Punctures - How Do You Prevent Em?
It’s the bane of anyone who rides a bike. You get your trusty steed out, ready to set off to wherever, only to notice that you’ve got a flat. Or everything’s going beautifully with your trip, when you hear that dreaded hisssss, and the handling suddenly goes all weird.
Punctures. Bah! You can probably guess that I had one today.
I’m of the opinion that prevention is better than cure. Admittedly, there are probably some (like that one above!) that you can’t really prevent. But those annoying tiny splinter of glass ones. How do you prevent them?
For the last couple of years I’ve used Slime in the tyres of my Sturdy Commuting Bike. Basically you take the valve to pieces (full instructions & a little tool come with the bottle), and squirt in half a bottle of this gunk. Put the valve back together, and re-inflate the tyre. The idea is that if you get a puncture, the slime leaks into the hole, and seals it - according to the manufacturers, it’s good for up to an 1/8″ puncture.
It’s good stuff, but not totally successful. On a commuting bike, where you probably don’t want to have to bother repairing a flat while you’re on your way into the office it’s great. You know you’ve got a puncture, but you can carry on riding for a good distance. I’ve actually just done about 150 miles with a puncture, just re-inflating every 30 miles or so. Hey - it’s been too damned cold to fix it!
Then there are tyre liners - strips of tough material that you put inside the tyre between the inner tube and the tyre itself. I’ve never used these, but . . .
. . . when I was in the bike shop last Wednesday, the assistant commented on my tyre that was gently spitting slime. He said that he didn’t use the stuff, but preferred to use an old inner tube as a tyre liner. Basically, cut the valve off and carefully fit it inside the tyre like one of those liners you can buy. He then went on to tell me all sorts of crazy bike jumps & tricks that he does, now without punctures.
There are also the tyres to consider though. Tyres like Schwelbe’s Marathon Plus (recommended by pretty much everyone, including round-the-world record holders it seems) include materials designed either to deflect sharp objects, or just give then too far to travel before they hit the inner tube.
As the Cycling Plus review on Wiggle.co.uk said of these: “Almost impregnable”. Sounds impressive, but there’s plenty of life left in my Sturdy Commuting Bike’s tyres, and I’m too tight to throw away a perfectly serviceable pair!
So how do you prevent punctures?