There is almost nothing more frustrating than having a flat when you're using your bike to commute to work or to get a workout in before you start your day. While it is a good idea to always carry an extra inner tube and a repair kit with you when you ride, changing a flat on the go is time-consuming and can be messy. If you're getting consistent flat tires, it probably means there is something you could do to prevent them as some flats are caused by rider errors. Here are some reasons why you might be cursed with a case of of the flats.
1. There's not enough pressure in your inner tube
Keeping your tires fully filled is your biggest defense against an unwanted flat tire. When the tire pressure is too low, the inner tube can actually pinch itself on your wheel rims, causing leaks.
Checking the pressure of your tires before you head out is easy, and you should do it frequently as the temperature outside and how frequently you ride can both affect your tire pressure. The right tire pressure depends on the type of bike you ride. Typically, if you have thinner tires, like those on a commuter or road bike, the pressure needs to be greater. This is because the tire has less surface area with the ground, causing the tires to be under more external pressure from the rider and the road, and so the added air pressure provides strength to inner sidewall of the tire tube. Generally, road bikes should have pressure between 80-130 psi, while mountain bikes only need 30-50 psi.
Keep in mind, the more you weigh and the more aggressively you ride will also affect how high your tire pressure should be. If you are heavier, your tire psi should be greater.
2. You ride in areas with sharp objects frequently
It's easier to puncture a tire tube than you might think. A single thorn, a nail, a piece of glass -- these can all leave you stranded with a flat. It's important, when you get a flat tire, to inspect the tube and look for the object or the puncture hole. This will give you an idea of what to avoid in the future. For example, if you remove the tire and tube and find a small nail embedded, you might want to look for a route that doesn't take you past a construction site.
However, avoiding obstacles is sometimes not possible. After all, thorns and glass are often present on roads and mountain trails. If you are a frequent rider, you can invest in:
- Thorn-proof tire tubes. These tubes are designed to be much stronger than a standard inner tube. The downside is that they are much heavier, so they will add weight to your ride.
- Filling your tubes. Many bike riders enjoy tubes that have been filled or partially filled with green slime. In partially filled models, the slime coats the inner wall of the tube. If the tube is punctured, the slime quickly moves into the puncture, like an instant patch. Fully filled tubes are almost impossible to flatten, as they hold very little if any air but instead make the tube solid. This option is not as popular because it can be harder to tailor the tire's pressure and fill to your specific weight, and the added slime brings more weight to the bike.
If you are a victim of frequent flats, talk with a bike mechanic at a shop like Sarasota Cyclery Inc in your area about tire tube options. You can also have them inspect your bike to make sure that nothing else is causing the problem.