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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 12-02-08, 02:00 PM   #1
Torellian
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Fix flat with duct tape?

I just got a "slow leak" flat on my Specialized Hardrock. In the past, I've always taken my bike to the shop and had someone there take care of it. I've always been afraid I'd do it wrong. But now I'd like to try it myself. Now the cost of innertubes have gone up considerably, so I'm thinking of patching it instead. Would duct tape work? It seems like it would be strong enough, but I'd hate to try it, only to be caught miles from home with a flat. But would it work?
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Old 12-02-08, 02:02 PM   #2
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would you dress your cut with duck tape? NO? then don't try using it on your tubes... local bike shop has patch kits for a few bucks...
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Old 12-02-08, 02:22 PM   #3
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Patching a tube is easy. Get a patch kit, follow the directions.

Do not fix a flat with duct tape.
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Old 12-02-08, 02:37 PM   #4
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I thought duct tape fixed everything on this planet.
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Old 12-02-08, 02:39 PM   #5
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best left

That seems like the type of thing that's best left for emergencies. When you're 15 miles from the road and you've already blown all the inner tubes you have on you, then try duct tape. Until then, buy a bunch of inner tubes to keep at home, and a few good patch kits.

It's my preference to carry a tube with me on the road. It's easier than trying to path by the side of the road. Bring home the dead tube and patch it there.
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Old 12-02-08, 02:42 PM   #6
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You can get patch kits on ebay for the price of Starbux coffee
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Old 12-02-08, 02:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by inefekt View Post
would you dress your cut with duck tape?
Actually, yes I would. And yes I have. I keep a few wraps of duct tape around my pumps. Mostly I've used it to boot damaged tires. Did use it to once to hold a deep cut closed; cut it with a knife to make a butterfly bandage. Never repaired a tube puncture. If I was out of tubes and regular patches I'd give it a try.
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Old 12-02-08, 03:21 PM   #8
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One can do it with duct tape. I've seen it done.
But just to get home, normal patch kits work great, and last as long as the tube. And they are cheap, and smaller, and lighter, than carrying a roll of duct tape.
I think the duct tape will start to leak eventually. A properly done tire patch will never leak.
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Old 12-02-08, 03:25 PM   #9
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i've always been afraid i'd do it wrong.
+1?
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Old 12-02-08, 04:09 PM   #10
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would you dress your cut with duck tape?
Yes! Super glue can work wonders as well.
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Old 12-02-08, 05:09 PM   #11
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Duct tape is like the pre-glued patches you can buy. It works pretty well for a while in lower PSI tires (>60) but can't handle higher pressure.
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Old 12-02-08, 05:19 PM   #12
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I would also recommend changing it as soon as you get home. You can't trust anything except for a real, good-old-fashioned glue-on patch.
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Old 12-02-08, 05:26 PM   #13
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And always remember: It says on the instructions - Let the glue dry. Do this for certain. It's a main cause of patches failing to hold.
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Old 12-02-08, 06:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
I thought duct tape fixed everything on this planet.
yes, duct tape, chicken wire and a pair of vise-grip

Last edited by bikeaday; 12-02-08 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 12-02-08, 07:48 PM   #15
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Duct tape is like the Force:

It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the Universe together.

Geez, I crack myself up...

Seriously, though - get a patch kit. Patching a tube is a very simple procedure.
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Old 12-02-08, 07:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inefekt View Post
would you dress your cut with duck tape? NO? then don't try using it on your tubes... local bike shop has patch kits for a few bucks...
I wouldn't dress my cut with an inner tube patch either!
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Old 12-02-08, 08:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
I thought duct tape fixed everything on this planet.
You're half right.

If it moves and it's not supposed to, wrap it with duct tape.

