You know who you are…
I think we all understand the problem. Deep section wheels require longer valve heights than shallow section wheels yet there’s a variety of section depths. Since manufacturing the tubes or the tubular tires in a variety of lengths seems to pose a challenge (?), or because invariably the person who might be trying to help you with a flat has a short valve on the replacement tube they’re trying so hard to give you… valve extenders were born. Great! Except…
There’s a bunch of assumptions made about how these things work vs. how things go in the real world. Allow me to illustrate.
There I am riding along… and unbeknownst to me some viscous bit of glass or shrapnel or schist decides that inside my tire is the place to be. And let’s say this only causes a slow leak and I get home just fine. So a few hours later I glance at my bike and the tire is flat. Interesting because I put sealant in my tubular tires. But ok, it was only 30ml and at the beginning of the season. Fine. Whatever. We’ll get to that issue some other time. So now I have a couple of choices. I can try and save the tire that set me back $100+ because other than the slow leak it’s just fine, or I can run out get a new 100+ tire and spend the time getting it all glued up etc.
Oh wait. I can’t run out and do that because I’m a million UPS miles from anywhere. So I can try adding more sealant but hmm, now we’re risking my life and getting stuck with nothing but hungry bears and annoyed moose between me and civilization by riding on a less than whole tire. Maybe not such a good idea.
“I should probably change the tire.” thinks I as painful as that is with tubbies. I had prepared by bringing two extra tubular tires with me with their own extensions and even supplies to glue things in place. But lo and behold when I took a look to see whether I could manage all this far away from the comforts of my shop stand I learn (kinda the hard way) that Vittoria has their own removable stem standard which changes the needed length of the extenders and thus, though I had what I thought was all the right parts, I actually needed longer extenders *and* I’d have to use they’re not entirely inexpensive sealant since that would appear to be the only way to get sealant into their tires. Awesome. Of course, I didn’t have their system specific sealant with me even if I could get past the valve extension problem. Sooo… that was out. Sending those suckers back as I write this…
So now I’m home and like the crazy person I am, I decide that it’s worth the bit of time it would take to remove the valve and try adding some more sealant and see if that works before I spend all that money and time replacing the tire.
But gee, there’s no flat to grab the valve extender poking through my deep section wheel. And you know, sure as shooting’, that if I grab that thin round tube with a plier while I try and twist the valve out that sooner or later I’m gonna pinch the extender and I’ll be back to replacing the tire, gluing, *and* buying a new valve extender. So do me a favor and machine a couple of flats at the top that sticks out of the deep section wheel, not just the bottom that you can use while the tire is your hand *before* you glue it on? Thanks.
Now as luck would have it, when I tried to remove the valve it twisted the entire extender off the tire’s stem rather than just remove the valve. Ok. That’s not the worst thing. I removed the valve easily now that I had access to the flats and rethreaded the extender onto the valve. Again, I can’t ensure a really tight connection because there’s no way to hold the tire’s stem, but I think it’ll be ok. I add some new sealant, screw the valve in, re-inflate, and see just a bit of sealant leaking out a hole in the center of the tire. We’ll see if it holds. I’ll also find out if the item was in the tire or not… possibly not in a good way, so I’ll have to be careful. But I don’t think so. It seemed like clean cut. Still a risk, but at least I’m not a million miles from nowhere, with very spotty cell coverage, and the aforementioned bear, moose, and the not until now mentioned nutria and honey badgers (alright, I might be making up the last couple).
So can one of you geniuses figure out a way to make this work in the field? Assume I don’t have a team car waiting to pull up and hand me another wheel off the rack. And yes, I can use clinchers and tubes and probably will next time as I have for most of my riding through the years but I didn’t because I didn’t have time to also change the brake pads on my bike. So part of the solution is definitely gonna be disc brakes, which eliminates the brake pad changing for the sake of switching wheels, and then this all goes away because I would have switched out the wheels this time if I had 25 minutes to change them out, change the brake pads, a get that all reasonably tweaked up. But I think you guys can do better. Please do so.