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Quickest way to fix a flat while commuting.

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Quickest way to fix a flat while commuting.

Old 09-19-11, 02:24 AM
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rickyhmltn
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Quickest way to fix a flat while commuting.

Hi All,

I am beginning to commute to and from work at 13 miles each way. I live in an area where I have to travel along the shoulder of a very busy 4 lane, 55mph (people really travel around 65-70) highway, that has big coal trucks and such. Anyway the shoulder has quite a bit of loose gravel and sometimes glass from litter bottle on occasion, broken window glass, etc.. For the most part its fairly clean, but I did get a flat on a weekend ride that was inconsequential. However I need to be able to fix a flat on the way to work fairly quickly, so as not to be late. Is there any kind of "fix a flat" I should look at. I can change the tire on lunch, or after work, and on the way home I can take time to change it on the shoulder if need be. Any suggestions for on the way to work flats?
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Old 09-19-11, 02:40 AM
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There are lots of things on the market which claim to reduce the chance of punctures, special tyres, tubes, stuff to put in your tubes etc. which you can try and there are lots of recommendations/opinions on here but really i advise you to carry a spare tube AND a puncture repair kit. Practice changing the tube until you can do it and be riding again quickly, then if you are short on time you can quickly change the tube (3-4 minutes is achievable) and be on your way and repair the tube when you get to work, or repair it at the roadside if you have time.
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Old 09-19-11, 02:41 AM
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The quickest way to change a flat is to not get one. What kind of tires (and even tubes) are you running?

As far as changing a flat (if you gotta have one). I treated it like any new tent for camping and would practice setting it up as quickly as I could in all conditions, even in the dark. That way, nothing will be unfamiliar to you when the real thing comes. The biggest challenge for hikers for example, is setting your tent up in the dark, or worse, setting up your tent in the dark while it's raining. You obviously wanna be quick.

Look at YouTube videos and time yourself. I've seen some people that can change a flat in a little over a minute. I think realistically, you can change a flat in a 3 minutes. Be your own NASCAR pit crew and PRACTICE!
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Old 09-19-11, 02:45 AM
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There's no quick fix for flats, other than removing the tube, inspecting it, and replacing it.

If you're worried about flatting, Schwalbe Marathon Pluses are worth their weight in gold. They'll afford you peace of mind if you're only dealing with small roadside debris.

However, If you're really worried, just leave for work 15 minutes ealier--even if you're inexperienced in changing flats, it shouldn't take you much longer than that to change a tube and be back on the road.
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Old 09-19-11, 02:59 AM
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+1 on Schwalbe Marathon Plus and spare tube. It takes less time to change the tube than to patch it. It's also more convenient to patch it back home, compared to doing it on the road.

This may sound obvious, but please make sure you know what caused the flat. If the culprit is still in the outer tyre, remove it. Sometimes it's just a tiny shrapnel of glass / rock, embedded deep into the outer tyre, difficult to find. If you cannot locate the cause, check again back home when you have better conditions. If you don't fix the cause, it'll just be a (short) matter of time before you develop the next flat.
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Old 09-19-11, 03:08 AM
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This past six weeks, I 've had a slew of flats caused by ineffective rim tape, don't think all flats are caused by debris in the road..
For commuting I don't let me tires get too well used.. Be sure they are not too worn and I'd never buy a tire that hasn't a kevlar lining..
I'd try to route around debris laden areas.. There is one segment they routed me on a bridge shared by freeway users.. It seemed my incidence of flats on that kind of road was out of proportion to other kinds of roads.
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Old 09-19-11, 03:20 AM
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I tried that liquid latex for presta tires and all it did was slowly leak out each time I primed the valve to air it up (in here).
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Old 09-19-11, 04:09 AM
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on your knees and ass. it should take about 15 min
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Old 09-19-11, 06:31 AM
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There's one circumstance in which I find patching easier, and probably quicker, than replacing the tube. That's when you get a puncture flat and can easily identify the affected area (i.e. - there's a wire sticking out of the tire, or you can find the air leak before the tire is totally flat). When that happens, if you move quickly enough, you can unseat a small section of the tire, pull about a six or eight inch section of tube out and locate the puncture, patch it, put the small section of tube back in and reseat the tire and inflate. I prefer this to wrestling with removing the rear wheel on the side of the road, replacing the tube, etc -- but this option is not always possible.

