By Greg Conderacci
Recently, RBR launched this new series to enlighten our ultra-cool readers about the benefits of dorkiness. In Part I, we explored screening your helmet; in Part II, we messed with your handlebars; in Part III, we reflectorized your machine.
Today, we’re touching on the delicate subject of flats. Those of you with tubeless tires are probably asking, “What’s a flat?” That’s cool. But, just in case…
I’m suggesting that you have on your bike:
- A frame pump
- Two (2) spare tubes
- A patch kit
- Tire booting material.
If that sounds like “belts and suspenders” over-preparedness … it is. But sometimes the sealant doesn’t fill the hole. Sometimes you get another flat after you used up your CO2 cartridge. Sometimes the spare tube leaks (or you get another flat because you didn’t find that tiny piece of glass that make the first flat). Sometimes, you blow both tubes. Or a friend could use one.
Sometimes you get a serious hole and need booting material. You may believe that a dollar bill will boot a tire. In your case, it almost certainly will. For me, the best solution is that untearable paper they use on heavy-duty envelopes. If you have one, just cut off the flap with adhesive that’s covered by a piece of plastic. It’s usually good enough for three or four boots. Peel off the plastic and it’ll stick to the inside of the tire.
Do you have a dorky tip to share? Don’t be shy. We’ll withhold your name upon request. Remember a dorky tip has one or more of these characteristics:
- Pro riders do not do it (nor does just about anybody else)
- It’s cheap or maybe even free
- It usually adds weight
- It will NEVER be featured in fancy bike catalogs, because, well, there’s no money in it.
Greg Conderacci is a marketing consultant and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, non-profit entrepreneur, and investment bank chief marketing officer. In Getting UP!, he brings you the same skills he teaches at a top graduate school and Fortune 500 companies. Lots of people promise better performance … Greg proves it. Using his energy techniques, in 2015 he rode a bicycle across America in just 18 days — averaging 150 miles a day.
Randy B says
Hutchinson Fast Air Tire sealant, $9
S McDermott says
As someone who does unsupported bicycle touring, I agree with your “belts and suspenders” flat protection preparedness as I have been riding for decades with those items in my seat bag. Another source of protection is to carry extra valve cores as sometimes the tube’s valve inner core goes bad and won’t hold air. You’ll also need a valve core removal tool to remove and install the valve core. As far the additional weight, it just makes you a stronger rider😜.
Kerry Irons says
I can’t count the number of times my pump has come to the rescue of CO2 users. And the need for a boot and two flats in a ride probably happens to me at least once every 20K miles or so. I only carry one tube but I do have Park instant patches and that has always been able to deal with the two flat rides. My tubes have not had removable valve cores in decades (probably last saw them on tubular tires in the 80s). I understand if you’re using sealant, but I’ve never found the need for sealant. Living in a state with a 10 cent bottle deposit means in a bad year I get a flat every 1500 miles.
For tire boots, several us of in our club use, well, used tires. Just cut one-inch or so ovals from the used tire around the center of the tread. The shape of the boot will normally conform to the inside of the tire and easily stay in place between the tire and inner tube. Store a few in your seat bag for yourself and fellow riders.
Fred R says
I’ve used Park glueless patches for at least 30 years and never had one problem…until about 2 years ago, I had one fail after about 2 days of being on the tube, then another failed the same way, next thing I knew I had a streak of failures so I called Park and asked them what’s going on, the service guy said that the tube manufactures changed their composition in the tubes and now stick on patches won’t work good, so I went back to glueless.
I too can’t count the number of times I had to bail out a CO2 user with my pump, it makes me laugh, and I get all the air I want for free.
On my touring bike I carry one tube only, I just feel by using very durable Schwalbe Almotion tires I don’t foresee having to replace tubes like they use to years ago. I do carry a tire boot just in case, but so far I haven’t had any flats on the touring bike.
