Keeping the project bike rolling

RenovatedA few years back I did a bike renovation. A 1999 Specialized M4 frame was stripped clean and powder coated. The original Manitou Carbon fork was put back on, now attached via a Chris King headset. Race Face Next Carbon bars on a 110mm Ritchey WCS Carbon stem would do the steering, with Titec Pork Rinds keeping the hands from slipping. The rider would sit on a Selle Italia Flite SLR seat over a Thompson Masterpiece post. XTR cranks and Crank Bros Ti Eggbeaters transferred the power (or lack thereof) from the engine to the axles (XTR + Control Tech Ti skewers sans quick-release). The transmission was re-cabled, and the brakes were re-padded. Old school by today’s eight-grand standard, but all said and done the result weighed in a hair under 19 pounds.

The real gem of this little project, however, was the tires. I chose Continental Speed King 2.1s, not only because they weighed a scant 400 grams each but were also know for being solidly weaved. I was going tubeless, and porous just wouldn’t cut it. After struggling a bit with Stan’s NoTubes rim strips, despite the fact they fit perfectly on the Mavic X517s, I learned how to cut corners on installation – since then I’ve never had a flat, while friends have suffered with punctures galore in their traditional tube n’ tire systems. In fact, the only problem I’ve ever had with the tubeless system is the valves gumming up. Prepping it in the spring, year after year, I’ve noticed the Presta valve cores getting harder to open and close, a serious issue if I ever did have trouble on the trail.

Deciding to dispatch that particular struggle, I visit a bike shop (that shall not be named) – my request to purchase the valve cores was met with insolence – the suggestion that I buy Presta tubes and pull the cores out of them had me heading for the door. eBay to the rescue.

Presta valve replacement

If you are running a Stan’s system, have the same problem I had with the valves, and want to avoid having to remount your tires, might I suggest being quick. Nimble and quick. Using a needle-nosed pliers, I loosened the valve cores just enough to turn with fingers; then I grabbed a new valve, pulled the old one out and swiftly stuck the new one it before the bead popped completely off the rim. It worked like a charm, avoiding the need to add sealant, make a bucket of suds, or any of the other messy rigamarole commonly associated with setting up tubeless.

You can pick up Kenda-brand Presta cores on eBay in bulk for about a buck a piece. As a week has now gone by and I haven’t lost a pound of pressure, occasionally replacing cores is now going to be a part of the permanent repertoire.

MG signing off (to get the gum out, and keep the air in)