Pinnacle Update: The Saga Continues…

Well, the Pinnacle being ready to go didn’t last very long…

After I took the Pinnacle for a test ride on Thursday after getting it back from the bike shop, I placed the bike in the back of my father’s pickup so that he could take it back over to my grandparents so that I could clean it.

Today comes. I’m getting ready to clean the bike. I go to grab the bike out of the back of his truck and notice something’s not right.

The rear tire was completely flat.

I took the bike down to his basement and grabbed my pump to see if it would hold air. Pumping it up revealed that the tube had failed; the tire would not hold air for any length of time unless I was holding my thumb over the area of the tire where the valve stem met the tube.

For those who know bikes or have seen this first-hand, you probably know what happened. The part at the base of the valve stem on the tube broke, and the valve stem came separated from the tube. And you’d be partially right.

The valve stem patch came unglued.

Upon closer inspection, the stem itself didn’t break in the traditional spot. Instead, the patch with the valve stem came unglued from the tube. This is an odd failure mode and I’ve never heard of tubes failing in this exact manner.

The two pieces separated.

After peeling the rest of the valve patch off, I was left with a useless $10 thorn-resistant tube and a Schrader valve that I can use for something in the future.

The valve stem. Note how “perfect” the patch is.

The near-perfect shape of the patch and the surface of the tube lends me to believing that it wasn’t an issue with the rim or installation that may have caused something to gouge into the tube. Furthermore, it was fairly easy to just peel the rest of the patch off the tube.

I have a couple hypotheses as to how this may have happened:

  • A simple manufacturing defect, where the patch wasn’t vulcanized to the tube correctly.
  • The bike was stored in the bed of my father’s pickup truck, which has a black cover. The temperatures over the last couple days have been above 90*, meaning the temperature inside the bed had to have been much hotter. Perhaps it go so hot the patch’s vulcanization failed.

No matter the cause, the $10 thorn-resistant tube is toast. Even before I peeled the valve off it was done for, as the damage couldn’t be fixed. At least I can use it to make some rubber bands and perhaps some tube patches to use in the future.

That spare tube came in handy!

Thankfully, I had a spare tube laying around from back in May when I installed the thorn-resistant tube. This tube is just a basic standard-thickness CST (Cheng Shin Tire) tube you can pickup from your local Walmart for $4. After installing it, the tire is ready to go. There is some concern about snakebite flat occurring with this tube, but for $4 I’m willing to chance it.

Unfortunately, I’m not too terribly mechanically inclined. Despite changing bicycle tires more times than I care to count, my Achilles Heel is removing and re-installing the rear wheel. While this comes easy to mechanically-inclined people and bicyclists, I never grasped it. And yep, tonight, was no different. Why did it have to be the rear tire to go flat?

So, the bike is going to have to make another trip back to the bike shop to have the wheel correctly installed.

Giving It A Shower

And now today’s original goal… to clean the bike up!

Today’s original goal was to clean this bike up and make it look presentable. After installing the spare tube and getting the rear wheel on to the best of my ability, I decided to embark on accomplishing that goal.

While I didn’t completely clean the bike as meticulously as I would’ve liked to, I got it cleaner than it has been in quite some time. I was kind of worried about going all out because this bike is going back to the bike shop Monday to get the rear wheel installed correctly.

The bike looking much better…

After using some soapy water, an old rag, water, and some elbow grease – the bike started to look pretty good! While it doesn’t look like it just rolled out of the factory, I cleaned off a large amount of the dust and old grease found on some of the body components.

The bike after cleaning some more…

The bike actually started to shine. The rims, the pedals, and the guard for the chain ring shined brilliantly!

This bike needs a lot of TLC, and the project is far from complete. While the bike should be ready to roll after the rear wheel is correctly installed, it still needs new rims, kickstand, and a seat.

Revisiting: Keep the Pinnacle?

Although I’ve mentioned in an entry I made back in January that I would never consider getting rid of the Pinnacle, I feel that it may be time to research some new bikes and comparing the advantages and disadvantages of replacing the Pinnacle.

While the Pinnacle is a good bike when running and looks good – it’s just isn’t worth that much. The Pinnacle was a department store bike (made by Huffy for Sears-Roebuck.) While it has fared much better than any modern department store bike (such as the Huffy Superia I had), I’m concerned that I’m throwing parts at an old bike when I should save that money and buy a nicer, new bike. It has survived 30 years longer than most modern-day department store bikes will live.

Back in January I mentioned that there were many different reasons I wasn’t considering replacing the Pinnacle. Truth be told, I’ve learned that not all new bikes are bad. As long as you know where to go (as in your local bike shop) to get a new bike, you can usually get something that will be reliable and last. Most bike shops back their quality up, and will fix it if something goes wrong. Additionally, many bike shops give you a free tune-up after breaking the bike in. Since bike shops know what they’re doing when assembling the bikes, and know the ins-and-outs, you’re more likely to get something that will last. That’s not even mentioning that most bike shops are locally-owned, and the owners will do quite a bit to ensure each customer is satisfied.

The second reason is I just don’t like the look of today’s bikes. This is something I’m going to have to research and discuss with a local bike shop owner, as I want something that looks good. I like the look of the Pinnacle, with its royal blue paint and gold accents. While I like road bikes and their look, I may also want to explore other options that may suit me better.

Third reason is the “attachment factor.” When I moved into town (and got this bike), I practically rode this bike every day if the weather was decent. That was when I was younger and the only way I could get around town quickly was by hopping on the bike. My answer to that concern is simple: if I replace the Pinnacle, it doesn’t mean I have to get rid of it. The Pinnacle is a good bike and won’t go to waste.

Perhaps that is something I will explore. Stay tuned to the next installment of the Pinnacle saga.

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