So while we’re on the subject of flats, I have to tell you about a 180-degree change in my attitude toward pumps. This is apparently a topic of never-ending interest among bike noobs, because a previous post about pumps and CO2 cartridges is the all-time most popular post ever put up on this blog.
As most readers know, I adopted a frame-mounted mini pump — the Topeak Road Morph — three years ago as my preferred way to get the tires up to pressure after a flat. I had just fumbled and bumbled too many times with CO2 cartridges and decided I needed something more reliable. The Road Morph proved to be the answer. At least, for the several flats I had in the next year or so, I was able to get the tire pumped back up to the low end of its range, and ride home easily on it. At home, I could use my more powerful floor pump to top it off. The pump has bailed out fellow riders in group rides more than once, as they misfired their cartridges and needed something to fill their tires or be forced to call for a ride home. The picture at the top of this blog is of me and my friend David using the Road Morph to pump up one of his tires during a ride.
But during my three flats in two weeks run last month, I had help from riding partners in two of those cases. Each time, they suggested filling the tire with CO2 to get moving faster. As skeptical as I was, I agreed.
My friend David uses the little nozzle that attaches directly to the cartridge. Get it on the valve, turn it a bit, and pfffffft! — the tire fills without incident. Two weeks before, when I had my first flat, a fellow rider lent me his CO2 inflator. It’s the plastic housing that you slide the cartridge into, then use a small trigger to shoot the CO2 into the tire. I’ve got one of those, and I had consistently misfired the thing, wasting CO2, not filling the tire, and eventually switching to the pump. Maybe I’m older and wiser (no, not wiser, says my wife) but this time I filled it with no problem at all.
The weekend between those two incidents, I flatted while on a solo ride, which prompted the previous post about fixing them faster. This time I used the pump. The Road Morph is terrific for the first 60 pounds of pressure. Then you have to work harder. It’s got a built-in pressure gauge down by the valve, so you can see how well you’re doing. By the time you get to 90 pounds, you’re pushing with all your strength and the pump is barely moving. I know I’ve gotten tires up to 100 pounds in the past with the Road Morph, but it’s a struggle. And given how easily the CO2 cartridges work when used correctly, I decided to change my ways.
So now I’ve got my inflator with the trigger and two cartridges in the seat bag. But in true belt-and-suspenders style, I continue to keep the pump mounted to my frame. One way or another, I’m going to leave the scene of future flats with properly inflated tires.