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Frustrating Flats!

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Old 09-12-07, 07:30 AM
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SaCaCh
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Frustrating Flats!

Ok I am just getting into biking and I have not conquered the mechanical side of this yet. I blew a spoke a few weeks back and it was fixed for me and all seemed fine. That was over 300 miles ago. Now two days ago I went to ride and my tire was flat, so fine I replaced it. Next morning I rode out and midway through my 8.5 mile commute, it had slowly gone down again. So that night I replace it again. This morning same thing slowly went down to flat again. 3 days , three different tube bought at 3 different places.

Things I have done:

I am careful not to pinch the tube.

I have checked the tubes and there are pin hole leaks in them.

I checked the tire itself to see if there was something poking through and found a very small thing yesterday and removed it but all else seems smooth and that did not help this morning.

I checked the rim tape and that is fine.

The holes do seem to be on the top of the tube.

What do I do? I don't really have much money at all right now and a new tire (let alone a rim) would be pushing finances. I have a low end Schwinn road bike $400, but please no buy new everything posts as I can not afford it. I ride 200 miles a week on this bike and I am at a loss.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:38 AM
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Longfemur
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It's a little hard to diagnose the problem without being able to actually see the tube and tire. When you are removing the tire and tube, try to install and remove the tire and tube in such a way that when you take it off to repair the flat, and then you find the hole in the tube (by immersing the tube in a sink full of water for example), you can know where to look inside the tire and on the wheel. One thing you can do is to install the tires always the same way, like with the tire's label where the valve stem is and always on the same side of the bike. That gives you a good reference point. It does sound from your description as if you are getting a slow leak from something that is either in the tire or the rim.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
It's a little hard to diagnose the problem without being able to actually see the tube and tire. When you are removing the tire and tube, try to install and remove the tire and tube in such a way that when you take it off to repair the flat, and then you find the hole in the tube (by immersing the tube in a sink full of water for example), you can know where to look inside the tire and on the wheel. One thing you can do is to install the tires always the same way, like with the tire's label where the valve stem is and always on the same side of the bike. That gives you a good reference point. It does sound from your description as if you are getting a slow leak from something that is either in the tire or the rim.

Thank You for responding. I marked the tire to the rim so I could find how the tire was put on. I then put the tubes under water to find the leak and them match to the tire. I see nothing abnormal in that area of the tire. But again I don't know what i would be looking for, I would of thought something sticking out of the tire, but all seems smooth. Should I just find a new tire anyway?
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Old 09-12-07, 08:17 AM
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Gator skins
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Old 09-12-07, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by huhenio View Post
Gator skins

Huh?
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Old 09-12-07, 08:36 AM
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If it's something in the tire, you might not necessarily feel it by rubbing the inside of it. It could be something like a tiny sliver of glass stuck in the casing. Look on the outside of the tire too. Sometimes, a tube itself can be defective, but I mean, if it's happening repeatedly, there must be something there. Other than that, where are you riding? The side of roads and urban streets is usually laden with debris and invisibly-small shards of glass. Ride there and you're sure to get flats.

Of course, at some point you just give up and buy a new tire, preferably one with a flat-resistant Kevlar belt or something. It doesn't have to be an expensive one either. I have a made-to-measure bike with a hand-made lugged steel frame and all Italian components, but I'm quite happy to ride affordable IRC Road Winner Duro II tires on it. A few years ago, I got tired of repairing and replacing expensive racing tires so often. But before giving up, maybe you should have a bike shop look at it.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:37 AM
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Are your pinholes in the outer surface (facing the road), the side, or the inside of the tubes (toward the spokes)?
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Old 09-12-07, 08:43 AM
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'Gator skins' are a brand of tire.

If the tires are starting to wear you'll get more flats, though this sounds more like a reoccuring problem, rather than new flats.

I'd remove the tire from the wheel altogether, and bend it backwards, so that portion of the tire is 'inside out' ... then run a cotton ball over the area. Anything poking through will snag the cotton and you should be able to find it.

As far as new tires go, if you're looking for something affordable, I've had really good luck with the Performance brand Kevlar belted tires. They're actually Forte, Performance's house brand, and they're about $12 each. Used the GT2/k and their cross tires.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:54 AM
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My Guess: It is goat-head season. (perfect little thorny things.) There is a place on one of my routes where I pick up 1 or 2 EVERY time I ride through there.

