FAQ: Oh no, what if I get a flat tire on my cargo bike?

If you’re me, you’ve been secretly worried that you’ll get a flat tire on your cargo bike.  I’ve taken the kr8 1000+ miles with no problems until today.

It’s right to be ready since flats are inevitable but worrying is overrated.  I was worried it will happen when I was out without my tools.  It did indeed happen that way.  No pump, no patch kit, nada.  Particularly with the kids, I was worried it would happen in a place where I don’t really want to stop.  It indeed happen at the busy and semi-sketchy part of our route.  Not the sketchiest, and at least there was a sidewalk.  It didn’t happen at night and I did have a load of groceries for the kids to devour while I waited for my wife to pick us up with tools.

That being said, I was left with the fundamental question: what do you do with a cargo bike too big to put in the car?  The answer, which I didn’t know I knew until today is: you improvise a fix in the field and then take care of it.

Improvised fix: reducing total weight and topping off the tire every 2 minutes to limp to the bike shop.

Taking care of it: The local bike shop is super-friendly and nice but they didn’t have a great plan for working on the kr8.  Unsurprisingly it was “too big” for their stands and their plan started with taking the wheel off and billing hourly.  I certainly didn’t expect to pay the going rate for a standard tube change, but was just not optimstic.  End result: my busted bike and I go home to invoke the magic of the Workcycles Escape Hatch in much less time and at no added cost.

First, of course, I found where the puncture hit, felt the tire to ensure it was cleared out, and then tried to patch the tube without taking anything apart.

Unfortunately, I either mis-identified the hole or mis-applied the patch–after my handiwork the tube wouldn’t hold any air at all so I’m thinking I scuffed up the hole at the right place and mis-placed the patch.  Life being short, I contemplated a different round object for a bit:
And then I moved on to replace the tube today because (1) I wanted to overcome my rear-wheel-fear and (2) I wanted to proudly march back into the bike shop and point out that you didn’t need to take of the rear wheel.  I did, and even brought the old tube as some sort of trophy.  Here’s how I did it below; I’m not a professional bike mechanic, so use your own judgment and care in fixing your bike.
First I removed the axle nut with 15mm wrench.  (The red stuff is Christmas lights)

Then I removed the 3 bolts holding on the escape hatch (and the torque arm for the roller brake) using 10mm socket and wrench on rear.  I don’t know if it’s theoretically possible to pull off the brake and hatch arm together but it wasn’t happening for me until I detached the torque arm bolt.

 

Here’s the hatch plate on the ground and the wheel in all its non-drive-side glory:

I took off the nut and the roller brake slid right off, though I had to angle it to get it past the end of the hatch.  Should have made a video because it took me forever to get the angle right when I put it back on…

 

Escaping tube caught on camera!

 

New tube went in so easy that I didn’t stop to take pictures.  Carefully placed it in tube and gave it a couple rounds of super-low pressure inflation, made sure the tire was seated in the rim without any bulges, and then put everything back on in reverse order.

As of tonight (and after a test ride) everything seems fine.  Stay tuned for updates, though hopefully no flats for another 1000 miles.