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Had a revelation about flats today

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Had a revelation about flats today

Old 06-13-24, 07:26 PM
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Had a revelation about flats today

So I rode my wife's bike to work today. It has big fat 2+ inch balloon tires on it. The bike I usually ride has a 1.5 inch and a 1.75 inch tire on it. I got two legitimate road debris flats (a nail and then a staple) in the rear tire within ten miles.

Having never ridden the balloon tires before, it could just be bad luck. Back luck happens. However, I got to thinking - the more tire width you have in contact with the pavement, the more chance you have of running over something and going flat.

What do you think? Do narrow tires provide protection from flats simply because they are narrow?
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Old 06-13-24, 08:01 PM
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Well, there’s some truth in that observation that a 28mm tire is 50% less likely to catch a nail compared to a 60mm tire. I just think it was bad luck.
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Old 06-13-24, 09:34 PM
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Wider tires can be run at lower pressures and will deform over debris that would flat narrower tires run at higher pressures.
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Old 06-14-24, 05:57 AM
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I agree with Steve B. that your specific experience was bad luck, but over the long haul I think wider tires are more susceptible to nail/screw flats than narrower ones.

My regular commuter has 35mm and my utility bike has 2” wide tires. I use heavy tires; I can’t remember having a broken glass or goat head flat. I’ve had over 10 nail/screw flats, all on the rear, and more on my utility bike even though it gets less mileage. Most of my flats on all my bikes are due to tire wire debris and are slow leaks.

My theory on nail and screw flats is that my front tire lifts the sharp up and sometimes the tumbling nail/screw is aligned to punch through the rear when it arrives .. so it makes sense that a wider tire presents a bigger target.
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Old 06-14-24, 07:36 AM
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IME narrower won't save you at all. Puncture protection will. A cheap 28c with no puncture protection will leave you stranded where a good 2-inch with puncture protection won't. (I have experience with both)
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Old 06-14-24, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Bafanguy
IME narrower won't save you at all. Puncture protection will. A cheap 28c with no puncture protection will leave you stranded where a good 2-inch with puncture protection won't. (I have experience with both)
Agree fully that thick heavy reduces flats. Nothing stops a nail.
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Old 06-14-24, 06:02 PM
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Think on this:
Take a mop and hold it so the handle is pointed down and the head is up at about shoulder height. Now take a Chef's knife and start stabbing into the mop head. What happens? Nothing, right? The knife just plunges in and the strands just move out of the way.

Now grab a handful of the mop strings and pull them tight. Plunge the knife in again. What happens? You cut all the strings is what happens.

The same thing happens with the cords in a tire casing. The lower pressure strings that are not pulled so tightly simply deform, move away. There is no backing from internal pressure to reactively push down on the offending object driving it into and through the casing. The lower pressure tire simply rolls over the sharp pokey thing, leaving it alone like the loose mop strings example.

Yeah, you have 2x the area in contact with the road. But, that's irrelevant if the pressure is such that everything is left alone and undisturbed on the road surface in the first place.
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Old 06-14-24, 08:11 PM
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Wider tires at lower pressure are going to be generally better. Of course a more puncture protectant tire will help as well but the contact patch doesn't equal more flats only if you are running high pressures is that the case but the whole point of the wider tires is lower pressure to roll over stuff.

There are a lot of factors that can go into getting a flat and you might just be unlikely or had really poor tires on the bike you rode today and the other bikes have better tires or something else. Who knows but flats can happen to anyone for any number of reasons at any time. There are things you can do to prevent it but in a lot of cases it just happens and trying to prevent that incident could lead to a less safe or less enjoyable ride.
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Old 06-14-24, 08:26 PM
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My big revelation with flats was that they happened anytime I tried to ride on Veloflex tires.
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Old 06-15-24, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
My big revelation with flats was that they happened anytime I tried to ride on Veloflex tires.
I mean Veloflex makes high end handmade road tires so not really designed around commuting I mean just recently they adopted 28 and now 32mm tires and that is as wide as they go. I love my open tubular tires they are a great ride and I didn't happen to get more than a single flat in all the riding on them but not really the tire I would suggest around commuting.
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Old 06-15-24, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes
I mean Veloflex makes high end handmade road tires so not really designed around commuting I mean just recently they adopted 28 and now 32mm tires and that is as wide as they go. I love my open tubular tires they are a great ride and I didn't happen to get more than a single flat in all the riding on them but not really the tire I would suggest around commuting.
Unfortunately, there aren't different roads for commuting and pleasure riding. Both have the stuff that reliably pops Veloflex every other ride.
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Old 06-15-24, 07:32 PM
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In my experience, and likely that of many others who have ridden major mileage on bikes with a variety of tire sizes:

Narrow, high-pressure tires incur more flats than wide, low-pressure tires.
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Old 06-15-24, 08:00 PM
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Schwalbe Marathon Plus 2.0". Mine have NEVER flatted. 10mi. daily. 1yr + on the (urban) road. Bontrager H2 Hardcase are in the same league. Tire technology is what stops flats. Not tire width, pressure or any other attribute except enough layers of Kevlar belt to keep the tube safe from puncture.
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Old 06-15-24, 08:16 PM
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Come on, some of us are not being scientific. Talking about a puncture protection layer means you're not talking about tire width. The question is: with similar construction, which gets more punctures, the wide tire or the narrow tire?

