Sedona Update Update

Someone fixed the Sedona, and it wasn’t the bike shop…

Despite logging 135 miles on the Sedona so far this year, 2020 has been a really rocky year for the bike – which is practically new. In February, the freewheel hub snapped – putting the bike out of commission for just over a month. And recently, I discovered two broken spokes on the rear wheel. The rear tire had a tear in the sidewall thanks to a nail.

Today, I finally tackled the issue at the root. The solution: a new wheel.

The largest problem concerning the original wheel was the freewheel hub design, which is a notoriously bad design. I heard that even lighter people who ride mostly on pavement (like me) also have issues.

The replacement wheel is a Velocity CliffHanger wheel, which has a freehub (a superior design than the freewheel) and is a lot more rigid. The design is tailored toward Clydesdale riders like myself.

The new wheel (left) versus the old wheel

In addition to the new wheel I had to purchase a new cassette and a spacer. I went with the Sunrace 11-34t cassette.

I also replaced the old, torn tire with a new tire identical to the old: a Schwalbe Marathon (26×2.0.) I had contemplated switching gears (no pun intended) and going with the Continental Double Fighter tires that was my second choice, but I like the look of the Marathons. The reflective sidewalls are nice, but the tire actually matches extremely well with the frame.

Inner tubes also had to be changed. The CliffHanger wheel is drilled for a Presta valve, so I had to order the new tubes online. (No more buying tubes from Walmart.) I’m nervous about these tubes for two reasons. First, they’re Kenda. My luck with Kenda tubes has not been good, mostly because the valve stems separate from the tube. (Perhaps it’ll be different with a presta valve? Anyhow, the last time I purchased Kenda tubes one of them popped before I could even fully inflate the tire.) Second problem is the tubes are actually a size too narrow. The tubes I received are 26×1.5-1.75″, whereas the tire is a 26×2.0″. I read this should work, but we’ll have to see how well they hold up in the long term.

The new tube is a size too narrow for this tire, but inflated properly without issues
The new wheel with the new tire mounted and inflated to 60 PSI

Installing the new tube in the front tire was slightly more difficult. Because the front tire was setup tubeless until now, there was Stan’s sealant all over the inside of the tire and part of the rim. I used a wet sponge to clean off the sealant before installing the new tube.

I used a Presta “valve saver” collar to properly install the new Presta tube in the front wheel that was drilled for a Schrader valve. It took a little while to get the valve as straight as possible.

Sealant on the rim from the former Ghetto Tubeless setup…
Bulk of the sealant was in the tire, so I tried my best to clean most of it out.
The Presta valve on the front wheel with its “valve saver” collar. It took some time to get it as straight as possible, as it wanted to constantly move sideways
The completed front wheel, inflated to 45 PSI.

After tightening down the lockring on the cassette, I reinstalled both wheels on the bike and took it for a test spin down the block. The bike rode and shifted fine.

The bike all buttoned up after it’s inaugural ride around the block

But there’s one problem. I couldn’t get the rear brakes to slot back into place, so that will need to be fixed before I can do any more riding. However, everything else looks good. I’m hoping to do some riding on local trails after getting the issues with the rear brakes sorted out.

I could not get the rear brakes to slot back into place, so right now only the front brakes are operational.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Update: 5/24/2020

On May 20, I decided to take another stab at fixing the brake issue. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very successful. After adjusting the brake tension and doing some other things, I couldn’t get it to fit.

I also swapped the electrical tape rim strip on the new rear wheel for some gorilla tape, which I finally found in one of my moving boxes. While electrical tape can be used as a temporary rim strip, I’ve found that it eventually bunches up and causes issues after a while. The Gorilla Tape is more durable. While that’s not a huge concern since I also have the actual cloth rim strip installed on top of the tape, I still decided to change it.

The Gorilla Tape is more durable than the electrical tape.

Tu be or Not Tu Be 2.0: Another Tubeless Rant…

Speaking of the Gorilla Tape, I’ve been bouncing around the idea of doing another tubeless setup. As mentioned in the original post, I’ve decommissioned the front tubeless setup for a standard tube again. I’ve done several posts about the pros and cons of tubeless, and it just seems to be more of a novelty in my usage case than a beneficial upgrade. (I don’t run lower pressures that risk a pinch flat, and I’m definitely not a so-called “weight weenie.” If I was riding trails or doing other mountain bike stuff, I’d likely keep the tubeless setups.)

