Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Goat Head Thorns?

Old 04-15-19, 09:53 AM
  #1  
riverdrifter
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 148
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 39 Times in 16 Posts
Goat Head Thorns?

So I've got a new bike coming, my first road bike since high school. I live in an area that is absolutely covered in goat-head thorns. They are thick everywhere, in cracks in the sidewalks, streets, and roads even. I commuted around the area on a mountain bike for years and fought the thorns. I ended up using Slime filled tubes, it's not uncommon to get hundred of thorns in each tire.

I plan to start doing overnight bike camping trips and exploring the surrounding countryside.

What should I do for my road bike. It has Vittoria Zaffiro 700x25 tires.

Thanks!
riverdrifter is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 10:01 AM
  #2  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,467

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 183 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6721 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 139 Times in 117 Posts
all the changes in armoring your replacement choices of tires against thorns will make them heavier..

a Thorn resistant inner tube has a lot more Butyl rubber in it and
puncture resistant tires also add weight , with the added barrier material under the tread rubber..




there is a subforum of others in the region where that flora grows..






....

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-15-19 at 10:10 AM.
fietsbob is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 11:29 AM
  #3  
stardognine
Turquoise gatherer.
 
stardognine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Arid Arizona, for now.
Posts: 1,515

Bikes: 1985 Cannondale ST400

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 314 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 10 Times in 10 Posts
Goat heads and bull horns are both nasty critters. I hate 'em both equally. 🙄😉 Heck, I've seen some plant life that's even worse, but I don't know what you call it, and that scares me. 😳
stardognine is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 11:34 AM
  #4  
riverdrifter
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 148
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 39 Times in 16 Posts
riverdrifter is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 12:27 PM
  #5  
mev
bicycle tourist
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Posts: 1,605

Bikes: Trek 520, Lightfoot Ranger, Trek 4500

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 189 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
If you live in goat head thorn areas, you are already familiar with much of the drill.

When it comes to camping, there are a few things I add to the discipline:
1. As much as possible, I hang out on the major roads. That short-cut sidewalk or trail might seem tempting, but it might also have a lot of new thorns.
2. When I go to my campsite, I will often carry my bike rather than wheeling it. If I stop along the way to go to the bathroom, I might also be careful in how I transport the bike.
3. Before getting back on the road (I will have carried the bike), I'll also carefully check each tire making sure no goatheads have attached themselves.
4. When using a thermarest or similar inflatable mattress, check twice under the tent site to clear out thorns. Consider using a ground sheet. Might not stop them completely, but probably also helps.

I do end up with more thorn-resistant tires like Schwalbe Marathon Plus. At least when new, these can definitely help - though they also aren't 100%.
mev is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 12:46 PM
  #6  
riverdrifter
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 148
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 39 Times in 16 Posts
Originally Posted by mev View Post
If you live in goat head thorn areas, you are already familiar with much of the drill.

When it comes to camping, there are a few things I add to the discipline:
1. As much as possible, I hang out on the major roads. That short-cut sidewalk or trail might seem tempting, but it might also have a lot of new thorns.
2. When I go to my campsite, I will often carry my bike rather than wheeling it. If I stop along the way to go to the bathroom, I might also be careful in how I transport the bike.
3. Before getting back on the road (I will have carried the bike), I'll also carefully check each tire making sure no goatheads have attached themselves.
4. When using a thermarest or similar inflatable mattress, check twice under the tent site to clear out thorns. Consider using a ground sheet. Might not stop them completely, but probably also helps.

I do end up with more thorn-resistant tires like Schwalbe Marathon Plus. At least when new, these can definitely help - though they also aren't 100%.
Thanks. I read the Zaffiro is actually a fairly tough tire, but I wondered if swapping to something like the Marathons would be better. Hate to start swapping stuff before it wears out, but I'm having multiple flat tire neurosis.
riverdrifter is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 01:15 PM
  #7  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 22,249
Mentioned: 158 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8365 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 33 Times in 30 Posts


Goat Heads come up quite regularly.

