Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How To: Install a valve extender (the right way!)

This is sort of an expansion / sister post to my how to article on installing latex tubes (read that here and don't make the mistake of popping your expensive tubes!) and I'll go in depth on how to properly piece together a valve extender.

First, lets get this out of the way. Not all valve extenders are created equal. In the picture below I have an assortment of extenders I've collected over the years. See if you can spot the (important) difference.

assorted extenders
So, the bottom three extenders are different than the top four. How you ask? Well, they are made to screw directly onto a presta valve without removing the valve core, whereas the top four are made with the ideal that you will be removing the core and then installing it onto the other side of the extension. Why are they different? Well, many (most) butyl tubes (and some latex ones as well) are not going to have a removable core, in which case you'll need one like those bottom three to get the job done. What are the positives to this method? Well, it's much, much easier. You simply unscrew your presta valve, screw this on, and hope for the best. The negatives? Your presta valve will always be open, so both pumping up and keeping air in the tire will be a hassle. Also, if the little screw off valve ever works its way back closed on you it will be a big pain getting it back to open. (Some people crimp the opening so that is impossible, but I've always shied away from that method.) However, let me say many people use these (Zipp is the biggest name that makes this kind of extender) extensions successfully and have for years. I don't think it's ideal, but YMMV.

two latex tubes, one with and one without a removable core.
We'll take for granted you can get that type on with no issues and instead we'll focus on how to get the removable cores correctly installed. First let's have a look at what you need.

tools of the trade
Running it down we have some sealant for your tube, some plumber's tape (seal tape) a pair of pliers and/or the little tool that is included with some extenders (little black c shaped part in this picture) along with the tube, core and extender. 

Use the removal tool (and/or your pliers) to unscrew the valve core from your tube (not pictured, but it will have two flat sides for you to grip to unscrew it.) and lay it to the side. Now your tube should have an open hole at the end of the valve. This is the perfect time to add your sealant!

I use around 1/3 - 1/2 bottle on each tube, shake vigorously.
You'll probably make a mess, so I suppose a rag or old shirt wouldn't hurt to add to the list of things you'll need. The key to adding the sealant is to go slow. After you've got it in it's time to grab your plumbers tape and start wrapping threads.

Plumbers tape applied!

Tape the threaded end of your extender (just make sure you don't let the excess length block the opening.) tightly so that it looks similar to the above (your tape may be blue) You don't need a ton of tape, just enough length to cover the threads. Now, use your tool/pliers and start screwing the extender into your tube.

coming together
It should come together pretty neatly, although some don't end up totally flush (as the above) that is ok, it should still be nicely sealed. Next, we're going to do the exact same thing taping the valve core. Again, just make sure you cover the threads and get the tape pulled fairly tight around. 

Now, back to your installation tool and pliers (I had to use both... or two pair of pliers if you don't have the little tool... to get the valve in.) start screwing the valve core back in.

proper use

Once everything is back together it's time to check and see if you got it right. Open the valve up and hook it to your pump, giving it a couple of pumps. If air is rapidly seeping back out, you don't have a good seal. If it's holding air correctly, congratulations! Great success!

Ta Dah!
Now go about your normal installation of the tube in the tire (don't blow it! Literally!) and you're ready to ride with a valve extender you can actually close! Sure, it's a little thing, but if it helps keep air pressure steady it could be a big thing! FLO recently found ~5psi difference in air pressure in your tires could account for a couple of watts(!) of aero drag! So keeping it steady at what you find best/like can be important.

Boom! Jet90, SWorks Turbo Cotton and a nice clean valve extender!
Thanks for checking out the blog and this short little how-to. I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

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