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Line Up Your Hot Patch

By Brad Quartuccio

Purists get worked up over the small touches, like lining up the tire label with the valve stem when mounting a tire to the rim. From a performance standpoint it makes no difference where the label sits assuming the tire is mounted in the correct rotational direction. There are however reasons beyond aesthetic concerns to get into the habit of lining up the tire’s colored “hot patch” label with the valve.

Most importantly, placing the label at the valve makes inspecting a tire for a still-hidden piece of glass or wire that caused a puncture that much easier—just look at the tube and line it up. This can save future flat tires from hard to find embedded items, allowing a more thorough search over a smaller area. The label can also help determine rotational direction of the tire, manufacturer’s convention is that if the label is only on one side of the tire, the label should face the driveside.

But back to those aesthetic concerns—the alignment of label and valve just looks right, and can be a sign of a rider, mechanic or even shop that pays attention to the details. While this detail is hardly life or death, it shows an attentiveness that likely extends to ones that are, like your stem bolts for instance. Eventually it becomes habit, and that’s precisely when you know that you’ve changed a lot of bicycle tires.