Puncture Proof Your Bicycle – A Fools Dream?

Bicycle tube punctures are a real downer. While all the rest of your crew are off playing, you’re sitting there fiddling with your pump and patch kit on the side of the trail. This is not really how you envisioned the day’s ride, so you can’t help but wonder about all the ways that you could protect your bicycle tubes from flats. There are at least 7 things you could do to help keep you riding, including using a puncture proof Kevlar bicycle road tire.

First and foremost though, you need to understand the various types of flats that can stop you dead in your tracks. Slow leaks, pinch flats and plain old holes each have their own cause and cure. To make matters worse it’s important to understand as well that there are always tradeoffs. Any solution usually suggests money and weight in a reverse relationship. The more money you spent the lighter the solution and the better the protection. First here’s a general discussion of the various types of flats.

Slow Leaks:

Slow leaks can be caused by a number of problems. The most common is from tiny pin holes in your tire. But if you have purchased a natural rubber tube this is what to expect. Although natural rubber tubes have many advantages, their key disadvantage is that they are somewhat porous and don’t hold air as effectively as their synthetic cousin. Weekly top ups are essential and common. Assuming you have the more traditional butyl rubber bicycle tube, slow leaks can also be caused by a faulty tube stem.

Pinch Flats:

Pinch Flats are affectionately called a “snake bite” because of their characteristic double elongated slices in the tube, that are similar in appearance to the marks left by the fangs of a snake. They are caused by the tube getting squeezed and pinched between the tire rim and the tread of the wheel, typical off a hard landing when the tire rolls over on its side. There are a number of options to avoid pinch flats other than toning down your ride style.

Bike Tube Puncture Wounds:

This is your plain jane hole! It can be caused by various forms of road and trail debris from thistles to nails and glass. It will be specific to the geography of your ride and always requires you to patch your bicycle tube.

It is important to understand that the type of puncture that you tend to most often experience will determine the correct solution, or at least where you can get the best bang for the buck. The solution for flats caused by roadway debris can be quite different then the action you might have to take for avoiding pinch flats. So when you’re fixing a flat make sure that you take an extra minute to understand what type of flat you seem to be experiencing the most, as the first step in avoiding it in the future.

Since my typical flat is caused by sharp items on the roadways associated with city riding, my biggest concern is eliminating puncture wounds. Cleaning the tire thoroughly when you do get a flat is probably the best advice I can offer. You’d be surprised how many times a thistle or nail is still caught in the tire tread and causes almost immediately a second flat. Calk the tire where the tube valve lines up and then when you identify the location of the hole in your tube you can line it up with the tire and identify the area you should inspect more carefully.

Tire Liners, some with strange names like Mr. Tuffy, Slime Liners and Flat-Away Kevlar Tape offer a great solution for standard puncture wounds as well. Tire liners are thin strips of various materials that fit between the bike tube and the inside crown of the tire. Some are peel and stick and others you just must fiddle with to align correctly when you replace your tube, either way their purpose is to deflect sharp objects before they reach your tube. The tougher the tire liner the more it can deflect. Tire Liners are a good example of price and weight in a reverse relationship, pay more and they are definitely lighter and tougher, leading to better overall protection.

There are many other means to reduce your risk of a bicycle tube failure, including even a puncture proof Kelvar road bicycle tire we suggested earlier and self-sealing slime tubes. For a more complete discussion on all 7 secrets of puncture prevention, and how bicycle tube and bicycle tire selection can help, visit our website: mywheelsandmore.com