While sitting around in my back yard staring off into space and listening to the birds, I suddenly got the urge to turn my Panasonic winter bike upside down to take a look at the bottom bracket and the frame from underneath. Every now and then, it’s a good idea to get a different perspective on your bike, especially with an older frame, and one such as this that has so many cosmetic challenges. Once I had the bike upside down, the afternoon lighting suddenly illuminated something I wasn’t actually looking for: huge sidewall cracks in my 6 year old bullet proof commuter tires. As I looked more carefully, I also saw that the tread (which still shows no wear) is also separating from the sidewall casing. Uh oh!
These are Nimbus Armadillo 26 X 1.5 inch tires, and they are aptly named. I have never had a flat during the entire time I have used them. They are not particularly comfortable tires, but the trade-off in commuting reliability has been worth the sacrifice to comfort. The front tire had fewer sidewall cracks than the rear tire, as one would expect, but I decided not to take any further chances of a blow-out and replace them.
On hand, the only 26″ tires I had were some Panaracer Pasela folders which are the extras I carry when I am using my Terry on tours or longer rides. They are 26 x 1.25, so are about 6 mm narrower than the old Nimbus Armadillos. But, they will have to do for now, and they are perfectly decent tires. I didn’t have any Schrader valved tubes which would fit these narrower tires. But, it’s really no problem to use Presta valves with Schrader rims.
While you can purchase special grommets which will adapt a Schrader rim to a Presta valve, I have always just used a boot made from a small piece of rim protector, as shown above. I’ve never had a problem with this approach.
While the bike was upside down, I looked at the bottom bracket, the brakes, and the chainstays. The bike is getting some rust in the area where it experienced some massive chain suck, so I’ll need to file that down and paint the area to keep it protected. I also like to look at the U-brakes from this perspective. The straddle cable is very fiddly and difficult to access when the bike is right side up. You can see how narrow the straddle cable has to be to accommodate this design. Otherwise, everything looks good!
The narrower Pasela tires look a bit odd with the wide Planet Bike fenders, but the ride quality will probably be nicer, and the bike will be faster (fun!). Meanwhile, I have ordered a set of Compass’ 26 x 1.5 McLure Pass tires. I look forward to trying them out on this bike. The tires will be much lighter than the old Armadillos, and should provide for an amazing ride in comparison. Flat resistance will probably be not as good, but I am hopeful. I have been using Compass’ 650b Loup Loup Pass tires on my Meral and have been amazed at their comfort and performance – and I’ve had not a single flat on those tires.