Share with you a time saving way of fixing a flat that I learned from an old guy about 50 years ago. Most flats I never have to remove the wheel from the bike! Simply find where the hole is in the tire, then remove half of one side of the bead with the hole in the center of the half, pull out about a fourth of the tube, find the hole and patch, check the tire for anything poking out of the inside of the tire, put the tube and tire back together and start pumping. I can easily beat a person fixing a flat in time if they’re taking the wheel off the bike and doing all that nonsense; I don’t know why everyone doesn’t know this stunt.
Joe VanLeuven says
The problem with your “stunt” is that in my experience it is not that easy to find the hole in the tire/tube. My flats are usually caused by a tiny thorn or piece of radial tire wire or small glass shard – usually, the only way to figure out where the leak is is to take the tube out and blow it up and listen very carefully.
Big Ring Bob says
I have also been known to include a spare folding tire in my “little bag”. Oh, and don’t remove the tube from the rim before you locate the hole. You can use the tube as an index. Can save a lot of time.
Sidewalls tire cuts can be easily patched, but tread cuts need a material that will not be worn by the road surface. The Park tool tire boot did not hold for long on a tread cut. I have used cut pieces from a juice carton known a tetrapack very successfully. I have cut pieces in all my saddle bags. There might be other materials that hold up well, but this is my experience.
I see you’re using the Topeak Road Morph frame pump. Morphs to a standing pump, has a psi gauge, and has never failed. Love that pump! Extra points for being big and conspicuous enough to be dorky. Yay!
ALWAYS practice fixing a flat AT HOME with the gear you plan to carry, including checking your gear pre-ride (no missing bits or dried out patch kits). Over the years I have ‘rescued’ several “experienced” (non-dorky) cyclists who ignored this…..including members of the “tubeless never flat” club.
I ALWAYS CARRY DUCT TAPE (about 2-3 ft wound over a small (NON-sharp) piece of plastic like credit card material). Works great as a tire boot, and for other varied emergency biking ‘fixes’.
Spit can help find small tube leaks, but wipe it off before patching.
The pump I carry on longer rides is a ‘mini’. The newer generation of small pumps can work surprisingly well.
Respect sidewall cuts. They MUST be booted well enough to prevent the tube from herniating into the cut (and blowing out the tube in short order). Tires with sidewall cuts down to the casing, even after booting, should only be ridden in an emergency—–and carefully until they can be replaced ASAP.
Devin Wilken says
A new addition to my seat kit is a set of tweezers. This came about after a group ride where one rider kept flatting and it took three sets of eyes to locate a very small sliver of metal in the tire. Try as we might, we could not grasp and it looked like a no go when a rider came by and offered his tweezers, problem solved.
Latex gloves in the kit to keep hands free of dirt and grease, spoke wrench, core tool, length of duct tape wrapped around a piece of bic pen ( also good to plug large holes/ tears in a tire.). All about making it back home. Enjoying being a dorky rider as do others when in need.
Y s, I carry tape too! Wind it around something you’re already carrying – like a sharpie pen or dorky frame pump.
Fred Rose says
Untearable paper they use on heavy envelopes…have you guys ever tried that stunt? or are you all just parroting back crap you read somewhere?
It’s an extremely rare event to tear a tire, but it’s not so rare to penetrate the tire with a sharp object.
Try taking thumb tack and press it through that heavy envelope, you’ll discover it penetrates it like butter. Heavy envelope paper is completely worthless idea. You can test any material you’ve read about that claims it works with a the thumb tack test.
The only thing I’ve ever found that worked was Park’s boot patch, why play around with all sorts of different things that you read about only to get stranded again? Just go buy a Park Boot Patch, their not that expensive and you can’t poke a thumb tack through it. Even using an old piece of tube would work better than heavy envelope paper, heck for that matter you could use plastic rim tape, but not heavy envelope paper, or a dollar bill.
larry english says
plus patches and glue (be sure it is not dried up!!)