my kingdom for a a bicycle tire that never leak air
July 22, 2010 12:22 PM   Subscribe

How do you keep your bicycle's tires pumped with air when the bike has to be locked in a common bike room?

I am moving into a "luxury" condo. Along with all the other bullshit that this involves, I am forbidden from keeping my bike downstairs in the common bike room. I am not allowed to bring my bike upstairs to my apartment.

Problem: I commute to work by bike. It's a road bike with skinny tires that need to pumped up to full pressure (110psi) at least once, sometimes twice a week. How do I do that?

There is no common pump in the shared bike room. I do not want to leave my own floor pump in there, because it'll probably get stolen.

This seems like a trivial problem, but it's one of those headscratching inconveniences that really gets in the way of something (bicycle commuting) that is a way of life for me.

What have others done to get around this situation? Creative solutions...come one come all!
posted by randomstriker to Travel & Transportation (54 answers total)
Walk down to the common room with your pump once a week and check the tires.
posted by nestor_makhno at 12:25 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why not just keep the pump in your condo and pump it up after you get home from work? I also no longer consider myself lazy after reading this question...

I'm in the same situation in my apartment.

If you're willing to spend some money, perhaps Air free tires?
posted by astapasta24 at 12:26 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could always buy a portable bike pump. They generally can be clipped into your bike frame.
posted by axismundi at 12:27 PM on July 22, 2010

Stops at the local bike store - although they'd probably be annoyed if you came in once a week to pump your tires.

Depending on whether you are strong enough to do it, you can also grab a small handpump, if you find that you can get your bike up to pressure.

More complicated, befriend other bike owners and have everyone pitch in to get a communal pump that you lock up... somehow. One with dual valve abilities is a good idea.

Finally, bring a footpump downstairs with you before you go out, pump your tires, and bring it back upstairs to your condo.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:27 PM on July 22, 2010

Attach a bike lock to the racks with a length of chain and a padlock. Your neighbors will sing your praises.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2010

I am surprised that your condo actually forbids you from bringing your bike up to your own unit. Is there a freight elevator or back door you can use? Does it matter if you carry it up?

Maybe you can petition to have the rules changed? I would explain that baby strollers & pets track in just much dirt and mud as a bike does.
posted by cuando at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

CO2 bike pump
posted by rhizome at 12:33 PM on July 22, 2010

Also, you could keep the bike pump at your office and do all your pumping there.
posted by rhizome at 12:34 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Consider inner tubes not made from butyl rubber, such as Panaracer Greenlites (I think they're polyurethane). They "leak" air at a slower rate because the material is less porous at a molecular level. Schwalbe might make a similar product. At $15, they're more expensive than normal tubes.

I'd just take the money I would spend on fancy tubes and buy a cheap pump for the common room.
posted by pullayup at 12:34 PM on July 22, 2010

I was coming in to suggest keeping the bike pump at the office, but rhizome beat me to it.
posted by paddingtonb at 12:37 PM on July 22, 2010

More info:

I am separated from the bike from by 10 floors, a really slow elevator and 3 heavy doors that require a key to enter. Getting to/from the bike room is a 10-minute affair in each direction -- 20+ minutes round trip from my "luxury" apartment on the 10th floor. I'm a busy guy -- I'll make the dedicated trips to pump air if I have to -- but I need to save time on bullshit tasks like this.

Pumping after riding is not the right way to do things with road bikes. The tire pressure will have dropped by 10psi by the next day. I really need to be able to check the pressure and pump it before every ride.
posted by randomstriker at 12:38 PM on July 22, 2010

The "buy a common bike pump" seems the best option, otherwise, take that same bought pump and keep it at work. if you need to pump it up weekly anyways, I guess it doesn't matter where. If you can't swing that, figure out where the friendly Local Bike Shop is, tell them of your conundrum. Bring beer. I bet they'll let you use their common pump any time you'd like!

I'd also recommend keeping with your bike, at all time, a tiny bike pump. I can't live without one in my bag, at my studio, at my house...
posted by alex_skazat at 12:39 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you've used CO2 before, you'll know that it leaks faster than regular air.

There is no way to bring the bike up to my apartment without walking past the nasty "concierge" who will chew me out, write my name down and get me in trouble with the strata council.

Pumping at the office does not help very much if my tires are soft before I've left the apartment.

The less-porous inner tubes are a great idea -- that's the sorta solution I want to hear about.
posted by randomstriker at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2010

Also, What type of tires/tubes and what bike are you using? Having to pump up every ride seems like more than what's usually required. My usually daily ritual is,

Push thumb into tires - solid? Let's go!
posted by alex_skazat at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2010

Can you bring your wheels up to your apartment with you when you put your bike away in the evening? I know taking the rear wheel off in a pain-in-the-ass, but it may be easier and quicker than making a special trip down to pump the tires.
posted by chiefthe at 12:44 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm being over-optimistic, but it seems odd to me that, in a luxury condo building, a bike pump left in the bike room would be at any real risk of being stolen. I mean, a bike pump runs, what, $50 or less? It seems to me that people who can afford to own a luxury condo could buy their own pump if they need one rather than stealing yours.

I'd be more worried about leaving a fancy road bike in there, to be honest. Bikes get stolen all the time. Air pumps, not so much.
posted by Sara C. at 12:46 PM on July 22, 2010

Tires: Vittoria Rubino Pro.
Tubes: your basic MEC 700 x 23-25 tube
posted by randomstriker at 12:46 PM on July 22, 2010

Any chance you can keep a pump at work? Our office bought at stand pump for the bikeroom, which is nice.

Although, honestly, I've been riding to and from work with chronically underinflated tires even lately, and I think the problem is that I never want to do it when I'm in coming-and-going mode. So I'm going to second the comment above about making it a scheduled thing - each Monday and Thursday evening you go back down after you've had a chance to grab a bite to eat and change and pump up your tires.
posted by ldthomps at 12:47 PM on July 22, 2010

Maybe I'm being over-optimistic, but it seems odd to me that, in a luxury condo building, a bike pump left in the bike room would be at any real risk of being stolen.

You'd think they wouldn't steal lights, bells and saddles off the bikes either...but they do.
posted by randomstriker at 12:50 PM on July 22, 2010

If that's the case, you shouldn't be keeping a bike there at all. Mine lives totally unsecured in the lobby of my rental building, in an iffy neighborhood, and I've never had a problem with that.

I know a lot of condo owners are loathe to get involved with board politics and all that, but it sounds to me like this is a situation that might be best addressed that way. You have rules that prevent you from storing your bike in a safe place. The storage that has been provided is not sufficient. Something needs to change. You paid to live here, so you might as well be able to do so in a way that works for you.
posted by Sara C. at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

My life has been greatly improved by the purchase of a portable floor pump. Most hand pumps are crappy (or maybe I'm cheap!) but I got one that fold out to pump on the floor and has a gauge. I can throw it in my bag and pump before I leave for work, and it's light enough for me to carry with me for the day without too much trouble.

I'm sorry, I don't know the brand name, but your local store should be able to make a recommendation.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2010

I have this CO2 "pump" and it's possible to release a partial charge from the cartridge. The CO2 doesn't leak out (for me) between fillings. The manufacturer claims .03g/day of leakage from a punctured cartridge. As the cartridges are 16g, you're going to use up the cartridge before it leaks appreciably.

You could probably use this to top off your tires every ride, though it lacks a pressure gauge so you're going to have to go by feel.
posted by jz at 1:03 PM on July 22, 2010

Presumably you take some sort of bag with you when you use your bike (if you are commuting) so why can't you just stick a normal pump (like the kind that fits on the frame) into your bag? Even a fat tyre like a mountain bike (or my old school road bike) has is trivial to fill and pressure even from a hand pump, so re-pressuring a skinny race bike-style tyre would take a few seconds at most.

I can't imagine why you'd need a foot pump. If you're already cycling to work, the additional load of a hand pump is surely not going to be a great issue? If you keep it in your work bag it's always with you and you'll even have it at work as well. They weight nothing and don't take up much room.

It sounds a little like you are trying to create a problem, because there are so many obvious, cheap and regularly (and historically) used options. It really is a trivial problem unless you are over complicating it with issues that don't matter. Even if you don't carry a bag, just get a frame pump and take it off when you get to work and when you get home.
posted by Brockles at 1:10 PM on July 22, 2010

In contrast to the skepticism, I find every bit of this story believable, having known some condo owners and renters in Vancouver. I'll say on behalf of the OP that "this rule is dumb, you should get it changed" answers are not doing any good; bike restrictions in condo buildings are very common and strata politics are fucking nightmare. It's a fight that's really not winnable and not worth fighting.

I like hydrophonic's solution. (I'm guessing 'bike rack' is supposed to say 'bike pump'). Lock your pump up in the bike area. I really can't think of anything else. It really does have to be done in the morning at the beginning of the commute; you probably won't have time to go down and back up before you leave; the bike shops probably won't even be open at that hour; and a portable pump won't get you enough pressure.

Unless, maybe, you have a car that's parked nearby, and you can keep the bike pump in the trunk. Or you have a friend who lives nearby and can arrange to leave a pump on their porch. All unlikely, though.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:10 PM on July 22, 2010

Get a Topeak Road Morph or a Lezyne HPG pump. These are clip-on pumps that you can use like floor pumps—they have handles, short hoses, and a footpeg. They are good for much higher pressures than most clip-on pumps and much easier to use. This means you'll need to carry the pump with you on your bike at least once or twice a week—if you'll be carrying a bag anyhow, that's not a great imposition.

CO2 cartridges are wasteful, expensive, and silly if you're not in a race.
posted by adamrice at 1:14 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

Indeed this in Vancouver...aka "no fun city".
posted by randomstriker at 1:15 PM on July 22, 2010

Is it possible to get a bike room pump that's chained somewhere convenient in the bike room? Then anyone can use it but not take it.

My buddy swears by those slime filled tubes. He doesn't have a road bike so the tires are wider, but he goes months between airing up his tires. I've never tried them on my road bike, and they are heavier, but maybe something to try.
posted by 6550 at 1:16 PM on July 22, 2010

Even a fat tyre like a mountain bike (or my old school road bike) has is trivial to fill and pressure even from a hand pump, so re-pressuring a skinny race bike-style tyre would take a few seconds at most.

Have you ever tried to pump a tire to 100+ psi with a hand pump? It's way more work than pumping up relatively low pressure tires. I've done it, but only when fixing a flat on the road. I sure wouldn't be keen on using a hand pump for road tires every morning.
posted by 6550 at 1:19 PM on July 22, 2010

Also, if you leave a floor pump in the bike room, and it gets stolen, you have a great argument for keeping your bike in your apartment.

(I should have mentioned earlier that a few of the posters above have given poor advice. Airless tires are a gimmick, they are not acceptable for people that actually ride their bike. Same for only re-inflating every few months. Sometimes I can go for a week before the tire pressure is too low, but I usually top off my tires every day. Finally, a Road Morph is not going to get your road bike tires to 110psi. You can try, but it ain't fun. Just get a cheap floor pump, and put a "do not steal" sign on it.)
posted by jrockway at 1:23 PM on July 22, 2010

I really need to be able to check the pressure and pump it before every ride.

Pumping at the office before you go home is "before every ride" to the same extent that pumping at home before you go to the office is. Which is to say that, if you're not already pumping at the office before you go home, you're not pumping before every ride anyway.

So whatever you're currently doing to check pressure and pump it every day before you leave work to ride home, do that at home and leave the floor pump at your work location.
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on July 22, 2010

jrockway, seriously. A majority of apartment buildings and condos in this city have no-bikes-in-hallways rules. Both of my last apartment buildings had these rules, and they're not luxury condos but walkups that were 20 and 60 years old, respectively. It's one of those wearying things that comes with the territory. To my local ears it doesn't sound like whining, so you're reading into it things that aren't there.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:25 PM on July 22, 2010

most useful suggestions provided so far:
- topeak road morph
- everyone chip in for a common floor pump and chain it to a rack
- non-porous tubes that leak slower

less-than-helpful suggestions:
- get the rules changed (already trying, likely a waste of time)
- break the rules (no)
- move out (not my call)
posted by randomstriker at 1:26 PM on July 22, 2010

Finally, a Road Morph is not going to get your road bike tires to 110psi. You can try, but it ain't fun.

Actually I've tried out the Road Morph and it works very well. I'll probably end up buying well.
posted by randomstriker at 1:29 PM on July 22, 2010

I'll probably end up buying well

Er...I meant "I'll probably end up buying one".
posted by randomstriker at 1:30 PM on July 22, 2010

Attach a bike lock to the racks with a length of chain and a padlock.

Yes, sorry, I meant "attach a bike pump." I have seen pumps kept this way in dim alleys behind bike shops, so it should be enough for your bike room.

I keep a pump in my office, by the way, because I'm usually running late and don't have time to fill my tires in the morning. If you fill your tires before you leave for home, the slight drop in pressure by the next morning is not worth worrying about.
posted by hydrophonic at 1:35 PM on July 22, 2010

For fuck's sake... if they catch you with a bike they can fine you and evict you, it's in the lease. And it's not worth moving over because it's the same everywhere -- and maybe randomstriker has a partner he lives with, or maybe it's housing for a job... give me a break.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:36 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

The tire pressure will have dropped by 10psi by the next day.
Tubes: your basic MEC 700 x 23-25 tube

You might want to try some different tubes. I have not had great experiences with MEC brand tubes. Losing 10psi overnight seems like a lot to me. I ride on 100-110psi and I don't have to add air every day. MEC sells Continental tubes and they seem to work well for me.

