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Tires and fixing flats on unsupported rides

Old 11-08-20, 09:21 AM
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Cyclist0087
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Tires and fixing flats on unsupported rides

I am riding the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) in February 2021. There will be flats. The ride is unsupported. Most riders say they have at least two flats on the ride, some riders have as many as 8! I use clinchers and tubes. I admit freely that I am a weakling and cannot get some tires on the rims without using a Koolstop tire jack, which I do carry with me on the bike. The Koolstop tire jack is not perfect, but it mostly works for me.


Whats the best strategy? Use a tire with flat protection that I will have to wrestle with and use the jack if I get a flat? Or use a tire that I can mount by hand, but will probably have less flat protection and one that will likely result in more flats?


Or is it just a matter of using a tire I like and stop over-thinking? I would like to spend my time riding, not fixing flats.
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Old 11-08-20, 12:23 PM
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I think you should buy some tires that can be replaced with a small tire lever or two. There is debris on the side of the road and you might have a flat, or might not. I used tires that have some flat protection but not a lot, Schwalbe Marathon (with Greenguard) when I rode Florida Keys (and Everglades). I had one flat, picked up a construction type staple somewhere in Big Cyprus.

If you are changing a flat where you are near the traffic, you want to be able to do that quickly and get rolling again. For example in one of the photos, I would not want to stand there for a long time fixing a flat. For touring, I always carry two tubes, just in case. Plus a patch kit.





I was there before Irma, I have no clue what it is like now. Mosquitoes were really bad in Everglades, but I do not recall if I ever even used repellent in the keys or not.

You said unsupported, I recall before I went there I looked up the locations of the two major grocery store chains (Publix and Winn Dixie) so that I knew where to buy groceries, so I could plan that better. Often grocery stores were not close to camping sites.

I was there in Feb 2017, had a great time. But it is winter, short number of hours of sunlight every day.



Great sunsets.

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Old 11-08-20, 12:50 PM
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Those are great photos. Yes, a quick tire change is logical. I live in St Pete and have talked to a few people that rode from Key Largo to Key West last year and they said some of the damage from Irma has not been repaired, and the road is littered with debris and sand where you cross the highway. The people said there was alot of debris on Seven Mile Bridge from cars. So yes, quick changes make TOTAL sense. Thank you for putting safety into the forefront.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:33 PM
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I would go with a tire you can manage. I also found the Schwalbe Marathon, the same tire Tourist in MSN recommended, to be a good compromise between weight, puncture resistance and mounting difficulty.
The Marathons are easy to mount without tools on the Velocity Dyad rims that are on my wife's and my wheels. Our number of punctures went down significantly since switching to them.

Why is it that punctures are almost always on the rear wheel
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Old 11-08-20, 04:30 PM
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Thank you for your tire recommendation
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Old 11-08-20, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by SoobyDoo View Post
I am riding the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) in February 2021. There will be flats. The ride is unsupported. Most riders say they have at least two flats on the ride, some riders have as many as 8! I use clinchers and tubes. I admit freely that I am a weakling and cannot get some tires on the rims without using a Koolstop tire jack, which I do carry with me on the bike. The Koolstop tire jack is not perfect, but it mostly works for me.


Whats the best strategy? Use a tire with flat protection that I will have to wrestle with and use the jack if I get a flat? Or use a tire that I can mount by hand, but will probably have less flat protection and one that will likely result in more flats?


Or is it just a matter of using a tire I like and stop over-thinking? I would like to spend my time riding, not fixing flats.
The strategy I use is to utilise "ghetto-tubless" after my last locale was inundated with a particularly nasty 3 pronged thorn which meant I was getting punctured most every time I went for a ride.
I dont remember the last puncture I had that needed more than a little pumping of air to the tires.
I can't promise it will work for you and your tires/rim combo but it worked for me and I'd never go back to tubes.
Well saying that, I always carry a tube with me as a precaution when I tour (as well as a spare folding tire) but I've yet to ever need to use it.
I can tell you that like Doug64 I use Velocity Dyad rims and have been very happy with them.
I mention that so your aware of at least one type of rim that it will work successfully for.
Good luck with your choices.
https://ridemonkey.bikemag.com/threa...tricks.240026/
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Old 11-08-20, 07:44 PM
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My suggestion - if you are considering touring you should be a good bike mechanic. That includes being able to handle tire/flat repairs (the most common of all "mechanicals", I would say).

