Tubes... options and flat prevention!
In general, you want to keep weight off your bike. But, on the other hand, you don't
want to stop and fix a flat every mile. If you ride in an area where puncture-weeds and
other hazards abound, you may want to take steps to avoid flats.
||This is our personal favorite for avoiding snakebites (pinched tubes when
you land a jump or corner hard with a low tire). And it's nearly impossible to puncture.
This is the heavy, thick "puncture-resistant tube." The outer wall is thickest,
but even the inner wall has extra rubber, preventing cuts from exposed spoke-holes when
the rim liner shifts.
Puncture-resistant tires will add a pound of weight to your
A puncture-proof tube is very thick. Which means it weighs a lot, making your
hill-climb a bit more work. And the response of your tire to small rough edges will
change. You need to decide whether it's worth it.
||A tire liner can prevent simple punctures. It adds some weight, but not
anywhere near the weight you'd add with a slime tube or a puncture-resistant tube. But the
tire liner has an edge on the sides and (especially) on the end. After a hundred miles of
bouncy, vibrating bike rides, it will probably wear a hole through the tube.
don't prevent snakebites on turns or jumps, and they don't prevent cuts from exposed
Tire liners are a good compromise for riders who don't ride
violently, but are exposed to puncture-weeds.
Slime tubes contain a leak-stopping goo. I've used these with my kids'
bikes. My opinion: Slime tubes work fine for newbies and road bikers who encounter
an occasional puncture-weed. Really hard-core mountain bikers will go for a
tubeless setup with sealant.
goo doesn't create a permanent "fix" for the leak. It tends to leak
intermittently, unpredictably. And when you dunk the tube in the sink to find the leak --
guess what? -- you can't find it. For the same weight, you can use a puncture-resistant
tube and never fix a kid's flat tire again. And slime doesn't give you any protection
against cuts or snakebites.
Slime can stop a leak from a small puncture. But it doesn't
prevent snakebites and cuts, and the leak won't be permanently fixed.
||If you ride hard on rough rock, you'll get an occasional snakebite.
(Snakebites are where the tube is cut top and bottom.) Sometimes these cuts are too big
(or too many) to repair with patches. A spare tube, kept in an underseat pack, insures
that you won't be walking. Make sure it's the right size, and has the right
type of valve.
Some flats can't be fixed. It's a
good idea to pack a spare tube!
||We usually carry a few press-on patches. (We give them to other bikers,
because we prefer the strength of a glued patch. See below.) This gives a quick repair for
tiny punctures. The bond isn't strong enough to fix the typical snakebite or spoke-hole
cut. And with passage of time and rough riding, the patch may wrinkle and loosen, allowing
the leak to recur.
Press-on patches can be useful for tiny
|And now, a word from our sponsor...
||For permanent, strong tire repair, nothing beats the old glue-on patch.
Small patches fix punctures, while longer patches can seal cuts such as snakebites.
Because a tube of glue tends to coagulate with age (once they've been opened), I buy a
handfull of tiny tubes, rather than a big tube. I usually pack four 1-inch patches and two
1x2 patches (plus a spare tube) on every ride. You'd be surprised how often I use up
everything I have -- but so far, I've never had to hike out.
traditional glue-on patch is much stronger, especially for riding in rough warm
conditions. It can cover larger holes.
||Whether you use a quick-patch or a glue-on, you MUST buff the tube before
the repair. Most repair guides recommend sandpaper. This gives a stronger, smoother repair
than the metal scrapers.
Regardless of what tire patch system
you choose, buffing the tire is the most important step for a strong patch.
||Of course, you need a pump on your bike. Most pumps can convert between
Presta valves (high performance) and Schraeder valves (standard automotive). Pumps can
attach alongside your water cage, or on the seatpost.
In your underseat bag, you'll want
a spare tube, patch kit, and complete tool set. Our personal favorite is the Alien tool.
Some tires (referring to the part with the tread here) are more prone to
flats than others. In general, a cutaway tire is the most flat-resistant. See
the section on tires.
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