The Sometimes Avoidable Flat Tire

I do not know a bicycle rider who looks forward to stopping on the side of a road and fixing a flat tire. Flats have a lot to do with the quality and age of ones tires. If you run cheap tires on a bicycle you will have flats more frequently. The old analogy of “you get what you pay for” obtains to bicycle tires big time. I run Specialized Armadillos or Armadillo Elites and have only had one flat in all the years I have been running them. That flat was due to a failed valve stem in the tube, not a puncture in the tire. The brand of tire does not have to be Specialized but technology has came a long way. I will not purchase anything for long distance riding or commuting to work that does not have kevlar in the tires.

Last year on Biking Across Kansas I heard of people who were averaging 3 flats a day. I rode across the whole state with zero flats. Of course part of that was due to the fact that I installed a brand new set of kevlar tires before I went. You can also lower your risk of a flat by not hugging the white line on the side of the road. Get used to riding in the cars RH tire track. That serves two purposes. One the car has to do a lane change to pass you so they are not as likely to brush you. Second, you will be riding in the tire track where the cars tires either catch loose debris or throw it towards the edge of the road close to that white line. By law you can ride up to 4 feet from the edge of the road so I am not encouraging you to do anything illegal.

I personally gave up patching a flat on the road years ago. I have had too many of them leak with a patch job and it is way too time consuming. One tends to get in a hurry in the process of doing so out in the middle of nowhere in the ditch. Instead I carry spare tube(s). If you are one who cannot stand the thought of spending $5.99 on a new tube when you can patch it for a fraction of the cost then try this. Carry spare tubes and then when you are home and the day is just too dreary to ride take the time then to patch those old tubes. You can roll up that old flat tube and stuff it in the same box a new tube came out of. Then after you patch it at home and test it at home (air it up and run it through some water and check for leaks) you can roll it back up tight and use it for a spare on your rides.

So if you are riding the Wicked Wind 100 or are getting ready for BAK I recommend looking at your tires. Check the tread on them. Look for any splits or bulges. Specialized Armadillos last several thousand miles but there is a seam on the sidewall that always begins to bulge in my experience when it is time to replace them. If you do not have Kevlar tires I strongly recommend you spend a bit more and invest in some. I don’t think you will be disappointed.


Posted in Uncategorized