Drive My Bike

Tire Issues With A Schwinn Midtown

If you’ve read my previous posts, then you probably realize that when I started commuting with my Schwinn Midtown I had some problems with flats on the rear tire. Based on recent comments from readers, it seems that many of you out there also have had flats on your Midtown, and you have struggled to repair those flats so that you can get back to your riding. With that in mind, I figured I would discuss some more of the things I’ve learned as I’ve worked on my Midtown, and what I’ve done to deal with my tire issues.Rear of Schwinn Midtown

The Basics

I’m not going to go into the details of actually fixing a flat tire because there are plenty of other places that will do a much better job of teaching you than I ever could. I would recommend that you check with your local bike shops and see if any of them offer a free bike maintenance clinic. I attended such a clinic at my local REI store, and it was a great help. You can also find plenty of great videos on YouTube that will give you some good advice.

When you are dealing with a flat tire, one of the first things you need to do is to figure out what caused the flat.  Did you run over some kind of road hazard, like glass, or a thorn, or a piece of sharp metal? Did you have your tire pressure too low and hit a bump, like a curb, so that the inner tube got pinched against the rim, which caused a “pinch flat”? Or is your tire just flat and you have no idea what caused it?

In my case, the rear flats were not caused by a road hazard, and did not seem to be pinch flats, which are usually on the sides of the tube. In both cases the leak in my tubes was on the inside edge of the tube, where the tube is against the rim, a few inches from the valve stem. I am still not sure what caused those leaks, but I think it might have been similar to a pinch flat, but caused by the tube going against the spoke holes in the rim ,which was enough to rub a hole in the tube.

One of the next things to think about when dealing with flat tires is whether you can repair the inner tube, or if you need to replace the old tube with a new one. In my case, I tried to repair the tube twice, but the hole was in a spot where the rubber had a bump in it, and I also used the new press-on patches, instead of the old glue-on kind. As soon as I put the tire back on and pumped it up, I heard the sound of air leaking and realized my patch wasn’t holding. Argh!

My Solutions

So here is what I did to remedy my problems…

1) I replaced the rear tube with a heavy duty tube with Slime in it. I have read mixed reviews of Slime, and it seems like people either like it or hate it.  I was pretty desperate to find a solution, so I tried it, and I have not had issues. I don’t know if it is the Slime, or the heavy duty tube, but I haven’t even had to add air to the tire at all since I replaced it a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t like Slime, then there are plenty of other tubes out there. Just be sure you get a 26 inch tube that’s about 2 inches in diameter and has a Schrader valve. The tires on the Midtown are 26×2.00 so a 26×1.75-2.25 Schrader valve tube will work just fine.

Tire Size for Schwinn Midtown

2) I made sure that all of the spoke holes on the rim were nice and smooth. There is a rubber strip, like a big rubber band, that goes around the rim, and sits between the metal rim and the inner tube. It is there to cover up the holes and protect the tube. I removed that strip, and then checked each of the spoke holes and cleaned them up with a file to make sure they were nice and smooth, then replaced the strip, and put everything back together. That took a bit of work, and I’m not sure if it made a difference, but as I said, I was desperate. Reader Jon Grinder, an experienced bike mechanic, also recommend replacing the rubber rim strip with rim tape which is thicker and tends to stay in place better than the rubber strip. I have not done this yet, but it sounds like a good idea, and I’ll probably do so at some point.

3) I make sure that my tires are at the proper pressure every single time I ride. The recommend pressure for the tires on the Midtown is 40-65 PSI. I actually fill my rear tire a bit more than that to make up for the extra weight that I have over the rear tire when I carry stuff on the rack. Do this at your own risk, since you are exceeding the rated pressure once you pass 65 PSI. The other important part of keeping the tires at the right pressure is to have a good pump with an accurate pressure gauge. I have an air compressor and it was easy and fast to fill my tires with it, but I found that I was having a hard time keeping the pressure consistent. I went to REI and got a Serfas floor pump and it was a great investment. Now I hook the pump up and check the pressure before I ride, topping the tires off if needed. It only takes an extra minute or two, and the peace of mind is worth it.

