Fatbike follies


I really love my fatbike. It's quickly become my "go-to" bike for nearly everything. Whether it's a quick trip to the store for a soda, or a slightly longer trip to the hardware store for some parts, or a training ride around the lake, I really enjoy riding the thing.

Everything about the fatbike is fun. It's fun to look at, fun to ride, fun to talk with people about, and fun to take to events. It's been extremely low maintenance and super reliable; aside from replacing a few bottom brackets, I've done nothing to it.

I know I'm going to need new tires soon; the Surly Knard 3.8s that are on it now are showing their age. The center tread is worn fairly low, thanks to the many miles of street riding. But, I'd like to try to eek out a few more months on them, primarily because I have an awesome set of winter tires waiting in the wings (45 NRTH Vanhelga), and also because a set of fatbike tires will set you back around $350... they're pricey little dudes.

Well... I may have to explore replacing the Knards a little earlier than hoped. I was out on a training ride this weekend - grinding out 20-ish miles on the fatbike, enjoying the nice weather, minding my own business, when I heard a "thwap! fwunk! hisssssssss!"

Ugh. That didn't sound good, so I quickly pulled over into a Cul de Sac and inspected my tires.


Awesome. A stick (about the size of a magic marker) somehow found its way from the side of the road into my tire and inner tube. I'm not sure as to why the roads were so dirty/littered with sticks and debris, but I do now recall hearing (and feeling) a lot of shrapnel as I rode.

I always travel with a spare tube and patching supplies, but due to the size of the puncture, I wasn't comfortable with risking damage to a new $30 tube (by way of another foreign object making its way into the tire). I also realized that I was exactly 8.5 miles into my ride, which meant I'd have to risk riding about 8-9 miles on the damaged tire before I could get back home. Grr.


So, I fired-up the cell phone, called Green Cab, and within 20 minutes had my fatbike secured to the cab company's Prius (they all have bike racks), and was on my way back to the house.

Once home, I removed the back wheel and headed to Lake Mills, where I used my friend's automotive service shop to repair my tire. With help from Dan, we used a special tire rasp to clean the puncture hole, scraped and smoothed the backside of the tire, cleaned it with a special solvent, and applied a synthetic vulcanizing compound.

After the prep work was complete, we inserted and set a "patch plug" through the tire. The patch plug looks sort of like a "T" - there's a flat spot/patch with a cylindrical plug that extends through it. The plug fills the hole and the patch covers it (from the back side). It's a genius system; I installed hundreds upon hundreds of these back when I was a mechanic - they're the best way to repair a flat tire.

Here's the backside of the patch plug (as seen from inside the tire):


That vulcanizing solution quite literally bonds the patch plug to the tire, so there's no chance of future contamination or leakage through the old hole (granted, bikes have innertubes, so the tire itself can't technically leak).

Here's the plug portion as seen sticking out from the tire after I was done with everything:


With the patch plug set securely in place, I trimmed off the excess plug, aired-up the tire, installed the wheel, and am now ready to ride. Let's hope additional sticks don't decide to insert themselves into my wheels...

And speaking of fatbikes, the other day, I stumbled across a pretty awesome situation. I was strolling around the capital square when I heard a piano being played. While it's not uncommon to encounter street performers near the square, the sound of the piano threw me for a bit of a loop.

As I approached, I could see a baby grand piano. Odd. And, attached to the front of the piano via a "trailer hitch" was a black fatbike...


The performer was a gentleman by the name of Davide Martello, and he happens to be a pretty incredible pianist from Germany. He's on a quest to play his piano in every capital of the world, and he uses his fatbike to tow the piano as much as he can. That's pretty awesome!

Here he is, as seen from the State Street corner; capital in the background.


He had made his way from Illinois and was spending the night in Madison. I listened for a bit, flipped him a few bucks, and wished him well. What an ambitious effort, and one that I was happy to be a part of.

You can read more about him on Twitter or on Facebook or in Newspaper articles like this.

That's all for now...

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on August 5, 2015 10:25 AM.

Speak up was the previous entry in this blog.

People... it's not that difficult, is it? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives