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The Dollar Bill Trick & Other On-The-Road Repair Hacks

If you ride your bike enough, one day it will happen to you. The dreaded flat tire!

No worries, we would like to teach you a couple of tricks for when things get really bad, or if you don't quite have the right tools. That said, it is important to be prepared for this event. We will also give you resources to purchase the necessary goodies to deal with a flat while out on the road.

So there you are, JRA (*Just Riding Along - Read more at the bottom), and hisssss, you've got a flat tire. Oh, man, what do you do? Well, lucky for you, you have a patch kit or a replacement tube, a tire lever or two, possibly some tools, and a pump or CO2 cartridge. Wait, what? You don't have those things? Well, then you are pretty much thinking about how far you are going to have to walk. Hopefully you have your phone with you to find the closest bike shop, and, hopefully, that bike shop is open.

But wait, you read this post and you are fully armed with a Handsome Roadside Repair Kit and Pump. Since that is the case, you just need to assess the source of your flat, patch or repair your tube, and re-inflate your tire. Easy peasy. You also were smart enough to watch the "How To Fix A Flat Tire" video we made and can pull it up again when you are on the road as a step-by-step guide.



But what do you do when the situation is a little more serious? Like your tire actually has a tear or large slash that won't hold the pressure of the tube?

The Dollar Bill Trick

Dollar Bill 1
Dollar Bill 2

Time to employ what we in the industry call a "boot". Boots are designed to shore up the tear or gash in a tire to restore it's integrity and allow you to keep riding. You can purchase boots from most bike shops. Most people do not carry boots all of the time because they are used infrequently. Therefore, you sometimes need to improvise when you find yourself in this position. For this reason, we employ the famous dollar bill trick. A boot can be almost any durable but pliable material, and a folded up dollar bill is exactly that. Find the gash in the tire, place the folded bill on the inside of the tire to cover the area, while making sure to keep the bead (metal ring that hooks into the rim) uninhibited (#1). Once you have the boot in place, replace the tube, re-seat the tire and slowly re-inflate to the proper pressure. Make sure the boot stays in place when you are replacing the tube (#2). While you are inflating, keep an eye on both the affected area and the bead of the tire making sure that the boot is doing it's job and that the bead is staying inside the rim. The bill should hold the tube inside the tire. If you are noticing that it is still popping out of the tire significantly, it is unsafe to ride. Sorry, but there is no fix for your tire and you will have to start walking.


What is this skinny valve I have on my bike and what do I do if I don't have a special pump?


The Presta Valve Hack


So, many bikes today, including all Handsome models, come with presta (french) valves. Presta valves are often used when the rim is designed for a narrower and higher pressure tire. The valve has a lock-out feature that is great for holding pressure at low volume. Most bike specific pumps today come equipped to fill presta valves, but what do you do when you are on the road and need to fill-up, but you only have access to a standard (Schrader) valve pump like you'll find at a gas station? No worries, we have that covered.

The plastic valve cap on your presta valve can easily be converted into an adapter to use a pump designed for Schrader valves. Remove the plastic cap and cut off the tip of it as illustrated in #1 above. Make sure to cut it down far enough so that the smaller end will still fit over the valve. Next, notice that your valve is closed and you will need to open it to allow air in and out (#2). Unthread the tip of the valve until it can be pressed and moves freely (#3). Then, install the modified valve cap backwards, so that the wider end is facing away from the rim. Make sure it is on securely and that the opened lock-out portion of the valve is close to, but isn't sticking out of the end (#4). You can now fill your tire with a standard Schrader valve pump. Inflate to the proper pressure as indicated on the side of your tire. For all Handsome stock tires, the proper PSI is 95. Now, remove the modified valve cap and thread back down the release part of the valve so that it again looks like #2. You can keep the modified cap on your valve for future use, or get a new cap from a bike shop. If you plan to keep it, we recommend threading it back on your valve the normal way so that it is there when you need it (#5). If you choose to replace the valve with an unmodified valve cap and you cannot find one, email Handsome and we will send you a new cap free of charge. If you did not keep your modified cap, just again repeat this process the next time you are out on the road and need to employ the Presta Valve Hack!


You want to be prepared when you encounter a problem with your tube or tire out on the road.


Everyone’s tool kit will vary depending on your needs as well as your level of maintenance knowledge. If you carry a tool kit you will be prepared to fix many issues that come up while out riding. Don't forget the dollar bill from the trick above. If you don’t have any cash with you a stiff piece of paper from an inner tube box or a energy bar wrapper can work.

While talking about tires it is important to check your tire pressure often. There are many variables as for how much air pressure your tires will lose over time. Tire volume and air temperature will affect how often you’ll need to inflate your tires. It’s a good idea check your pressure every few days. If your tires are underinflated you run the risk of a pinch flat. This happens when the tube is pinched between the rim and the ground. Often times a pinch flat occurs when hitting a bump or pothole. We offer Pedros Domestique floor pump. Which is versatile and durable with a dual-valve pump head made of high quality steel and plastic, this will allow you to inflate your tires faster than using a portable pump and there is a pressure gauge on the pump. http://handsomecycles.com/products/pump

We have all of the tools that you need and have chosen what we feel are the best bang-for-buck, as well as the most user friendly. Below are a few of the tools shown in use in this post and other handy tools for home and on the road.

Just The Tools You Need

Roadside Repair Kit
Road Morph Pump
Replacement Tube
Saddle Bag
Floor Pump
Park AWS-10 Multi Tool
Free Shipping On Orders Over $100

*Oh yeah, what is this JRA business?

We want you to feel confident and comfortable at bike shops. We know that the experience can be intimidating to many people. We offer this info merely to help you and your mechanic, to get you back safely on the road. Many times, when a customer comes into a bike shop with a problem, they say they were Just Riding Along. Clearly, something has happened to the bike and the mechanic is not looking to judge the rider at all. That is very important to remember! As bike riders ourselves, we know that sometimes things just happen, but most of the time, we also have a good idea of what caused the problem. The mechanic is just looking for the most detailed explanation of what occurred so that she/he can diagnose the issue and best offer a solution. The JRA phenomenon is common at bike shops and can cause a giggle from a mechanic when we hear it. Remember, just like going to the doctor when you don't feel well, give your mechanic the best information you can and you will get the best result from your repair.

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