With the non-stop heat we’ve been living with in Los Angeles this September, I’d like to remind everyone to check their tire pressure. Hot weather means that air escapes from bicycle tires faster than it normally would. However, don’t over inflate your tires! All that extra heat combined with too much air in the tire can spell trouble: blow-outs on hot days are not uncommon (a loud boom and a popped inner tube).
Why do bicycle tires lose air anyway?
All of the bicycles we sell at Flying Pigeon LA are equipped with tires that are kept inflated with pneumatic inner tubes. Inner tubes are tough ring shaped rubber bladders with a valve to add or remove air. To make this setup work properly you’ve got to have the right amount of air pressure in your inner tube.
Have you ever blown up balloons for a party and, two days later, seen those same balloons unpopped and mysteriously deflated?
The air you had blown inside the balloon expanded the balloon – the pressure of the air inside the balloon was made greater than the air pressure in the surrounding environment. All those little air molecules inside of the balloon began banging away at the inside walls – and your balloon got bigger. Hooray!
After two days of solid hammering away, a lot of those little air molecules have managed to break free and push through the rubber walls of the balloon. Now your balloon is deflated. So sad.
A similar process occurs with bicycle tires. Those air molecules inside your inner tube gradually slip through the thick rubber walls of the tube, make it past the tire, and away they go.
When the weather gets hot, like it is at the time of this writing (I think we’re on week two of 90+ degree heat in Southern California in the middle of an epochal drought), those little air molecules inside your bicycle’s inner tubes are turbo charged in their attempts to break free.
So, go check your tire pressure today, right now. If your tires feel super squishy, pump a little extra air inside.
Don’t over do it though! Bicycle tires have a maximum recommended tire pressure written on the side of them. On hot days, the pavement can be even hotter than the surrounding air. Over-inflated tires explode in loud booms and can sometimes destroy the wheel and tire as well.
Flying Pigeon LA bike shop has a couple of hand pumps in the shop and we’re happy to inflate your tires to proper pressure free of charge.