I ordered some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires for my touring bike, to replace the 3-year old mismatched pair I had on there–one of which is original equipment. (Relating to my last post: Knobbies are great fun, but my September tour will be almost all on roads, and I want to ride on these for a while before a week-long tour.)
Those of you who’ve changed anything thinner than a mountain bike tire know that they can be tough to get on, at least the first few times. The Marathon Plus is the nuclear option flat resistant touring tires–heavy, but considered reliable and a very good ride. They’re also even stiffer and more ornery to get on than any other touring tire I’ve installed. After some struggling, I got the rear tire on the rim and put it back on the bike. The front tire, a Panasonic, was a little more trouble. (Yeah, it’s the newer tire, but newer by just a few weeks; I had a nasty blowout on tour when the bike was fairly new, and had to toss the tire after a day of riding with a boot.)
I had more trouble getting the bead around the rim, and for a moment, wondered if I was digging into the tube; I gently pulled the tire iron out (I usually just use my fingers, but this tire was tight) and tried again. Eventually, with my wife helping, the tube was on and I inflated to 85psi. (The maximum is 95.)
After some other fiddly maintenance, I put the bike against the wall, in preparation for the morning commute on the towpath. A few hours layer, I hear a loud bang! Loud enough to be a balloon popping next to my ears, or maybe a gunshot from fifty yards away. The front tire had exploded, and the bike was standing there with the tire half-off the rim, the tube in shreds. The guitars I have hanging on the walls were ringing, as were my ears.
There are two takeaway lessons here. First off, though you may sometimes have little choice in the matter,. using a tire iron to seat the tire is probably a bad idea. At the least, inflate the tube more! (I’m fairly sure I could have put more air in the tube.) It could have been that the bead wasn’t seated properly (I understand that can also cause a tube to blow), but I was careful about that. I massage the tire onto the rim evenly before fully inflating, evening everything out and also checking that the tube isn’t caught anywhere. (Obviously I missed something this time. Just look at that picture! That’s a classic pinch flat, allright.)
Secondly, replace your tires before three years pass; the tread on those was pretty low, the sidewalls almost gone.
There’s good advice in this question about tight tires. I can’t believe I forgot the talc trick! I’ll try it in the morning when I replace the tube.