for what I am going to require it to do. Which is to say it's going to be my only mode of transportation for a year straight! I think having a local knowledgeable dealer will outweigh the inconvenience of changing the odd flat tire.
I'll be sure to check out the Electric Bike Action mag feature for sure.
Thanks again for your input I appreciate it!

Cheers,

James
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Great advice Chandlee! It's really tough to deal with a flat on almost all ebikes with hub motors, even if they have quick release there are just more wires and connections to deal with. Even though I covered the Slime products at Interbike a while back, I have heard similar critiques of the product from other riders. I personally just go for high quality tires and the occasional tire liner. If it becomes a regular problem, you could invest in high quality Kevlar lined tires that will keep stickers and glass at bay but I'm afraid no tire is invincible... even car tires get flat on nails sometimes.

Good advice about the different types of lube. I hate to admit it but I usually get my bike tuned up at the shop and they take care of the chain. I've done some testing with promo products and they all seem to work if you just flip the bike, drip some lube on, switch gears so it gets on the different rings of the cassette, then use a dry rag to wipe the chain as you continue pedaling it. You don't want the chain to be wet and dripping but letting the oil coat it and get on the rings is a good thing. I also try to buy the environmentally friendly stuff so it won't get into my skin or lungs... and it's better for the planet I think/hope :)

I'd love to re-post the guide from Electric Bike Action Mag but haven't gotten mine in the mail yet... I suppose I'd also want to ask their permission. Chandlee, if you've read it maybe you can provide a quick summary with bullet points or something? Was my chain oiling description any good, just something I've made up over the years.
 

FitzChivalry

Active Member
Does anyone have thoughts on airless/solid/foam tires? I read up on Amazon and read that they can create a fair amount of rolling resistance and make a sickly squishing sound, but I'm wondering if the trade-off isn't worth it to not be caught out on the way home with a flat. I'm sure it's a lot harder to flip a 55-lb bike with all of its machinery to replace a tire when away from home. Thoughts?
 
FitzChivalry,

We've only used one solid tire set ever, per customer's request. It didn't turn out too well. It made for a much harsher ride and actually ruined the guys spokes.

Thorn resistant tubes are a alternative to slime and liners. I forgot to mention that earlier. However, they might be more susceptible to over-pressure blowouts.
 
Court,

Great description and reinforces the article, which was in summary:

-Cleaners and polishes are important. Read the labels for their intended use.
-Sealants are a no-brainer for running tubeless.
-Choose the right lube for your conditions.
-Bolt grease is da bomb.
-Spray aerosol products in a towel.
-Don't grease handlebars or stems.
-Get a torque wrench.
-Don't forget to maintain suspension bolts (and other hidden parts).
-Easy slide lubes work well for cable ends.
-Don't grease suspension.
-Hand towels rule.
-Read the instructions for every maintenance product!
-Never grease a tread locked bolt.
 

FitzChivalry

Active Member
EBS, thanks for the follow-up with airless tires. I thought it might be too good to be true. Sounds like it's not a good tradeoff. My wife's going to give me the "I told you so" speech when she has to come pick me up, even if it's only 2-3x/year. She thinks I'm crazy for wanting to bike commute.

PracticalCycle does what sounds like some upgrades to the tires of the Commuters they sell:
  • Schwalbe 28" Fat Frank Balloon Tires
  • Kevlar belted flat protection
  • Slime tubes
I'm hoping that the fatter tires won't increase the surface area in such a way that it will increase the likelihood of picking up road debris and popping tires.
 
Ha! Let her ride it when you get it. Then you might give her the "I told you so". :)

That combo should be about as good as it gets (though, again, slime is just messy in my opinion). Don't forget to regularly check your tires for debris. Lastly, I personally don't pump to the max PSI on hot road surfaces, which causes the air to expand. That's caused me more problems then just about anything.

Check out the Juiced Riders ODK as well. Those tires are super tough and nothing touches its range in commuting. (I want one soooo bad and I ride an ST1)
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Great points Chandlee! Changes in temperature can be a tire killer... remember, hot air expands and cool air contracts. So if it's a cool morning and you top off your tires (to avoid a pinch flat) and then you ride to work and park in the sun where the black tires heat up... you could end up straining your inner tube and eventually getting a flat.

I just bought a used bicycle from Recycled Cycles in Fort Collins, CO for testing kits with (and riding for fun!) and I parked it in the shed in our backyard and a week later the tire was flat... I hadn't even ridden it yet! It has been pretty cold out here and the guys at the shop just told me to pump it back up and that many tire tubes just slowly leak over time. I pumped it up and it has been working fine since then, though I expect I'll need to re-fill again soon.

