2011-08-03 by . 2 comments

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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.

Filed under Mechanical Touring


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  • freiheit says:

    I had a similar problem over the weekend.

    Got a flat on the way to work, swapped tubes and rode home (12 miles or so), and on Saturday went into pump up the tire the rest of the way. Got a little “hissing” that I thought was the pump head not quite sealing right, and then a bang like a gunshot. Stung my leg a little, ruined the pump head and blew the tire bead out of the rim.

    I assume I had the tube pinched a little and that’s what caused the blowout.

    Had to buy a new pump afterwards.

  • neilfein says:

    After a couple of local rides, I think I’m comfortable taking these tires on tour. They ride smoothly, and the traction on gravel is somewhere in between my old touring tires and my 700×32 knobby tires. It certainly doesn’t help that tourists consistently give these tires a good rating. Member zenbike feels that these tires are “…worth their weight in gold”. Looks like we have a winner!

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