You will have flats, as you state. If you go with that mindset you won't be surprised when you get one and it is easier to accept the down time. If you don't get a flat - all the better. But plan on it and it won't be a surprise when it happens.

On my last trip (12 days) I was making my punch run to my destination (Lake Erie). It was already going to be a longer day than an average mileage day, for one. Secondly, I had more elevation to deal with that day than most. And third - I was taking time out from the ride to visit a buddy from college. So the day was jam-packed already. To add more things to the day - fourth - the weather was going to pot with a cold front coming in. There were storms ahead of the cold front, in addition to a line of rain with the cold front itself. Of course I had to get a flat. It was right after lunch. When we were done with our lunch get-together I went out to a bike with a flat tire. So before I could move it needed to be fixed, obviously. It was, also, the 2nd flat I had. Because of that I spent more time with the tire inspection to see what was causing it. I found a bit of metal stuck in one of the tread lugs. So I think the 2 flats I had were from the same bit of metal. I did an interior inspection of the tire both times, but after the 2nd I did a close inspection of the outside also. That is where I found the bit of metal. There wasn't enough coming through the tire (or maybe any - maybe not until the tire was inflated with load) to find it on the interior tire inspection.

The moral of the above - you should be a good bike mechanic if you are going to tour and expect that you are going to run in to needing to work on your bike, even though the delay might be a bummer - even major bummer - given the timing/scheduling/weather. That doesn't mean that you have to be a certified bike tech with 15 years experience adjusting bikes, building bikes, building wheels, yada, yada, yada. That means that you know YOUR bike and can deal with adjustments and repairs on-the-go (derailleur adjustments, cable replacements [brake + shifter], accessory mounting like racks and fenders [think loose bolts here or things getting knocked out of your installed positions], handlebar adjustments, and.... of course - tire/wheel maintenance/repair).

If you go out on a solo/unsupported trip without proper understanding and abilities with your bike you are setting yourself up to use your phone to get you out of trouble. Are you going to call a friend, relative, uber, lyft, taxi, or the local bike shop for a ride? Or are you going to carry with you the mindset and abilities (plus necessary gear) to handle 90% of what could happen to your bike on-the-go with you on the trip? I would think the latter should be a very important and obvious aspect of an "unsupported" trip.
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Old 11-08-20, 07:46 PM
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We have something similar here in the U.S; it is the seed of Puncture Vine, also known as a "bullhead".
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Old 11-08-20, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Why is it that punctures are almost always on the rear wheel
Always the rear wheel, yes.

Why? Good question.

That is why I carry degreasing hand cleaner wipes - to scrub off the chain grease once I'm done.
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Old 11-08-20, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
We have something similar here in the U.S; it is the seed of Puncture Vine, also known as a "bullhead".
Yes that's the sort of thing.
I'd heard of them but for years I had no real idea of what people were talking about.
Suddenly, without warning, there was an over abundance of them locally and I was spending way too much time on the side of the road trying to fix the havoc they were reaping on my tires.
I was considering a range of mitigation measures before I stumbled upon the "tubeless" setups mountain bikers were using and it was researching that topic when I came across the "ghetto" version which suited me much better than a commercial setup requiring new spokes and tubeless specific rims.
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Old 11-08-20, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Always the rear wheel, yes.

Why? Good question.