The reason I bring this up is the CliffHanger wheel is actually tubeless-ready. While removing the tire to install the Gorilla Tape, I noticed the tire was stuck to the rim. I’ve never had a successful Gorilla Tape tubeless setup, so this is the best chance to have one.

I’m thinking of possibly doing a dry test setup (without sealant) to see how well it holds up. But as for long term use, I’m thinking of possibly sticking with the standard clincher setup. Sealant makes a huge mess (especially without the split-tube) and I just don’t think it’s worth it. However, it would be nice to know if I could run this tire tubeless in case I decide to do so in the future – especially since I have to order the tubes online.

A tubeless setup can be frustrating, especially when working with parts that are not tubeless-ready. (See my previous posts on Ghetto Tubeless.) Tubes are not frustrating and are easy and quick to install. Usually, ordinary tubes don’t make a mess of your tire or rim. Tubeless tires won’t eliminate flats. Tubeless tires are typically just as prone to punctures as standard clincher setups are, the only difference is everyone running tubeless tires also have sealant in the tires to seal punctures. If flats are a problem, you can typically remove the valve core and pour some Stan’s in the tube to get that same protection. (However, in my experience, sealants in tubes usually end up gumming up the valve at some point – a problem I’ve heard is much worse with Presta valves. I haven’t had any issues with sealant gumming valves on the tubeless setups I’ve done. I’ve also heard that tubes with Stan’s will seal enough to get you home, but will go flat overnight, and it’s more difficult to mend the puncture. I don’t have any experience with tubes punctured after adding the Stan’s, but I used to add some Stan’s after patching punctured tubes – which worked fine.)

For most people, the benefits of going tubeless can even be negated. First, tubeless presents a false hope that you’re safe running lower pressures. In reality, you’re not. Pinch flats are still a thing even on tubeless setups, and are typically more catastrophic on tubeless setups since you’re cutting into the tire carcass instead of a tube. (You’d likely have a spare tube, but not a spare tire with you. Also, tubes are cheap in comparison to tires themselves.) Second, most tube manufacturers make thinner, lighter tubes for weight weenies. However, many of these lighter tubes – especially the latex ones – leak air quicker and require to be reinflated more often, and are usually far more expensive than your run-of-the-mill tube. Some tubeless setups – like the split-tube Ghetto Tubeless setup I rode – are actually heavier than what a standard clincher setup with a lightweight or even standard tube would weigh.

Tubeless is one of the many controversial cycling topics. Some people love tubeless and swear by it. Others hate it and stay far away from it, even on mountain bikes where tubeless setups are quickly becoming the norm.

The Sedona.

The Sedona is currently being stored at the same location the Pinnacle has been, so I decided to pull the Pinnacle out and take a look at it. Nothing’s changed since it went into storage, and nothing is likely to change soon. The Pinnacle needs new rims, new tires (current ones are fine, but when I work on this bike I’d like to replace them with gumwall tires), new seat, new handlebar grip tape, work on the gearing and just lots of R&R to get it back up and running.

I’ve developed a sweet spot for old road bikes from the 1980s. Unfortunately, the Pinnacle is down and will require a lot of time and money to properly restore – really, it’ll require more time and money than it’s worth.

The Pinnacle hasn’t gone anywhere since my Bike Check in September 2019. This bike has a lot of sentimental value to me, so it likely won’t go anywhere. But it likely won’t be road-worthy in a long time, if I ever even get around to fixing it.

The Pinnacle is still around, though it needs a LOT of work to properly fix.

Back to the Sedona, my goal is to get the rear brake up fixed so I can hit some local trails and avoid turning into a potato this summer. However, the weather looks like it will delay that another week.

Update: 5/30/2020

With less than 10 miles on the bike, one of the Kenda tubes has already failed.

This doesn’t shock me. As previously mentioned, I’ve always had bad luck with Kenda’s tubes. I used to have problems with the valve stem separating from the tube, but the last couple times I’ve had Kenda tubes they seem to randomly split open.