With different width tires, the optimal pressure is different. A narrower tire requires a higher pressure.

With higher pressure, the puncturing object exerts more force through the surface.

People who ride narrower tires get more punctures.

You just got unlucky. Or rode a crappy tire.
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Old 06-15-24, 09:45 PM
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My point is there is no need to be scientific about it. Just get the @#%! Marathon Plus and enjoy not having to fix flats ever again.
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Old 06-16-24, 10:00 AM
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[MENTION=36008]Leisesturm[/MENTION], I think it depends. Getting a flat is supremely inconvenient for some people but not for everyone. There is a trade off between puncture resistance and ride quality, though through innovations, that gap has narrowed. I'm very handy at fixing flats, so I prefer to optimize ride quality. I'm commuting on Continental GP 5000 tires. I might decide they're not durable enough, but I haven't had many punctures.
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Old 06-16-24, 12:31 PM
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‘Nuff said.


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Old 06-16-24, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Unfortunately, there aren't different roads for commuting and pleasure riding. Both have the stuff that reliably pops Veloflex every other ride.
Correct but my commuting and my pleasure riding are different. The surface of the roads might be the same but.commuting I am in a rush, I am thinking of different things paying attention to every little bit is not happening as much. Pacing can also be different and if I get a flat on a pleasure ride, a pain but not as big of a deal.
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Old 06-16-24, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by flangehead
‘Nuff said.


Are these to show that low pressure tires get flats, or that thick tires won't puncture all the way to the tube?
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Old 06-16-24, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Are these to show that low pressure tires get flats, or that thick tires won't puncture all the way to the tube?
Ooh-ooh! *raises hand* I know! Pick me, pick me*

They are to show that with tubeless you could just pull the offending object (or not) and carry on unimpeded.

Did I win?
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Old 06-17-24, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by base2
…They are to show that with tubeless you could just pull the offending object (or not) and carry on unimpeded….
As if on cue, on this morning’s commute:





I’m expecting more in the next 6 months. We had a big wind storm and a lot of fences and roofs are being replaced.

Someday I’ll have to replace that rear wheel. Those of you who use tubeless: would it reliably close a nail hole the size I had today? I had to pull it out as it was hitting my fender.
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Old 06-17-24, 08:30 AM
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Indeed it would. If not the sealant itself, the plug kit would.

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Old 06-17-24, 08:37 AM
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My experience with flats are multi-faceted: I used to commute by bike 12 miles each way and I did this for 7 years rain or shine on a road bike with 23mm tires. I got a flat a couple of times on two consecutive days using the stock tires that it came with. On the third day of commuting I replaced the inner tubes with puncture proof tubes and kept the stock tires. I can honestly say, I did not get another flat while commuting all those 7 years with puncture proof inner tubes. I've replaced the tires many times because of wear and kept the same inner tube. I can't even remember replacing the inner tube. Maybe I did but that was such a long time ago. Nowadays, I work from home and obviously don't bike commute anymore. But I do ride a lot, about 75-100 miles a week on road bikes. I got rid of the puncture proof inner tubes and run 23mm Gatorskin tires. Not a single flat on those either.
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Old 06-17-24, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
My point is there is no need to be scientific about it. Just get the @#%! Marathon Plus and enjoy not having to fix flats ever again.
This ^^^^

While nothing short of airless are a 100% SMPs are about as good as it gets. Armadillos, Hardcase, Gatorskins, etc. are all very good options, but I settled on SMPs for my commuting needs. To compensate for the added rolling resistance I'd overinflate them by 10-15 psi. Also, I would run the standard Marathon on the front and Marathon Plus on the rear. Saves money.
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Old 06-18-24, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
My point is there is no need to be scientific about it. Just get the @#%! Marathon Plus and enjoy not having to fix flats ever again.
YMMV. My morning nail flat evolved into an afternoon sidewall blowout. PITA.



I think the nail damaged the sidewall.


Not ”Plus” but I’m not convinced that would have helped.

Last edited by flangehead; 06-18-24 at 12:01 PM.
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