Kevlar belted tires help. I've seen goat-heads sticking out of my Schwalbe Big Apples (2.35s) and they didn't get through to the tube! Slime filled tubes or tubeless tires with goo are perfect for the tiny goat-head holes too. The problem with liquid sealants is that it dries out in about 2 years.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:59 AM
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It seems to be just off the top center and toward the road edge, not road middle side of the bike but that is kinda a guess as I only have two tubes to look at and really only payed close attention today. The problem seems to happen as soon as I put pressure on the tire as it will hold air over night and only slowly go flat as I ride. I ride on debris filled roads but that really hasnt been a problem since I have ridden on this bike since April and have put 1200 miles on it. I have increased bike time lately getting up now to the 200 miles per week mark in the last few months. I pretty much want to rule out the rim and if you guys think that I dont have rim issues I want to just buy a new tire and see if that helps.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:03 AM
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I don't remember you saying what type of tire, but unless it's a really good tire, it may well be time to look for a new one. If it was me, I'd go over it once more, bending it inside out and see if I could find what's causing the hole. Barring that, yeah... new tire.

don't know where you are, but check for a Performance store in your area.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:04 AM
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It sounds like you have something still in your tire. You said you marked your tire to the rim. Make sure you do that at the valve stem so you can relate that mark to the tube. Also before you pull the tube out, mark one side of the tube so you don't turn the tube around and end up looking in the wrong spot on the tire.

The culprit can be tiny tiny tiny and you may not be able to feel it. I find that really bending the tire will open up the cuts and make it much easier to see. The hardest one for me was a strand of wire not more than 2 mm long. Took me an hour to find that puppy.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:07 AM
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Oh, I also meant to say. Patch the tubes and save yourself some money.

If the cut is on the top side of the tube it's not a problem with your rims.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by huhenio View Post
Gator skins

YEP! Awesome tires!!!

(Continental Ultra Gator Skins)
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Old 09-12-07, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by dalmore View Post
Also before you pull the tube out, mark one side of the tube so you don't turn the tube around and end up looking in the wrong spot on the tire.
Yeah I saw that this is what I did and ended up finding a hole on the other side of where I thought it should be. My guess of what has been happening is that this week is the first time I have been riding without much light and that now that I can see debris I can't avoid it like I have been. My first tube went on the tiny spiky thing I found as did the second tube. But I must be riding over an area everyday that I just cant see that has something going through my thin cheap tire. So I went to a overpriced LBS and got an Armadillo brand tire which I imagine is along the lines of this Gator tire. $37 bucks, but I needed it today and just put it on and I guess we will see. I will look online for a better front later, but that does not seem to deal with the same forces as the rear so hopefully it can last a week or so. Thank you all very much for your help and I hope my commute this afternoon is finally a complete one.
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Old 09-12-07, 08:57 PM
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Probably not your problem, since you say the holes are on the tire side, but I was recently having strange persistent flats on my road bike and seem to have solved them with new rim tape. There wasn't an obvious tear or hole in the old tape, but it was weak over one spoke hole, so I think the tube was getting pushed into the hole at high pressure.

Anyway, something to consider if the new tires don't do the trick. Only costs a few bucks.
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Old 09-14-07, 07:20 AM
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Can sense your frustration in dealing w/flats. Have been though it several times in my commuting/touring life. Have been running Mr. Tuffy tireliners for years w/great success. Still have them in my #2 commuter(mtb w/street tires). Used all kinds of cheap(k-mart) or pricey(lbs) tires over the years. In the spring I decided to try airless tires and eliminate flats completely...it's as if I've been set free. 200 mprwk is alot of mileage and the stress of wondering when 'the next one' is comming can be very taxing. Go to felixwong.com and click on 'bike projects' for the most articulate, fair and balanced blog on airless tires I've yet to find. His summary states he feels airless tires have been unfairly maligned and for touring, training and commuter applications can be a viable alternative to pneumatics. I've been using them since the spring on my #1 commuter(old steelframe roadbike) and though they're slower by 2-3 mph the stressless ride is a joyfilled payoff.

With respect to all the other posters the gatorskins, marathon +, etc. are all great tires and will reduce your 'flat rate' a ton.

If you decide to go w/airless tires get the 2 tires+mounting tool option(you wont regret it) and get ones rated AT LEAST 120 psi for an extra 5.00 per tire...you wont reget THAT either I'd been running 700x28mm pneumatics @ 95+ psi and ended up getting 700x35mm airless @ 110 psi. In retrospect I should have gotten 130-150 psi...and next time I will. The airless have a rep for being slick in wet weather, but my experience has been they're as 'grippy' as standard pneumatics, if not more so. Hit 35+ mph on a .5 mile 14% 'snaking' grade under load on wet asphalt w/no probs. Ride 150-225 mprwk most of it commuting or running errands. Tried going on a Saturday 50 miler w/some friends and was dropped pretty quickly, so I'm building a road bike w/pneumatics for group rides.

The biggest hurdle for me was laying out almost 100.00(w/shipping) for 'bicycle tires'!? When you add up the time lost fixing flats, greasy fingers, pumping the tires back up, being pissed @ having 'yet another' flat in the rain, wanting to go for a ride and discovering you've flatted overnight...the airless tires pay for themselves easily.

They're not for everybody and I've read posts where people HATE them and send them back, etc. My experience has been good and one by one I'm going to put them on all my 'utility' bikes(2 commuters, tourer, wife's tourer and single speed).
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Old 09-14-07, 07:24 AM
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Run your hand all along the inside of the tire to feel for any sharp edges. Sometimes you can get something poking through that you cannot see but you can feel. How old are the tires on this bike? You may just have to bite the bullet and buy a new tire. You can get decent cheap tires for under $20.
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