Tar maintenance

One of the most important parts on your bike is its tars. You can’t go far without them. They are the third most important bike part. The first is the handlebars. When you jump on your bike without the handlebars nothing good is going to happen. The second is the wheels. When you jump on your bike without the wheels you are going to hurt badly that place where your legs join up.

Tars are the contact point between you and the bike shop. Once you get a flat tar you need a tube or a patch which costs a couple of bucks. And once you go into the bike shop for a new tube you need a new 100% all carbon Pinarello pure carbon frame that is made of all carbon and Campagnolo which costs several thousand. You know how marijuana is the gateway to heroin? Tars are the gateway to Pinarellos. Chinarellos if you shop online.

Lots of bicyclists spend a lot of time doing tar research. Which tar is right for me? Well hell I don’t know and I would give you a list of things to look for in a tar except Waldo is counting my lists and he is a subscriber. So instead of a list I will give you a run-on sentence. Tars should be rubber and hold air, which is measured in pounds per square inch or something called “bars.” Back in the day an old Belgian would get a flat, patch it with a piece of asphalt, get another flat, throw the bike in the fuggin’ ditch, and go into a bar. “Y’all got any tars?” he would ask and they would say “Whyncha belly up to the bar while we go look?” Anyway it took about 6.8 beers at the bar, or 6.8 “bars” to find a tire which they would inflate to 100 pounds per square inch so nowadays Euros just say “gimme 7 bars” or eight bars and etcetera.

But back to tars which are confusing. Do you need an off road, on road, hybrid, or commuter tar? Like I said, hell I don’t know. But I do know this. The other day I got a pair of Vittoria Super Fake Racer Profamateur tars that cost a lot of money. Everyone said I shouldn’t train on them because even though they were more supple than your mistress they were eggshell thin like your wife’s radar about you suddenly dressing differently and running errands at odd times of the day. In short, everyone said I would soon be getting double flats and it would be a waste of time and money and etcetera.

However I remember once hearing someone say that the way to get more life out of a tar (and maybe a mistress too) is to rotate them regularly. That sounded easy until I learned that these Vittoria race tars in addition to being supple were tighter than my bank account at the end of the month. Or the beginning for that matter even though I got a $324.15 cash back credit on my Visa card. Do you know how much money you have to spend to get $324.15 cash back credit? Answer: More than $324.15, which just goes to prove the old adage that you can’t make money by spending it. Although I try.

Anyway, I slapped those tars on the rims on May 23 and it is now July 21, which is almost two months, and every two weeks I have rotated my tars. They still have another month left on them, easily, maybe two. And I haven’t gotten a single flat.

If tar swapping works with prima donna tars like these and you don’t mind losing a few fingernails every time you rotate them, you will get way more mileage and better yet, your tars will wear evenly. Plus even if you are a horrible mechanic and can barely fill a water bottle without breaking your seat post, once you get handy at tar swapping and fingernail re-growing you will feel a big sense of accomplishment.

And if all else fails and you are standing out on my balcony with your feet in the vinegar-baking soda anti-fungal concoction bowl and your fingernails are littering the floor and you don’t have any palms left, only big raw meat holes where you ground off all the skin, you can always call my buddy Usta Befit. He will get you fixed up in a jiffy. That boy never met a tar he couldn’t change.



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30 thoughts on “Tar maintenance”

  1. “Can barely fill a water bottle without breaking your seat post” Man, I needed that line this morning. Thank you.

  2. Tight tar changing tip: wear oven mitts to get that last bit o’ tar on the rim. Better traction, no skin or nail loss, and less long- and short-term pain.

  3. I’ve not met your buddy Usta Befit, but I know his cousin, Neva Beenfit, oh so well.

    1. Usta Befit is a legend here in the South Bay. We also call him Britannica because he has encyclopedic recall of everything that ever happened bike-related, especially if it’s embarrassing and you’d rather it were forgotten.