That is why I carry degreasing hand cleaner wipes - to scrub off the chain grease once I'm done.
That's why I carry a couple pairs of nitrile gloves in my saddle bag. The wipes sound like a good idea too.
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Old 11-08-20, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
That's why I carry a couple pairs of nitrile gloves in my saddle bag. The wipes sound like a good idea too.
You can't scrub off your skillet, or get the soot off your pots, with nitrile gloves. But I definitely mostly use the degreasing wipes for scrubbing hands. Multipurpose.
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Old 11-09-20, 06:32 AM
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Thank You to all who responded:
Tourist in MSN for keeping the focus on safety and the tire suggestion (wow were those trucks really passing on a two lane highway over a double yellow line??!!);
Rifraf for the tubeless suggestion (I am not opposed to tubeless-I have just always used tires and tubes and have plenty of them!);
and Doug64 for the tire suggestion (and for reminding us that the flat is usually on the rear!).
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Old 11-09-20, 08:28 AM
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Part of your tire changing difficulty may be in technique. Do you squeeze the tire beads together all the way around the rim as you remove the first bead? On tougher tires, I do this repeatedly as I pry off or on, and seldom need a lever. When you do need leverage to remove, try two plastic levers about 4 inches apart, and pry both at the same time.

And/or your rim strip or tape may be part of the problem. Try a thinner strip or tape, or narrower if it's interfering with the bead seat.

The other day a co-volunteer at the non-profit shop brought in a 30-year-old wheel he was refurbishing, but complained how difficult it was to change tires. It had thick fabric tape covering both bead seats. I put a new rim strip on and the 30-year-old problem went away.
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Old 11-09-20, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
That's why I carry a couple pairs of nitrile gloves in my saddle bag. The wipes sound like a good idea too.
Often when I went to the dentist I used to ask the dental hygenist if I could have a few pair of their disposable gloves for emergency bike repairs, pre-Covid she was always happy to give me a few pair. But now that stuff is worth its weight in gold, nobody is going to give it away for a while.

Originally Posted by SoobyDoo View Post
...
Rifraf for the tubeless suggestion (I am not opposed to tubeless-I have just always used tires and tubes and have plenty of them!);....
Not everybody likes tubeless for road bikes, there was a recent thread on the rando board on that:
Ready to give-up on tubeless road tires

I average one flat a year, I mentioned above that I had one flat on my Florida tour, that was in Big Cyprus and it was a big staple, the size construction people use. But most of my tires have some form of flat protection and I only tour on tires with some flat protection. I am sticking with tubes.
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Old 11-09-20, 09:20 AM
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Tires can make a big difference as far as flat protection is concerned. As an example, I went on a four month supported ride across Africa with ~50 riders. There are areas with a lot of thorns and the number of flats per rider varied from zero (two people I believe) to over 40.

At the upper end of the range were one or two who had a systemic issue e.g. rims that compounded the problem.

I had two flats which was slightly fewer than the average (and fewer than the number of punctures I got in my thermarest ).
I had Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and these seemed to do better than average.

Marathon Plus started to become more of a favorite for some who brought garbage tires - i.e. they might see if they could buy tires from a rider departing the trip.
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Old 11-09-20, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
...But most of my tires have some form of flat protection and I only tour on tires with some flat protection. I am sticking with tubes.
Ditto here. I've been cycling with a group of four to five friends a lot this year (since there's literally nothing else to do),.at least one 50 mile ride each week. That's about 4-5000 bike-miles total with that group. Only one flat all season in that group, and it was the bike with tubeless. It turns out the sealant couldn't handle road tire pressures and he had to install an emergency tube, which is still in there (and it was a mess to work on). The rest of us use expensive tires with flat protection, Continental Gatorskin or equal. I haven't seen an advantage for roadies yet. MTBs are different, I think.
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Old 11-09-20, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by SoobyDoo View Post
I am riding the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) in February 2021. There will be flats. The ride is unsupported. Most riders say they have at least two flats on the ride, some riders have as many as 8! I use clinchers and tubes. I admit freely that I am a weakling and cannot get some tires on the rims without using a Koolstop tire jack, which I do carry with me on the bike. The Koolstop tire jack is not perfect, but it mostly works for me.


Whats the best strategy? Use a tire with flat protection that I will have to wrestle with and use the jack if I get a flat? Or use a tire that I can mount by hand, but will probably have less flat protection and one that will likely result in more flats?


Or is it just a matter of using a tire I like and stop over-thinking? I would like to spend my time riding, not fixing flats.

