So I got a flat tire on my RadRover – my electric bike.
Just as I was approaching the Sperling Ave overpass near Lougheed I picked up a staple while riding along the Central Valley Greenway on my way into Vancouver.
And of course I didn’t have my patch kit or air pump with me! Plus the fact that my RadRover is an e-bike sort of made me nervous about changing the tire (more about this later).
And the fact that the RadRover is heavy – more than 60 pounds of bicycle, I didn’t want to carry it very far. I could’ve taken the bike up and onto the Skytrain and headed home but instead I chose to call my support wagon to take me home.
On the way home I contacted Rad Power Bikes via Twitter and they sent me a link to a support email. I also followed up with the staff in the new Vancouver Rad Power Bikes shop and they were very apologetic when they told me that they do not yet have their shop set up nor a mechanic available – shop is scheduled to be open around July 20th.
However, the staff did clearly explain to me how I could take the rear tire off the bike making it much easier to replace or repair the tube – and thereby taking away any anxiety I had about taking the wheel off an e-bike. It is remarkably similar to taking the tire off any bicycle – it is not complicated.
The first and most important thing I did for changing the tire was to turn off the power from the battery to the motor.
And then, to take the rear tire off, all you need to do is take a wrench, I think it was a 28 mm, and loosen the nut on the axle on both sides of the tire.
On the side near the rear disc brake there is a Phillips screw that you need to undo and remove. It is a little silver safety thingy (using the technical term of “thingy”) so that even if the axle nuts come loose, the rear tire is much less likely to come out of the frame – thereby preventing a catastrophic crash.
You also need to snip one of the zap straps that holds the power cable onto the rear frame right near the rear wheel.
Once you have the power cable free, there is a little connecter there and you simply pull the connecter apart. Use caution when doing this – remember, you’re dealing with fine electrical parts and you don’t want to screw up the connections.
Once I had the rear tire off, I figured it would be easy to get a new tube installed.
So I stopped at a local bike retailer and asked them if they could replace the tube for me. They said they could change it, however they did not have the fat tire tubes in stock at their shop.
They told me their Port Coquitlam location had a bunch of the tubes in stock and they would be able to change it for me. They were very friendly. They told me that a new tube is $25.
I will admit, I was quite shocked to learn that a tube was $25.
I got a bit busy and I didn’t get a chance to visit the Port Coquitlam store so when I got home I found another e-bike retailer thinking maybe they have the “know-how” and the tubes and the ability to change it for me. (More of that anxiety about this being a complicated process because it is an e-bike.)
That shop told me the replacement tubes are $27 and that they charge $45 to change the tube of a bike that is not their brand – and then they added that it would be free if the bike was their brand. Ouch.
He also told me that it is “very complicated to take the back tire off of an e-bike.” He added that you need “very specialized tools and large tire-pulling tools” to get the tire off the rim.
I told him that I already had the tire off the bike and the tire came off the rim simply using my hands. There was no magic or sorcery or even special tools needed to take the rear tire off the bike nor for removing the tube.
At that point I realized that I was simply being silly. There was no reason in the world that I could not simply find a leak in the tire tube and put a patch on it myself. So that’s exactly what I did. I went to my friend who is the King “Sure we can do that!” and we put a patch on the tube. And inflated the tube. AND – it held air!!
Then I went home and put the tire back on the bike, being careful and paying attention to the details and not jamming any parts. And now I am riding again. With my patch kit in my carry on bag.
**The staff at Rad Power Bikes repeatedly told me that the rear tire nuts need to be torqued to 40N.m. So that ‘s what I did.
So what did I learn? I learned that sometimes a “can-do” attitude and a search of YouTube can help solve all sorts of problems!