If it doesn't move and it's supposed to, spray it with WD-40.
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Old 12-02-08, 08:48 PM   #18
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I thought duct tape fixed everything on this planet.
It does, but you need bailing wire along with it. You'll regret using duct tape to fix ur slow leak. Trust me ;-)
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Old 12-02-08, 09:41 PM   #19
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I thought duct tape fixed everything on this planet.
that would be duck tape
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Old 12-02-08, 09:52 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
And always remember: It says on the instructions - Let the glue dry. Do this for certain. It's a main cause of patches failing to hold.
right on that. one thing not included in most instructions is to clean area to which patch is to be applied. i like to use g'pa's hooch, a.k.a. isopropyl alcohol. once you do that, rough area with sandpaper, then apply vulcanizing fluid, let dry, remove patch from its backing and apply.

if you don't want to spend any money, you can do a hot patch. i've seen it done on motorcycle innertubes when i used to live in bangladesh. i think it involves using heat instead of chemicals to vulcanize the rubber.
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Old 12-03-08, 08:14 AM   #21
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IMO, duct tape is the most worthless substance known to man. All it ever does is make a sticky mess.

I should qualify that a bit. Now, if you want to keep a little with you for EMERGENCIES ONLY, then I had a friend in college who would wrap a good bit around a lighter when we went hiking in Kentucky. You get a mini roll of duct tape and a lighter all in one. Duct tape will hold stuff for a little, but if it gets hot/cold/wet etc. the adhesive tends to start breaking down into a mess. IMO, it's better to keep a folding tool kit and patch kit with you on the road than a roll of duct tape.
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Old 12-03-08, 08:22 AM   #22
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Hey, I've used duct tape to fix a flat in a pinch. I was riding once and didn't have a spare tube with me (thought it was in my bike bag, but wasn't). Anyway, the hole was right around where the valve goes into the tube. I had to get home and didn't have time to go over to an LBS. So, I used some duct tape I had in my pack (always carry it with me) and was able to patch the hole up enough so that it held air until I got home. I don't think duct tape is a good patch for long-term use, but it works well in a pinch and is faster than using a patch kit. I do, however, carry a patch kit with me now. Duct tape is also good a wide variety of other "on the fly" bike repairs, such as holding cables in place, patching up gear, or just about anything else you can think of.
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Old 12-03-08, 09:38 AM   #23
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While I wouldn't hesitate to use duct tape in an emergency, I would use a patch kit for a permanent repair.

Rubber, including most patches, has some stretch to it, duct tape does not. I can tear duct tape, I can't tear a tube patch...

But frankly, if it seals a slow leak for a while, it is better than nothing... If the budget is tight, then the few minutes to replace it every few weeks or months may be worth your time. If you do it, let us know the long term results.

If you do it, I would suggest experimenting with the size to get the best balance of adhesion... also possibly pre-stretching the tube as you apply the tape, and ensuring the surface is very clean.
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Old 12-03-08, 04:44 PM   #24
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duct tape has worked for me in an emergency to get home, but still went flat, but just not as fast.
some things you don't wanna do to a bike:

1. duct tape as a permanent tire repair solution.
2. using a piece of steel plumbing pipe as a seat post. (guilty of this one myself in a fix)
3. use shifter cables as brake cables. they are thinner and not as strong.
4. pack a s.a. igh hub with grease when it calls for oil.
5. ride a bike with a cracked front fork (OR FRAME)
6. run a multigeared cluster on your rear wheel as a single speed without any derailleur or tensioner when they make single cog freewheels (and if you call it a fixie, i smack you)
7. use duct tape for handgrips.

we have all seen #6 and #7 and its time for that to just stop. i did #2 with alot of extra pipe in the seattube and believe it or not, sized perfectly with no freeplay and not too tightly as i could ever get out. if only bikes came with seat posts long enough for people 6'3".
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Old 12-03-08, 06:13 PM   #25
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It might work. Why don't you try it and let us know

As others have said and done, I'd use it only in an emergency. Otherwise a new tube or a real patch kit (I've had mixed results with those "glueless patches").
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