There are a few approaches to try:
  • Heavy duty tire. These are thick, and have an extra layer designed more to absorb thorns and etc than actually provide protection. (Schwalbe Marathon Plus, Michelin Protek Max & Protek Cross Max, Panaracer Tourguard, etc). The Marathon Plus comes in a narrow 700x25 size.
    .
  • Tire Liners. There are quite a few out there. Some have suggested the Panaracer Flataway which is a lightweight woven fabric. I've got my nephew trying a pair now. I don't have goatheads here.
    .
  • Tire Wipers. An "old school" approach. Generally fallen out of favor, but they may well pick off the goat heads before they dig deep into the tires.
    .
  • Sealants. A few different types. The slime is more or less to plug hoes. It lasts forever. The Latex sealants do more of a gluing of the holes for a more permanent repair, but also require periodic refilling & maintenance.
    .
  • As an extension to sealants, tubeless tires are designed to work with the sealants, and, again, plug the holes when they occur. They have been used with MTBs for quite sometime, but rapidly evolving for road use. There has been a lot of buzz about the Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR tire being tough, but not a lot of long-term reviews on it yet. Hopefully I'll try it out this spring/summer. I was somewhat disappointed by my Schwalbe Pro One test.
You may end up combining a couple of methods for best results.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 01:22 PM
  #8  
eja_ bottecchia
Senior Member
 
eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 5,161
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 676 Post(s)
Liked 58 Times in 43 Posts
Paradoxically enough, I have found that using latex inner tubes makes it less likely for my tires to get punctured as a result of an encounter with goatheads.

Where I live, they are all over the place.

It may also be a good idea to avoid the edge of the road, especially out on open rural roads.

Good luck.
eja_ bottecchia is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 01:47 PM
  #9  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 9,397

Bikes: '76 Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Burley Samba, Terra Trike

Mentioned: 57 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1437 Post(s)
Liked 55 Times in 39 Posts
Tubeless for me, not going back
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 03:51 PM
  #10  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 21,275

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 91 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2406 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 78 Times in 55 Posts
Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post

While knowing what the seeds look like, it's just as important to know what the plant looks like and where it grows. This is what the plant looks like

DSCN1200 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

And this is what a patch of them can look like

DSCN1199 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

An individual tribulus terrestris plant spreads very wide and seldom grows more that 3/4" off the ground. It has small green leaves and yellow flowers. Each flower results in 5 seed pods and there can be thousands of flowers per plant. Wikipedia says that they can grow up to 6' in diameter but I've seen them in southern Colorado that are at least 6' in radius. It grows well in disturbed soils but does not compete with other plants well. Once grasses or other plants move into the area, the tribulus terrestris dies out and the seeds will lay fallow. The seeds can lay fallow for up to 50 years and still germinate. Since we humans like to disturb soils so much, it's a match made in heaven. The following picture shows how poorly they compete with grasses. The large patch of goat heads is on the right side of the fence in a vehicle parking lot. There are no goathead plants growing in the grass.

DSCN1202 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Given what you've said above, I think part of your problem is that you don't recognize the plant and ride over it. You might also be riding in disturbed areas like new bike paths. Be aware that nothing is perfect...including tubeless. I've been on rides with people who have flatted tubeless tires on goatheads. Slime isn't perfect. Liners aren't perfect. "Thorn proof" tubes aren't and are, perhaps, the most useless of all the solutions. I use liners to good effect but they can still flat. I've used Slime and didn't find it was any better.

Don't tempt the goat head god either. It is a capricious and vengeful god! On the ride where the tubeless flatted, I managed to do the ride without a single flat. There were 4 people on the ride and we had 27 flats between the 4 of us. One poor woman had 20, the guy with the tubeless had 6 and my wife had 1 (I forgot to put a liner back in one of her tires). I crowed about how wonderful my liners were. The next time I went to the same area, I stopped counting at 65 punctures...on one tire. The other one had a similar number. The moral of the story is to be humble before the god of goat heads.

Epilogue: The next time I went to the same area (it a regular ride I take people on, see Wandering in Purgatory below), I decided to not take chances. I got used tires that I was just going to throw away after the ride, I put in liners and Slime tubes. The wheels weighed a ton! I did the entire ride with my daughter (similarly equipped) and we had zero flats between us. We picked up zero goat heads. I fear what the goat head god has in store for me next time I go down there!
__________________
Stuart Black
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.
cyccommute is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 03:57 PM
  #11  
mev
bicycle tourist
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Posts: 1,605

Bikes: Trek 520, Lightfoot Ranger, Trek 4500

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 189 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
Hate to start swapping stuff before it wears out, but I'm having multiple flat tire neurosis.
You can always start with the tires you have and swap only if you start having a lot of issues.

