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Old 09-25-11, 02:49 PM   #1
TacomaSailor
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Eleven Flats in 220 miles - New tires/New Tubes - Still more flats - HELP!!

I started a semi-humorous thread a couple weeks ago about the sudden appearance of the road flat demon. After SIX more flats it is no longer funny and I am at a complete loss as to what to do

Mavic Aksium Wheels 105 – 110 psi – I weigh 210 – 215 pounds. I ride mostly in rural or semi-rural roads in Puget Sound – about ¼ of the time I am on city streets trying to escape to the country.

Chip Seal is the most common road surface.

I have had a total of 11 rear wheel flats in the last six rides covering 220 miles.

The bad string of flats started when I had three rear flats in 10 miles – all sudden, violent blowouts. After each one I installed a new tube. I do carefully check the tire, inside and out, for anything that could puncture the tube. I also run my finger around the wheel liner and rim.

I had another flat 32 miles into the next ride on a NEW tube. I put in another new tube after cleaning the inside of the tire, wheel. Rode another 31 miles with good tire pressure. Next day tire was flat. No sign of bubbles while squeezing the inflated tube in a sink of water. It did appear the valve had a very slight leak around the stem – maybe I had not tightened the stem enough???

Reinflated the tire and verified the valve stem was not leaking – no bubbles when submerging tire/wheel @110psi in the sink. Went for a ride.

Slow flat at 20 miles – could not find a leak in tube while on side of road. Put a new tube in. Rode another 20 miles with good tire pressure.

Next ride – same problem the new tube went soft after 15 miles – could not find a leak while on road. Put in a new tube. Put the flat tube in sink of water and found a TINY leak when squeezing that section of tube. Stops leaking at 20 psi.

Took the tire and liner off the wheel and cleaned everything very carefully.

Checked the entire wheel for burrs or sharp spots and made sure no nipple had a burr or was pushing on the tube.

I washed the wheel and the liner and reinstalled the liner.

I installed NEW Continental tubes and went for a ride. Suffered another slow flat within 20 miles. Same symptoms – no leak visible.

Took the tire and liner off the wheel and cleaned everything very carefully.

Checked (AGAIN – third time in 2 weeks) the entire wheel for burrs or sharp spots and made sure no nipple had a burr or was pushing on the tube.

I washed the wheel and the liner and reinstalled the liner.

I installed NEW Continental Gatorskin (700x23) tires and new 75g tubes.

During the next 66 miles of riding I had THREE (3!!) more slow flats. Tire goes down to ~20 psi – I can’t find the leak on the road – put in NEW tube and within 20 miles the problem repeats itself. The tire still looks perfect – not a mark on it – the inside looks spotless – I run my delicate finger over every surface and find nothing that could be puncturing the tube.

The only ODD thing (other than all the flats) is that the last five slow flats have occurred shortly after riding around a tight turn at good speed. Within ¼ mile I feel the rear tire start to get squishy.

EVERY puncture hole I do find (at least three times I have found no hole – even in sink full of water) is in the side of the tube about 3/8 of the way down from the tread surface to the bead.

I have no idea what to do next – riding is no longer any fun when I have to repair flats every hour. I do check tire pressure before every ride.

11 flats – NEW Tubes (3 brands – 2 weights) – New tire – careful inspection & cleaning – just keeps flating

Any ideas?

Last edited by TacomaSailor; 09-25-11 at 02:55 PM. Reason: spelling - clarity
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Old 09-25-11, 03:05 PM   #2
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Mavic Aksium wheel was chosen for it's racy lightness , I presume..

I'm so on the other end scale [pun?] with 406-47 wide schwalbe marathon plus tires.

they are not light, except for the fact that they are 20" wheels
no flats in years.. one on my 26" wheel bike a few years back..
B.F.10p Nail was the Obvious cause.

got clearance in your frame for beefier tires on the rims?

Belted with aramid or kevlar, ?

Continental is showing a version in ads,
of The marathon plus feature in their tires ,
a polymer like Mr Tuffys between the tread and the casing..
but unlike Mr Tuffys , there is no overlap on the end, of a strip
that wears on the tube with every rotation.

and don't forget the talc when you have the tire off,...

