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Flat with no puncture? WTF!?!?! please help

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Flat with no puncture? WTF!?!?! please help

Old 04-16-10, 09:35 PM
  #1  
RoadJerk
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Flat with no puncture? WTF!?!?! please help

So ive gone through about 3 tubes in the last week. I have a 700c continental Gatorskin tire on a Ritchie Aero OCR rim. This is the rear wheel. The tube is a generic 700x19-23.

There are no punctures or damages on the tire, inside or out. The other day I got a snakebite, probably due to underinflation. I replaced the tube today, carefully, inflated to proper pressure, and rode around for a couple hours. Everything was fine, I kept glancing at the tire to make sure there was no immediate leakage, everything seemed perfectly fine. I didn't hit anything, no glass, no potholes, no bumps. After I got off the bike I fingered the tire, and it felt like no air had escaped at all.

After I'm done riding, I leave the bike in my room for about an hour, and when I come back, the rear tire is flat again. I take off the tire, take out the tube, and - what? I dont see anything. I pump up the tube until it is as fat as a donut, I dont hear anything, I dont see anything. I was going to put the tube underwater to see if theres a leak, but then my ****ing pump broke

I have thoroughly checked the tire and the rim. The tire is fine, the rim is fine, the rim tape is fine, both are clean on the inside, theres no debris or dirt, they are ****ing SPOTLESS.

WTF is going on here? I know the tube must be punctured somewhere, although with a very, very, very small hole. I'm tired of buying new tubes. Am I using the wrong size tube? somebody tell me what I'm doing wrong.
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Old 04-16-10, 09:38 PM
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like you said, you have a very, very small hole.

the other option would be that your stem is screwed up, but highly unlikely since it is brand new.

my guess is you have something like a staple in your tire that punctured your old tube and is puncturing this one. you need to carefully search your tire (match up the tube hole to your tire).
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Old 04-16-10, 09:40 PM
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I've had some mysterious flats over the years, just keep analyzing is my best advice. Might also check the area around the valve for when it's stressed a bit, might not be evident when just inflating outside of the tire (i.e. sharp edges around the valve cutout of the rim). I've had some stuff stuck in the tire where it just wasn't visible or felt with fingers until turned inside out and stressed. You could also try a different tire with the same tube, and similar combinations to narrow it down. Good luck.
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Old 04-16-10, 09:40 PM
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Found two flats last week caused by steel belted radial wires
We had to turn the tire inside out to find the wires.

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Last edited by 10 Wheels; 04-17-10 at 07:30 PM. Reason: pic
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Old 04-16-10, 09:41 PM
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Patch your tubes. You don't need new ones.
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Old 04-16-10, 09:42 PM
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try running a cotton ball on the inside of the tire
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Old 04-16-10, 09:48 PM
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You'll need to put it under water and carefully check for leaks.
This week I had a tire go flat overnight after a ride. At first I could not find a leak or a cause for a leak. Under water I found a VERY small hole with air bubbles occasionally leaving the tube. I index my tires to the valve stem so I was able to compare the tube hole with two possible locations on the tire. After much digging with a finger nail I found a goathead spine about the size of the end of a straight pin. It had broken off in the tire. The hole in the tube was so small that by inserting a straight pin the tube would hold air with no air bubbles. After a very thorough search I found another goathead in the tire at a different location that had not yet punctured the tube.
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Old 04-17-10, 09:43 AM
  #8  
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Mix up a cup of soapy water, like you'd use for blowing bubbles.

Pull the tube out of the tire but keep the valve in the rim and one bead of the tire on the rim. That keeps everything lined up so it's easier to find what's making the hole.

Pump the tube up fat and run it through the soapy water. Somewhere, you will find a very small hole.

Line the hole back up with the tire and feel for the problem. (Looking might help, but might not. I find it's usually easiest to find the culprit by feel.)

Then patch the tube, don't replace it.

As for what could be causing the flats, some of the hardest things to find in a tire are small wires that are nearly parallel to the casing threads. They're almost invisible, and they may not stick out enough to see. They only push out of the tire under load to cause the flat, then go back to hiding.
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Old 04-17-10, 07:27 PM
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Agree: in order to find what's in the tire or rim that's causing the punctures, you have to find the location of the leak in the tube, no matter how small it is. Immersing the inflated tube in a sink full of water, segment by segment if your laundry sink isn't big enough to contain the whole tube, never fails. If there is a hole, the telltale stream of bubbles will disclose it. (Edit: sometimes the "stream" is just a bubble every second or two.)

If the puncture is on the rim side and your rims don't use eyelets in the spoke holes, consider the possibility that a burr on a spoke hole is somehow managing to abrade the tube even through the rim strip. Run a round file then some emery cloth around the circumference of the rim to dress all the spoke holes. Also possible if you repaired a puncture at the side of the road is that some tiny fleck of road-side debris managed to get into the wheel underneath the tube. I think this is why flats tend to come in clusters.

Nowadays that beer is sold in cans and cola in plastic bottles, there is so much less glass along the roads that most punctures are indeed mysterious, instead of being obvious from the chunk of glass sticking out of the tire. Stick with it.
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Old 04-17-10, 08:04 PM
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Another idea is to pump up the tube inside the tyre and rotate the wheel in sections through a bucket. A lot of small leaks don't show underwater at the 2-3psi that a tube experiences when you pump it up without a tyre. But at 100psi+ inside a mounted tyre, that hole will leak. This is especially true of small leaks that takes hours or days to deflate.
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Old 04-18-10, 01:26 PM
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I had two situations last season that drove me crazy for a bit. On the wife's bike, she kept getting a flat even though we both could find nothing in the tire. I finally took a seriously long time in checking the tire itself, and found one of those little wires as mentioned above. Had to turn the tire inside out as well.

The second one was the mysterious overnight flat. I could find nothing, even in water.... until I put the stem under as well. A very slow bubble coming from the Presta core. I've seen schraeder valves leak, but this was my first presta....

I use a small bucket with water, putting a small section of the inflated tube at a time in the water and watch for bubbles. If air is escaping, it will show.
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