One tire related data point, not just goat heads. In 2013, myself and ~50 others bicycled across Africa with TDA. Parts of Africa have a lot of thorns. On completion, we compared the number of flat tires. I had two in four months which was lower than average, though not the lowest (two people had no flats). There were at least two people who had close to *10* flats on the first day we went off-road in Sudan. Not a 100% correlation, but Marathon Plus definitely did better in that environment than the average tire.

On the other hand, I was also one of the slowest cyclists . I chalk that up more to being a slower cyclists than my tires though.
mev is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 05:18 PM
  #12  
riverdrifter
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 148
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 39 Times in 16 Posts
Thanks for the info guys, I definitely appreciate it. I for sure know what the plant looks like, I can recognize those little yellow flowers a block away. I spend an inordinate amount of time digging them out of my yard.

The seeds (nutlets, the thorny part) dry and turn rock hard, and spread everywhere. They are spread by animals, shoes, and even the wind. Then they take hold and continue to spread. They are so thick in the valley in south central Nebraska where I live, that the dry thorns are on every sidewalk, path, street, even when the plant is not near. You can avoid the plant, but not the thorns.

I've commuted around here on a mountain bike for years, never going anywhere with speed or efficiency in mind. The big heavy tread tires with slime filled tubes were the only way I found to avoid flats. The skinny tire road bike is new to me, and I just wondered if any new technologies work better for the thorns.
riverdrifter is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 05:29 PM
  #13  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 9,397

Bikes: '76 Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Burley Samba, Terra Trike

Mentioned: 57 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1437 Post(s)
Liked 55 Times in 39 Posts
If you think it's bad in your tire try one in your heel.
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 05:31 PM
  #14  
Lemond1985
Sophomore Member
 
Lemond1985's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 1,272
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 689 Post(s)
Liked 81 Times in 64 Posts
For skinny road tires, I would recommend the thickest tread you can find, something 5 mm or so thick or thicker. Some tires have a liner built in like the Schwalbe Marathons, and also some of the Continental urban tires, I have some City Rides in 32 that are nice and thick (and heavy). I gladly deal with a little extra weight if it means no goathead flats.



Anything that increases the amount of rubber the thorn has to push through before it can puncture the tube and cause a flat is a good thing. Keep an eye out for them and pull them out before they dig in too deeply. Some tires have a tougher rubber compound that doesn't attract thorns like soft rubber does, that helps too, since I find some tires are real goathead magnets (GP 4000 *cough* *cough*)
Lemond1985 is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 06:57 PM
  #15  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 22,249
Mentioned: 158 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8365 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 33 Times in 30 Posts
Another option.

Tannus tires.

https://tannusamerica.com/

100% FLAT FREE by design.

Tanis solid tire

Interesting, it looks like Tannus has come out with a new tire liner (but only for 35 to 47mm tires, depending on the model, I think).

https://www.nashbar.com/tannus-armou...004247/p969089
CliffordK is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 07:01 PM
  #16  
eja_ bottecchia
Senior Member
 
eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 5,161
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 676 Post(s)
Liked 58 Times in 43 Posts
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
If you think it's bad in your tire try one in your heel.
True that brother. Major OUCH time. Worse than stepping on a Lego brick in the middle of the night.
eja_ bottecchia is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 08:09 PM
  #17  
andrewclaus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Golden, CO, Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 1,485

Bikes: 2016 Fuji Tread, 1983 Trek 620

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 208 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
I've had very good luck with Continental Gatorskin tires. They run faster and lighter than Marathons and are much easier to install, in my opinion.