Besides that, learn the little trick that lets you put even the tightest wire bead tires on with relative ease -- there's a video of it somewhere, but basically you push the wire bead down into the deepest part of the rim and sort of work your way around the tire doing that...so the wire bead in the first part you seat is as close to the center of the wheel as possible. Then when you get to seating that last little difficult part you have a lot of slack/play in the bead and it pops on easily.
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Old 09-19-11, 07:42 AM
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Carry two spare tubes, and learn to be efficient in finding the cause of the flat.

Old tube out, pump enough to find leak, check that area on the tire for problems, touch of air in the new tube, install and pump, be on your way.

Patch your old tube at work during a break or at home, that way you'll have it available as a spare should you flat again.

Efficient and proficient come with practice, so always volunteer to fix other people's flats for them. You'll be the good guy or gal, and will gain experience as well. If they want to pay you just tell them to buy you a spare tube and get one for theirself as well.
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Old 09-19-11, 10:07 AM
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I'll add a couple of thoughts to this thread -

1) When practicing changing a tire in order to build up your speed, don't forget to practice on the rear tire, too. This way you'll get practice in dealing with the RD and chain.

2) Always carry a pair of vinyl gloves to keep your hands clean, especially if dealing witha rear flat. I bought a box of a hundred disposable vinyl gloves in the paint department of a big-box store for about $8.00. Invaluable when wanting to arrive clean and presentable at a destination.

I had a rear flat and it took me twice as long to change it out; I just wasn't used to dealing with the chain and RD, especially getthing the wheel back on. Embarrassing and
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Old 09-19-11, 11:49 AM
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Put the chain on the smallest cog to facilitate quicker rear changes.

For you folks with belt drives and internal geared hubs, I don't envy changing your rear tubes.
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Old 09-19-11, 12:09 PM
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Marathon Plus are about as puncture resistant as proper tyres get. They resist bits of metal, nails, etc. The downside (apart from a bit of weight) is that they are almost impossible to remove or replace by the roadside.
I use the plain Marathon which is less resistant but easier to change.
Make sure you check the rim tape for any movement and if needed, replace with adhesive tape (velox). Deburr the valve hole with emery, check that spokes dont poke into the inner.
I carry one spare inner + a puncture repair kit + another spare inner at work, so if I get a puncture I have a spare on the way back. I like to do puncture repairs at my leisure.

Practice a few times so you can unhook the brakes/select the correct gear. I use smallest rear cg and middle chainring. Make sure you set the inner tube with the valve pointing towards the hub; I use the retaining ring to keep it in position, then slack off the ring and push the valve in so I can seat the tyre bead, then pull the valve out again and tighten the ring. I put a dab of vaseline on the valve external threads so the retaining nut doesn't seize up over winter.
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Old 09-19-11, 12:17 PM
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Once you get your Marathons seated and inflated the removal and installation does get a little easier... but they don't have their reputation for nothing.

Nothing will help you more than practice... practice... and more practice.

Even IGH wheels can have flats repaired rather quickly once you know how to set up your bike after the wheel is re-installed... my wife runs Marathon Plus tyres on her IGH equipped commuter and flats are unheard of which is good as she has a latex allergy and changing tubes is something she should avoid.
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Old 09-19-11, 12:35 PM
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It might seem obvious, but flip your bike upside down so it rests on the saddle and handlebars. Much easier to work on your bike in this position. Can't tell you how many times I've seen people struggling to remove or reinstall a wheel holding the bike in one hand.