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Old 09-25-11, 03:10 PM   #3
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Wow, quite the adventure.


Some items to help diagnose:

1) align the tube valve to the tire label, like position the tire so the "t" in continental is at the valve stem. This fixes the relationship between the wheel, tire and tube - so you can see if the problem is in the same spot.

2) are you mounting the tire with levers? If so, you might be pinching the tube with the levers. To check, always use the levers in the same area, such as 180 degree away from the valve stem. This could help verify if the levers are the issue. Or better yet, try mounting the tires without levers.

3) blowouts could be caused by improperly seated tire beads. When you start airing up the tires, say 40 psi, spin the wheel and observe the "beadline" (where bead mounts to tire), it should be even around the tire. An improperly seated tire will have a blip in the offending area.



I'm sure I missed some so others will post suggestions too.
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Old 09-25-11, 04:40 PM   #4
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I am very careful NOT to use tire levers to mount the tire. 20+ years ago, and hundreds of flats, I learned to never use a tire lever - AFTER blowing out a couple tubes with tire lever pinches.

After I mount the tire I inflate the tube to 40 pounds and bounce the wheel around it's perimeter and verify I have not pinched the tube between the tire and the bead. I then let out about 20 pounds air and visually ensure I have not pinched the tube.

I then inflate the tire to 105 psi and again verify I have a good bead all the way around.

The holes I can find all seem to be in the same GENERAL area of the wheel. I have inspected and reinspected that area of the rim and liner but it all seems smooth and clean. I can not see or feel any nicks, scratches, burrs or anything else that might puncture the tube. I suspect there is something on the wheel causing the problem but I can not figure out what it might be.

I had ridden over 3000 miles on the Aksium wheels with Continental UltraSport tires with only a couple flats. Then this problem started, I had five flats with the UltraSports and switched over to the heavier GatorSkins which seemed to make the problem worse.

Prior to this spell of flats - I had not had a rear tire flat in 1000 miles.

HELP - I'm desperate. I've been riding fairly seriously for 40+ years and have never gone thru a spell of flats like this.
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Old 09-25-11, 05:07 PM   #5
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Take a cotton ball and run it inside the tire and the rim , if the cotton get hang up on something then you found your problem .
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Old 09-25-11, 05:09 PM   #6
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Let's separate some wheat from chafe.

Blowouts and punctures/slow leaks are unrelated, and have totally different causes, so let's discount the blowouts since that seems to have ended.

Also the location of the punctures toward the outside of the tube pretty much rules out rim issues.

So you're left with a mounting problem, a tire related source of puncture, a kind of snake bite pinch (more common in mtb than road, but not impossible, or amazingly bad karma.

The tire is easiest to eliminate, wither mount the tire with a good reference lined up at the valve, or use a dry marker to make your own reference. Also mark one side of the valve so you know right from left. Next time pull the tube, inflate it up to twice it's diameter and find the leak, line it back up with the tire, and make some kind of mark on the tire where the source should be.

Now roll the tire between your fingers to open up the tread in that area, and odds are you find a tiny piece of glass embedded there, and "woodpeckering" your tube as you ride.

I've had multiple incidents with tiny glass shards which couldn't be felt from the inside, but were still in the tread and only found when I rolled the tire in my fingers. Often I also find other small shards (city commuting) so now my tires get the long search (if I have the time) every time I fix a flat.

If you don't find the cause than a key clue is whether the flats are in the same place or random (why you marked the tire). Same place means you didn't look hard enough, random means bad karma or snake bites, which can only be cured with wider section tires.