Tire Pressure Ratings for Schwinn Midtown

Extra Long Valve Stem

If you replace the original tubes on the Midtown, you will quickly realize that the stock tubes have an extra long valve stem. The picture on the left is the stock Midtown tube, and the picture on the right is a normal tube.Extra Long Valve Stem on Schwinn Midtown

When you install the standard tube in the Midtown rim you will notice that the valve stem just barely sticks out of the hole in the rim. Again, the picture on top is the stock tube, and the picture on the bottom is a replacement tube.Extra Long Valve Stem on Schwinn Midtown

Getting the shorter valve stem to go all the way through the rim is a bit of a challenge, and the best way I found to make it work was to pinch the SIDES of the tube and tire, which helps push the valve through the hole. My first instinct was to push directly behind the valve stem, but this was difficult, and didn’t accomplish much. Instead, squeezing the sides of the tube seems to extend the valve stem farther into the hole. Once you get the valve stem through the hole then you can put the cap on to hold it in place while you finish installing the tire, or better yet, put a valve extender on the valve stem.Valve Extender on Normal Valve Stem on Schwinn Midtown

Getting the pump to grab on to the short valve stem can be a challenge, especially when the tube is completely empty, so I picked up a set of valve stem extenders from a local auto parts store, and now filling the tube is easy again.

I did look around a bit to try to find tubes with a long valve stem, and I haven’t been able to find them anywhere. At this point, I don’t really consider it to be a problem, because I’m confident I can make a regular tube work.

It has been at least two weeks, and probably 75 miles of riding, since I took the actions described above, and I haven’t had any more issues with flat tires on my Schwinn Midtown. Hopefully this information will help those of you that have experienced similar challenges, and get you back on the road again.

23 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Sounds like you had a lot of problems with flats. Sorry to hear that.

That really is a short valve stem. I wonder if this is just an issue with 26″ tires. I replaced the orginal tubes that came with my Fuji, but they are 700cm. I’ve had no problem with the stem.

Comment by Tom

Hey Scott,

Great blog! I also have a Schwinn Midtown from Cosco and will be adding some improvements soon and will use your blog as a guide. But today I was actually hit by a motorist on my way to the grocery store. Fortunately the most damage was a bent up front tire which I was able to ride home on. But I’ve been searching everywhere for a new rim or wheel and can’t find it anywhere. I don’t know why it is so hard. I went to 2 bike shops and no one has anything even similar. I have been searching online with no luck. I just want to order a replacement rim and spokes for the front and be done with it but I am having lots of trouble. Any help would be much appreciated.

-Stephen of Schaumburg, IL

Comment by Stephen H

Thanks for the feedback Stephen! I wish I had some information as to where to get replacement parts for your Midtown, but I don’t. Based on the response to my blogging about the Midtown, I’m guessing Costco has sold a whole bunch of them, so there are a lot of people that will be needing parts. I would recommend talking to your local Costco to see if they can help, or contacting Schwinn directly. If you are able to get any good information then it would be great if you could let me know and I’ll pass it on to everyone here. Thanks again.

Comment by Scott

I’ll check at cosco and give schwinn a call. Will write back shortly. 🙂

Comment by stephen hudak

Just wanted to say thanks for this post. I have a Schwinn Avenue hybrid, with the aero style rims and 28 x 1 5/8 x 1 1/2 tires (long valve stem, like yours). Three weeks ago I got a flat on my front tire, and I still haven’t been able to source a tube that fits, due to the long stem. I patched it twice to keep me riding but it was in a bad place and wouldn’t hold. I even tried my local Schwinn dealer, but says he’s had them on order for weeks, and can’t get them.

Your idea with screwing the value extender on the outside of the rim was some good thinking. After reading this post, I went out and picked some up, and sure enough, I was able to make use of a standard length valve stem tube. I rode my bike to work this morning. Much appreciated!

Comment by Vaughn Teegarden

Thanks for the great information. I’ve had the same problem with flat tires due to all the construction around my neighborhood. I think this is a great value for the bike you are getting at Costco. I changed both inner tubes to the goo filled ones I found at Target too. Just got done changing the rear tire (what a mess). Hopefully I won’t have flat tire issues in the future. It’s definitely a bummer.

Comment by Stanley

I bought a nice black schwin midtown 21 speed and I havent had any problrms. The air stem on mine is quite long and no flats yet knock on wood . i have had the bike for a year and a half.

Comment by tony

I have the same problems with the stem length on my mountain bike. I’ll give the valve extenders a try once I get around to it. Thanks for the information. Schwinn should make it easier for people to get replacement inner tubes for their bikes.

Comment by sam

i have a schwinn midtown also and have had a flat on the back,i also have looked evrywhere for a tube w/a long stem.they are harder than piss to find.can i get a tube from wal-mart & does it have to be a schwinn tube?

