Being new to this forum I don't know if you have discussed this or not, but I would like some advice. Is there any way to cut down on the amount of flats? Also, what is the best and fastest way to fix one. Every time I do the rear I look like I had a fight with a greasegun. Last night when I got done I had two cuts on my knee and a half hour of washing my hands.
Every lane is a bike lane
As far as preventing flatis is concerned, how old are your tires? If you're getting a lot of flats, chances are they may need to be replaced.
As far as fixing them goes, this just takes practice, although it's unlikely that you'll ever be able to keep your hands clean doing it, you will get faster with practice.
I know a guy who keeps a pair (or 2) of surgical gloves in his seat bag so he can change a tire or do chain maintence without getting greesy.
I've been lucky enough to not have any flat tires while commuting yet. But it's just a matter of time I assume.
Well I was having the same trouble I kept getting flat tires, a lot of them was caused by goat-heads and other sharp items. I went to a bike shop and asked a guy if there was anything to do and he sould me this tire liner you put between your tube and your tire and it wont let things poke in so easly. I also got some new tubes and so far I haven't had any more flats
Thanks for the advice. Liners sound like a good idea. My tires are new as well as my tubes, but there's just so much glass on the road that a person can't advoid. A friend of mine once got a drill bit stuck in his tire. Meant a new tube & tire.
doug, you might also check out tires lined with kevlar or other super-human material to avoid flats
Don't forget slime. If you have slime in your tubes, sometimes you won't even notice a small puncture at all.
"Wipe off" your tires after going through glass and at regular intervals while riding, this really helps.Just reach down with your hand/fingers to do it, but be sure to hook your thumb or little finger in the seat stays or you could jam your hand between the wheel and seat tube and crash. A local mechanic or racer would show you how, I'm sure. You can use the sides of your feet as well.
Tire liners do help, but I have seen quite few that actually caused flats at their edges.
Inspecting the cuts in you tires during breaks or before/after rides for imbedded glass particles before they work through the tire into the tube is a good idea too. Probing the cuts with a sharp instrument like a knife or pin helps both find and remove the particles.
Slime works well, but there is some latex-like stuff out by Tufo, ("sew up" makers), that seems to work better and has less volume and weight.
If worse comes to worse-
Always carry a spare tube, it's a lot faster, cleaner, easier, etc., to fix flats at home. Carry a spare, (folding), tire- you will rarely need it, but when you do you really do!
What's causing your flats?
Flat tires have a lot of causes. What is the road like that you commute on? And what kind of bike and tires are you using? I assume you are on a road bike of some kind.
Short answer: you should use the fattest kevlar belted tire that will fit on your bike.
One of the most common causes of flats on road-bike tires (say, sizes 700x23 - 700x28) are pinch flats. These happen when you run over a pothole or a rock and it pinches the tube against the rim. The best prevention for this type of flat (other than avoiding obstacles) is to keep the tire pumped up to the max inflation. For commuting, I use a tire that has a built-in kevlar belt... Specialized Armadillos (size 700x26). I don't like them much for pleasure riding, but for commuting they wear (and ride) like iron. Alternatively, I use fatter tires. Specifically, Continental Top Touring 700x32 or 700x35's. These are fun tires, with a lively ride and a lot of bounce, but being bigger there is more rolling resistance and I go slower. Be advised that a tire this fat won't fit on road bikes, unless they have cantilever or v-brakes.
Newtbob gives good advice to try to find the source of your flats.
You mention that your route has a lot of broken glass and debri. You could contact your City Roads and Transportation department and see if they will clean the debri. Being nice usually works better than being crabby.
OK, now for a practical answer: in the '60's and '70's you could buy tire scrapers. You don't see these much any more, but they were a wire-like device that mounted on the frame near the brake mountings and formed a contour over the surface of your tire.
The idea was that any debri that embeded in your tire would get scraped off before it went around with your tire twice, thus preventing a flat. The fact that you don't see them much any more may be a signal that they didn't work well. I never had a big problem with frequent flats, so I never used them.
You can get heavy duty tubes. I got some at Sears. No problems yet. Of course, liners, slime, heavy duty tubes, all add weight to your tires and that is the worst place on the bike to have added weight from an energy use - acceleration standpoint.
[Edited by mike on Feb 12th at 11:18 PM]
Tuffy tire liners
I have had Tuffy tire liners in my tires for about 700 miles now. No flats after several in quick succession. I have heard that the edges can actually rub a hole in the tube. According to the bike shop where I got them this is usually caused by the rough/sharp edges and corners where the ends were trimmed to length. The lady at the shop whipped out a lighter and heated the sharp corners and edges just enough to soften and smoothe off the sharp areas - just at the ends as the edges of the sides are smooth. Seems to have worked so far though a few hundred miles may not be a really extensive test.
I've combined strategies:
First, I run kevlar-belted (not beaded) tires. These are available from numerous suppliers, and I use the Performance ST-K in 700X35 size on my hybrid. These are tough tires, with an inverted tread... think sport motorbike. The kevlar belt makes the tread surface very thick, like having liners under them.
I run these tires at 85psi. Rather hard for best traction in the wet, but it makes them unlikely to pinch flat. They aren't so good off road, but my commute is nearly all paved, and they're acceptable on gravel fire roads, as long as I'm careful with my line.
Next, I drilled out the stem holes on my bike's rims to accept american valves... Schraeder style. This way, I can easily get Slime into the tubes and still have the valves work properly. (If you don't already know, Slime doesn't work very well in Presta tubes... once the gook seals the valve apertures, you can't get air INTO them!)