I'm not a touring rider, just local and I want to continue to be one. I'd uber across that seven mile bridge. I also have to use the Koolstop tool for that last bit of tire.
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Old 11-09-20, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
...
I had two flats which was slightly fewer than the average (and fewer than the number of punctures I got in my thermarest ).
I had Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and these seemed to do better than average.

Marathon Plus started to become more of a favorite for some who brought garbage tires - i.e. they might see if they could buy tires from a rider departing the trip.
I have discovered that Zefel brand and possibly other brands of self adhesive tube patches work on air mattresses.



I had previously glued a patch on, the patch was some nylon, that patch started to come loose on a tour.




I now carry some self adhesive tube patches on camping trips that are not bike trips, just in case the air mattress gets another puncture.

***

I have never used Marathon Plus, I have read that they have a LOT of rolling resistance. My other tires that provide less flat protection were always adequate for me. But, if I was on a trip where dozens of flats from thorns were not uncommon, I would probably have a tube with sealant inside Marathon Plus tires.
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Old 11-09-20, 12:31 PM
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I have never had a flat with Mr Tuffy liners in my 26ers and now I have Schwalbe Marathon Plus on my 700c with over 6k miles this year flat free.
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Old 11-09-20, 07:58 PM
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Scooby, what tires are you using? Just this will affect things, and as you don't say, it's hard to tell if you are using thin roadie tires.
A couple of ideas from someone who has toured for about 30 years.
-yes, good tires make a difference
- looking where you ride and what you run over is a huge factor in my experience. I have good eyesight and watch out for glass and stuff, if I can't avoid glass, I stop and take one minute to inspect both tires, running a finger over them in case a shard has stuck in, dislodging it before it works in more.
totally worth the 60 seconds
-yes glass is easier to spot than little bits off wire, and yes bridges like that accumulate that stuff against the walls....
-Id inspect tires regularly
-as others have said, practice removing and putting tires back on, there are specific techniques that help a great deal. Youtube one about putting on schwalbe marathon by a bearded older brutish chap, a real help

I've been very lucky for not having flats on trips all in all, so it is possible!

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Old 11-09-20, 08:02 PM
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I tend to always (accidentally) run through some glass shards, pick up a nail or something whenever I have bought new tyres and put them on. It is maybe not quite "always", but enough for me to notice that it happens often at that time. I guess I'm "lucky" that way.
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Old 11-10-20, 04:47 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
-as others have said, practice removing and putting tires back on, there are specific techniques that help a great deal. Youtube one about putting on schwalbe marathon by a bearded older brutish chap, a real help
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUFVrl0UT4
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Old 11-10-20, 05:16 AM
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Thank you again to all who posted and thank you BikeLite for the YouTube link. GYRO-too funny! Yes to Koolstop, but NO to Uber!


As you can see by my number of posts I am a bit of a lurker on BikeForums.net. I am a lifelong rider so, yes, I carry zip ties and velcro in my kit and have indeed used them to help me change tires before. I also carry a very small tin of dish soap that I sometimes apply to an inch or two of the rim to help the tire slip on. I am currently using Gatorskins which have good puncture resistance, but which can flat quite easily when you run over SHELLS. I live in Florida so there are lots of shells. I don't know why, I just know it is true. Every tire has its Achilles Heel.


But I do think that in talking with people that rode the trail last year and knowing that all the damage from Irma hasn't been fixed and there being a lot of sand and debris on the road etc, that Tourist in MSN was exactly on point in his post: choose a tire that has some flat protection (maybe less than we all think we should have) that you can get on and off and enables you to stay OUT OF TRAFFIC.
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Old 11-10-20, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by SoobyDoo View Post
... NO to Uber!
....
Fully agree. I do not recall how many bridges you will go across, maybe 80? But a seven mile bridge is the same as the rest, just takes more time to cross it.

I do not recall which state park it was that had hike in sites in the mangrove, but my tent was not self supporting, I had to jam twigs in between the planks to pitch my tent. Was a neat park.



You will have a good time. I thought it was absurdly hot when I was there, but you live there so you will probably enjoy the weather there.
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