3 min read

Punctures

They never happen at a good time. You might find your bike with a flat tyre and your planned ride is cancelled or delayed, or even worse you’re miles from home, it’s getting dark and Oh no! It looks like it’s going to rain.

While you can never rule out getting one there’re a few things you can do to make it less likely:

Broom, broom

No not the noise a six-year old makes when they sit on your bike but that long-handled object leaning against the wall. You should sweep the floor or your garage, shed or wherever else you keep your bike regularly and particularly after doing any sort of woodwork or DIY. Screws and nails have a nasty habit of getting where they’re not wanted and can easily be moved from place to place on the soles of your boots. A good sweep-up will cut down the chances of getting one in your tyre. 

Up close and personal

When you check your tyre pressures have a really good close look at your back tyre. Pick out any flints which might work their way in, but more importantly look for the tell-tale glint of a screw or nail head. You might be able to get it out before the damage is done; even if the tyre deflates at least you can fix it in your own time, not by the side of the road.

Pressure drop

If a check of your tyre pressures reveals a drop of four or five psi – you’ve almost certainly got a slow puncture, valve problem or leakage from a rim – don’t just pump it up and hope for the best. You need to find out what’s happening and sort it out. 

The triangle of doom

You’ll notice that in front of traffic islands there’s usually a triangular area of grit, fag ends, broken lenses and other debris thrown up by vehicles. Often there’ll be a few sharps hiding there. Filtering bikes determined to pull up to or in front of the stop line will have to go through this and risk picking up a nail. It’s wise to stop a car or two back. 

Hitting the wall

As our tyres wear so the depth of tread reduces, meaning that there’s a lesser depth to be pierced by a foreign body. The smooth and slightly squared surface of a worn tyre seems to be particularly attractive to sharp objects, so it’s best not to penny-pinch and delay replacing tyres even if they’re within the legal depth. 

TPMS

If your bike is not already equipped it’s worth thinking about an aftermarket system. It gives you early warning of problems and you ride to somewhere safe as long as you can see that the pressure hasn’t dropped below a safe level.

When you get a puncture

There are some things you can do to minimise the impact when, despite all precautions, you eventually get a puncture.

  • Always carry a repair kit and means of inflating your tyre, and make sure that the contents remain usable. Attend Dr Dave’s Workshop and know how to deal with a puncture.
  • If you run tubed tyres and are going to be anywhere far from home you should think about carrying a spare tube and tyre levers. Even if you need help to take the wheel off etc. you’re more likely to be able to continue your journey on your bike rather than in the breakdown vehicle.
  • There are a number of products on the market, including one which has endorsement from the IAM, which are inserted into the tyre and claim to be able to seal punctures. Riders need to make their own minds up as to whether the claims made by manufacturers are justified. One thing is certain: if you do use these products the next tyre fitter you use will not be very pleased.

Dean Sibley

 

 


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