Flat tires can bring an abrupt end to a day of cycling. Keep your bike on the trails with the below tips for the repair of and protection against punctured and flat tires.
I keep getting punctures
Inspect your tires and keep them properly inflated
Save yourself hassle on the road by avoiding punctures. These easy tips will keep you going for longer.
- Low tire pressure can lead to pinch flats, where the inner tube is pinched between the wheel rim and the tire. Ensure your tires are pumped up to the correct pressure (it’s usually printed on the side of the tires). Higher pressures than for car tires are usually required: 35 to 100 psi is typical, depending on the type of bike.
- Remove your wheel from the bike and take the tire off the rim. Carefully inspect the inside of the tire for foreign objects that may be the cause of the recurrent punctures. Check the rim of the wheel for anything sharp or rough.
- Add a layer of protection between the inner tube and the wheel by sticking a layer of black electrical tape over the ends of the spokes (inside the wheel rim).
My tire has split
Use a temporary patch to get you home
If your tire splits or rips open while riding, the inner tube can bulge out from the gap and be punctured. To fix this problem well enough to get you home, use a piece of cardboard, the empty wrapper of a snack bar or even a banknote to temporarily patch the tire.
- Remove the wheel and inner tube and insert the cardboard, wrapper or banknote behind the split in the tire. Replace the inner tube, pump it up (the pressure will keep the patch in place) and put the tire back on.
- Put the wheel back on and ride home slowly and carefully. Replace the tire as soon as possible (the patch will eventually disintegrate).
I’ve got a puncture miles from home
Stuff your tire with grass for an emergency fix
If you suffer a puncture and don’t have a spare tube or repair kit, lift one side of the tire off the wheel rim, then stuff it with grass for a temporary fix. Your body weight will compact the grass when you ride, so use more grass than you think you’ll need and pack it tightly.
Ride carefully and inspect the wheel rim for cracks, dents or wobbles when you get home. Repair or replace the inner tube before your next ride.
Tools of the trade
Trail tools: It’s a good idea to take a few tools with you each time you go for a ride, just in case you have a problem a long walk from home. A pump, puncture repair kit, tire levers and a multi-tool are the bare necessities. Take a spare inner tube if you have space, as it’s much quicker to install a new tube than fix a punctured one. Pack them in a saddlebag (stowed underneath the saddle) or other bag for easy portability.