This was the case here. While the tube didn’t split open like it did last time, one of the seams starting to leak. So one of the three Kenda tubes I purchased is already in the trash, and these tubes have less than ten miles on them. I’ve already ordered some Continental “Conti-Tubes”, which are essentially the same thing as the Acimut/Bell/CST tubes I get from Walmart, except they have the Continental branding printed on them and come in a Continental box.

I’ve still been thinking about possibly running the rear tire tubeless again. (See my huge paragraph in the previous update.) I salvaged the Presta valve from the failed tube, and was going to pull the rear tube out and try to set it up tubeless. However, there was a slight problem with that. Remember how I mentioned the tire was stuck to the new rim when removing the tire to install the Gorilla Tape? Well, now the tire is really stuck to the rim. No amount of prying or trying to push the bead off the rim was successful. So this rim may actually be an excellent candidate for a tubeless setup. Plus, a tubeless setup would result in me not having to wait a couple days due to a flat, as I have to order the tubes online.

Stay tuned to see if I can get the tire pried off the rim and if I can set it up tubeless.

Update: 5/31/2020 (Inaugural Ride)

Although I’ve put about 10 miles on the Sedona since making the repairs, those test rides were mainly around the block. It was time to give the Sedona real test out in the field.

Back here at “home home” in Jefferson City it is more difficult to ride a bike. Back at the university, I can easily ride around town without worrying too much. However, here, we live on the outer fringes of town, which is more rural and not as bicycle-friendly. In town, there are lots of hills and busy streets to combat.

After taking the bike to the local bike shop to get the brake problem solved, I spoke to the owner. He talked about a couple of trails, such as the Katy Trail. However, in town, there are such trails known as the “Greenway Trails.”

I decided to take the Sedona for a spin on the Greenway Trails. After discovering one branch led to an abrupt end in the trail, I decided to backtrack and take the other branch of the trail. Unfortunately, this part of the trail involves climbing a steep hill and crossing a busy highway.

After crossing the busy highway, it was fairly smooth sailing. Descending on the other side of the highway, I hit my max speed of 32 miles per hour on the trails.

Coming back tired, hot and thirsty, I decided to take a different route that involved some cycling on the side of a street to get to the abrupt end of the one branch of the trail. Thankfully, that street is not busy. There wasn’t a single car that passed me while making my way back to the trail.

One nice thing about the trails is parts are pretty shaded. And outside of the two really steep hills on the portion I rode on, the trails are pretty even. There is even a creek that runs alongside most of the trail.

A look at the creek that runs alongside (and under) the Greenway Trails

One of these days I will go out on the Katy Trail.

As for the bike itself, it handled the trail fine. There were some shifting issues, but they were easily dealt with.

As for the rear tire, it’s still “glued” to the rim. I haven’t tried standing on the tire. The main reason I want to get it broke free from the rim is in case of a flat on the trails that I need to fix out in the field. I’m still debating on whether to go back to tubeless on the rear wheel (after all, the rim is tubeless-ready and it seems like the rim/tire combination is a prime candidate for going tubeless.) At this point, it almost seems like tubeless is more of a novelty. I don’t know if I want to make a mess of the new rim and tire with sealant. However, at the same time, I have to specially order tubes online, so tubeless may be a much better option in that regard.

As for tubes, I’m still waiting on the Continental tubes I ordered. I forgot to mention this, but I also purchased an actual patch kit (one with actual patches and rubber cement) when I ordered the new rim and tire.

Update: 6/10/2020

After many, many failed attempts… I finally got the rear tire broken away from the rim. Or at least one of the beads.

I was finally able to break the bead away from the rim.

I’ve never had a tire this stubborn. The bead was really adhered to the rim. I tried several things to try to get it off. First, I used my tire levers to try to push it off. No luck. Next, I did something you really should do – tried carefully pushing a flathead screwdriver blade between the tire and rim. No luck. I even stood on the tires with both my feet… nothing.

So what did it take to get it off?

Just a bench vise. After completely deflating the tube, I set the tire in the vise, making sure the rim was clear. After squeezing the tire, I finally got it to unseat at the portion in the vise. The rest came off easily.

