Dust-proofing a bike for Iraq duty

hey Lee, just a quick one for ya.
I’m in the Army and am deploing to Iraq soon and plan on taking my wheels with me. I have a full suspension bike with a FOX TALAS fork in front and a FOX air shock in back. As you may or may not know it is very dusty over there. What is the best way that I can protect my ride and keep it running smooth? P.S. I plan on consructing myself a nice little pump track while im there. I send ya some pics.

The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

Hey Chris,

Modern bikes are pretty darn reliable, but it looks like you’ll be out there for a while, without a friendly local bike shop. Do these things:

1. Get some Lizard Skins for your fork and shock. These might make your suspension a bit less plush (and less trick looking), but they’ll keep the dust away from your seals.


2. Use a dry chain lube. White Lightning will work great there; it’s made with wax, and when dirt gets into the wax, it clumps off. A wet lube like Triflow would accumulate dust, which would wear your chain super-quickly.


3. Flat-proof your tires. I’d go low-tech. Dual-ply tires and heavy-duty tubes with Slime in them. That setup won’t feel very nimble, but it’ll survive a suicide bomber.

4. Bring at least: A hand pump, a serious multitool, spare brake pads, tubes and a hydration pack. Oh, and tons of White Lightning.

5. Start with a complete tune-up: brand-new drivetrain, new suspension seals, new brake pads, everything.

6. Consider flat pedals. They’re bombproof (not funny), and you can rock your “team issue” boots.

7. Build that pump track. Religious groups that pump together, live together!

Good luck over there,

— Lee

See also: Durable bike for overseas military dude

30 replies
  1. Jonas says:

    I wouldn’t use these lizard skin things. Over here in Europe they are known as shock damaging, because much dust stays on them, it will get to the inside even through this neoprene and some gaps.Once there is dust inside it scrapes on the stanchions/shock very hard because the Lizard Skin presses against it. They work better on coil shocks, because the lizard skin can’t scrape directly on the shock.
    No protection or old school rubber fork boots would be a better idea.

  2. zach says:

    Putting anything over your shocks nowadays takes away from letting the seals do what they are designed to do. The best thing is to make sure you keep them wiped off and clean regularly.

  3. nathan says:

    i concur, i’ve seen an older judy with stanchion boots that was stored indoors for a couple of year frozen in place from rust on the stanchion down by the bushings, apparently it collected inside the shock boot. too bad, they look like brilliant solution. maybe the hot set up would be to use boots but only have them snug at the top, leaving the bottom open to breathe. that way you wouldn’t get a lot of dusty airflow past the oily (and sticky) stanchions.

  4. Chris says:

    what about a tubless setup I have now with my crossmax xl’s should I keep it or through on some diffrent wheels like maybe some outlaws, with DH tubes?

  5. nathan says:

    wouldn’t tubeless be more fragile? i’d just bring dh tubes and a bunch of patches (the glued kind). (and maybe some stan’s and ust valves in case flats turn out to be no problem)

  6. albino rhino says:

    since nobody else has said it yet, thanks for helping protect our freedom to write on blogs like this, and prognosticate (sp?) about what will work for you best.

    That being said you may want to try what I use during the winter on my enduro. I took a large tube, like one in a wheelbarrow wheel, cut it and slid it over my shock on the rear. I then zip tied the whole thing on. It is so large it doesn’t interfere with anything and everything is pristine underneath. Just be wary of condensation as we know the desert gets cold at night,

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    Yes! Chris, thanks for fighting for truth, justice and the American way — which, IMO, includes pump tracks.

  8. Trevor says:

    Put stans into your tubes. I put some in each bicycle in my family (6 in total), and the only flat in 1 year has been a pinch flat I incurred while racing DH.

    Besides that, I would get some heavier duty tires and some DH tubes, and if you’re really worried about it, run pretty high pressure.

    But trust me, stans INSIDE OF TUBES is amazing.


    they don’t officially say to put it in tubes, but IT WORKS!!! Just make sure there’s no other sealant in there.

  9. Chris says:

    that sounds like a great idea about the stans in the tubes, how do I get it in there though? and It is my pleasure to protect and serve!!! and build pump tracks!!

  10. leelikesbikes says:

    Schraeder: Remove the valve core and squirt away.

    Presta: Seems like you can cut a tiny hole, insert Stans then patch the hole. BUT: When I try this the Stans keeps the glue from sticking.


    … Bueller?

  11. cj says:

    Hate to rain on your parade but pumptracks take a butload of water especially with sand. Build a couple of ramps and learn to backflip like the 77F (fuel specialist) did on the discovery channel. I would tell you to get a hardtail and get dj1 forks. they will work for just shy of eternity and run maxis holly roller 2.5’s. They are dual ply and wont hold you up with knobs, which you probably wont need anyway. Set the whole build up cheap and burly and piss on tubeless. You will just get stronger pushing dh tubes and slime. HOOAH

  12. Lianna says:

    Continental makes presta tubes with removable valve cores.
    Or I’ve been thinking…why not pump up your tube of choice, take a hypodermic needle (from your neighborhood heroin dealer or diabetic friend), and inject Stan’s? Pull out the needle, and the rubber should seal around it, unless you managed to core sample your tube, but hey, it’s full of Stan’s so you’re still good!
    May be a crazy idea, but I’m going to try it on my cyclocross commuter.

  13. Luc says:

    My experience from putting Stan in tubes:
    – the normal non-removable presta: take the syringe without needle, experiment with some rubber (parts from old mini bike pump will do) and inject Stan into tube
    – removable presta: same syringe without needle (sth like that: http://www.arcatapet.com/fullsize/2133.jpg ), just remove the valve core and pump it in. Schwalbe also makes tubes with removable core, but they’re ultralite XC thin, 95 grams

    However, I think DH tube is better idea for Iraq conditions and with auto valve you can still put some milk in it.

  14. Chris says:

    If I were to get some non-ust tires witn my ust rims and i put stans in the tires will it still work as tubeless? or do you have to only use UST tires for tubeless?( ive been wondering this for sometime now) with the crossmax XL wheel, they come standard with a presta valve with a shcrader adapter on them.

  15. leelikesbikes says:

    It isn’t as slick as UST, but it works for many tires.

    – The bead must be smooth. WTBs frequently have little ridges.

    – It helps to mount the tire with a tube first. Let the tire set to the rim, then pull the tube out.

  16. Trevor says:

    You get a plastic tube like that which comes with a bottle of slime and put one end on the bottle and the other on the tube.

    I’m telling you guys, stans in tubes is amazing. I got a pinch flat with the stuff and with an air compressor and about 10 minutes, it sealed. I have not had any other on trail flats in over a year with this system, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about pinches.

    Tis amazing stuff

  17. Jimbo says:

    What about a condom? I always thought a condom would work great as a fork and rear shock protector. I would have tried it myself but felt some of the girls I ride with would feel it was inappropriate. Oh the other hand going to a middle eastern country it might politically incorrect.

  18. Will says:

    I saw that this blog was talking about Maxxis Hookworms at some point and i just wanted to add that they are the best tyres i have ever ridden with. The main success point about these tyres is that I have never had a puncture with the hookworms, they are sturdy in the rain snow and sleet and i have proven then great on concret, tarmac, wood and dusty dirt. I recomend these to anyone and they look great, come and check them out on my bike; http://www.uksbest.net

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