You might also be happy with a Topeak Roadmorph pump, which is very portable, but has a fold out foot pad and a flexible hose, so it acts a lot like a floor pump. It is nice to carry a pump and a spare tube anyways. I think MEC sells a Filzer version of the Topeak pump now.
posted by ssg at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2010

I should have previewed, but, yes, a Roadmorph pump will have no problem at all hitting 110psi.
posted by ssg at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2010

You can't decide where you live and there are strict rules you can't violate? Are you sure you're not incarcerated?

You're obviously single ;-)
posted by randomstriker at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

The Filzer Mini-Zee pump from MEC for $27 is pretty decent/inexpensive for a small pump. It has a foot stand that folds out to make it more like a proper floor pump.
posted by metaname at 1:42 PM on July 22, 2010

I would definitely go the route of buying a common bike area pump and chaining it to a rail. I would be sure to ask the management first, and explain to them that chaining the pump there will reduce people's need to make multiple trips for bike maintenance, thus freeing up the elevator more, etc. You need to frame this in a way that makes it sound like the chain is the best solution that preserves the 'luxury' element of the building and keeps dirty bikes and dirty bike accessories in the area where they 'belong' instead of in people's condos.
posted by slow graffiti at 1:56 PM on July 22, 2010

Get a pump with a security ring and lock it to something in the common room.
posted by zvs at 1:58 PM on July 22, 2010

Maybe instead of trying to get the rules changed you can try to get a surveillance camera installed for the bike room.

Is there really a concierge? Have them pump your tires up every morning, then.
posted by rhizome at 2:05 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is the realm of ridiculous, but consider getting some sew ups, They're less likely to at least pinch flat on you and you can pump them up to ridunkulous pressure, if you're worried about commuting at 50psi. Only a few hundred dollar investment ;)

But this sort of puts a point to this - you seem to be commuting on road/racing tires - have you considered using a tire that's more appropriate for commuting? Something around 32c, that works fine when at a low psi (but can be pumped higher), that's probably a little more puncture resistant, easier to pump with a hand pump, etc? If the bike frame can support that size, I guess. Have two pairs of wheels - one bulletproof one for a commute that will get beat up, and another for just riding longerish distances isn't really all that strange.

This also has the benefit that, if you have a flat, it's just a wheel change, and you're off, instead of having to fix it.
posted by alex_skazat at 2:08 PM on July 22, 2010

Is there really a concierge? Have them pump your tires up every morning, then.

I think it's a fancy title for security guard, but your answer made my day.
posted by randomstriker at 2:11 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you leave a pump behind the concierge's desk?
posted by knapah at 2:49 PM on July 22, 2010

Is there a gas station on the way home? Many have free air compressors for cars to fill up with. Nobody is going to stop you from using it. Or do fancy bikes have different valves?
posted by cosmicbandito at 2:56 PM on July 22, 2010

Could you put a locking toolbox into the common bike room? something small, that you could keep your pump, lights, &c in. Something like this is what I'm thinking of, not a giant metal whatnot.
posted by KathrynT at 3:17 PM on July 22, 2010

Problem solved: I'm gonna buy the Topeak Roadmorph or the Lezyne HPG.

Thanks everyone.
posted by randomstriker at 4:00 PM on July 22, 2010

cosmicbandito: I need 110psi of pressure
posted by randomstriker at 4:02 PM on July 22, 2010

Glad you figured it out, OP. Came here to Nth the Road Morph as it is indispensible to me for similar reasons.
posted by fook at 4:27 PM on July 22, 2010

You might want to look at the Zefal HP-X as well, I swear by mine. The long barrel makes a difference and it will get up to 120 psi. It works better than the Topeak Road Morph I tried.
posted by tallus at 5:36 PM on July 22, 2010

I love my Zefal as well. The HP-X4 is my on-bike bump. They come in four different lengths; 4 is the longest. I can easily get over 100psi with it.

The Zefal is not a floor pump though. The Road Morph is (also) a great pump choice.
posted by bonehead at 8:52 PM on July 22, 2010

I've gotten past the pesky security by putting my bike on the bellhop dolly and pushing that through my lobby. Eventually they got sick of me asking to use and it just looked the other way.
posted by captaincrouton at 9:49 AM on July 23, 2010

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