Comment by mark

Mark, no, it doesn’t have to be a Schwinn tube, and yes, I think I actually bought mine at walmart. You might want to read the above article again to get some hints about dealing with the long stem. Thanks for stopping by.

Comment by Scott

I have a Schwinn Midtown and I’ve experienced flats both front and back. The tubes that came with it are thin and crappy. I’ve replaced them with Bell 26″ tubes. So far, so good.

Comment by cartoongoddess

Giant makes long stem tubes with schrader valves. Giant part #87668. 26×19.5-2.125 tube with .89mm thickness and 48mm schrader value. I found mine at a LBS selling Specialized and Giant bikes. In the Washington DC area, that is A-1 Cycling. $9.99

Comment by Lemond Guy

I have a Pathfinder where I have had more flats than any other bike I have owned. It gets the same leaks on both tires that you describe. Almost like pinch leaks right over the spoke holes. I did not feel any rough edges around the spoke wholes. I did not have any rim tape so I used thin strips of duct tape and have not had that issue since.

Comment by Schwanz

Great info, I am planning to get this bike from Costco also. Now that I know of this flat tire problem I am going to have rim tape sitting at my house waiting for the bike to show up. Rim tape comes in different sizes though, from 16-22mm, did you happen to come across the size needed for these tires?

Comment by Terry

I bought one of these “midtown” bikes and have had the same flats…this is caused by burrs in the aluminum rim from the spoke holes…I sanded down the entire rim, front and back, and use standard tape and innertubes no problems.

Comment by Mike Williams

Also, with these Schwinn bikes with the Suntour shocks, be aware that mine came apart and the spring nearly impaled itself into my neck. I am working with Costco trying to get resolution on this but the only thing between your face and neck and the spring is a small plastic cap on the top of the right side of the shock tower…be careful…it hurt pretty bad and had a swollen neck for a week now…on pain meds b/c of it

Comment by Mike Williams

I have a midtown also…have leakage on the right side on the front sun tour shock…prefer to fix myself…ordered manual today…read the blog above dated 9/24/09.. by mike at 12:53p.m..don’t want to get a swollen neck…smile…can u give any advice…besides tightening it down…maybe replacing the plastic cap…how did you fix it? Is this a systemic problem/ was yours leaking before it popped out? What did Costco say?

Comment by dave

if you use stem extensions, be careful, DON’T over torque them or you will pull the stem from the tire…….I know!!!!!

Comment by bob kincaid

The plastic housing on the left side of my rear brake broke a couple days ago. I just order a set of Avid Sigle Digit 5 brakes ($24). I am going to replace my front brake too. No sense in waiting for it to fail.

I replaced the tires with Michelin City 26×1.85 tires. They are a vast improvement for riding on the road or bike paths. They run about $20-25 each.

I have problems with my Suntour shocks sticking too. I don’t want to replicate Mike Williams experience. What shocks replaced the SunTour?

Comment by Lemond Guy

Hello, Nice blog/website here. I have one of these bikes from COSTCO too. I am in military and take mine with me when I travel, for example recently i went to Hawaii, so it served me as faithfull transportation. My front shocks seem to jam or stick. Is there a fix for that? Also, I cannot find tubes so I patch my flats however, I am running out of rel-estate! Otherwise, this is an awesome bike, highly under-rated and I wish I could afford another one for my wife! But the tube issue is of great concern. Any maintenance tips would be greatly appreciated! Especially for sticky forks!

Comment by Ubbo

Just picked up one of these bikes at a local church sale. Barely used-if at all. Awesome birthday gift from a Husband that I always thought of, as never hearing me! Wonders never cease. Anyway, only $15.00 bucks. With all these great reviews of the bike I’m even more impressed. Thanks. And keep rolling!

Comment by JustBcom

I need to replace the tube on my rear tire. It has a bunch of pin hole leaks where the stem is attached to the tube. I have read a lot about the length of the stem length, Schrader vs Presta, ways to adapt Presta to a Schrader wheel, etc….
Bottom line, a picture is worth 10,000 words. Thanks for your posting and pictures. I’m going to buy a regular Schrader stem and the extension shown. Great idea!

Comment by Paul

Wondering if any other MidTown owners have had trouble with screeching brakes? Squealing, honking? mine are LOUD and the local bike repair guy tried all his usual fixes, but it didn’t work. He suspects it’s related vibration from activating the front suspension system. Any thoughts?

Comment by wanderfjv

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