Sunday, July 7, 2013


Sometimes I feel like a sucker, and I don’t like it.  I don’t like the feeling of being  gullible, or being taken for a ride…unless it’s me who is doing the pedaling. 

For those of you that ride, you know that potentially one of the biggest “thorns” in our side can quite literally be…thorns.  Those little sharp grass thorns that seem to have evolved with the rather intentional ability to find their way into anything with an inner tube are the bane of any and all cyclists.  To that end, I have researched and explored the world of bicycle tires and have settle on a combination of tire and tube that seems to work the best….at least I thought I had.

Tires are not the issue.  After much experimentation, I settled on Michelin Pro4 Endurance tires.  They ride great, have a hardened ribbon in the middle and seem to ward off most road beasties with ease.  Reluctantly, I settled on the heavier, thicker Slime filled SLiME inner tube.  The company makes inner tubes full of a green “slime” designed to fill and plug a hole or puncture in the tube.  Opting for the most protection, coupled with a very high quality, light weight wheelset seemed like the best compromise all around.  The extra weight added by the SLiME inner tubes is a bit of a bummer, but hey, I need the training and now that I'm used to them I'm not sure it matters. 

Here’s the catch.  I'm on my third set of inner tubes in less than a year.  Each previous set was compromised by those menacing little grass thorns.  Actually, one tire/tube set was sliced by a piece of obsidian I hit while hustling down the road, head down, ass up, and went through both the tire and tube like a guillotine through a French neck.  While it’s not fair to hold anything but a wagon wheel to task in that situation, the remaining five tubes have all fallen prey to one thorn each.  They have not sealed, but did manage to live out the remainder of their short lives on a gas leaking diet of my CO2 cartridges.  I do not ride on grass or dirt, ever, and do shoulder my bike when forced to cross any potentially tire threatening areas. 

The long walk home today, out of CO2, in the hot sun, and in my cycling shoes got me thinking about the tubes.   The website says, “All SLiME Smart Tubes are factory-filled with a precise volume of Slime Tube Sealant. Smart Tubes instantly seek out and seal punctures as they occur, preventing flats, repeatedly and continuously for up to two years. Ride without worries.”  Damn!  If only they “prevented” flats.  That would be fantastic.  I would love to ride without worries….

I'm not mad at the tubes…I'm mad at myself.  I bought them, three times, telling myself…”hey, these are great.  I can ride without worry.  The inner tubes will fix themselves.”  I knew at the time that it was too good to be true, but tried it anyway.  Not once, but three times!   Each time I said to myself, “well, it must have been a freakishly big thorn, or maybe I wasn’t rolling fast enough for the slime to go into the hole.  Maybe I need to make my very expensive, ultra light wheelset, even heavier and put a thorn guard in there as well…..”   Once I very nearly, foolishly, left the house without my pump and patch kit.  Luckily I listened to my own better judgment in that instance.

We buy so many things in an attempt to maintain or prevent damage to the things of which we invest our time, love and talent.  Got a cell phone?  You better buy a cover… covers for this, protectors for that.  Perhaps the greatest con-job of the last decade is the “Extra Warrantee” stores offer on their products.   If you buy a TV, or almost anything nowadays that you can’t eat right away, you can purchase a “plan” that protects you, the buyer, from having to purchase another poorly built, overpriced piece of stress inducing plastic garbage when it breaks down, catches on fire or crumbles in your hand exactly one second after the manufacturer’s warrantee expires.  Even more infuriating is finding yourself at the counter of  a Best Buy or similar, that same day, arguing with the vacant head behind the counter who is more interested in seeing how low he can were his work pants, while still keeping his work shirt tucked in so that no one will “notice,”  than he is helping you to replace your busted plastic thingy.  Those warrantees are so full of exclusions and clauses that you have a better chance of getting a ride home on a UFO than you do of successfully leaving the store with a new gadget.  

Lastly, if I hear the phrase, “we’ll do it this time as a …courtesy…,” once more in my life, I may not be able to refrain from explaining the true meaning of “courtesy”  which when dealing with a customer who is, in point of fact, already irritated that his costly investment , advertised and sold by the very same store, heralded as the very best, fell victim to spontaneous combustion, or was perhaps constructed over an Indian burial ground, and seems to have a mind of its own.

As you can see, that two mile walk home in the hot sun wound me up a bit.  I have contacted the SLiME Company though Facebook and have been referred to customer service.  So far so good.  I hope they have an explanation for their product.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I put air in the tube on the wrong day.  Maybe the planets have to be in a linier alignment or maybe I should have installed the inner tubes while facing south and standing on one foot.  I dunno!...  Time will tell. It’s my sincerest hope in this case that the company DOES NOT live up to their name…..I hope there is someone there who has their pants pulled up and is ready to help a stranded cyclist.

UPDATE:  I am truly amazed!  After communicating with a Customer Service  representative named Angela at SLiME Co, they actually took my concerns seriously enough to address them.  They have replaced the tubes with new ones, sent out a generous "care package," and have followed up.  I will even be sending them the tubes that failed so that they can review them to see whats going on.  They offered suggestions on how to best use their product, and really seemed to care about my experience and continued patronage.   I have stated that I would rather fix flats all day, and have the support of a company trying to better there product, than purchase stuff from someplace that could care less whether or not you come back again.  I hope the tubes work out.  That would be great!  But that aside, Its nice to know that there are companies out their willing to stand by their product and their customers.  Well done SLiME!  Well done!