Category Archives: Wheels

Solid tires

Some years ago, a new generation of tires for bicycles appeared in the market. Its main innovation consisted in being solid. This issue is widespread in other markets such as motorbikes or scooters. As far as I know, Tannus and few other companies sell them. The first firm sells solid, patented tires. Although they still present a low introduction in the bike market, those who have tested them offer interesting points in favor and against them.

On the one hand, the most positive issue is say goodbye to punctures and flat tires. Since it has no air, they can not get a puncture. Additionally, solid tires last for more time and kilometers in comparison with traditional tires. Versatility is also a good point at least in the Tannus catalog since other companies offer a reduced stock. Not only proposes this firm several tire colors, but also different sizes and surface patterns. Moreover, the impact of weather on them is reduced as a result of the specific chemical compounds (Either in the case of the Tannus tires) these tires are made of. What is more, at least in this case the material is environmentally safe.

On the other hand, such tires present disadvantages. They are more expensive and slightly outweigh the traditional tires. However, Tannus affirms that if you take into account the tools to repair a puncture, then their tires weight less than the air ones. Furthermore, and at least with the Tannus tires, the mounting process is peculiar. I am not saying that it is difficult or impossible, rather it is challenging and laborious, and you need to be strong enough specially in the mounting step. And the fact of no allowing adjusting air pressure based on terrain could be a problem if you ride on different surfaces.

A third option appeared in the marked consisting in the hybrid solution. I mean considering an air and solid tire. It has two zones. The inner one is similar to the traditional tire and full of air, whereas the outer area is exclusively solid. This way bikers gain extra resistance against punctures and they can adjust air pressure.

Bicycles balance

How bicycles balance themselves has been a mystery for ages. Intellectual and curious people have studied how it is possible that you do not fall from a bike while pedaling since the nineteenth century. The bicycle self-stability was explained as the sum of the gyro and caster effects. The gyroscopic effect (gyro effect) of the spinning front wheel is described by the equation of the gyroscope behavior: The torque on the gyroscope applied perpendicular to its axis of rotation and also perpendicular to its angular momentum causes it to rotate about an axis perpendicular to both the torque and the angular momentum. This rotational motion is referred to as precession. And the bike design is to help steer the front wheel into the direction of a lean.

On the other hand, the caster effect is the measure of how far forward or behind the steering axis is to the vertical axis, viewed from the side. Bicycles benefit from the positive caster effect as their steering axis is “in front of” the vertical line.

Surprisingly, scientific studies have demonstrated neither the gyro effect, nor the caster effect are needed to balance bikes. In fact, researchers built a riderless bicycle with two small wheels, each matched with a counter-rotating disk to eliminate the gyro effects, and with the front wheel contact point slightly ahead of the steering axis, giving it a negative caster effect. They launched the bike at more than 5 mph and it balanced itself.

Researchers highlighted the importance of bicycle designs since they “found that almost any self-stable bicycle can be made unstable by misadjusting either the trail, the front-wheel gyro or the front-assembly, center-of-mass position,” the researchers explained in their paper.” (Science, April 15, 2011)

Moreover, they added “conversely, many unstable bicycles can be made stable by appropriately adjusting any one of these three design variables.” Hence, bikes design is important to maintain self-balance.

Learning how to ride a bike

The traditional way of maintaining the equilibrium when pedaling consists in using training wheels when you are a child, and once you dominate it move to just two wheels. This target can take more or less time, but ultimately we all reach it. Fortunately, you will never forget it.

Apart from the most used technique I have indicated, there are some others probably innovative methods that have demonstrated their effectiveness. Some of them are:

  • Using a balance bike instead of a bicycle with training wheels: This way the kid gets use to a bike shape and weight, as well as she develops the equilibrium needed to ride a bicycle.

  • Taking the pedals off a bike and lowering the seat: Here, the target is convert the traditional bicycle into a balance bike. The goals are the same as in the previous point.

  • Tell your child to turn in the direction that she is falling: This maneuver allows her straighten out and helps dominating her body and the bike when a falling is about to happen.

  • Raising the training wheels a little at a time, so that she thinks her bike uses such wheels, but in reality it does not. When she realizes that she does not use training wheels, she will not use they anymore.

There are additional techniques to learn riding a bike that have been developed thoroughly by experts in the field like this one.

Youngest cyclists

After writing the post about the oldest bikers, my intention was to reflect who were the youngest cyclist in the world. I could not find the answer on the net, so I am going to explain a little about the process a lot of us have experienced with great pleasure.

Learning to ride a bicycle, a two-wheeled bike without training wheels, mostly occurs sometime between the ages of 3 and 8 (although some adults learn it because they did not have the opportunity when they were young, and fortunately, people do not forget how to ride). The average age is 5. Indeed, most kids just learn when they are ready if their families can provide them with bikes. Curiously, a systematic review found that children who started biking at ages between 3 and 5 suffer higher injuries than those who were 3 to years old.