Lastly, if the flats re-occur in the same place, re-orient the tire 90 degrees with respect to the rim. If the puncture moves with the tire, it's the tire, if it stays in the same place, it's the rim after all.
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Old 09-25-11, 05:56 PM   #7
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Tacomasailor: FBinNY has outlined a good course of action. I might add that when examining the inner surface of the tire you might try turning it inside-out. This will place the inner surface under tension and help to open up any small holes where sharp objects might be hiding.
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Old 09-25-11, 06:08 PM   #8
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So after you installed the new tires, you're still getting punctures in the same place?
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Old 09-25-11, 06:14 PM   #9
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I had a couple of pieces of very fine wire embedded in different places in a tire that caused successive slow leaks before I found them by turning the tire inside out and using a magnifying glass under a strong light. These were much finer than the typical fragments of wire shed from worn steel belted car/truck tires that often are the cause of flats.
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Old 09-25-11, 06:32 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice - I'll try the cotton ball

I've had the tire off twice - turned inside out and examined in minute detail. The tire is a slick with no tread. I have looked at every mm of the outside and inside and can't find a mark, hole, or defect in tire. I have run my finger over the inside of the tire, both normal and turned inside out and can feel nothing - after each flat.

I've rotated the tire after every flat and the holes, that I can find, don't move with the tire so I'm guessing it is a wheel/rim problem. But the holes seem to be well above the level of the rim.

What other kind of rim or wheel defect could I look for if the cotton ball doesn't find the problem?. I have lightly burnished the bead area on the inside of the wheel with emory paper and it feel really smooth and polished.

I guess I can move my new tube/tire to the old wheel and try riding with it for a while.

Thanks for the advice - I'll try all your suggestions - even if I've tried them before.
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Old 09-25-11, 06:45 PM   #11
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Where on the tube are the punctures?

If they're on top, something has penetrated the tire from the outside.
If they're at the bead it's a trapped section of tube or a pinch flat.
If it's in the rim well it's a rim tape or other issue.

All of these will help you narrow down the source of your woes.

Bonus tip: Cut the toe off a tube sock and keep your spare tube wrapped up in it. This keeps tools and other objects from puncturing the tube inside the bag, gives you a nice rag to slip over your hand for dealing with a grimy drivetrain, and turned loopy side out makes a nice tool to drag around the rim and tire to find embedded objects without cutting your fingers. Like the cotton ball, it will snag on objects your eye will miss.
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Old 09-25-11, 07:06 PM   #12
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Check the rim tape. My wife bought a new bike with Aksium wheels last year. She had a couple of flats. I never found anything in the tires and the spoke heads were covered. I finally took a close look at the rim tape and found that the tape was folded over on itself. I removed the rim tape and re-installed it. Then I heated the rim tape with a heat gun and burnished it with a metal tire lever. Not a single flat since then.

Next time she has a flat, I'll replace it with Velox rim tape.
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Old 09-25-11, 07:59 PM   #13
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Could THIS be the answer - broken bead fiber sticking thru tire carcass?

I mounted each of the last seven tubes that went flat on the wheel - the holes are all around the wheel - There are 20 spokes so if I start counting spokes at the valve hole there are holes at spoke position: 1.25 2.0 3.0 6.0 6.75 9.25 9.75

Six of the seven holes are closer to the bead than the tread. Only one hole is on the tread side of the tube

As suggested by several astute respondents - I ran a cotton ball around the wheel and snagged nothing.

However, running a nice clean cotton ball inside the tire - the cotton ball disintegrated.

There is a stiff-pointy-sharp piece of fiber or metal sticking out from the bead. It feels like the bead is partially broken and part of the bead material is sticking thru the tire carcass into the tube area.

The sharp fiber is only noticeable if I flex the tire sideways right at the break in the bead. It is stiff and sharp enough to cut my finger so I'm sure it can puncture the tube.

Does it seem possible/probable that the bead fiber is the cause of the problems?

It was a BRAND NEW Continental tube when I mounted it 66+ miles ago. The small holes in the tube side started appearing 25 miles later and I've had five since then.

Is a broken bead something a good shop would warranty?
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Old 09-25-11, 08:07 PM   #14
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This broken bead is on the Gatorskin tires?
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Old 09-25-11, 08:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
Six of the seven holes are closer to the bead than the tread. Only one hole is on the tread side of the tube

There is a stiff-pointy-sharp piece of fiber or metal sticking out from the bead. It feels like the bead is partially broken and part of the bead material is sticking thru the tire carcass into the tube area.
It is stiff and sharp enough to cut my finger so I'm sure it can puncture the tube.