This is such an interesting and timely conversation because I was just looking at airless and foam or rubber bicycle tube options. I found the Bell no-flat option on Amazon and then called my local shop to ask for advice. They told me that they do not recommend airless tubes because they don't ride very well (much harder than air) and are very challenging to even mount on a bike. They can also roll right off the tire if turning too hard, it sounds like this can happen with solid tires as well since the weight of the tire or solid tube creates inertia that overwhelms the bead (hard metal strip along the tire edges that keeps it on the rim) and they also mentioned the spoke strain issue where the solid tube is less forgiving than air would be and thus, transfers impact into the spokes and causes them to bend over time.

bell-no-mor-flats-airless-inner-tubes.jpg

So... determined not to give up on my quest for a bicycle that will never get flats, I kept exploring the web and ultimately found the Energy Return Wheel which is a bicycle tire designed without a tube. It uses a combination of rubber, plastics and carbon fiber to create a semi-flexible sidewall that supports a rubber tread for grip. Not only is this tire lighter than a standard tube+tire, it also transfers energy more efficiently when riding (according to their video and website). It's a neat concept but they are charging $600 to $1,600 a set and you still have to wait several weeks to get the product as it is in pre-order stage. I'd love to see how these things work, and wonder if you could get them re-treaded like a truck tire or something. $600+ is a lot to pay for tires! I wonder if these would even support a heavier electric bike plus passenger?


energy-return-wheel-erw-airless-bike-tire.jpg

energy-return-wheel-closeup-prototype.jpg
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Truly excellent work, Court.
ERW is a fantastic concept but the guys at ERW have no business sense. They could keep minimum premium till the product crosses certain threshold and then increases the price. At $600, I can hardly imagine any market penetration.
Nevertheless, great idea.
 

James

Well-Known Member
I just watched the video, and I'd have to agree with Ravi on this one. It seems absurd that a product still in its pre-production stage would command a high end retail price. That being said it sure would be cool if I never had to change a flat for as long as I lived!!
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
This seems like such a universal problem for people "bicycle flat tire" maybe we need to form a brain trust here and launch our own Kickstarter campaign to make something like the Energy Return Wheel (avoiding any patents) but then just make it cheaper and make the tread replaceable if the wheel system itself is sophisticated and enduring. It seems like the key factors are as follows (in order of my own perceived importance):
  • Light weight: must be less than or equal to current tube + tire solutions
  • Shock absorbing: must cushion the rim and spokes to maintain mechanical integrity and ultimately the rider for comfort
  • Easy to install: tubes and tires aren't exactly fun to install but if this solution requires help from a shop it will be more expensive to the end user and be harder to penetrate the market selling online only at first. Also, bike shops may not want to sell a solution that never breaks, they may prefer the razor model... sell one bike and then lots of tubes for the financial win!
  • Affordable: I'd pay ~$150 for a set of runflat style tubes or tire things that never went flat but function as well or better than the existing solution but even that doesn't make financial sense, it's just about eliminating the frustration of a potential flat (time, sweat, inconvenience) and it would also let me reduce my bike weight because I would no longer need a mini pump, tube, patch kit etc. In fact, if I didn't have to buy all of that stuff to begin with then I'd probably save at least $50!
  • Performance improving: the Energy Return Wheel advertises more than just run flat ability, it seems to capture additional force in a sort of spring design and then "return" it as you ride forward. That's just icing on the cake, but maybe gimmicky (which is why I put this last). It's like those old Reebok shoes with the pumps or even new shoes with air pockets inside. I'm not sure if they really work but they do look cool...
original-reebok-pump-shoes.jpg
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
Late autumn onwards is a nightmare time over here in the UK for getting punctures whilst riding off road.
It's the time of year when farmers start to cut their hedges, and as our tracks etc are pretty narrow, the options for avoiding are pretty slim.
I think that six punctures on one ride was the maximum, and invariably I'll get two or three.

I don't rate slime and I'm sure that it wouldn't prevent thorns such as this one from deflating the tyre.

puncture 1.jpg
 

James

Well-Known Member
Holy Eddie, that's a hell of a thorn! It's unlikely that any puncture protection would help against one of those daggers! I'm lucky that I haven't got a flat yet on my ebike, it looks ridiculously difficult to change.
 

James

Well-Known Member
The Fly Cobra is awesome! Cool video too. I'd gladly pay 20 bucks to not have to take my back hubbed motor off my Stromer!
 

EddieJ

Well-Known Member
The only negative thing that I have read about them is the very occasional pinch flat.

As an emergency tube, I guess that we should be carrying one of them though, and this thread has prompted me that I really should order a couple up.

Edit.. I bought one of the Cobra tubes just before taking part in the off road event, and it now goes with me everywhere. :)
 
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