Broken Balls & Other Playa Problems

Following are some of the top Playa problems I see every day at Betty’s Bike Shop.  Get a handle on these issues and don’t let them bring you down…or at least to a standstill.

1.)  Flat tire due to Snake Bite low tire pressure.

When is the last time you put air in your tires?  What kind of pump did you use?  How much PSI did you inflate them to?  Tubes inside tires need periodic inflation, like every 30 days.  If you ride the bike with minimal air pressure when you hit a bump the tube can get pinched against the rim and cause two parallel holes.  We call this “snake bite” as the punctures look likes fang marks.  Use a floor pump or air compressor to get full psi labeled on the side of the tire.

2.)  Flat tire due to rotted tire.

If your tire looks like the one with the pencil through it do not bring it to Black Rock City & replace it immediately.  If it looks like the middle tire it may survive but then again maybe not.  Dry rot happens from age and exposure to hot dry sunny conditions .


3.)  Flat tire due to no rim strip.

In between the metal rim and the thin rubber tube is a critical piece to protect the tube called a rim strip.  This oversized rubber band MUST be there else the tube will eventually get punctured from rubbing on the spoke nipples.  If you have a broken rim strip and no replacement use electrical tape.

4.)  Stripped pedals due to incorrect installation

Pedals may look the same but they are not.  The left pedal has a REVERSE thread (“Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey”) and the right pedal has a standard thread.  If you assemble the bike with the pedals reversed they will not go in straight as you are forcing the creation of new threads.  They will fail and you will be walking. Every year I see 5-10 bikes with ruined crank arms due to stripped pedals.  Look on the end of the pedal for an imprinted R or L and mount correctly.

5.)  Broken Balls due to lack of grease and loads of Playa dust.

This is most common in the crank arm bearings on a single speed coaster brake bike with a One Piece Crank Arm and American style Bottom Bracket.  In 2017 the dust conditions in the city streets was extremely detrimental to these One Piece Crank bearings.  I brought 20 new Bearings to the 2017 Burn and we ran out by Wednesday.  If you ride a single speed Coaster Brake bike you should bring at least two of these Crank Bearings. Dust gets into all the cracks, lubricant dries up, friction causes the bearing retainer to implode.  The symptom is lots of noise coming from the crank area.

Broken Balls & New Balls
 If you have a single speed coaster brake bike and it sounds like a scalded Cat when you pedal the bike it is time for a “One Piece Crank” bearing overhaul.  If left dry, gritty, and squealing you will break Your Balls (Bearing Retainer) and your bike will be inoperable.  LBS or DIY You Tube videos to repair.

6.)  Broken Balls due to missing Coaster Brake strap on single speed cruiser.

MOST IMPORTANT!  Make sure on the left side of the rear wheel the 4″ metal Coaster Brake arm is bolted and attached to the frame with the metal Coaster Brake strap.  This is critical!  It will work short term without being bolted but in the near future you will get “Broken Balls” and an inoperable bike; and nobody wants that.  Pedal the bike and crank the pedals backwards to insure the Coaster Brake is engaging.  If it slips, feels weak, or doesn’t work it is time for a Coaster Brake Overhaul.  Your LBS can do this for $15-$20 or you can go to You Tube and attempt a DIY.

Broken Balls Before & After Rescue