Does it seem possible/probable that the bead fiber is the cause of the problems?

Is a broken bead something a good shop would warranty?
Dang, looks like we have a winner! This correlates with your earlier statement about the punctures occurring on the side of the tube, 3/8 of the way from the tread. Good detective work and record keeping.

The only way to know if it is the protruding bead wire is to give the tire to a friend (without mentioning the protrusion in order to conduct an objective experiment) and see if the problem follows the tire. Then when your friend complains, mumble something about getting what they paid for.

Seriously, the shop should give you a new one without charge. You probably won't get a reimbursement for tubes or patches.

I will remember this if punctures show on the side of the tube.
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Old 09-25-11, 08:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
I mounted each of the last seven tubes that went flat on the wheel - the holes are all around the wheel - There are 20 spokes so if I start counting spokes at the valve hole there are holes at spoke position: 1.25 2.0 3.0 6.0 6.75 9.25 9.75
OK. Now you're getting past the frustration and finally starting to think. This pretty much eliminates the rim, and (assuming you didn't methodically orient the tire) leaves the tire as the prime suspect. Especially because you also found supporting evidence in the bead.


Quote:
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Is a broken bead something a good shop would warranty?
I doubt it after all this time. What you might do us wrap a small piece of cloth duct tape over the bead and up the sides about 1/2" on the inside, and just beyond the rim on the outside. That's probably enough to save this tire until it dies a natural death.
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Old 09-25-11, 10:02 PM   #17
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Possibly a new stretch of chip seal road you're traveling was installed with too large or aggressive style of aggregate and therefore is a little tougher on the tires. You could back off on the 105 psi a little and also see if it's the same turn each time, or the same new stretch of paving. Most DOT's don't control the aggregate size and type as stringently as they should.
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Old 09-25-11, 10:56 PM   #18
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Picture of suspected problem



The inside of the tire showing the broken bead

The tire was brand new when I first installed it - the first flat occurred within 25 miles - there have been four more since then

Thanks for all the help - I will see if I can exchange the tire at the LBS and if that does not work I will try the idea of gorilla tape over the break
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Old 09-25-11, 11:53 PM   #19
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I think you've "nailed" the problem. That's a vicious one.

I've had a similar sort of problem twice (in 40 years of riding): get a flat, replace the tube, examine the tire carefully by eye and thumb, reinstall. Get another flat 40 or 50 miles later. Frustrating. What I've found is very small tire cuts will puncture the tube the first time, but the hole in the tire is too small to see. When the new tube is installed, it pushes out just enough that the tube is protruding through the tire, but still holds pressure. It wears on the ground and after a few miles wears through. Tough to diagnose unless you recognize the wear pattern on the tube.
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Old 09-26-11, 12:20 AM   #20
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That is probably it, hope to hear a good outcome. I gotta ask, is that a thumb or toe, and what did you do to it?
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Old 09-26-11, 09:44 AM   #21
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Several of my fingernails look that way

In the VERY OLD days I flew model airplanes with large glow plug motors. Back then hand proping was the only way to start them. A few backfires or reverse starts knocked bits off my fingers and thumbs - the injuries were deep enough that the nails never grew back as original.

OR - it could have been the time I climbing over a chainlink fence (why??? - don't remember) and drove the cutoff top of the fence under the thumb nail - again didn't heal properly

Back then - I was one of those idiots (today I am a different kind of idiot) that had no respect for his body and would abuse it with no regard for the future. 40+ years later I am "enjoying" the benefits of all that abuse. Wish I knew then what I do now!
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Old 09-26-11, 10:13 AM   #22
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Honestly, while I'm glad you've finally located the problem, I would
be tempted to categorize this one under the rubric of bad Karma.

Really good thread, though. Thanks to all contributors, especially OP,
because he seems to have genuinely suffered in order that I might learn.

The quote's from Mark Twain.
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