Sliding the 3 to 5 group, kids between 3 and 4 years are in significant gross motor skills development. For example, they learn to balance on one foot, walk on their tiptoes, climb, hop and skip. A 3 years old child can pedal, use a handlebar and ride a tricycle, but she does not have the balance required to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. Better, she can ride a bike with training wheels and after she dominates it, increases coordination and muscle, move to a bike without training ones. It is a good idea use foot brakes instead of hand brakes in this age group.

Regarding the 4 and 5 group, these children are ready for two-wheeled bicycles. Most 5-year-old kids have balance and coordination enough to ride a bike without training wheels. However, they might not understand the risks of riding near traffic or without paying attention to crossings. Then, adult supervision is required to avoid falls and injuries.


Could it be possible to ride bikes on the very village which has seen some of the most impressive athletes in history like Eliud Kipchoge, Jonah Chesum, Florence Kiplagat, Edna Kiplagat, David Rudisha, Asbel Kiprop, Wilson Kipsang or Abel Kirui? And what if we add extreme conditions regarding climate and lack of infrastructures? This place is Iten, a village at 400 kilometers from Nairobi (Kenya).

Lots of runners go to Iten following the trail of their athlete stars. Some of them marvel at discovering a local riders team called Kenyan Riders. They even wonder more when checking how irregular, abrupt the terrain is for a vehicle that has to make permanent contact with the soil. This fact provoked continuous punctures, hence stops to repair them and discontinuous training. Team players could not buy high quality tires as they were short of cash. As time went by, the triathlete Rubén Gallart visit Iten as a part of his training. He saw the poor conditions of local riders and proposed himself earning money to help bicyclers buy better tires. He knew the Tannus airless tires would fit the continuous puncture problem. Thus, he contacted the company and they were delighted to being involved in the project to his surprise. The firm helped Kenyan Riders to overcome their precarious conditions. Nowadays, they train happy with the tires and dream with becoming first level sportspeople in order to win international competitions. After all, they live at 2,500 meters above sea level, and their athlete brothers are worldwide recognized because of their merits.

Puncture: How to repair it

One of the worst situations in cycling is produced when riding a bike and suffering a puncture without the proper tools to repair it. In that case, the best you can do is calling somebody to help you or walking while pushing your bike. But lets be positive and think about what you can do if experiencing a puncture and do have tools. In such a situation, you need tire levers, a spanner (in case you do not have quick-release wheels), a bike pump and a repair kit. The process has two parts: Dealing with the inner tube and fixing the puncture.

First of all, take a look at the tire and remove whatever object that has caused the puncture like a thorn or a nail. Then, loosen the wheel nuts with a spanner, or undo the quick release bolts if your bike has them, and check that the inner tube is deflated. Continue with grabbing the wheel on the opposite side to the valve. Move the tire around some inches, repeat it with a second lever and repeat this process by using two or three levers. Finish this first part by removing the inner tube and checking its inside to confirm that whatever caused the puncture is gone. This last step is important.

Second, repair the puncture. Find where the puncture is either by listening for air or putting the tube in water and looking for bubbles. It is a good idea to mark the hole with a crayon or a pen. After that, roughen the area around the hole with sandpaper, then stick on the patch from the repair kit. Some patches are pre-glued, while others come with a separate tube of vulcanizing solution or rubber cement so stick them on with. Then, put a small amount of air in the tube, put it back into the wheel and tuck the tire back over the wheel rim. Push the valve back into the hole, seat the tire and pull the valve back through. Finally, pump the tire back up to the correct pressure and put the wheel back on the bicycle.

Due to the fact that it is much easier to just replace the inner tube if you puncture when riding, it is a great idea to carry a spare one while enjoying your bike.

Puncture: Wheels

There is a fact when riding a bike that is considered a handicap for some people and an opportunity for some others as these last put into practice what they have learned. Traditionally, this issue has been usually presented when riding on a surface clogged with tacks and crystals. Of course, I am referring to punctures.

Punctures constitute a headache for some cyclists. Putting aside how to repair them, which I will talk about in the future, this post is dedicated to wheels that are able to avoid them. You can find two solutions for them in the market: Flat tyre, and gel wheels.

On the one hand, the flat tyre makes impossible to puncture a wheel. The absence of air inside it allows you to ride on tacks without any problem. Moreover, most flat tyres are made with long-lasting materials as they work for thousand of kilometers. On the other hand, the gel wheels incorporate a gel material inside them. This material vulcanizes in contact with air, hence the puncture is automatically repaired. In fact, biker does not usually realize he or she has a puncture after finishing the ride. However, this wheel should be changed after a high number of punctures since the gel quantity reduces after every puncture.