Stephen Colbert just changed a bike tube: A critical analysis

by Iain Treloar


Spare a thought for the humble chat show host. In These Troubling Times, they’ve lost a studio audience, lost celebrity guests and lost a crew, which means that they need to get creative with their output from the palatial confines of their homes.

Some of the content is patchy. Some of it is absolutely mesmerising. Stephen Colbert just changed a bike tube, and it’s certainly somewhere in that spectrum.

Tube changes are, for most avid cyclists, a relatively simple task. Colbert is evidently not an avid cyclist. So from the insufferable perspective of superior knowledge, here is a critical analysis of Colbert’s efforts.

Attire: Practical and outdoorsy, although points docked for use of pale chinos which are, I can confirm, immediately and irretrievably ruined upon contact with a dirty chain. At the bare minimum, needs a Rapha workshop apron. 5/10.

Tools: Colbert tackles the task with a pair of pliers and a flat-head screwdriver. Yes, I know. But in these times, more than ever, we need to confront uncomfortable truths with an unwavering gaze. So. He has a pair of pliers and a flat-head screwdriver, which is A) a near-guaranteed way to damage a tyre, tube, rim-tape and rim, and B) remarkably creative, seeing as spoons are a far gentler and more widely-used household item for the task. 2/10.

Surrounds: Maybe this is just an Australian trying to decipher US norms, but holy crap that car is enormous. Is that what you are all driving? My shitty Skoda is as long as that thing is wide. ¯_(?)_/¯/10

Instincts regarding slightly inflating tube before installation: Colbert’s got this. Besides the fact that he slightly inflates the tube in the tyre, then tries to hook both beads afterwards. Oh, how we laughed. 7/10.

Tyre pressure: The tyre is inflated to a full 65 PSI. Dear reader, I don’t need to tell you that this is far from optimal for velcro-like grip on mixed surfaces, nor rider comfort. How has this guy made it to the top of the TV game without even a passing knowledge of the groundbreaking work of Jan Heine or Josh Poertner? 5/10.

Wheel removal/installation: The rear wheel is a cruel mistress, with all manner of spiky things, a derailleur, and a chain to contend with. Colbert correctly identifies the derailleur as such by name, manages to get the wheel off and on, conquers a tight quick-release skewer, and only hurts himself a little bit in the process. I’m a bit impressed. 6/10.

Bike setup: Internet commenters of the world: “Bro, that saddle angle is a disaster”; “You should totally convert that thing to tubeless.” 2/10.

The jazzy way he kicks the rear brake lever to stop the wheel spinning: Outstanding. 10/10.

Your move, Maury Povich.

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