I had to buy new bike parts this week. Summer has been pretty smooth as far as my bike rides have been going but that changed in the second week of September. I was out riding and I got a flat tire. Not so unusual and I was able to change out the tube on the side of the road. My new portable air pump that is strapped to my bike frame worked really well and pumped up the tire so I could ride home. It was then I noticed how thin the rubber on my tire tread had gotten.

I kept the thin tread on my bike since it was my only good one but then I remembered a friend had given me a tread. But that tread needed a patch. I’ve patched plenty of tire tubes before but never a tread. This tread had a small hole in it so I tried patching the hole on the outside with rubber and on the inside with a fabric tape. It held just fine but when I put the tread on the bike the air pressure in the tube made the tread bulge. That was no good so I tossed out the tread and put the thin one back on.

As I was out riding on another day I stopped at a traffic light. As I started up again by putting pressure on the pedal I heard a twang. It was the sound of a spoke breaking. I have an old bike rim at home that I keep around because the spokes match my current back rim and I use those spokes when one on my rim breaks. So that’s what I did. I replaced the broken spoke.

After a spoke is replaced on a bike rim the wheel has to be trued. That means tightening and loosening spokes so that the wheel doesn’t wobble. This spring I bought a truing stand that makes the job easier but it still isn’t an easy thing to do. In that process I also discovered another spoke that need to be replaced. It was frozen in place and couldn’t be tightened to loosened. That’s a bad spoke.

It took me way longer to fix those spokes then it should have. Things kept going wrong. But that was only the beginning. The next day as I took the bike out for a ride the first thing I heard was the spokes groaning. They readjusted themselves as all the weight and pressure of my body is put on them. And it wasn’t a good readjustment.

As I was riding I could feel the wheel rubbing against something. This sometimes happens when changing out a wheel. Usually it’s the brakes rubbing against the rim. I got off the bike, adjusted the brakes, and went on riding. Then I felt more rubbing. It turned out that the rubber of the wheel was rubbing against the frame of the bike. That’s not good. I reset the wheel in the frame the best I could and kept on riding.

When I got home I put my bike upside down (wheels in the air) on my bike stand and tried adjusting the spokes to pull the wheel a little bit straighter. I managed to get it to stop rubbing against the frame but there wasn’t much clearance. When I went out for my next ride there wasn’t any rubbing but there was a weird hitch in the wheel. I needed a new rim. There was no way around it.

New rims are expensive. I went on the internet to look up what it would cost me to get a new one. After a bit of searching I found one for about $85. Yes, that’s a cheap rim. I bought a new gear cassette this past Spring so I could pull that off my old rim and put it on the new one. Otherwise that would be another $35.

I was also going to have to get a new tread for the rim since the old one was worn down and I failed to patch my extra one. I searched around for a new tread and found a cheap one for $20. The next cheapest one was $40. I’ve bought these $20 treads before and they aren’t made of the thickest rubber. They last me about a year. That’s good enough for now.

I also had to buy a couple of new inner tubes too. I patch my tubes four or five times before they’re not useable anymore but sometimes it’s the stem that goes wrong. That’s what happened with my last flat. When the rubber around the stem goes the tube can’t be patched and can only be thrown out. That meant I was down to only one spare tube and none without patches. I like at least one brand new tube among my spares. The tubes cost me $10 a piece.

The last think I had to get was some new rim tape. This is tape that wraps around the rim and keeps all the metal edges of the rim from cutting into the tube. Without it the tire will go flat. I bought some rim tape recently for about $6 for a set of two. It doesn’t actually have any adhesive on it but usually comes rolled up like a roll of tape. This time I saw a set of ten rim tapes for about $10. I ordered that. They came in a bag not rolled up at all. I found that a little bit weird.

My new rim is supposed to arrive today. I’ve got the other parts already so when it finally comes I’ll be able to put together my new back wheel. I’m writing this early in the morning so that means I still have one more bike ride on my old back tire. If you want to know what a bike ride is like on a tire that can’t be trued I’ll tell you. It’s weird. There isn’t the right amount of smoothness to the ride. You can feel the hitch in the giddy-up. It makes you conscious of the back wheel and doesn’t fill you with trust. I can’t wait to get the new wheel on and not have to think about or notice any of those things.