Roller ski tire changing made fun & easy
Ask any V2 Aero roller ski owner how they like the dryland skis and they’ll usually start raving about how much the love them. The appreciate the soft ride made possible by the Aero’s large tires that roll over stones, crevasses and even perform well on crushed limestone bike trails. Add the easy-to-use brake and speed-reducing systems, and you have the safest roller skis on the market.
But if you ask about changing the tires when they wear out, it’s a different story. Then you start hearing about the nightmare involving broken plastic tire irons and bruised knuckles and egos. Many skiers just give up changing the tires themselves and head to their local bike shop to have it done.
But all that has changed because of The Great Innovator Len Johnson, owner of Jenex V2. I gave him that nickname several years ago because he stands head and shoulders above the rest of the roller skiing world with his innovations, which include the development of brakes and speed reducers. He has improved the overall design of his roller skis every year, too. He never rests on his laurels and is constantly looking for ways to make his product better.
Len’s latest baby is the V2 Aero Tire Changing Station. This surprisingly simple apparatus has made replacing Aero tires a simple operation that takes only a few minutes.
I got ahold of one of Johnson’s tire changing stations and anchored the base on my workbench (see photo). If you wanted to make it more portable, it can be screwed down to a thin piece of wood and then clamped to a surface/table for use.
Before you attempt to read the instructions, I strongly suggest that you go to the Jenex website (www.jenex.com) and watch the video of Len’s son Erik demonstrating how to change a tire.
I started by replacing a worn set of tires with new tires. I used Murphy’s Oil Soap to lubricate the tires near the rim, which greatly aids in reducing the strength needed to remove or mount the tire onto the rim. But even so, it did take some hand strength to mount the new tires, especially since the soap solution made the tires quite slippery.
So after I had finished mounting the new tires, I took two spares and repeatedly removed and remounted them, trying to find a way to use less brute strength in getting the tire onto the rim. I came up with two techniques that replaced the need to be strong. Here is the simpler one.
The changing station comes with two metal tire irons that resemble ones used by automobile dealers. I used one of the tire iron as a lever to help turn the wheel to mount the tire on the rim. (See photo) Without the lever, only a strong person could mount the tire using only their hands. But using the lever made changing the tire actually enjoyable. I found myself removing and remounting my spares quite a few times. This machine is so foolproof I didn’t get one pinch flat in the 16 times or so I mounted a tire, something I certainly couldn’t claim using my previous tire changing methods.
At first glance the Aero Tire Changer seems a little pricey: $118 on the Gear West website. But for sure, it is a great investment for a ski or bike shop, and very reasonable if a group of four skiers or more split the cost. Still it makes sense for the serious skier to purchase this machine. For example, the cost to replace four solid-type skating wheels can run up to $160. The replacement cost for four Aero 150 tires is about $80. So if you look at it that way, after a couple of tire changes, the station pays for itself.
But watch out. If you do buy one, you might find that using the tire changer can be a lot of fun. To me it beats video games hands down, but then the last video game I played was Gobbler.
Before getting the tire changing station, I could change an Aero tire in about five minutes using motorcycle tire irons and two vice-grip pliers. The vice grips were for breaking the bead on the old tire and also for holding the new tire on the rim temporarily as I worked my way around the wheel with the tire irons. But the new Aero changing station has made that technique obsolete.
I’m on my third pair of Aero roller skis and have gone through many sets of tires and have only gotten two flats, and both were my fault by allowing the outer tire to wear completely through, exposing the inner tube. Flats do occasionally happen, so many roller skiers take a spare along in their waist pack.
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