I pulled the tube out and performed a dry tubeless test. If a tire is stuck this well to this tubeless-ready rim, it is likely a good tubeless candidate.

The dry tubeless setup was a success… kinda. This is my first successful Gorilla Tape-method setup, so I’m excited that it worked. (Rim, as mentioned, is tubeless-ready. Gorilla Tape acts as the rim tape to seal the air inside the rim.) However, it wasn’t without an issue.

The split-tube method works really, really well in dry tubeless setups because the there is no area for air to escape at the valve or anywhere on the rim. In a tape method, you have the valve hole and many spoke holes to worry about – in addition to the tire bead itself.

I’m proud to say that the bead set well. I inflated it to about 60 PSI. However, air was leaking out of the valve. The tire wasn’t holding air very long… it was dropping from about 60 PSI to around 10 PSI in about five minutes. I was able to sneak in a very short ride to test it out.

After the tire went mostly flat, I tried prying it back off with my hands. Just like before – it was adhered pretty good to the rim. Back to the vise to break the tire off.

I decided to throw a tube back in the tire, at least for now. Instead of putting the original, questionable Kenda tube back in, I put one of the fresh Conti tubes in. The Continental tubes are much thicker and seem to be better built. My luck with CST tubes has been far better than my luck with Kenda tubes.

However, I’m still undecided on whether to run this tire tubeless or not. I do, however, have another pro for tubeless to enter in.

This tire sticks to the rim, requiring a vise to get off. Because I’m probably not going to have a vise on the road or back in my apartment, that presents a little bit of a problem if I was to get a puncture. You have to remove the tire from the rim to pull out the tube (and possibly the object that punctured the tube) to patch the puncture. If the tube is ruined, you have to pull it out to replace it. Well, I obviously couldn’t do that.

Tubeless, however, circumvents this issue. Instead of having to pry the tire off the rim to repair a puncture, the sealant usually takes care of this for you. For larger punctures, tubeless plugs (much like those made for car tires) can seal the puncture.

You may be saying “well, Garrett – what about running sealant in tubes?”

That’s true. You can – and I have – run sealant in tubes. I’ve tried Slime in tubes but that almost always ended in disaster. My best luck has been with running the tubeless sealant – Stan’s No Tubes – in tubes. I’ve had about a 50% success rate with running Stan’s in tubes. Half the time, it worked perfectly and did its job of sealing punctures. The other half of the time ended in disaster, just like with the Slime. In fact, the same failure mode – the Stan’s would gum up the valve core, causing issues and a mess.

On the other hand, I have had no problems with Stan’s sealant gumming up the valves in my tubeless setups.

This is another pro for tubeless. I’m still undecided, and have asked people on a bicycling forum I frequent for their opinion with a poll thread. Currently, keeping the standard tube-type setup is ahead.

I may also simulate a “trail-side flat” to see if the tire is still being difficult and requires the vise. If so, I may just go back to tubeless.

I’ve been thinking about far down the road. I’m not sure if the tire or rim is at fault, or just a bad combination. When these tires wear out, I may switch to my #2 option – the Conti Double Fighter III tires. The Double Fighter tires are 26×1.9″, which are slightly narrower. Maybe a slightly narrower tire will not become adhered to the rim. But until that day comes, I’m just going to make do with what I have.

Stay tuned to see what I decide to do.

Update: 6/14/2020

I’ve finally solved the tire sticking issue.

After about 30 minutes of prying and multiple tries with a bench vise, I was able to completely remove the new rear tire from the new rim. I swapped the front and rear tires, because the front tire is already broken in and should fit nicer on the rear rim.

Thankfully, my plan worked. The front tire fit perfectly on the new rim and didn’t adhere itself to the rim like the rear tire did. Likewise, the rear tire is also doing pretty good on the stock front rim.

Because of this, I’m keeping both tires as a standard clincher setup with inner tubes. I’ve swapped both of the Kenda tubes I originally installed with higher-quality Continental/CST tubes.

Even running a tube, the tire makes the “ping” and “popping” sound you’d hear installing a tubeless tire on a tubeless rim.