Carry a light (better yet, a helmet light) if riding in the dark. Makes the work so much easier.

+1 on everything else already covered.
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Old 09-19-11, 12:45 PM
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You'll rarely have a problem with your front tire, and even if you do the front is much easier to change because you have no derailer to deal with.

To make the process as fast as possible you should use a new tube, which is faster then patching. You can also use a C02 inflator instead of a frame pump, which will buy you some time. Most your time will be spent removing the tire from the rim and reseating it again once the new tube is installed. With practice you can fix a flat in the 5 to 10 minute range.
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Old 09-19-11, 12:45 PM
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+1 on the gloves, I also carry a cotton ball in my saddle bag to find things in the tire I can't feel. Also, I have a huge saddle bag so I have the room to do this while you might need an alternate solution, but I carry my spare tube in its little box still. That way my multitool or the other tools I have in there don't rub a hole in it.
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Old 09-19-11, 12:59 PM
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Make sure you don't hurry or skip steps. A quick tube change without getting the cause removed from the tire will result in a second round of repairing a flat. Much faster to do it right the first time.
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Old 09-19-11, 01:02 PM
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Learn to take the tire on and off without using tools. I have been doing this for years and I haven't found one that I can't do toolless for many years.

1. Stand the wheel upright with it sideways across your body.
2. Grab the tire on the two sides and push the sides toward the ground, forcing the bead at the top of the tire as deeply as possible into the well of the rim.
3. Continue to push the sides of the tire toward the ground while sliding both hand toward the ground but keeping the pressure on the tire itself.
4. Grab the tire and the rim firmly and flip the wheel vertically, You will find that all of the slack in the tire has come together at the top and you should not have any problem sliding the bead over the rim and off of the wheel.

I saw first this technique performed by Taiwanese factory worker back in the '70s, and they can actually hand mount motorcycle tires on a flat concrete floor using only a rubber hammer!

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Old 09-19-11, 01:36 PM
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^^ eh?!!
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Old 09-19-11, 02:47 PM
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I use Specialized Armadillo Nimbus'. I've got over 3500 miles on them since I bought them and I've only had one flat. Great commuting tire. You can ride thru anything on these. +2 on carrying an extra tube. Better to switch out the tubes and fix the other one later.
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Old 09-19-11, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
+1 on the gloves, I also carry a cotton ball in my saddle bag to find things in the tire I can't feel. Also, I have a huge saddle bag so I have the room to do this while you might need an alternate solution, but I carry my spare tube in its little box still. That way my multitool or the other tools I have in there don't rub a hole in it.
A cottonball! Great idea, never heard of that one. Beats the hell out of feeling, feeling, feel-OW!! Found it. 1 cottonball in saddlebag - done.
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Old 09-19-11, 03:59 PM
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Great advice here. And the gloves are a great idea. When I first read that (a while ago), I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it.
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Old 09-19-11, 06:21 PM
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Carry a grocery paper bag. Lay it under the handlebar when you flip your bike upside down. It help prevent the ground from scratching the accessorie on your handlebar like your lights, computer, mirror, and more.

Carry a pernament marker and put a marking on the tire's sidewall near the valve stem. Mark the same side of the tube after removal annd before looking for the hole. This makes it easier to locate where the spot on the tire needs to be examine.

During the daytime summer month, walk your bike to the nearest shady area if there is one. It makes the flat repair so much easier.

If it is dark, walk it to the nearest street light and work under the light. If there is no street light, then remove your light from the handlebar and run it on low setting while aiming it at the work area.
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Old 09-19-11, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Guitarrick View Post
A cottonball! Great idea, never heard of that one. Beats the hell out of feeling, feeling, feel-OW!! Found it. 1 cottonball in saddlebag - done.
I keep mine in the little plastic box my patch kit comes in. stays dry.
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