Heat Wave Tough on Bike Tires, Too

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images/Stockbyte
    The MDC may be putting on the brakes for cyclists who ride at the West Hartford Reservoir.

    This summer's grueling heat has been hard on everybody.  Some deflate and seem to melt away, others become irritable and may even explode.

    Apparently, bike tires do the same thing.

    This summer has seen an unusual number of bike flats, and some riders may even experience blowouts, according to a report in the New York Times.

    "On extremely hot days, the air inside of the tires expands, resulting in more flats than normal," Jake Fleischmann of Roy's Sheepshead Cycle in Brooklyn told NBCNewYork.

    And if the increased air pressure within the tires isn't enough, Fleischmann continued, "in extreme weather changes -- when it goes from an 80 degree day to a 102 degree day -- the rubber on the tire expands and contracts, letting out a good deal of air."

    Roy's Sheepshead Cycle has ordered about one and a half times as many tire tubes as they did last year at this time, said Fleischmann, noting that last summer's temperatures were milder.

    However, other cyclists say that the increase in flats represents an increase in ridership, not temperature.

    "I'm having a hard time imagining that a 10-degree change in temperature is going to make the difference," Andrew Crooks of the East Village's NYC Velo told the Times.  While tire pressure would certainly increase in the heat, most tires are tested well above the recommended pressure level, he said.

    "I think it could be road conditions," said blogger Michael Green of BikeBlogNYC.  "There's a lot of construction: post-winter potholes that haven't been addressed, new bike lanes like on First Avenue...I don't think it's really heat."

    If a tire is improperly inflated and already worn-out, heat could be a "factor," Green said. "You could say the heat is impacting [flats]... but it's more that I'm not properly inflating my tires."

    Most cyclists don't pay close attention to their tire pressure, said Green, and the Times article reported that most of the people reporting flats are "not expert riders."

    But "the majority of people are recreational riders or leisure riders," Fleischmann told NBCNewYork, adding that "even our professional riders... have been getting more flats as of late just because of tire pressure."

    A flat is bad enough, but sometimes the friction between the tire and the road -- exacerbated by hot weather -- can cause blowouts.  This may be what happened to Tour de France competitor Jens Voigt of Germany who crashed on Tuesday when his front tire "exploded" for unknown reasons.

    Blowouts are rare, however -- usually only professionals reach sufficient speeds and friction levels, and their tires and equipment are of a higher quality than average cyclists.

     What do you think? Have you been getting more flats lately? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.