Lots of the things divide the cycling community. Whether you are a road rider or a mountain biker, a racer or a tourer, a climber or a sprinter, no matter what kind of riding you’re into, you hate flat tyres.
Whilst you cannot always avoid these entirely, it’s important to be prepared by taking a pump or CO2 inflator, tyre levers and spare tubes with you when you’re riding. Further, you can take a number of precautions that will minimise the number of punctures you get.
The first thing to do is choose the best tyre for the job. Generally there is a trade-off between weight and puncture resistance. For road bikes, tyres like the Maxxis Refuse Puncture Resistant Tyre are incredibly good value, with a high level of puncture protection. However, they’re heavier than racing tyres. The Continental Gatorskin tyre is similar, but being a more upmarket product means they’re a little lighter, with a higher thread count.
26” wheels (mountain bikes, cruisers and so on) benefit from careful tyre selection as well. The use of a kevlar layer in tyres such as the Maxxis Overdrive gives excellent puncture protection for commuter tyres. Off-road, punctures are more likely to be caused by ‘pinch flats’ but good quality tyres will still help, with the more supple tyres and stronger sidewalls found in tyres like the Kenda small block guarding against pinches.
A pinch flat is caused by the tyre ‘bottoming out’ from a bump or impact. The tube inside the tyre gets pinched between the tyre and the rim. Riders will sometimes feel that a tube was punctured ‘all by itself’ because nothing has penetrated the tyre. It’s more likely that having inadequate tyre pressure allowed the tyre to bottom out.
These pinch flats are also known as snake bite flats due to the two bite-like holes that are sometimes caused by the tyre bottoming out. To avoid pinch flats, make sure that your tyres are inflated properly. On the side wall of your tyres there will be a recommended inflation pressure number, but here’s a rough guide.
There are a number of other things that can cause punctures, but they’re less common. Damage to the rim or a failure of the rim tape inside can potentially cause punctures. If your wheels have had a knock or you’ve had an unexplainable puncture, it’s worth check that the rim tape in the wheel is in place, covering up the sharp holes in the rim (which are used to access the spokes). It should also be smooth, without sharp creases. The rim itself should also be smooth wherever it’s exposed by the rim strip. Significant damage to the rim could potentially causes burrs or sharp points that would then puncture the tube.
Top Puncture Tips
- Get the best tyres you can.
- Keep the tyre pressure up.
- Ride in the centre of the path to reduce your exposure to the bits and pieces that get swept to the sides.
- If you ride through glass or other sharp material, it’s worth stopping immediately to sweep the tyre with a rag or gloved hand to dislodge any glass or other bits.
Remember, you’re more likely to get a puncture in the wet, so be doubly sure that you’re carrying your puncture repair stuff, and when putting your tyre back on, put the label of the tyre near the valve hole. This makes it easier to find that valve later! And if you have any other issues or are unsure, you can always give your local Reid team a call!
- Alexander Hender from Tenax Ride