In a world riddled with thorns, nails, goat heads, shark teeth, and other generally pointy objects, cyclists need options to help them avoid the inevitable flat. Here are 7 ideas to stick it to flats and let them know that enough is enough. You've had it and you're ready to live without that constant fear unless you're into that kind of stuff.
A problem that plagues cyclists from all walks of life is a flat tire. It doesn't matter if you are riding a downhill mountain bike with 7 inches of travel, a road bike that weighs less than a newborn baby, or a bike with training wheels and adorned with superheroes or princesses, the problem of flat tires is an ever present danger. With this problem being such a thorn in the cycling industry’s side, the question arises if there is anything being done to prevent flat tires. Here are 6 of the most common ways to maintain your mental and financial state when it comes to flats and keeping you out on the road or trail.
- Extra Tube
A regular tube is a stalwart of the cycling industry. Made from butyl rubber and relatively inexpensive, this option is the tried and true option for a majority of cyclists. However, when carrying an extra tube you will need to carry a pump or a CO2 inflator and more than likely a set of tire levers. This also doesn’t really count as a way to prevent flats.
- Thorn Resistant Tube
Just like the regular tube, the thorn resistant tube is constructed of butyl rubber and sits nicely inside whatever tire you decide to put it in. These tubes are more expensive and a bit heavier but they will help protect you from flats better than a regular tube. However, they still expose your bike to the risk of flats because any tube is essentially an air filled balloon. These tubes are available for most tube sizes, however, they are not made for most road bike tire sizes. Sorry guys.
- Tire Liners
There are many different brands of tire liners but they all work in a similar manner. Essentially, they are a protective liner, which protects the tube from anything that might puncture through the tire. They are mostly made of a hard plastic with some companies putting in Kevlar fibers for added protection. The downside with this solution is that they add significant weight to the tire. Many times, riders will use old tubes that they have cut into strips to line their tires instead of paying to get the harder plastic ones. While this may protect you from smaller thorns and such, the soft rubber of a tube will not prevent flat like the harder plastic liners.
There are many different kinds of liquids to put into your tire but they all do the same type of thing. Whenever there is a hole in the tire, the liquid finds it and seals the hole with a glue like substance. The downside to these options is that they need to be refilled every so often. Before considering this as an option, be sure to double check that your valve stem has a removable core. If the valve does not have a removable core, then it is much harder to put the sealant in and can actually gum up the valve altogether and force you to resort to getting a new tube. Another downside to sealant is that if you get a flat you may get sprayed with the sealant while it seals the hole.
- Go Tubeless
Tubeless tires are a great option for anyone worrying about flats. The worst part about his option is the initial price. Besides that, tubeless tires are a phenomenal option for any cyclist, either road or mountain. Tubeless tires are filled with sealant so that whenever there is a puncture it gets filled with the sealant and you don’t lose a day of riding.
- Solid tires
In the past, the technology for solid tires was less than exceptional. The tires were heavy, slow, and very uncomfortable to ride on because they were so hard. They were usually made of solid rubber and very few people actually liked them. However, the new technology in airless tires places airless tires on the same stage as pneumatic tires. With a similar weight and 1% more rolling resistance than standard tires, airless tires are the way of the future.
- New Tires
When flats become fairly consistent, it may be time to replace your tire. As tires get old, they start to lose the rubber from the outside of the tire and creates a thinner barrier against flatting. With the tire compromised, almost any rock or thorn will result in a flat. When picking out tires, be sure to be aware of the TPI count. Just like shopping for sheets, tires are measured in threads per inch. The higher the thread count equates to a sturdier, yet heavier, tire, which will be harder to puncture. In general, a higher thread count equates to fewer flats over time.
This list is not meant to be a complete listing of options to prevent flats. Some people have their own personal method for preventing flats that seem to work for them. If you have any leftover questions, come into Noble Cycling and we can get you an answer to just about every question. Pedal hard and pedal often because life is too short not to spend at least part of it on a bike.