Back when I used cheap tires, I used Mr Tuffy liners. They work okay too, but after a year or so the liners themselves would eventually wear holes in the tubes.
andrewclaus is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 08:35 PM
  #18  
Rick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 236
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 90 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 10 Times in 9 Posts
I have had my Touring bicycle since early 2014. I am on a third set of tires and only one flat. The first month I had it I had a slow leak. The shop I purchased it from had put the tires I requested on but had kept the crap tubes. I had 2x 26" Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires and tubes that were to thin when inflated.They wouldn't take a patch. I purchased Conti 26 Freeride tubes that say 26x2.3 to 26x2.7 and they work great. No more internal flats. I live in the high dessert and so far the only goat heads are the ones I pull out of our dogs paws.
Rick is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 09:20 PM
  #19  
DrIsotope
Non omnino gravis
 
DrIsotope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: SoCal, USA!
Posts: 6,564

Bikes: Nekobasu, Pandicorn

Mentioned: 96 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3503 Post(s)
Liked 100 Times in 78 Posts
I live in the goat head and bottle glass capital of the world. The answer is tubeless. I haven't gotten a puncture flat on tubeless in around 30,000 miles. I will routinely pull 2-3 thorn tips out of my tires after every ride.
__________________
DrIsotope is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 10:07 PM
  #20  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 21,275

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 91 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2406 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 78 Times in 55 Posts
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
If you think it's bad in your tire try one in your heel.
I grew up in the capital of goat heads. I never did go without shoes. Still have sensitive feet because of it.
__________________
Stuart Black
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.
cyccommute is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 10:16 PM
  #21  
robow
Senior Member
 
robow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,198
Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 246 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

Epilogue: The next time I went to the same area (it a regular ride I take people on, !
Gee, what a nice guy.....with friends like that : )
robow is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 10:27 PM
  #22  
Shimagnolo
Senior Member
 
Shimagnolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zang's Spur, CO
Posts: 8,738
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1538 Post(s)
Liked 25 Times in 15 Posts
Listen, and understand! The goatheads are out there! They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And They absolutely will not stop... ever, until you have flatted!
Shimagnolo is online now  
Old 04-15-19, 10:50 PM
  #23  
curbtender
Senior Member
 
curbtender's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SF Bay Area, East bay
Posts: 5,393

Bikes: Marinoni, Kestral 200 2002 Trek 5200, KHS Flite, Koga Miyata, Schwinn Spitfire 5, Schwinn Speedster, Mondia Special, Univega Alpina, Miyata team Ti, MB3

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 484 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 8 Posts
So what's worse, goat heads or star thistle?
curbtender is offline  
Old 04-15-19, 11:01 PM
  #24  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 6,805

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 89 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1594 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 36 Times in 29 Posts
Has anyone tried tire-savers on their tires? If not, why not? They wouldn't stop all goathead flats but done right, should get most of the goatheads that didn't penetrate fully the first time.

https://www.renehersecycles.com/shop...s/tire-wipers/

Not advocating for Rene Herse, just found this website and its nice picture. (And $18? For a little wire, plastic tube and ancient technology.) We were using the exact same tire-savers 50 years ago, just no color and no stainless steel. Also minus that cute little loop around the throat. They worked very well. So did ones I made from scratch. (I used them on the east coast so I have no goathead experience with them, hence my question.)

You can make your own with 14 or 15 gauge spokes and that tubing sized to be a tight fit. I'd rather have 15 gauge but the tubing and a nice fit would decide it for me.
(I regularly rebuilt mine with the spoke wire after the tire area wore out.)

They are not perfect. They make noise, are a small amount of friction and spray dust and debris over your bike. It is normal to run them from the brake bolts; easy before the short bolts and recessed nuts. Sheldon nuts and a little re-working of the bolt loop with needle nosed pliers solves that nicely. You can also spare the seat tube and BB area clean(er) with the rear one mounted on the fender bolt hole on the chainstay support if you are lucky enough to have one. Aim the one at the front brake forward. Most of the dust you will see will be blow back, not a direct hit. On fendered bike, I used to mount them inside the fender. Not as easy but that did cure a lot of the mess. Other plus - they wiped your fendered rear tire - hard to do savely with your fingers

Ben
79pmooney is offline  
Old 04-16-19, 12:37 AM
  #25  
Lemond1985
Sophomore Member
 
Lemond1985's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 1,272
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 689 Post(s)
Liked 81 Times in 64 Posts
I just run tires on my road bike that are so fat they barely clear the brake calipers. These are my cheap man's tire wipers.
Lemond1985 is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.