  4. I use a different method to rotate my tyres (alternate spelling–I’ve lived in Canada). The rear tyre normally wears out faster than the front one if you use your seat most of the time because then most of your weight is on the rear tyre. So keep riding until the rear tyre is wore out and the front tyre is not so nearly wore out. Then put the front tyre on the rear wheel, recycle the wore out rear tyre and put a brand new tyre on the front.

    This way you get full mileage out of your tyres but your front tyre is never wore out. This is good because if a front tyre gets wore out and goes bang you will like go bang, too, as you hit the pavement. Whereas if your wore out rear tyre goes bang, you have a much better chance of riding it out. Indeed, world road championships and Tour de France stages have been won on a flat rear tyre. Never been done on a flat front tyre, as far as I know.

    1. By switching every two weeks they wear evenly. Eventually both tires are square but there’s plenty of tread on both. It’s also easier to make a note on the calendar to change every two weeks. But your method sounds good.

    2. Serge Issakov

      I never rotate. I got 6055 miles out of my last front tire (Specialized Turbo Pro), and 3722 (Armadillo Elite) from my last rear. The rear before that was a Specialized Turbo which lasted 2245 miles. I have a hard time believing the time/hassle of rotation, or even the minimal method used by Gary, would be worth it.

      1. Just because a thing is stupid and pointless and expensive is no reason not to do it.

  5. Tars are such a personal choice, or you ride what someone that you respect tells you to ride, or when someone you respect tells you what they ride, and someone you also respect, tells you “Bird’s crazy, don’t ride those, ride these tars”.

    Of course what all of this people fail to notice, is that in 12 years of riding bikes with me, I virtually never flat. When I do, it is complete tire failure, and my ride with the group ends at that point. No spare. But that isn’t a problem, because I ride those tooboolar sphincter Tufo tires, and you can ride them flat for 50 miles and get home if you have to, which is what I usually do.

    I suppose I could rotate them and get more even wear out of them, but I usually go through 3 rears for each front tar.

    Even though I am fairly immune to flats, my friends also know that I can change their flat tar faster than most, since I have that group tar changing experience, and I have ZERO patience with people who take FOREVER to change a tar, so I do it for them.

    The tars I hate to change the most? Toobalures that are attached with a shitload of liquid SeaMent. OMG I hate those, but Larry rides those and I like Larry, so I don’t tell him not to ride them.

  6. Serge Issakov

    How long does it take you to rotate your tires? I guess the bonus is that it’s practice for getting faster and fixing a flat.

  7. My tars self-rotate. I just pedal the bike and the tars rotate as I move along.

  8. Didn’t realize tars were so important in profamateur road racing. MTB racing totally different story. It’s all about the tars and the tar pressure – just ask Sagan about that. After the way they f’d him at the TDF, would love to see Sagan train up for a couple of weeks and duel with Schurter on the MTB circuit. I don’t think Schurter could deal with Sagan’s pure power once he was trained up for 90 minutes of hell and had the proper tar selection. He could then come back and 3 peat at road WC. Don’t know what tars Sagan was running at the 2015 WC but they way they hooked up on the corner after the last downhill on the final lap says a lot.

    1. Everything is mission critical for profam roadies. The difference between 96 and 97 psi can make or break your Strava attempt on the segment down your driveway.

  9. I love the Victoria’s ride, best clincher feel there is. So I switched to Tubulars to seek the holy grail of Thy-ehrs. Now I ride Conti’s which don’t feel as good but last longer. Go figure how I got into that mess. As the man on TV says, “Tars aren’t pretty”.

    1. The best solution to the tar conundrum is to replace your bike every time you replace a tar.

    2. I’m also a pilgrim on this journey who somehow ended up riding Conti tubular tars. Not quite a religious experience but close.

      Wanky – when I used to ride clinchers I found tarn arns very helpful when changing tars. Perhaps you could try tarn arns to save your hands? They make them in plastic these days but its still an arn to me.

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