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How To Avoid Getting A Flat Tire

Posted by Rommel Lim on

Nothing is really 100% effective in stopping you from getting a flat tire on your bicycle. There are many options and advices however which could reduce the probability of getting a flat tire. Using this advice, you might not need to trouble yourself with patch kits or tube punctures ever again.

Basic Tire Care

It is a great idea to regularly check your bicycle tires for glass and rock shards or other sharp objects, especially after you ride on a route that has a lot of debris. These small embedded items might not cause a flat tire right away but could slowly work their way through your tire and eventually create a puncture. You can use a small tool or your fingernail to get rid of the debris before causing further problems.

Regularly check the sidewalls of your tire and tread for too much damage, wear, cracking and dryness. Tires that have these symptoms will increase your risks of getting a flat tire. If you are not sure of the condition, ask from a bicycle professional at your local repair shop or other bike shop to have your tires evaluated.

Tire Liners

A tire liner is a thin strip of extruded plastic which fits between your tube and tire. The extra layer significantly diminishes the risk of puncture flats from glass, thorns or other sharp objects. Liners are famous and work flawlessly but they add 6 oz. or more to your tires’ weight which adds to the rolling resistance in high performance tires. If you live in an area however with many thorns or debris, liners could be worth the weight.

If you install tire liners, place your tire on the rim like you do usually to fit the inner tube into the tire. Fit the tube into your tire. Pump some air into the inner tube in order to expand it just until the tube starts to touch the inside of your tire. After this, slide the liner between the tube and the tire. The pressure of the inflated tube is going to keep the liner held in place against the inner side of the tire which prevents the liner from shifting that in turn results to tube chaffing or cutting. Once the liner is in place, if you cannot get the tire back on the rim you might had a bit too much air inside the tube. Let some air out, pop the tire over the rim and fill with air until you get the recommended or desired pressure.

Tire Pressure

Your initial strategy must always be to ensure that you are riding with the right amount of tire pressure. Every tire has a recommended air-pressure range. This is measured in psi (pounds per square inch). Look on the tire sidewall to get the recommended pressure. Here are some tips:

* Road tires need to run between 100 to 140 psi.
* Mountain bikes need to run between 30 to 50 psi.
* Urban and casual bicycle tire must run between 60 and 80 psi.

Under-inflation could lead to problems of “pinch flats.” This could happen if you hit a bump and the under-inflated tire compresses all the way up to the rim, which causes 2 small holes which might resemble a snake bite. Over-inflation, on the one hand, does not cause flats although it might be possible to blow out the tube during extreme cases.

Use a gauge or a tire pump to check the pressure. High-end tire pumps are going to have psi gauge but if you have a low-end pump, you will have to carry your own tire pressure gauge. Make sure that whether you have a Schrader or a Presta valve system (the slimmer Presta valve must have the top nut unscrewed before you check the pressure).

Tube Sealants

The tube sealant option is pretty nifty because you could fix an existing flat tire using the sealant or use it as a preventive measure to prevent flat tires in the future. The idea is very simple: Squeeze a small amount of sealant with the use of the valve stem so you can coat the inside of the tube. In the case of a tiny puncture or a cut, the sealant fills the leak quickly and causes a plug which usually outlasts the tire or the tube around it.

Let’s take 2 kinds of sealants for example. The Slime brand is made to be injected directly to Schrader-type tubes only; the Café Latex brand is made to be injected into the Presta-type tubes or tubeless tires. Café Latex needs use of a no-mess injector which is sold separately.

Some tubes (using both Presta and Schrader valves) come pre-Slimed to provide a preventive approach to flat tires. These tubes are usually thicker and thorn-resistant, so that if they are pre-injected with Slime, provide a great flat-avoidance strategy. The problem with sealants is that they can be sometimes messy to install and sealants will not protect you alone from large cuts or gashes.

Puncture-resistant Tires and Tubes

One more option is to change the tires to something specifically made to resist flat tires. These tires might not feel as fast as standard bike tires, but bike-commuting customers have reported that they experience flat tires less often than using the tires. How do these tires work? A lot of tires use a durable belt of aramid fibers like the well-known Kevlar brand in order to resist puncturing. Others just increase the tread thickness. The tires are marketed by a variety of proprietary names: the Continental Safe System, the Serfas Flat Protection and the Michelin ProTek reinforcement system and so on. The only problem with these tires is that they are somewhat heavy which reduces the efficiency of pedaling. Finally, you should use thorn-resistant tubes. The tubes are simply heavier and thicker versions of regular tubes.

Making sure that you don’t get a flat tire is not just for economy but also for your safety. The tires are the most vulnerable parts of your bicycle and if you are not careful enough, you could run into accidents.

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