Slime is wonderful stuff.. half a bottle into each tube, and sudden flats are a thing of the past, unless you get impaled on a big nail or drill bit, that is. Most of the time, you won't know you've had a puncture until the next day. If the tube is not repairable, you can cut it in half and squeeze out the Slime, pour it back into its applicator bottle, and use it again!
Finally, I have a good Mt. Zefal Double Shot frame pump, (excellent dog-whacker, that) a patch kit, a big plastic tire tool, plus a spare tube wrapped up in a long bit of electrical tape.
If you carry a patch kit, make sure you replace it every so often, and buy a new one if you ever open the glue... it will dry out, no matter how carefully you seal it. Glueless patches... don't work.
self repairing tubes
I was at K-Mart yesterday and noticed they were selling self-repairing bicycle inner-tubes. They were around $5.00 per tube.
They were definately thicker than a normal tube and slightly heavier. It seems they have some gel already in them.
I have never tried these tubes, but they might be something worth trying.
Riding in Cyprus makes you an expert on flats! Bad bad roads and spiky plant things...
Touch wood, I have not yet had a flat but see/experience friend and family difficulties with flats every week. Keeping the Tyre pressure up helps no end and continually check the state of the tyre prior to departure for cuts etc is a decent precaution.
My main reason for replying however is...
The best gadget I ever saw and subsequently bought is a "Speed Lever" sold in UK. It is a single tyre lever that once under the edge of the tyre extends telescopically and clips onto the wheel axle, spin it 360 and hey presto, tyre off!
The best bit though is that you then clip it onto the rim when the tube is fixed, spin 360 and tyre back on.
On average a change now takes less than 5 minutes and no dirty hands, sore knees and skinned knuckles.
A little old guy in our village makes a living out of fixing flats at $2 a time - it keeps your hands clean and he always has a line of bikes at the hut waiting for attention.
I saw the enemy and he was me!
A long long time ago...
I went through a stage of getting a lot of flats until a friend suggested that I should partially inflate the tube before putting it in the tire. Putting it in flat and then inflating can result in a pinched tube which will inevitably puncture. Another common cause of flats is insufficient tire pressure allowing the rim to bottom out and pinch a hole in the tube.
Sumanitu taka owaci
About flats: lots of great ideas; someone told me once to "stay out of the debris", and it worked. Add that.
dark and cynical
I recently put liners in my tires (+ slime inner tubes) and their survived a couple of goat-heads which normally trash my tires.
Sumanitu taka owaci
This is not really so much about flats, but here it is anyway.
I just replaced my 700x40 "comfort" tires with 700x28 Continental Sports a couple of days ago. Wow! What a difference! People had told me I would experience easier pedalling due to the lowered resistance, but I was shocked at just how much difference. Oh, I installed Tuffy liners, too. I guess that is the connection to this flats thread. I had the bike up on my work stand to take the tires off. Next morning I did not realize I had left the chain on the small rear cog instead of the big one. I didn't even realize it for several blocks. I just thought my legs were a little tired! Now I did have just a slight tail wind, but mostly it was just the tires. Believe me, I would have immediately noticed with the wider tires. And the ride feels better to me, even on the harder tires(120 psi vs 85) and more controlled. I notice I can feel little things like relatively smooth seems between bricks, but larger bumps don't seem any more pronounced. I like the better feel. Not uncomfortable at all.
Sumanitu taka owaci
That's really neat, Rain. I know this doesn't go here as a post, but talkin' 'bout easier riding, I was looking at some aerobars today, just thinking...
More on that another time, another place.
I find that kevlar protection and low rolling resistance rarely seem to go together in a tyre. Maybe the extra protection makes the tyre a little less supple although id be interested in what others think.
I think that the best puncture cure is simply to keep the pressure up high and carry a spare tube and a pack of those self adhesive patches (Park super-patch are exellent).
Finally, take good care of the valve, especially the edge of the hole in the rim and use a decent rim tape
and keep tightening up the valve ring-thing ( I dont want to know what its called!) as you inflate the tyre.
I am off on a 3 day round Cyprus charity cycle event organised through work, on work time, still paid - tomorrow. Tough but some-one must do it
High Temperatures, high mileage, rough roads etc. I am particularly looking forward to the 30mile down the Troodos Mountain swoop - my current speed record is 56mph so I am praying for no blowout.
I have found recently, now that the weather is warmer that the stick on patches I use, called "Leaches" are not cutting the mustard. Under high pressure they are simply splitting at the hole you are repairing. Avoid for fixing but excellent to help if there are signs of wear from spokes etc.
I have since changed to ''Scabs'' for fast on the road repairs which, so far have proved excellent.
I will let you all know how the tubes fair! High pressure is definitely the way ahead though.
dark and cynical
Out of interest, has there been any modern attempt to design wheel with something else than pneumatic tire? Like solid extra thin wheels, or water filled wheels or whatever. It seems that the technology is so old, it makes me wonder.
Sumanitu taka owaci
Yes, there have been some attempts to return to solid "airless" tires, with poor results (not recommended). Air
still seems to work best. Papetee, if anyone comes up with a really good flat-proof tire, he'll get as rich as Michelin
and Dunlop did selling pneumatic tires.
Good thread. Solid tires can break spokes mostly because they don't absorb bumps so well. My wife set me up with solids without warning. Before I trashed them I had gone thru 3 wheels and had lost five spokes on a single ride. Tubeless tires are coming in, don't know much about them. Yes, added tire protection adds weight to the perimeter of the wheel, the worst place. Needs energy for both linear and rotary acceleration.
Once moving though is less of a problem. Schwalbe tires has some interesting approaches to flat problems as, I expect, do other tire companies. The strangest I have seen were utility tires for messenger bikes used in places like steel mills and glass factories. Tire rubber on a 700x? tire was something like a half inch thick or more.